The Christmas period is without a doubt one of the most wonderful times of the year, no matter where in the world you may be spending it – but I have to say, here in Ibiza it is particularly magical (though I am biased). And to many of us, Christmas dinner is definitely one of the highlights of the whole occasion (along with presents, obvs). But when you’re away from home, as many expats and travellers are during the festive season, all of a sudden the options are endless when the time comes to decide what you want to do for Christmas dinner. You’re not limited to family traditions or obligations; suddenly, the choice is yours. Here in Ibiza, there are a multitude of options for those who find themselves seeking a Balearic Christmas experience. Having tried a multitude of Christmas dinners in Ibiza over the years, I thought I would take this opportunity to share some of my favourites with you, in case you’re in need of inspiration.
A luxe, traditional style lunch in one of Ibiza’s best restaurants fuses the best of both worlds for me. You get to tuck into a classic Christmas dinner with all the trimmings, with all the indulgences of eating out – great service, lovely views, a beautiful setting and best of all, you don’t ever have to help with the washing up! You can also usually choose your favourite type of meat, be it a traditional turkey, a honey glazed ham or delicious roast beef or pork, which is great for picky eaters like me, and there’s always an option for the vegetarian in your group too, rather than just lumping them with extra roast veggies. There’s always a waiter at hand ready to top up your wine glass when you need it (much more appealing than those knowing glances you get from family when you’re topping yourself up for the fifth time) and the booze never dries up, which means you don’t have to switch to icky old port when you’ve run out of Baileys. There are many great restaurants open on Christmas day in Ibiza in 2016, serving up traditional dinners to those without a home to go to, or this who simply prefer to be pampered rather than hot, flustered and sweaty in the kitchen! Visit the White Ibiza Christmas Calendar to check out the best selection of island eateries open for Christmas – as it’s a set menu, reservations are almost always recommended to ensure the chef orders enough produce to feed the troops come Christmas day.
Another wonderful way to do Christmas dinner in Ibiza is DIY. Gather a group of your best island friends – you can keep it as intimate or make it as grand as you like- and make a day of it. This option usually works well if you have access to an amazing villa with a professional grade kitchen – the more space, pots and pans the better. I say this from experience, having twice had hilarious attempts at preparing Christmas dinner in an ancient apartment and ramshackle home – the first which saw the oven run out of gas once all four hobs and the stove had been alight for more than an hour (with nowhere open to buy a replacement gas bottle on Christmas day of course), and the second which saw the power cut out about once every 15 minutes when more than two appliances were on the go in the kitchen. While the dinners were definitely not the best quality I have ever eaten, I have to say the overall experiences were simply hilarious – which could have been due to the copious amounts of mulled wine we were drinking to cope with the drama. Anyway, I digress. Cooking your own Christmas dinner is a bit of a rite of passage for those who are spending their first year away from the family or their homeland and the best thing about it is you can do everything your own way! This is also a great way to do Christmas for families and friends from abroad who wish to have their traditional Christmas experience minus the cold weather and grey climes of the rest of Europe. My advice here is to be prepared. Unlike the UK, the US, Australia, Germany, France and the like (oh, just about anywhere that has great supermarkets), adopting for Christmas lunch or dinner ingredients in Ibiza requires serious plan of action. There is no one-stop shop for everything you need. You will be able to find everything you need eventually, but foresight is important. You’ll need to order your cuts of meat or turkey especially from a butcher a minimum of a week in advance (and sometimes even earlier), you’ll probably need to visit at least one greengrocer and one supermarket for your fresh produce and herbs, as they never all have everything in one place, specialty items will most likely be found in the Brit or German supermarkets and delis, while baking goods are the hardest to come by, usually requiring a trip to specialty cake shops, the aforementioned Brit and German hotspots plus a few of the roadside supermarkets or even an order from Amazon. Table decorations and Christmas decor can be found in all the best homeware stores, but usually sells out long before the big day, so you’ll need to be stocking up in advance. That’s life on an island for you, but it makes the end results even more satisfying.
Las but definitely not least, is what I like to call the unconventional Christmas. After all, just because it’s Christmas day doesn’t mean you have to eat turkey or drink mulled wine. Why not get into the Spanish spirit and tuck into fresh seafood, paella or grilled meats on the beach on Christmas Day? Our friends in the southern hemisphere have been doing it for years and when the sun is shining in Ibiza, the beach always beckons. As with the above example of dining in a restaurant on Christmas day, you get all the goodness of great service, professionally prepared cuisine and unlimited vino and you can order a la carte to suit your tastes. The Spanish tradition is to celebrate with a feast at home on Christmas Eve, so many of the best Spanish restaurants on the island are open on Christmas day, serving up the best Mediterranean fare you could dream to indulge in. Our White Ibiza Christmas Calendar also showcases our favourite local restaurants for those looking to explore new tastes and cuisines for Christmas – we’re spoilt for choice! Photography by Ana Lui. Styling by Cristina Di Giovanna of Le Jour du Oui. Decor courtesy of CoCoq Ibiza and La Galeria Elefante – view more here.