It’s that time of the year when I share a list of ideas for seasonal gifts – whatever you celebrate, or even if you just love giving and receiving presents, here are some lovely things that might appeal. These ideas are a mix of products I have tried myself and others that I covet!
I giggle every time I look at the pictures of these Sushi Socks; there are 7 designs available including Egg, Masuzushi, Octopus, Red Caviar, Salmon, Shrimp and Tuna. Buy all seven pairs for £39.99 or any individual design for £7.99, from Firebox.
I find screw type nut crackers far easier to use than the more common squeeze type, and I’m very attached to a simple polished wooden one I bought in India several years ago. These wooden robot nut crackers by Suck UK caught my eye, available in natural, red or blue from £12.95.
It’s no secret that I adore marzipan, and when it comes to good quality marzipan, you really can’t beat Niederegger. I did a post about Niederegger last year – do have a read if you’d like to understand just why I think their marzipan is so damn good. As well as a variety of different selection boxes, some with Christmas themed packaging, they also have large advent calendars featuring an art work of their café in Lubeck and a tall slim Advent calendar in long, thin boxes. Amazon offer a really wide range, including this 400 gram selection box for £13.99 and this 200 gram selection featuring some of my favourite Niederegger liqueur marzipan flavours for £7.99.
Although we do have a knife block on our windowsill, in which we keep several of our larger knives, I really like this idea – a pretty Robert Welch signature bamboo drawer unit as a way to keep the rest of the collection safely stored, £29.95 from the Kitchen Cookshop.
Also from the Kitchen Cookshop is this sweet Paddington Bear PVC Apron for little cooks, just £6.95.
This entry, I admit, is a big fat hint to anyone trying to think of what to buy me for Christmas! I adore Mon Cheri chocolates and for some reason they are only ever on sale in the UK during the Christmas season. This 25 piece box of Mon Cheri is £14.49. Oh and while I’m at it, I absolutely love their Pocket Coffee chocolates too! This 18 piece box of Pocket Coffee is £12.99.
I first spotted Fridgeezoo’s fridge pets back in 2011 and indeed they featured in my Christmas Gift Guide for that year – if you don’t remember back that far, these cute critters call out a greeting you when you open the fridge door! With new designs available, I still think they’re super cute! £16.99 from Firebox or go to Amazon for a wider Fridgeezoo range, from £13.60 (note that some talk in Japanese and some in an American English accent).
Love this series of gin mugs from Super Mug. All mugs are £8.95 plus postage and there are 24 designs to choose from; my favourites are the Gin Flowchart, Gin and Cake, Coffee and Gin and Exercise and Gin. If you’re shopping for a beer lover, coffee addict or vodka drinker, you’re all set too. The whisky ones are all spelled “whiskey” so only suitable for Irish or American whiskey drinkers.
For just over a year I’ve been putting my Froothie Optimum power blender through its paces. It’s a real powerhouse of a blender that can blend ice cubes, frozen fruit and other solid items easily including grains, rice and nuts to make flours and nut butters. Making fresh soups is easy, as the friction from the super powerful blades generates enough heat to make the contents piping hot. I’ve also made custard, smoothies and sauces in mine and friends have made all kinds of amazing recipes.
The model I have, an Optimum 9400, is currently on sale for £299; and you can get an extra 2 years warranty for free by using my affiliate link to open the Froothie site, choosing your appliance and entering “Special Ambassador Offer” into the comments / code field at check out. The code applies to blenders, juicers and also to the brand new Froothie Thermocook, a multifunction cooking appliance that can cook, steam, blend and more; I’ve just received one to play with and can’t wait to get cooking. The Thermocook is currently discounted from £895 to £549.
Bird’s Custard is an iconic brand, and their well-known packaging design makes for a colourful 750 ml jug (£15.44). Perfect for gravy, sauces and custard, of course!
A lot of people may suck their teeth at this but Pete and I often eat dinner on the sofa in front of the telly. We don’t have kids, and we certainly manage plenty of good conversation during our day, so catching up on recorded telly is our most common dinnertime activity. For ages I’ve been using a cushion with a tray balanced on top, but I was recently sent this Lap Tray from Premier Housewares Ella Collection (£12.60) instead – far more comfortable, not to mention much prettier! The matching Ella tea towel set (£10.17) has also caught my eye – such pretty patterns and colours.
I’m coveting much of the White Ceramics range available from Sophie Conran, especially the measuring jug, the mini oval roasting dish, the set of 4 pasta bowls and the white saucepans with their shiny handles.
Another tool that I’ve absolutely loved using this year is clever Codlo, a superbly designed and nifty device that turns your slow cooker, rice cooker or other such cooking appliance into a bona fida sous vide water bath. We use our Codlo with our slow cooker and it performs extremely well, certainly a match for far more expensive and bulky options. The Codlo is priced at £119, available here and would make the perfect gift for an enthusiastic amateur cook keen to try with sous vide cooking.
Long hot soaky baths are one of my favourite things, and I’m a creature of habit when it comes to what gets added to my bath. Neal’s Yard Remedies Geranium & Orange Bath Oil and Rose & Pomegranate Bath Oil are both £15 for 100 ml and I adore both scents. I always add a teaspoon of Vita Coco Coconut Oil (£9.98 for 500ml) to my bath too, which makes it even more moisturising for my skin.
I can’t resist the amusement value of these two Salt and Pepper Shaker sets from LazyBoneUK. The randy black and white bunny rabbit salt and pepper shaker set is £6.99 and the ghoulish brain halves salt and pepper shaker set is £19.99!
A friend of mine recently set up a lovely new site called Barnaby & Co. specialising in modern homewares and quirky gifts from independent makers. My eye is on these darling green taped design ceramic cups by Dutch based duo Studio PS, £16 each but do browse the entire site as there are many lovely things.
One of the things I love about Prestat (quite apart from the deliciousness of their chocolates) is their gorgeous, vividly-coloured packaging – indeed it’s so pretty that it doesn’t really need wrapping – all you need to do is tie a ribbon and tag around it and it’s ready to go! My pick this year are these Yuzu Sake Truffles £12.50, which feature a yuzu and sake ganache filling inside a crisp dark chocolate shell dusted in icing sugar. Yuzu lovers will not be disappointed!
Similarly gorgeous packaging containing equally delicious treats within can be found at Bonieri, purveyors of fine Italian gianduja products featuring the Piedmont-grown ‘Tonda Gentile delle Langhe’ hazelnut. Here’s my review of a few of their products, earlier this year. My personal favourites are the Chocolate Covered Hazelnut Nougat (which I purchased more of as soon as I’d finished my samples!)
I’ve recently been browsing the Wayfair site (and have written a post on Christmas edible gift ideas for them which should be up on their Inspirations blog soon). If you’re looking for some elegant, colourful glassware, they usually have some great designs available. The nature of their site means that stock and prices change regularly, so the exact products above may not be available – they are ones I’ve bookmarked in the last month.
We’ve had a great year for discovering new appliances this year. One great kitchen tool that we use several times a week is the Salter Heston Blumenthal Dual Platform Precision Scale (£44.89)which we reviewed in March. It’s called Precision because that’s precisely what if offers, allowing you to weigh accurately in increments as small as 0.1 grams and up to a total weight of 10 kg, it’s a well-designed, attractive and very useful kitchen essential.
Other Heston for Sage appliances we’ve reviewed and been super impressed by are the Quick Touch Microwave £251.95 (my review here) and the Smart Scoop Ice Cream Maker £299.95 (my reviews here and here).
One of the best resources for high quality ingredients and equipment for very keen cooks is the Sous Chef site, which I’ve recommended many times before. Perfect for Christmas are their Cooking Sets, each one contains one of the best recipe books on the cuisine plus a selection of core ingredients to get you started. On my wish list are MiMi Aye’s Noodle! cooking set (£22.50), the Fuchsia Dunlop Chinese cooking set (£39.50) and the Movida Spanish cooking set (£39.50). Any of the items in the Sous Chef Maverick Flavour range would also make a fantastic gift.
Anyone wanting to win my favour could do worse than treat me to one of these classic Italian delights from Carluccio’s! Chocolate coated figs £9.95, Gianduiotti Milk & Hazelnut Chocolates £8.95 and Pistachio Torrone £6.95.
In our house it’s Pete who is the more serious coffee drinker – I am happy enough with instant! But I did fall head over glassware for the beautiful Chemex coffee maker, which I was introduced to earlier this year. In this case, it’s the curvaceous waisted glass jug and the ritual of the process that appeals. Read my guide on How to Make Pour Over Coffee in a Chemex Coffee Maker and then buy your own 10-Cup Chemex (£48) or 6-Cup Chemex (£38.07).
I don’t know why I have such a fondness for tea towels since we’re firmly a dishwasher household and even when things are washed by hand, they’re usually left to drain rather than towel-dryed. And yet, I still covet tea towels with pretty patterns, pictures and sayings. Tesco Direct have lots of great designs from a variety of retail partners. My favourites include Hello Chicken £5.95 and Alright Duck £5.95. Not On The High Street have an amazing selection including my picks – Bejewelled design tea towel £7.50, Magpie tea towel £9, Poppies tea towel £4.50 (sale price), Table for Two tea towel £9.50, Tea Eye Test tea towel £7.50, Flamingos and pineapples tea towel £9.95, Herbs and Spices tea towel £6.95 and English Tea and Cake tea towel £9.95. Last but not least, I love this sweet robin tea towel by Ulster Weave £6.95.
I want more cakes in my life! The coloured glass single level Fika cake stands from Anthropologie are £10 for the smaller size and available in orange, blue or green. Or check out these 2-tier and 3-tier pink glass stands from Premier Housewares, £9.99 and £15.97 respectively. Artis offer a modern square-plated, 3-tier stand for £19.99. Or lastly, I’m rather taken by this rectangular single stand from Anton in striking aqua blue, £15.60.
I told you last Christmas about these gorgeous Flare pans that were new in at Lakeland. Since then, we’ve put our 20 cm saucepan to frequent use and really love it. Although you’d be forgiven for assuming that these pans are all about their good looks, the unusual flared ridges adorning the sides of the pans are designed specifically to distribute heat from the flames of a gas hob evenly across the base and up the sides which heats up the contents of the pan more quickly. Designed by Oxford Professor Dr. Thomas Povey whose expertise is thermodynamics applied to advanced jet engine design, the pans are formed from cast aluminium with stainless steel handles. They can be used on electric, ceramic and halogen hobs too, but you won’t get the faster cooking that they provide on gas.
The other winner from Lakeland for us has been the Thermospatula £14.97 which is such a simple yet revolutionary idea – it combines a silicone spatula with a digital thermometer, making it so much easier to stir jam while still keeping an eye on the temperature. You can also slip the thermometer out from the spoon to use it on its own. We use this device a lot and wouldn’t go back to the clunky clip-on metal jam thermometers!
Divertimenti currently have a sale on these Cezanne fruit mugs, £11.21 each.
That’s it for now, though I’ll be sharing some ideas for cookery books and favourite tipples in the next week or two. In the mean time, happy shopping! Need more ideas? Check out my previous years’ gift guides for more fun things!
Prices correct at time of publication. Where products are available from multiple online retailers, I’ve provided a link to one retailer, usually Amazon if available. Some of the links are affiliate links (please see sidebar for more information), which means that I will receive a small commission for any purchases made. Where I list a product I have tried, this means I genuinely love and recommend the product. There are also many items in the list that I do not own / have not tried personally but which appeal to me as a shopper and which I think would make great gifts.