Christmas seems to have pounced upon us from a very warm mild place and suddenly I am desperately wrapping, ribboning and checking that I haven’t left anyone out.

I have been perusing the pages to see what food inspired gifts I have missed in my shopping this year and did my usual rounds of the department stores who are in their element at this time of year. You can really understand why they are destination shopping emporiums. Where Selfridges and Fortnums inspire, so Liberty was a difficult place to shop this year. But it is worth noting that there were deals to be had everywhere if you were prepared to wait. Note to self: hold out for the Selfridges 20% off day in 2014!


As for the independents, some continue to just do a wonderful job. Clearly my friends at Melrose and Morgan are a destination shop for treats galore with the most impressive bakery range of biscuits and cakes. I also thought that Daylesford managed their gift boxes very well this year. I know it’s not fashionable to say this, but I loved Carluccio’s as well, with their lovely panettone packaging and that grown up Terry’s chocolate orange: Clemente in Camicia.


For something a bit more unusual, visit Brindisa, the new Maille shop in Piccadilly and here’s one from my Master of Wine expert friend: Hedonism Wines in Davies Street…amazing.

In no particular order, and in deference to the lovely army boy, here are a few top lists of my picks for this year:


1. The soda stream: from £79.99. I got mine last year and love it simply for sparkling water, but I am sure you can do so much more. Try Lakeland for a good deal


2. Brindisa’s Iberico Bellota Pequeno Ham set £380. I know a friend of mine has bought this for her hubby and I am very jealous. How perfect. a whole bellota ham complete with stand, knife and a DVD to show you how to carve!


3. The Wonderbag £59.99. This eco friendly cooking utensil is the creation of South African Sarah Collins. It reminded me of the street food we had in Peru and I am sure it harks back to the way our third world ancestors cooked. Now the latest trendy green must have in the kitchen, it is the perfect present as we hit the winter season for wonderful slow cooked meals. And, for every one we buy, Ms Collins donates one to a family in need in Africa. What a lady! No wonder she was named one of Fortune’s most powerful women entrepreneurs 2013.


stollen bites

1. Stollen Bites from Melrose and Morgan. Well frankly anything from here so why stop there. The biscuit range, cakes, puds, savoury biscuits…I could go one. All wrapped in their own elegant, inimitable style and ideal for Christmas gift giving.

2. Kenspeckle cinder toffee coal may have sold out now, but they are worth noting for the future.

Maille pots

3. Maille mustard pots which make the most wonderful gift. You can splash out in the Sauternes or Chablis & black truffle variety or keep it simple. Up to you.

4. Amelia Rope chocolate cubes. Created last year, but still so relevant with bite sized treats of all her award winning flavours.

5. Selfridges bombes: more chocolate but a cute design and great stocking filler.


Not normally my speciality but special mention goes to the following:

1. Chase vodka’s seasonal flavour which is Rhubarb this year


2. Grays and Feather ‘drink me‘ mini bottles are a must have – so cute!

3. Taster boxes: both whisky and gin feature heavily this year at places like Masters of Malt, and Compass Box Whisky Company.

4. For something completely different, how about renting a row of St Emilion Grand Cru vines. This £159.97 experience from Vintage Wine Gifts includes wine, accessories and a personal tour of the vineyard.

Best Christmas product 2013

And the prize for just the best product I have seen this year goes to … Asda (!) for their Christmas tree crumpets.