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Friday, 18 December 2015

Last Minute Gifts and Stocking Fillers

It's only a week until Christmas and while I'm sure most of you have already bought the majority of your gifts (if not check out my guides here and here) you might still be looking for a few little pieces, maybe to go in stockings? If so, then this is the list for you. All of these present ideas can be bought from chain shops (I love independents but by their very definition there's normally only one of them and that's just not practical for last minute things) and most cost under £10. With the other posts I have chosen a make and then suggested some of my favourites within their collection, while here I shall switch between item (e.g. biscuit cutters) and shops, depending on what you can get where - Paperchase have so many gorgeous things that it seemed silly to have a long list of ideas with only one item in each and all from the same shop!


I think these christmas pudding bin bags (£10/12) are so cute and would make a great gift for the cook, and makes taking out the bins a bit more fun (as far as taking the bins out can be fun). Continuing the christmas pud theme is a set of juggling balls (£6) perfect for big and little kids alike. For me, recipe books are one of my ultimate weaknesses but I often find it hard to find my favourite recipes in a hurry (at university alone I have 30 or 40 cookbooks) so I write up my favourite recipes into a (now tattered and stained) Paperchase recipe book that a friend gave me for Christmas 2014. Paperchase sell fun patterned ones (£10 each) and a slick Molesine recipe journal (£18) that I aspire to, or finally you could go for loose cards and a box to store them in (paperchase £10), which are easier to transport. The other thing I rely on at uni is a meal planner to stop me from impulse buying my food (an expensive mistake). Normally, paperchase have a great selection in multiple sizes and also straight shopping list pads, but online they only seem to show this one (paperchase £8) which is a bit too cartoony for my tastes. Finally, for the cocktail enthusiast, there's a sweet gold toned cocktail shaker (£18) that says "Cheers!".

Cookie cutters and Cupcake cases

I love the little things that go with baking. It's great fun to make cupcakes but it's even better if you can then match the cases to the flavour/occasion. My absolute favourite cases are from Meri Meri but they can get pricey (Meri Meri £3.75-£10) and can be hard to find on the high street (the same goes for their amazing cookie cutter collections £3-£9). Waitrose always have a sweet collection of cupcake cakes (around £1.50 for 75). Cath Kidston do some classically patterned cases (£6/60) that would be good for a flower aficionado.

Waitrose, Tesco and Sainsbury's do cute Christmas biscuit cutters for a fraction of the price, I especially like Sainsbury's copper angel (£2.50). For a more practical idea, a set of round cutters in their own tin makes a timeless gift, like these ones from Lakeland (£9.99).

To make all of these sweet bakes you need an equally sweet utensil set, and Cath Kidston saves the day once more with their little leaves utensil gift set (£14).

Cookbooks/food writing and DVDs

I love to see a DVD in my stocking on Christmas morning so that I have something to do until everyone else wakes up (I might be nearly 22 but I'm still like a little kid on Christmas Day) and my favourites this year have to include Chef (HMV £5.99) and The Hundred Foot Journey (HMV £5.99). Both are in the 2 for £10 offer at HMV. My ultimate feel good movie of the year would have to be Pitch Perfect Two (HMV £12.99) but be warned - you'll be singing all day!

Waterstones doesn't have the best selection of food writing but it does have Mina Holland's The Edible Atlas (£9.99 paperback), a delightful and delicious journey around the world. The Cook's One Line a Day (£13) is a great way to record your best meals (especially if, like me, you tend to remember what happened that day via what you ate/cooked).

If you're concerned that your university age children aren't cooking while they're away then look no further than Sam Stern's Student Cookbook (£10.99) - it's packed full of recipes and even manages to explain how to cook rice and pasta in a non-patronising way. Best of all it's perfect for people of all ages and culinary abilities, from novice to accomplished cook.

Little Leon recipe books would make a perfect little present. At £6.99 each you can choose from 6 books including Fast Suppers, Breakfast & Brunch and Brownies, Bars & Muffins. Great for those who want simple food without endlessly searching for the right recipe.


Last but not least, chocolate is always an excellent thing to find in a 5am stocking raid (got to have something to keep me going until it's an acceptable time to wake the rest of the family)! I know Terry's Chocolate oranges (£2) is a classic, but for a luxurious surprise in the toe of your stocking the you can't go far wrong with Charbonnel & Walker sea salt caramel truffles (Waitrose £9.99/120g).


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I love to cook and this blog follows my successes (and a few failures) in the kitchen. If you enjoy my posts, or think there is a problem with a recipe then please let me know