For the diverse parts of our catering industry, Christmas means different things to distinct groups. Peaks can come at lunchtime for some, at weekends for others, and there's always the endless round of Christmas parties.
All in all, if Christmas didn't exist, the catering industry would likely have invented it.
In local authority catering, school meals departments certainly like to celebrate Christmas. In fact, schools themselves, with Christmas plays, carol services, church services, gift-giving, and a whole lot more, find Christmas to be a very exciting time.
Each year, we send out our Christmas lunch menu to the schools, ask them to pick their day for the occasion and tell us approximately how many children will be participating.
In a majority of schools, all children will stay for that special lunch, as it lasts longer than the normal hour and it can be a great party. Schools put up decorations and we include extra treats, such as a chocolate snowman or Father Christmas, and a free drink.
Teachers, midday helpers, governors and parents all get involved, along with our catering staff, to provide not so much a lunch as an experience.
Every day of the year, including Christmas, we also supply 400 meals to the elderly of our borough through the meals-on-wheels service.
There are about 200 customers who will require a Christmas lunch. These will be the ones who, for whatever reason, will be alone on Christmas Day. For some, their only contact with another person will be with the driver who delivers their meal.
It seems a contradiction when we see children getting so excited about Christmas when many older people, and some not so old, dread the season of giving.
If you know someone who will be on their own this Christmas, why not call on him or her and wish them a merry Christmas and give them five minutes of your time? Better still, tell them to cancel their meal-on-wheels for Christmas Day and join you and your family for lunch.
I know if everyone did that I wouldn't have any business on Christmas Day, but in all honesty I would rather forgo that business and know that 200 of our local residents were once again enjoying a day to remember and in the true spirit of the season.
RICHARD WARE is catering and premises services manager at the London Borough of Havering