Christmas is almost upon us and this weekend consumer are predicted by the BRC to break sales records with a £5billion spend as last minute shoppers go in search of price deals on their perfect gift.

All your shopping needs taken care of by the magical elfridge

All your shopping needs taken care of by the magical elfridge

My search of London didn’t really excite too much with predictable gifts for a food lover like me. I trawled the big department stores in the hope that places like Liberty, Fortnums and Harrods would inspire but to be honest none are a patch on Selfridges, who just got it right. It may have been the brigade of Elfridges, complete with Vivienne Westwood red ballgowns and roller skates, or perhaps the many one off concessions, or even the samplings and demos, but the overall experience is just top class.

popcorn

I managed to find my whole popcorn shopping here at a better price than I was looking at online. I went for the more traditional stove top version with funky containers and obviously lots of interesting corns. You could also add a jar of Joe and Seph’s if you wanted something ready made. As in the US, popcorn, waffles, DIY sets and all things with coffee or chocolate were featured in abundance.

Alcohol is also excelling itself with cocktails, one off unique blends, fantastic packaging and lots more to entice, but I am not a big drinker so I focused on the food this year.

Love brownies

For my gift buying, there were a few people that I would like to recommend. Firstly Love Brownies. The wonderful Chantal is from my home county of Yorkshire and bakes superb award winning brownies, but the real treat is the packaging which is clever, contemporary and colourful. Easy to order, simply delivered and great value, these are perfect for all occasions.

Lauden

The other Yorkshire company that has been a personal favourite of mine is Lauden Chocolates. This husband and wife team make incredible one off chocolates with real fruit centres and different chocolate coatings to match the filling. I am not one for fruit and chocolate but these really make you re-evaluate all that. And there is a fantastic salted caramel version just in case you want something else. Of course, there are the usual chocolate shops such as Paul Young and Marc de Marquette, but I like to support Lauden and again their product is superb and their packaging  clean and contemporary.

Other shops on my list which have continued to excite this year are The Sampler in Islington for wonderful wines, Ottolenghi if only for their clementine jam, La Fromagerie for great, if very pricey cheese, Sally Clarkes for general yumminess and of course my lovely friends at Melrose and Morgan. They just make the most wonderful things and a trip to either of their shops in Hampstead or Primrose Hill will inspire you to leave with huge armfuls of their home made treats, plus the best sausage roll around as a treat for you to indulge in … well, you have been schlepping around all day. This year, M&M’s stollen has been the surprise treat which has been added to their catalogue of wonderful things including their light, tasty Christmas pudding made with Clay Barn Orchard quinces and the best mince pies with crumbly buttery pastry and a juicy tasty filling. I don’t even like mince pies!

At this point, I do have to mention Anthropologie which is great for kitchen and gift inspiration. A friend of mine went there today having been all over trying to find something for her 21 year old daughter and was amazed and delighted. And for online inspiration, I like Not on the High Street. Once again, they have one-off gifts and great things to personalise. For something different and spot on with the whole Scandinavian trend, have a look at Daniel’s website: Bageriet. These treats are all home made and he is a superb baker. If you really want to push the boat out ask him about his gingerbread houses. I know they are not shown on the website, but take my word for it, they are amazing.

nudoadoptionpackges

Finally, for something a little different, the big fashion this year is to give an experience rather than a product. Book a course to learn how to make bread, or honey, or all things fishy, or even a full on butchery course. And if you want to send something out there, you could do worse than repeat my Rent a Cherry Tree gift (even if the weather ruined the crop this year) or adopt an olive tree for a year which promises quarterly deliveries of oil made from your very own olives. I used Nudo last year and their packaging seemed to impress my friend over in New Zealand.

So Merry Christmas one and all. Let me know if there was anything that you were particularly impressed with this year and have a wonderful celebration. Here’s to 2013.

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