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Thursday, 12 November 2015

Christmas Time

Christmas is not very far away (where did the time go?) and the weather is not at all frightful (really Poitiers? Why is it 21 degrees celsius in mid-November?!) and an email from the lovely people at Cailler (read my review of their chocolate here) reminded me that I have a post mostly written about last year's food related presents that I want to adapt into a gift guide. First up, last year I made a hamper for my parents, which they loved and my bank balance hated. One word of advice? Set a budget and stick to it. I kept adding extra things and forgetting to total it up, so that I have no clue as to the total value of the hamper. It was worth it though - to be able to pull together all these amazing things that linked and expanded upon daddy's request for cheese and wine and that my parents loved.

Hampers take the most time to pull together, so I'll write and post my ideas for your hampers this week and over the next few weeks I will post other ideas for gifts, both edible and not, for foodies and gather them all together under the christmas tab on my navigation bar.


The hamper itself

This is difficult as they're often so expensive and you don't know if they'll be used again. I went for a cheap one (£12 including p&p) off Amazon that did the job perfectly but if you intend for it to last then buy a prettier, more expensive one (Harvey Nichols did empty ones starting at  around £15 last year). For my full hamper (gin, tonic, cheese, crackers, chocolates, coffee, etc). One sized 41 34x22cm worked perfectly for me and sometimes limits what you can buy! The filling should be shredded paper, which is again available from Amazon, or many craft shops.



1) Chocolates

You can't have a hamper without chocolate! Even if you're catering for someone who's diabetic then it's possible. Artisan du Chocolat (who do my favourite salted caramels) sell sugar free milk and dark chocolate ( £3.50/bar), which got the thumbs up from my mum. Otherwise, a l'Art du Brut chocolate bar from Cailler* ( £11/2 bars) can be a good addition with its eye-catching inside out design. 

2) Alcohol

I chose gin and tonic as alcohol of choice for my parents as it's their favourite pre-dinner drink. Fever Tree is the best tonic water around and comes as slimline if you want it (available from most good supermarkets £1.69/500ml). For gin, there's now a great selection of artisan gins that you can buy, I chose to get Twisted Nose Gin, distilled just down the road from my parents in Hampshire ( £30/500ml). Don't forget to buy limes a few days before the 25th so that they can have a drink before christmas lunch.

Bloody Mary lovers will enjoy Winchester Distillery's Wasabi Vodka (£30/500ml) for the pep it adds to their favourite tipple, serve with Isle of Wight based company, The Tomato Stall's tomato juice ( £2.50/500ml). Add bottles of worchester sauce or tabasco if you wish and don't forget to buy a lemon or two a few days before Christmas to add to the hamper.

A bottle of wine always goes down well but might have to be wrapped separately, unless you're doing a wine and cheese hamper. A shop I particularly like to buy wine from is Hanging Ditch in Manchester as their selection is incredible and the staff so helpful (, you'll of course have your favourites and may well know the recipient's tastes in wine; personally, I like New World Rieslings, and my parents' wine of choice is often a Pinot Noir.

3) Cheese and Biscuits

You've got to have something to snack on while drinking the wine. My favourite cheese biscuits are Thomas J Fudge's ones - they do a particularly good Many-shaped Miscellany of Biscuits for Cheese ( £4.50/box). The cheese to go with them is up to you but I do have a weakness for christmas pudding shaped cheddars, otherwise a potted stilton can be a good festive choice.

4) Tea and Coffee

If you're buying for a coffee enthusiast then a cute cafetière and some artisan coffee would make a great gift. Some great producers include Leeds based North Star Coffee Roasters ( from £5/250g) and if you happen to be in London and near Borough Market then Monmouth reportedly does the best coffee around, and luckily sells their amazing coffee beans too ( Tea addicts might like a teapot or infuser and mug with some loose leaf tea, such as those from Char, in Winchester (

You could either make a themed hamper, as I've suggested with some options, or mix and match to suit the recipients' tastes (as I did last year). Let me know what you think of these ideas and what you would want or not want in a hamper.

* This product was given to me for review purposes but all opinions are my own and there are no affiliate links on this page


  1. As the recipient of that Christmas hamper I can confirm it was great

    1. Yay! expect another in about 10 years!


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