Every year I aim to start buying Christmas presents early and every year, I fail to do so. The problem is, if you buy gifts too early the receiver either goes out and buys it for themselves anyway, which results in you having to exchange it and then think of something else for that person, or the person can’t take it back after Christmas because it was bought so long ago. Parents, parents-in-law and elderly aunts I find extremely difficult, they never know what they want, don’t need anything or can’t think of what they’d like, so this year I’ve decided that they can have a selection of food and drink because then they can always share it out with visitors over the yuletide period – hopefully with me. Here are a few ideas that should go down a treat.
Charbonnel et Walker’s Christmas Fine Dark & Milk Chocolate Selection. Charbonnel never fail to deliver and they make delicious chocolates and truffles. This lovely gold box with a delightful bauble design won’t disappoint. Filled with Charbonnel’s signature milk and dark chocolates they truly tasted divine – I know this because I ate a whole box to myself recently! If you can’t afford the £28 price tag, do not worry as Charbonnel have chocolate gifts at a variety of costs to suit most pockets. I can vouch for their boxes of truffles too, my favourite being Strawberry or Marc de Champagne…or The King’s Ginger or…. oh….they are all lovely! If you’re not in London and can’t get to one of their stores, you can either buy online from their website or John Lewis/Waitrose/ House of Fraser (and possibly other large stores) sell a range of different Charbonnel chocolate/truffle boxes and over the past year or more we’ve reviewed quite a few. Take a look here at one post but also put ‘Charbonnel’ into the search bar on the right of this page for more.
The Chocolatier’s Dark Taster Collection. If you haven’t already read our recent review on Aneesh Popat, aka The Chocolatier then you should! These chocolates blew me away. The different flavours he has put together are incredible and taste amazing! This collection is £20 for 12 and includes one of my favourites which was Beetroot, Cabernet Sauvignon vinegar & Hazelnut which tasted just like a glass of red wine – Cabernet Sauvignon, of course. This particular chocolate Aneesh supplies to a one star Michelin restaurant. The box is most definitely on my Christmas list but hurry, last orders for Christmas delivery are the 19th December.
Cakes & biscuits
Sainsbury’s Italian Panodoro. This I love and it’s only a fiver! My Italian friend Catia introduced me to this years ago and it’s simply delicious. Feathery light and whispy and sweet tasting. Inside the box is a bag containing the cake, icing sugar and stencil. You can choose to either pour the icing sugar into the bag and shake like billy-o or, if you have the time and a steady hand, slice the cake, twisting alternate slices to make it look like a Christmas tree and use the stencil to top it off with an icing star. Sainsbury’s also do a mini cake – without the icing sugar and stencil – for only £1. I have bought two of these recently, bought as presents but alas, I have eaten them. Lots of other stores sell Pandoro, John Lewis have one in a very nice tin, but it’s more expensive at £15.
Virginia’s Soft Almond Amaretti. These again I have every year and inspired by my friend Catia. In a nice tall tin, individually wrapped, not once but twice to make sure they stay wonderfully fresh. These are quite almondy, soft and sweet. The price varies from store to store but anything from £4 to £5.99.
Boxed preserves and wine
Cottage Delight’s Savoury Christmas Trees. Cottage Delight do a wide range of gifts suitable for anyone and everyone. I thought these looked nice and a bit different. The butter puff pastry shaped Christmas trees are Gouda cheese & Mediterranean herb flavoured. Delicious to serve in a bowl for guests or family to nibble on whilst you’re slaving away in the kitchen cooking the turkey and drinking wine. Cottage Delight also do a range of jams, chutneys, sauces, mince pies and lots more. Available in many farmshops, tearooms and John Lewis where they are priced at £3.50.
Edinburgh Preserves. Very much like Cottage Delights in that they do the same sort of stuff ie., jams, chutney etc., all boxed nicely which make them easy to wrap up thankfully. I’ve bought an aunt a Farmhouse Patés box at £15 containing two different patés, two chutneys and sesame biscuits for cheese & paté. For another person – who shall remain nameless in case they’re reading this – I have a box with venison pate and rosemary biscuits inside, this was £10 – they wanted this last year but we couldn’t find it anywhere so this year, they will be happy. Edinburgh Preserves are available at John Lewis, Lakeland and various other stores.
Waitrose Premium Mulled Wine. Mulled wine’s lovely to have – or to give – at Christmas time especially after coming in from the cold – warms the cockles of your heart. This bottle is from Germany and is made from a blend of red wine, cloves, cinnamon and citrus. Very fruity with rich spices. Heat it gently in a pan with some slices of apple and sweet orange to fill your house with a rich, spicy fragrance and serve warm. Can also be used in cooking. A bargain at £3.99
Ricasoli’s Chianti Classico. Barone Ricasoli’s wine has a place in my heart. A few years back Geoff and I visited their wonderful Castello di Brolio (The Castle of Brolio) and vineyard in Gaiole in Chianti in the very beautiful Tuscan countryside and fell in love with the area and the wine. Ricasoli was the first ever producer of Chianti and this Classico has the black cock and pink strip around the neck showing it’s authenticity. This one is full bodied and priced at £11.99. If you have cash to spare why not try their much more expensive bottle of Castello di Brolio Chianto Classico at £40? I’m sure you won’t be disappointed, but do tell me as I’d love to know if it’s worth it. This would make an excellent gift either for Christmas or celebrating a special occasion and both are available from Waitrose..
Villa Maria’s Sauvignon Blanc is a lovely fruity refreshing wine – reminding me of grapefruit and sunshine – from Marlborough, New Zealand and one of my very favourite white wines. I love Marlboroughs and this is one I always reach for. Priced at £10.99 I normally wait until it’s on offer. Their Hawkes Bay organic merlot is great too.
Still don’t now what to buy? Aagh, I give up!!
Living life, loving Christmas.