How to stay out of the dog house this Christmas

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Stay out of the doghouse this Christmas

 

So, here we are, it’s Christmas Eve, you’re all sorted. Nothing to do but maybe take a nice country walk, pop into the pub for a seasonal beverage, head home and light the fire…

Oh, hold on, what’s that you say? No one told you it’s Christmas tomorrow?

Oh come on, not that old one again. I’ve been writing this blog for years and every time it’s the same There’s always someone still looking for a gift on Christmas Eve, even as the rest of us have started sales shopping.

I mean, I could really just suggest you head out and brave the high street or shopping mall, that it serves you right. But you might find that you’ll fare better to find a great gift for a food lover from home than picking over what’s left on the shelves, and might even have something to show for it on Christmas Day. Here’s some thoughts:

 

Opening our minds, and appetites, through travel

 

Go for tickets to something, or somewhere. You could book a full on trip to a great food destination, or even just to something like the Good Food Show. Use your printer, use your crafting skills, get the wrapping paper out and you can still make something of this.

 

Holiday reading

 

Take out a magazine subscription for them (even better if you can pop to your nearest convenience store and find the latest edition too). Quite a lot of them are geared up for you to print out cards and things so again, something for their stocking. Slightly harder to wrap, but gives them huge scope, is to take out a subscription for them to Readly. For a food lover this is amazing, as there’s a huge selection of food and drinks mags from around the world.

 

Afternoon tea and more

 

Many of the gift experience companies do downloadable vouchers, or again you can get busy with your printer, scissors and glue. Red Letter Days are one of my favourites for their range of “gourmet” experiences, from sushi or chocolate making to vineyard and brewery tours. BuyAGift also have a great range, and an e-voucher option.

 

My holiday cookbook reading

 

Steal their Kindle or any other tablet, and load it up with good e-books on food. I’ve written about lots of different books during this year, from the best cookbooks from around the world to cookbooks fit for a Queen, so surely something for everyone and all kinds of tastes.

If they are like me, and the cookbooks are taking over the kitchen and beyond, then give them a subscription to Eat Your Books. It means that they can find any recipe in seconds, as Eat Your Books have done the hard work and indexed every recipe for them. There’s over 1 million recipes listed from a huge number of books, and they might enjoy the setting up as they look at all the lovely books they have just sitting there.

If these are still not quite doing it for you, and you want to give an actual gift, then check out my guide to shopping at St Pancras (other stations are available) or how to do gifts from your local convenience store with style. All of which are better than sitting there tomorrow morning with nothing for your loved one at all.

And no, saying that it’s the thought that counts doesn’t count when you haven’t thought about it! Get to it!

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So, what kind of food year was 2015?

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Seems an age since I wrote about my hopes for 2015 on the food front, when I was hoping that grip of the big four supermarkets on our shopping might continue to loosen. Well, according to reports, that seems to be happening.

 

#Backofchallenge - what food is lurking in your cupboard?

 

January saw me starting the Back of Challenge for unloved food. I have to say, I still have some of the things I took out of the cupboard then, although I haven’t replaced them and the cupboards are still somewhat emptier.

 

Chocolate Macarons from Drop Dead Chocolate - the most beautiful chocolates to gift to a food lover

 

February of course is about love and Valentine’s Day for many. I loved the chocolates from Drop Dead Chocolates, and would also have been very partial to a hamper from The Modern Pantry. To be honest, anything from the Modern Pantry would be great, any time of the year.

 

Beauty in the Juice? Or not.

 

In March I was being cynical about claims made for a fruit juice. I’m probably not finishing the year looking any younger, as I haven’t been drinking it, but then I’m also not siginificantly poorer either.

 

Favourite end to a fabulous trip of great eating in Australia

 

March and April saw MGG and I on our Australian adventures, and there were flat whites on many days. Although there was a reasonable amount of the local wine taken too. And a breakfast to remember at Bill Granger’s.

 

Cooked apple tart

 

By May we were focusing on heading to France, so helping the kids get into French food. I was also discovering that not every recipe book is well tested, and so recipes do fail.

 

Time for iced tea for Tea Jay

 

Praying for warm weather in June, then I was hoping for iced tea as well as hoping to get organised for next year’s World Gin Day. I was also being tempted by the Lakeland sale. Again. Somethings never change.

 

The best birthday cakes ever from my tribe

 

I had my unbirthday in July with some great cakes from the tribe. There was also a great debate about what kit was essential or not in a kitchen. Still think I’m missing some bits.

 

Distill your own gin at 45 Gin School, the best lesson I've been to in years. Perfect gift for a gin lover

 

August of course heralds the start of Bake Off, and I was musing on the 10 things I had learnt from Bake Off. It was also the month I went back to school, and made my own gin for the first time. Amazingly, there’s still some left.

 

My fabulous bread basket at Cafe Einstein

 

There was a gin theme in September too (ok, I know, when isn’t there?) as my favourite Advent calendar launched. And it probably turned up in my round up of 53 hours eating and drinking in Berlin.Though less so in my roundup from Rugby, although that does feature eggs Benedict.

 

Make Your Own Bacon - perfect gift for bacon loving food lover

 

October saw Christmas looming, and I reflected on the six gifts that food lovers hate to get. I also did a roundup of kits to make your own foodstuffs, of which bacon was the most popular. I also showed how to get a cocktail through a letterbox, one of my favourite tricks of the year.

 

That's no moon: Death Star cookie jar, great gift for a food lover with a Star Wars obsession

 

By November, the countdown was really on to the new Star Wars movie coming out, and I summoned up the foodie force for a guide to the best gifts around for Star Wars lovers. There’s also my top ten gifts for food lovers who love to entertain, just in time for the major entertaining season ahead, not to mention gifts for those just starting out on their own cooking journey.

 

The Best Gin Cocktails You've Ever Made. Apparently.

 

December was about getting ready for Christmas, whether the fun, with festive cocktails, or the practical, with funky tea towels for the drying up ahead. Not to mention my usual roundup of options if you had forgotten that Christmas was just around the corner.

Definitely a year of contrasts, and new adventures on several continents, but some great eating with good company, at our own tables and away from home too. Here’s hoping for more of the same in 2016. What are your food memories of 2015? Would love to know.

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Calorie free gifts for food lovers

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And also no books and no kit, as that would be cheating! But sometimes it’s nice to get something a little different. Here’s some suggestions which they won’t be burning off in January.

 

100 Cookery Postcards from Penguin

 

Cookery postcards from Penguin – I love some of the jacket designs that are included in this set, and they’ll either make wonderful things to send through the post to cheer someone else up, or you could frame some for your own kitchen.

 

If you can't stand the heat...get your own notebook!

 

A notebook just for them – whether scrawling recipe ideas, dinner plans or shopping lists, who doesn’t want their own special notebook?

 

Great British Bake Off inspired charm bracelet

 

A sweet way to wear their baking – I love this Great British Bake Off charm bracelet. Beautiful detail, and lots of things you’ll recognise from the show, from stand mixers to oven gloves.

 

Stamp your mark on it - great gift for possessive food lovers

 

Stamp your mark on it – I love this. Not that I’m possessive, but think it would be fun if you’re sharing recipes.

 

Grow Your Own Sweets with the Gluttonous Gardener

 

Get sweet in the garden – I love this Grow Your Own Sweets gift from The Gluttonous Gardener. With marshmallow, peppermint and strawberry plants, there’ll be some sweet treats ahead come next summer, and lots of outdoor fun in the meantime.

 

Mirror Mirror Bakers Compact Mirror

For checking there’s no flour on your nose – I always end up with stray ingredients over me when baking, so something like this would be useful for a fellow messy baker to keep any eye on themselves, just before they step out the house.

 

Paddywax Provisions Violet Macaroon Candle

 

Scents without the calories – I do love a scented candle, and these are beautiful looking as well as coming in some gorgeous fragrances. I’ve chosen the Violet Macaroon from Paddywax Provisions, for having style and substance, although it was a close run thing with the Salted Caramel one.

 

 

Victoria Sponge Recipe Cross Stitch Design from Stitchrovia

 

In case their hands get idle – should there be any spare time that’s not devoted to cooking, baking or eating, then how about a bit of relaxing cross stitch? But these designs from Stitchrovia are far from what your granny might have made, no cute kittens in sight. Great last minute gift as this is a PDF download. Though that will leave them twiddling their thumbs till Boxing Day when they can get some supplies in.

So, just because we love our food, eating it and making it, then we can enjoy other things about it too. These are all a bit of fun, which is part of what Christmas is all about to me, whether you’re a food lover or not.

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