Monday, 20 November 2017

Bumper Christmas Gift Guide 2017

I went Christmas shopping for the first time this year in Canterbury with my Mum last week, and god everyone is up for a challenge this year. I don't know what it is, but there don't seem to be nearly enough fun, unique and generally lovely Christmas gifts and stocking fillers in the shops this year. It has been harder than usual to put this together too: a five part Christmas gift guide so you don't have to struggle with gifts the way I seem to be this year! I've included a selection of gifts under £10, under £25 and under £50, plus a guide geared at gifts for him and a selection of my favourite 2017 cookbooks I think would also make great gifts - I hope they help! 
Gifts Under £10 2017 Under £10

Prawn Nigiri Sushi Socks | Grow Your Own Dinosaur KaleNicolas Vahe Salt With Parmesan Cheese & Basil | Guinness Gilroy Limited Edition Lobster Cans (available offline at all good retailers!) | Modern Cocktails Moscow Mules Set | Whittard Mulled Wine Tea Bauble | Pop a Ball Strawberry & Peach Bursting Prosecco Bubbles | Hotel Chocolat Salted Caramel Hot Chocolate | Maille Morel Mushroom & Chablis Mustard | Mr Stanley's Mint Chocolate Walking Sticks | Help for Heroes Cadbury Heroes Tin


These little gifts are great for stocking fillers and secret santa. Most of them are edible (this is a food blog after all), but I have found a great Moscow Mule set with a mug and a jigger which is a total steal for under £10, and these fun sushi socks that come presented as nigiri.

In the personal favourites section, we have the Morel Mushroom & Chablis Maille Mustard which you can get in the Maille shop (either in London or online) which we picked up as a special edition in the French supermarket last year. This is a simply beautiful mustard with rich, heady flavours and makes the perfect Christmas condiment. I'm not a traditional tea drinker so every winter I go mad over mulled and spiced flavours of tea, and who here was a fan as a kid of those mint matchstick chocolates that are hard to get now Matchsticks (the brand) have gone all crunchy on us? You can now get them in a beautiful retro box!

Finally, a few things you need to look out for in the supermarket: as a Tesco exclusive this year they're selling a Help for Heroes edition tin of Cadbury Heroes where 65p from every tin sold will go to the charity. It is a beautiful keepsake, and great to take into the office for everyone to share - when I was given one at the Cadbury Christmas Press Day over the summer I took it back to my office and everyone loved dipping in while we worked. Also, Guinness have some wonderful special edition cans with lobsters on at the moment! 
Under £25 2017
Under £25



A few friend-suitable gifts here, or gifts if you're like me and prefer to buy your nearest and dearest a couple of gifts, rather than just one big thing. For the home I'm starting to think everyone needs a message light box in their lives, and I fell a little bit in love with these copper salt and pepper grinders when they were on the tables at Evelyn's in Manchester. For people who also like a touch of luxury at home but are more beauty product type people, I don't know anyone who does not love Philosophy's 3-in-1 shampoo/ shower gel/ bubble bath festive bottles - I'm always a big fan of Christmas Cookie! Also, for light sleepers The White Company have a lovely oyster silk sleep mask in at the moment, and Orla Kiely make a surprisingly perfect scent: why not get them a selection?

On the edibles front why not get them a gin and tonic infusion kit or a miniature of Gin Mare - in my mind the best gin on the market - if you're gin drinkers, if not tasting the range in store at John Lewis the other week, I was blown away by Edinburgh Gin Distillery's Elderflower Liqueur, not too sweet, and just a little bit curious. On the chocolate front, lets be honest I've included my all time favourite Charbonnel et Walker Rose & Violet Creams here because yes they make a great gift, but this is a little nudge to my mother who I know is listening and struggling with my presents this year! However, not pictured (because I have a strange OCD thing about having all white backgrounds on all my gift guide images) but highly recommended is something I was invited to try recently: The Grown Up Chocolate Company's Make Your Own Bar. You can customiser the flavours and the wrappers with words and photos, so they'd make a delicious and unique gift. 
Christmas Gifts Under £50 Under £50



Now for the slightly bigger gifts. I've geared it this year towards the sort of things people like to snuggle up with at home, so perhaps they can enjoy some of the finer things that are oh-so-expensive when you go out (has anyone else noticed that dinner bills at just everyday places are starting to get a bit higher?) Oysters are a massive Christmas thing for me, and I'm still battling with a cheap plastic handled oyster knife while I learn how to shuck properly. If you know someone who loves them as much as I do but can't afford restaurant prices all the time, this oyster toolkit is a fantastic gift. If they're not oyster fans why not put together a little at home cocktail kit? I was given this beautiful penguin cocktail shaker as a gift last year (they're my favourite bird/ animal), and you could give it along with a bottle of their favourite spirit - in my case sloe gin. It's too late to make your own for gifts this year (mine has been going for ages, and will only be ready on December 16th) so Liberty London now stock a great one as an alternative.

More for the home (also great gifts for couples) a few more picks for a cozy weekend in: the whole hygge thing kind of passed me by, but it still does not mean I was not obsessed with sniffing this beautifully calming Fjord scented candle when I came across it the other week. Netflix is not really something you can give as a gift, but an Amazon Fire Stick (plus Alexa remote) is something you can. Heading back into the kitchen we're going Italian this year with this great, all you need make your own pasta kit, and this beautiful bottle of extra virgin olive oil, which can be refilled and kept looking pretty on your kitchen counter.
2017 Cookbook Gift Guide
Cookbooks

Small Victories by Julia Turshen | The Savvy Cook by Izy Hossack | On The Side by Ed Smith | Downtime by Nadine Levy Redzepi | Student Eats by Rachel Phipps | At My Table by Nigella Lawson


So many amazing cookbooks come out every year (and I always end up with a fair few of them on my shelves!) so all I can do here is highlight some of my favourites from the past 12 months, and indicate what sort of person they'd make good gifts for. Small Victories by Julia Turshen is great for someone who loves to learn about cooking. It is full of everyday food (and some life-changing recipes), and every recipe includes a small kitchen hack designed to make life easier, and that will make you (or your recipient) a better cook. On the other hand, On The Side by Ed Smith is perfect for the adventurous everyday book - a whole book of imaginative and flavourful side dishes that I read on holiday and can't wait to get my teeth into, but is perhaps only suitable for the keened cook.

The Savvy Cook is the second book by my friend Izy Hossack, and is full of easy, healthy, vegetarian recipes without the need for silly hard to find ingredients most special diet books include. Everything I have made from it so far has been delicious and it is suitable for all levels of cook - a gift for (but not limited to) the people in your life who like to live a little bit healthier, especially when January rolls around! 

Downtime by Nadine Levy Redzepi and Nigella's new book At My Table are both books full of delicious, easy to follow, inviting everyday and celebration recipes with beautiful food writing and clear instructions. I've loved everything I have made from both so far, but if you want to surprise someone perhaps go for Nadine's book - only because it is too fantastic to be missed (I'd take a stab at it being my favourite cookbook of 2017, and I only got it a week before it was published last month!) and everyone will have Nigella on their wish lists already! Finally, I can't help but include a shameless plug: if you're buying a Christmas gift for a new student, or anyone who would benefit from a collection of cheap, easy meals you can make in a tiny kitchen with limited collection, do get them a copy of my book Student Eats, which I promise they will love!
Gifts for Him 2017
Gifts for Him



Finally, something in my mind a little less fun, but just as important: gifts for the boys. Somehow, boys gifts to me either fall into three categories: edible, practical, and silly - the latter of which I have not included here as they always seem to be rather personal to do with their own sense of humour. On the edible front, I think for anyone at all you can't go wrong with a Hotel Chocolat gift set with champagne truffles, salted caramel puddles and prosecco, and I also want a big jar of slow cooked barbecue flavour pork crackling! Haig Club were kind enough to send over a bottle of their Clubman whisky when I was putting this guide together. A bit sweet by itself, it is expertly blended to go with coke, so if your man is something who loves a good whisky and coke, this is for them!

On the practical front, the new Star Wars film means there are so many great new film themed products out there, the best of which I think are these power packs, which you can also get R2-D2, Darth Vader and Stormtrooper versions of. Also, I want this silver set of top hat/ walking stick olive picks for my own pre-dinner drinks!

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