So after focusing on the lovely ladies, next up is my Christmas gift guide for the boys. I always find Mr E really hard to buy for, as if he wants something, he tends to just go and get it. Plus, if you ask him, he always says ‘buy me a jumper’. Trouble is, he tells this to his Mum and everyone else that buys him a present too. I find the best way to combat this is to have a list on my iPhone notes of anything he mentions during the year. The boys, on the other hand, never fail to provide Santa with the biggest list possible to choose from, but I like to treat them with small, unexpected bits and pieces so there are still a few surprises. So whether you’re looking for your grown up kids, Dad, uncles or your significant other, I’ve had a look around the shops – I hope this provides some inspiration for Christmas gifts for the man in your life – for every budget!
There’s something delightfully festive about a Harrods Hamper. Seeing as we’re all getting into the Christmas spirit here at English Towers, I was very excited when Harrods offered us the chance to try one out. We chose ‘The Sloane‘, and it arrived (you can track your order online, and it arrives within 3-5 working days) well protected and carefully packaged. The hamper, a glossy square dark brown cane basket with a faux leather embossed lid is huge – rather over huge, if I’m honest, for its contents, which I’d probably describe as all the ingredients for the poshest afternoon tea you’ve had in your entire existence.
So following on from fab pressies for foodies, this time it’s the turn of the cook in your life. Don’t immediately discount cookery books as the safe option, there are some fabulous cookbooks out there at this time of year.
The wonderful Eric Lanlard, Master Pâtissier and all-round creative genius has brought out a gorgeous book, perfect for any chocolate lover: Chocolat: Seductive Recipes for Bakes, Desserts, Truffles and Other Treats is stuffed full of every chocolate recipe you could ever want, plus it looks stunning. The perfect gift.
The Great British Vegetable Cookbook by Sybil Kapoor is full of really inventive vegetable recipes – both as accompaniments to main meals and as delicious meals in their own right. It’s wonderfully inspirational when you’re planning meals and would make a lovely gift for a veggie or meat eater.
Another of my favourite books of the year is A Good Egg: a year of recipes from an urban hen-keeper – by Genevieve Taylor. Perfect for anyone who yearns for the simple things – cooking simple, delicious dinners made with produce from your garden and eggs from hens pecking in the yard. It reminds me of classic Nigella books as it’s a lovely read as well as having some really gorgeous recipes. A bedside book, I’d call it. Inspirational.
I must admit I did once get very cross with Mr English for buying me a breadmaker for Christmas. It was when we’d first got together and I thought it was the most unromantic gift I’d ever received. Now, of course, I’d be delighted with a gorgeous appliance and I’ve got my eye on this very pretty pearly Breville Aurora toaster to go with my glossy cream kitchen units.
Next up is cheeeeese! No Christmas is complete without cheese and this one is really special (and extensively tested by me. You’re welcome). The Denhay Dorset Drum of cheddar is a real showstopper and packs a bit of punch, flavour wise. Denhay have now decided to focus all their attention on their bacon, so this is the last time you’ll be able to buy it. Snap one up online (from £25 + p&p) .
For something really special, how about a bottle of English Knightor Brut NV sparkling wine from Cornish winery Knightor. We gave it a try and it really is the perfect festive fizz – light, fruity (peachy?) and with lovely, almost creamy bubbles. You can buy it online, priced £27 from www.knightor.com. Gorgeous.
Experiences make really interesting gifts too. Why not treat your favourite chef/chefette to a course at Padstow Seafood School. They have a fab range of courses starting at £95 for a half day course. Gift cards are available and can be posted direct with a personalised message (they have no expiry date). Check out rickstein.com/seafood-school for details.
And for little stocking fillers? Check out Monin’s gorgeous gingerbread syrup (yummy in coffee, but equally good poured over pancakes or even as an ingredient in cakes), or why not wrap up a couple of Very Lazy’s little pots – the Smoked Chopped Garlic, Smoked Chopped Chillies (our favourite – amazing on pizzas) and Fire-Roasted Sliced Chillies are really interesting and useful – what more could you ask for?!
So every year I do these gift guides, and half the time I’m thinking about the boys, or about what my Mum would like, or what would be wonderful for Mr English, but as I’m searching, I often see something and think ‘ooh, I like that’. I started to note them down, just so I could write a Christmas list, and here they are, my ‘that will do nicely’ list for Christmas 2013, interspersed with some lovely things that I’ve been sent.
Don’t forget flowers if you’re considering Christmas pressies for mums. I adore receiving flowers. Debenhams sent me these absolutely beautiful Christmas flowers called ‘Cinnamon Spice‘. They had soft, velvety red roses, cute gerberas, bright red berries, lots of beautiful-smelling red roses and the festive addition of some cinnamon sticks too. The flowers smelt divine and lasted for ages. (£29.99). If you use this discount code: XMASBLOG, you’ll get £5 off all Christmas gifts too (expires 21.12.13).
There’s nothing quite as lush as a Harrods Hamper. This beauty is £100 and contains six decent bottles including a nice Rioja, a Cape Coral Mourvedre Rosé, Emiliana Novas Cabernet Sauvignon/Merlot and a lovely Chardonnay – the gift that really does keep on giving. Find the Harrods hamper selection here.
Asda have got some lovely foodie gifts this year. I especially liked this Extra Special olive oil set with Toscano extra virgin olive oil and a ceramic olive oil decanter. It’s just £6 too.
I’ve really enjoyed Tom Kerridge’s TV series Tom Kerridge’s Proper Pub Food and would really like to eat at the Hand and Flowers, which is actually quite near us. I’ll settle for the book that accompanies the series for now, though. I’d also like Raven Girl by Audrey Niffenegger. I adored The Time Traveler’s Wife and Her Fearful Symmetry, but missed this one for some reason.
For the home, I’m loving tartan at the moment (inspired, of course, by my lovely friend Erica up in Edinburgh). Buyakilt.com have all sorts of beautiful tartan rugs (as well as scarves and even kilts if you fancy going the whole nine yards). The pupster has got quite fond of our lovely soft Jacob tartan rug (they call it a rug but it’s perfect as a sofa throw – it washes beautifully on a cool wash) ad there are all sorts of lovely colours to choose from.
I love candles and I’m very spoilt as lovely Yankee Candle always send me their new ones to try. My favourite this Christmas is Merry Marshmallow which will fill your home with the delicious, warm sweet smell of baking, even if you can’t be bothered to actually bake! I’d also like the more traditional Christmas Memories scent as well please, Santa!
L’Oreal Paris Revitalift Laser Renew is hands down the best moisturiser I’ve ever used – it’s non-greasy and sinks in really easily. It also seems to give a really nice base for make-up, plus I like the smell. Winner winner chicken dinner.
Redken Body Full is a godsend if you have fine hair. When I had my hair cut recently my stylist used it and my hair felt amazing. WANT! (By the way check out the shop I’ve linked to here – it’s owned by a friend of mine from school).
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