The Christmas Day meal offerings - and how they are prepared - will be a world away from festive feasts of yesteryear.

In nine days' time Kiwis will be cooking up a storm on BBQs, and top-of-the-range gas or electric ovens.

Some of the protein offerings for the Xmas spreads - including roast pork, lamb, chicken and turkey - would have been bought weeks before and have been stored in deep freezes.

Rewind the clock 60 years ago, and - due to the fact freezers weren't widely available - much of the meat and vegetable offerings were fresh and bought in the last few days leading up to Christmas.


And in terms of how they were cooked - for some it was in wood or coal-fired ranges.

In the lead-up to Christmas, Foodstuffs, owner of New World, PAK'nSAVE and Four Square, have pulled the numbers on the impact the festive season has on the annual sales of popular food and drink items.

Last year, 30 per cent of champagne sales in New Zealand supermarkets happened in the month of December.

December also accounted for 68 per cent of Christmas puddings, 57 per cent of Christmas fruit mince tarts, 31 per cent of cranberry sauce or jelly, 22 per cent of ready-made custard, 20 per cent of jelly and 15 per cent of fresh cream.

When cook Allyson Gofton was growing up in the 1960s in Tasmania, her family gathered at her aunt and uncle's home. They had a coal-fired range in their worker's cottage.

"The goose and new potatoes came from the brother's farm, the pudding, round like a cannon ball and cooked in cloth, from another aunt, and anything else like salads were detailed to anyone who could cut iceberg lettuce into shreds and drench it with condensed milk dressing.

"Ice cream was also unheard of – no one had a freezer in their fridge! Beer for the men was pumped from a barrel, the ladies had Pimm's and kids the equivalent of raro, which was an absolute treat.

"Boxing day was always with the same people, but celebrated at the beach and we feasted on leftovers made into sandwiches the size of doorsteps with two-day-old bread; the baker never worked at Christmas."


Gofton, the former face of Watties Food in a Minute infomercials, says the simplicity turned to madness in the 1980s and 1990s.

"Chicken, once served only on special occasions, became – due to industrialised production - common place by the 70s and, in search of something special, turkey and ham became the festive roasts of the season, complete with winter roast vegetables, gravy and cranberry sauce - if you could get it. Our dedication to becoming followers of overseas food fashion from another hemisphere, required recipes in every magazine or newspaper with instructions on how to cook and serve in style."

But she says simplicity, local and seasonal have become the mantra of our new millennium.

"Thanks to innovative local food producers and understanding retailers we can buy almost everything prepared, allowing us to create a mixed menu that reflects yesterday for grandparents and tomorrow for teenagers with ease.

"We are still buying the turkey, but for many the days of defrosting the bird for three days has gone as we buy it oven ready - boned, stuffed and rolled. We are serving it with herb-laden salads, farewelling the roasted winter vegetables and stodgy gravy.

"Delicious barbecued foods are easing the work load and bringing us back to what it is to be Kiwi. Desserts are fresher and ice creams creamier and the classic pud is beginning to fade away - though not in my home.

"The pud, prepared from suet and laden with dried fruits is my piece of tradition. I'll make it in a roasting bag-lined cloth so it will look like my aunt's, but it will not be as heavy."

• You can win your Christmas shop on us. The Herald on Sunday and Foodstuffs have three $500 gift vouchers to give away for New World. Entries close Wednesday, December 19 at 5pm. Visit to be into win.