Subscribe to the blog

Get the latest Procurement insights from our experts

A Saucing Christmas Tale!

by | December 17, 2015

Once upon a time, in a land far too close to home there lived a man………..

A man who only wanted to do his best at Christmas, but try and as he might, he could not keep those he loved happy with his buying skills. This man had a loving wife and loving children but was alas born with no gift for cooking, and so it fell to his wife to whip up feasts that were truly majestic and everyone from far and wide would comment on her amazing creations.


And so one year this man, always keen to help, offered to buy the ingredients for the magnificent feast. He travelled to the magical world of Internet where he was shown great deals and from here he selected the most extravagant ingredients, certain that this would make the meal even more supreme.

He chose the finest turkey he could find at £14/Kg and travelled to the four corners of Wandsworth to a market that was truly super to pick up Brussels sprouts at £6.25/Kg (noting on his journey that some shops have an “s” on Brussel (correctly) and some don’t). To top it all he spent an eye watering £33/Kg on a Christmas pudding from the land of Harrods and returned home pleased to show how clever he had been.

Christmas pud

The man’s wife was delighted with the quality of the food the man had procured and so she should have been for there was no money left in the man’s pockets. The wife, as always, created the masterpiece for which she was famed and the family were all delighted. All delighted until they came to open the presents. At that point the man produced nothing and within seconds the happy feast was happy no more.

“How could you be so thoughtless spending all your money on unnecessarily expensive food. Your wife can work magic with any ingredients and yet you squandered all your money on food”, they all declared and the man was banished to the kitchen to wash dishes whilst the others wailed for the rest of the evening.


The following year he took the feedback to heart and plied his trade once more. This time he approached the task from a different perspective – he was determined that the poor children of the family would have some presents to play with and so focused all his efforts on getting the best price for everything. He bought a frozen turkey for the princely sum of £2.08/Kg from the land of ice and even managed to get Brussels sprouts from a kingdom where everything was just one pound. The Christmas pudding was an odd shape when it arrived from the world of internet and smelt a little but at £2.20/Kg who was complaining? He spent all that he saved on toys for the children – toys aplenty – cheap, but aplenty – “everyone will be over the moon”, he thought!

The following day the man’s wife toiled all morning to create her famous masterpiece, but try as she might, things were not looking so good. The turkey was as moist as a rice cracker and not even the man’s father could use his self-proclaimed carving expertise to create fine slices of meat without it all crumbling. The Brussels were a smear of mush, the bread pudding like rock and the Christmas pudding continued to smell.


Those that came to the feast that year remember counting the minutes down to the Queen’s speech in silence, willing the whole experience to end. They were polite, of course, and said with some conviction that the wife had once more produced her prized supper, but it was clear they did not really mean it and the wife knew as much. As did the man. The shame. He had not only damaged his own reputation but that of his wife’s and that meant the world to him. As the cheap, plastic toys fell apart one by one and the children began crying, he thought he heard whispers that people may not return the following year. From that moment on, he vowed that next year would be different again.

The following year – now filled with experience of sourcing the most expensive and the cheapest that the land of internet and the markets that were super could offer he sat down with his wife and together they agreed what needed to be done. Some of the ingredients could be cheap but some needed to be sourced with skill against certain criteria laid down by his wife.

monery 2

Gone went the big turkey and in came two small ones, Brussels were fine to be cheaper (but not from the kingdom of pound), and spending an extra 76p/Kg for pre peeled ones meant more time for the man to serve wine to his beloved guests. The bread pudding was outsourced to the man’s fairy godmother who had always suggested that her recipe was better than anything bought (and it was free!). The Christmas pudding was bought for half the price from Mrs Miggins at the school craft fair, with a reputation for the best puddings in Wandsworth (with profits donated to a local charity). And finally, all this left enough money for a Playstation that the man bought from someone nearby who had received very good ratings indeed.

And so it was that the banquet for all the family and the family’s family (sixteen people all told) was prepared. Everyone was happy and the man made much merriment with his free time serving the right priced wine for the occasion. The family of sixteen sat in the great hall discussing the delights to come and reflecting on what the man had learnt over the last three years. Whether it was the wine, or the nibbles, or a small piece of magic from the fairy godmother, no one knew, but for a minute or two they spoke in the strange foreign tongue from the faraway region that borders the lands of Procurement and Consulting.

And here is what they agreed:

  • Whilst price is an easy thing to measure, it can go horribly wrong without an eye on the right quality.  
  • Getting input from all those involved and understanding the end consumer’s definition of quality ensures best value and can yield hidden savings.
  • Outsource some elements to other experts, the quality may be higher and the total cost ultimately lower.
  • Damaging a brand’s reputation not only hurts the brand but hugely damages the reputation of the buyers.

And then they were back! The family was once again having such a good time and dinner was close to being served. The hours passed and the wine kept flowing until one of the children came running into the great hall telling stories of great smoke billowing from the furnace. The Christmas dinner with all of the wife’s hard work was gone in a plume of smoke. It could have been, and in many families probably would have been, a complete disaster, but…..

And this is the most important lesson of all – the family tidied up the burnt mess and the man and his wife got out whatever they could find from the pantry. Together they scavenged whatever they could find to fill their empty stomachs. The food was just fine. The wife wasn’t blamed and nor was the man (although perhaps next year they may drink less wine while dinner is cooking).

The company was, as it always had been, the highlight of the day – the feast was merely a side show. Sometimes it takes a disaster to remind people about the important things (more so than a contrived Christmas blog!)

Merry Christmas to you all and please think about calling Xoomworks in 2016 – we would love to discuss how we may be able to help you.