The gifts I’ve been waiting to write about


Fabulous baking hamper from Joules, perfect gift for every kind of baker from keen to novice


Many of you will know that in my day job I work for Boots, in something not even related to food (I look after the best interest of two fantastic beauty brands in our shops, this one and this one). But my desk until very recently was next to the Gift Food team. Which meant from about April onwards I’ve been seeing this year’s selection developing, and been getting very excited about some of them.

In fact, I’ve been practically sat on my hands waiting for them to be available so I could write about them, and now a lot of them are! So here’s what I can’t wait for, what’s on my list for various people, myself included:

* I love all the gifts that Joules have done with a food theme, but no surprises for guessing that the Brilliant Baking Hamper is top of my list. Beautiful metal hamper (which I so nearly took home one night when working late, obviously by accident) contains cookie cutters, stencils, cupcake cases, mixing bowl, cake boxes…in fact pretty much everything you’d need for a major baking session except the ingredients. The Joules range sold out really quickly last year, so I wouldn’t hang around on this one. At £8, the egg cup set would make a great stocking filler as well.

* I love measuring cups, but mine are very boring stainless steel ones. I could happily have them replaced by the hand decorated measuring cups from Rosie’s Pantry. Great for vintage lovers but who don’t like stuff that’s chipped or cracked.

* Fairtrade is looking very fair this year, with great tea, coffee or hot chocolate gifts to choose from. Given that they are only £10 each, and the famous Mix and Match three for two will be running, I would say these are worth buying as a great standby gift, as you’re bound to find someone that these will work for. Especially in a last minute panic situation!


And this is just what you can see at the moment, as there is more to come, which I’ll write about when it’s available. Meanwhile, see you in the queue for the Baking Hamper! Because, lets face it, three months today and it’s present opening time!


Trust Boots: Christmas is looking tasty


So, it’s mid September, which means Christmas is appearing in shops all over, on the High Street and online. I’ve written about a few early contenders, so seems only fair to feature what’s going on in Boots.

In case you don’t know, for my day job I work for Boots, but I work on beauty, not food. But you know what? I feel really proud of the new stuff going out this year, and I’ll be adding a few of these to my basket this year. Here’s a few of the early highlights.

* Renowned for quirky and interesting clothes, there’s a great range from Joules in store, that sums up cosy British winter eating. The Perfect Porridge set has two really pretty and sturdy looking bowls and spoons, as well as a packet of oats to get you started (although I’d probably add some Rude Health porridge to the gift as well). The egg and toast set would see you serving up dippy eggs with style, and the Hamper is perfect for those who will be looking forward to an outdoor life again, whatever the weather.

* I’m really rather partial to Gu puddings, especially the small ones that give you just enough of a sweet hit without over-indulging. So, I’m rather keen on the Gu gift range, which goes from £6 to £20. I mean crackers filled with Gu truffles have to be more fun and tasty than a fortune telling fish. I’ve had one or two cake stands this year, but imagine I could find room for the sweet stand, if only for chocolate goodies that go with it.

* Something I’m definitely going to be getting on 3 for 2 as great standby small gifts or stocking fillers are the Sweetshop Take Out Boxes. These look so cute in their Chinese take out style cartons, and with good traditional sweets like licquorice allsorts and chocolate eclairs there’s something that everyone will enjoy. These are £4 a go, or there are some attractive bags at £3.

* Interesting to see a Nando’s range instore. Not sure if this is exclusive to Boots, but I can see there will be chilli lovers who will be happy to get some of these gift sets, if only for the sauces.

* I’m going to have to go in store and buy this pie dish, as I have been lusting after the one sat on a colleague’s desk for months! I think it’s a really good looking pie dish, and it comes with a flour shaker and pastry brush. Great gift for £18, and spot on for the comfort food we’re all going to be craving this winter. There’s also been a really nice cake stand on her desk too, but I’ve already got two this year, so three would be greedy. But you may need one!

So, some really good choices that I can imagine finding on my shopping list, and in my wrapping up pile. All of these are in the famous mix and match 3 for 2, so great value as well. This year I am sure the vast majority of us will be shopping frugally, so every saving we can make is going to be valuable. Keep a look out for the gift guide, which will be some time in October, as all sorts of other things coming. Some of which I’ve worked on 😉 But that would be telling!


Must be Christmas Countdown time: Boots Gift Guide launches


Christmas must be coming! Boots Gift Guide has launched, what gifts for food lovers are in store?


The launch of the Boots Gift Guide is one of those markers in the run up to Christmas, and it launched in stores today. No doubt there will be kids, big and small, busy putting rings round items tonight in the hope of Santa being generous, and buying into the Mix and Match three for two!

What about for the foodies amongst us, what temptation for us?

Before I tell you what I think, a bit of transparency. In my day job, the part where I have to stop thinking about food, I work for Boots at the main office in Nottingham. I don’t work in food, and I don’t work in gifts. But I do know who pays my mortgage. So, dear reader, please don’t expect me to round on the hand that feeds. I will tell you honestly what I like and, if I don’t mention it, then I’ll leave you to draw your own conclusions!

So, as long as we understand each other, here’s what I’m thinking about!

As an overall statement, I would say that I would want to go and look at some of these things in the shop, to understand the origin of some of the things. Lets face it, foodies are big on provenance, and I would want to know where my olive oil was coming from for example. That aside, these things are looking pretty good.

1. Jamie Oliver Flaked Sea Salt Kilner Jar – you know what, this is a great stocking stuffer for a foodie. You can always use salt around the kitchen or table, and Kilner jars always earn their keep around the kitchen. There is a cracked black pepper version, which is okay for use on the table but I would think most of us would want to grind our own at point of cooking.

2. Kschocolat Night In Gift Set- can’t beat a good chocolate gift, and this both looks attractive and is decent chocolate. Includes milk, dark and white chocolate, and I’m quite keen on the sound of toffettes and honeycomb!

3. Jamie Oliver Crazy Mother Cooker Apron – because there are so many of us about! The kids one is cute too.

4. Faitrade Hamper – doing the right thing and getting great tasting stuff too. A nice tea time collection, with tea, coffee and cocoa, as well as biscuits, honey and chocolate. And you get two new mugs, so you can clear out those awful tatty promotional ones from the bank that are lurking at the back of the cupboard!

5. CAMRA Real Ales Gift – good one for the beer lovers, and possibly more welcome than a four pack of Special Brew! I like that it has tasting notes, as well as three different bottles of beer, including Coniston Bluebird and Oakham JHB.

6. Burger Press Set – we love our burger press, and it’s a great piece of kit for a BBQ foodie. A Boxing Day BBQ with turkey burgers possibly on the cards?

So, there’s 6 I would definitely consider. Although, to be fair, I don’t often buy gifts from Boots, as everyone always assumes I have got them for free!

Oh, and if you are looking for a gorgeous fragrance gift, shameless plug for this one here.