17 sleeps till Christmas! Apologies if this sends you into a mild panic…
Trying to think of ideas for presents for friends and family can often feel like the hardest task in the run-up to Christmas, so I’m here to help on the festive inspiration front!
All these items are hand-picked by me and have either been received as review products, or I have purchased them myself to give as gifts.
First things first – my ultimate Christmas gift hamper this year is The Sweet Life Hamper by Harvey Nichols. It is the ultimate gift for a hostess or as a house warming present – with many of these items finding themselves very much at home in our house as I unpacked the hamper just as we moved back in after 14 months of renovations! It’s perfect for stocking up a Christmas pantry with special treats like Pink Chocolate Marc de Champagne Truffles and Brut Rosé Champagne. There’s also tea, cake, a selection of candles and a Starskin Hand Mask (for hands that do dishes) all presented in an elegant black wicker hamper. A little drop of the Mozart Premium Chocolate Liqueur into some hot chocolate topped with whipped cream makes for a delicious festive treat and I won’t tell anyone if you happen to dunk a Harvey Nichols Chocolate Hazelnut Butter Biscuit in there too…
Price: £110 (Item gratefully received for review)
For Gin Lovers
If you’re tasked with buying a gift for the gin aficionado, then this Dartington Crystal Gintuition Gift Set from John Lewis is a fantastic find – and a steal at £22 in a lovely box. It features a selection of three glasses with three unique shapes to allow the best gin-tasting experience and a little book of cocktail recipes. It includes a classic highball, an on-trend copa stem and an ever-stylish martini glass. The gin cocktail possibilities are endless…
Price: £22 (own gift purchase)
Whilst gin is having its moment (and whilst I set up my Christmas gin bar) you can’t go wrong with a bottle of Plymouth Gin (Original) made in the Black Friars Distillery, a former monastery and the oldest working gin distillery in England. A favourite of the British Royal Navy, Plymouth Gin has been distilled using the same blend of seven botanicals, soft Dartmoor water and pure grain alcohol since 1793 – a modern classic. It retails for around £22.95 for 70cl but Tesco have it for £20 at the moment.
Plymouth Gin & Rivington Shoreditch Experience
If you’re London-bound or in the vicinity of trendy Shoreditch, make sure you schedule some time for a bespoke winter cocktail experience. From now until the New Year, Plymouth Gin (the world’s first spirit to be called ‘dry gin’) and the Rivington Shoreditch are giving guests the chance to treat themselves to a series of specially created gin cocktails – with all ingredients specially hand selected by Rivington Shoreditch Bar Manager Piotr Jedrzejewski – inspired by naval traditions. Once you’ve enjoyed your cocktail, you can pick a message in a bottle off the Christmas tree for a chance of a Christmas miracle.
My favourite cocktail there is one called Absent Friends made with Plymouth Navy Strength gin, homemade Christmas vermouth, Maraschino liqueur and Angostura bitters (aged in oak barrel for 14 days) – £10
For Chocolate Lovers
Who should you turn to for your chocoholic family member’s gift needs? Hotel Chocolat naturally! Their ‘All I Want For Christmas’ ribbon-tied chocolate hamper should keep them smiling. It’s stashed full of treats including a Penguin Snowed Under Slab, Ho Ho Ho, Reindeer Lick, Milk & Cookies Slab, Champagne Truffles, Salted Caramel Snowflakes and Classic Christmas H-Box. The burning question is will they share any of it with you?!
Price: £35 (Item received for review)
For a delicious little stocking filler you should also check out the Hotel Chocolate Salted Caramel Hot Chocolate. It’s a cosy mix of grated mellow chocolate and caramel, with a tiny pinch of salt for a sophisticated take on the classic comfort drink.
I absolutely adore the stunning packaging of these boxes of Godiva chocolates, and have bought them as gifts for a few of my family members. I think it’s the ultimate treat to receive a box of luxury chocolates like this that you would never normally buy for yourself.
Price: £28, for a box of 20
Paperchase is one of those shops I always make a beeline for, and I especially love their super cute Cookie Cutter Fairy Lights. The copper cookie cutter lights come in three fun shapes, including a gingerbread man, tree and star. Each is made from metal and has a cut-out dot design to let the light through when you flick the switch. The set is battery powered so you can use it anywhere you like. A great accessory for adorning kitchen shelves over the festive season.
I also love these Festive Food Trays from Paperchase with adorable illustrations. My toddler and niece will both be eating their Christmas dinner from these super-cute trays! They are very parent-friendly as they’re made from melamine, so they can be chucked both on the floor, and then in the dishwasher!
Local Foodies and Businesses
A festive shout out to my foodie friend Kavita for starting her first Etsy ceramics shop Studio Favelle! Her handmade decorative plates make for wonderfully unique and affordable gifts (top image).
Congratulations also to my two friends for recently making it onto Not on the High Street – woop!
Chai Spices Indian Shortbread Gift Sets by Chin’s Kitchen, an artisan home-based bakery started by Chintal Kakaya, specialising in creating handmade cakes and treats with a unique Indian twist (bottom left).
And Holy Lama Naturals with their incredible Spice Drops created from natural extracts. You can find out more about the series of recipes I created using them last month in my blog post Cooking with Holy Lama Spice Drops (bottom right).
Price: from £15
St Albans Shout Out!
As well as traditional Christmas high street shopping, I also love supporting local businesses and friends and a good number of my Christmas gifts will also come from the St Albans farmers market or from Raindrops on Roses, St Albans who stock some of the most beautiful gifts, all locally sourced and who donate 100% of the profits to charity. Do pop in if you are ever in St Albans – they are by the Cathedral Gate – incidentally we also have a fabulous Christmas Market in the Abbey Cathedral Gardens (they run until 18th December)
That’s all for now – hope I’ve helped you out with a few festive bits. I’m sitting down now to pen some Christmas cards.
P.S If you’re sensing a gin and chocolate theme this year for me you’d be on the money! With thanks to Harvey Nichols, Hotel Chocolate and Plymouth Gin for the review items. All other items purchased independently.