Are there good gifts for foodies this Christmas at Boots?


You may know that I have a day job, not just hunting down great food all the time, working at Boots. Last year was torture, as I sat next to the team that developed all the food gifts, so saw them all the way through from early sketches, and was itching to write about them. And there were some crackers, some that just disappeared before you’d even really thought about Christmas.

And this year?

Oh, it’s another great year in my book, even without me looking over their shoulders every two minutes. Here’s what I’d be looking out for:

Back to Baking picks up on our continuing love of all things baking. I like the Scone Cutters & Flour Shaker, as I have no idea why I don’t have a flour shaker. For those still wanting to make cupcakes, then the decorating kit is a great starter set.


Scone Cutters and Flour Shaker from Great British Bake Off


I think this might be the third year of having gifts from Joules, and every year I love them. I love the picnic hamper and flask set (well, we can live in hope of good weather next year), and I really love their Brilliant Baking Set. I mean, I don’t already have a hare shaped cookie cutter. You’ll also find me stocking up on the Super Soaps which, whilst not foodie, are a great standby gift.


Joules Brilliant Baking Set - great gift for a food lover


Rosie’s Pantry is back, with some of last year’s favourites and some new ones. I like the trio of tins which I don’t remember from last year. I don’t think you can have too many tins. Sadly, no picture for this one, but if you haven’t bought the measuring cups yet, here they are (though they may be gone by now!)


Rosie's Measuring Cups


And if there’s one gift I’m tucking away, it would be the Nutella bread kit, because I’m sure there can’t be anyone who could turn down Nutella bread. Especially warm from the oven. I bet this is one kit that doesn’t get stuck away by the end of Christmas Day.

I guess the thing about these gifts are they are interesting, there’s something for everyone and they’re great value when you think about the 3 for 2 offer. Of course their very accessibility may put some off but I think these will make some people very happy when they rip off the paper on Christmas morning. Just before they put the Nutella bread on.


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!


The catalogues cometh, part one!

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Ah, September. Month of mist and mellow fruitfulness. And catalogues.

Yes, an almost daily deluge in our house, driven by my addiction to online shopping and from my work on in the past. Some are good, some are bad, and some are laugh out loud awful. But what about if you’re trying to find a gift (or write a wish list) for a foodie? Lets have a look, given the odd selection I have already.

1. Joules – tough call on the foodie front, can only suggest that if it’s a foodie with an allotment or raised beds, then you check out their wellies. They are still the best designs going for not looking dull in the garden. For her I would be tempted by the plain purple or possibly the Paul Smith like multi-stripe. For the guys, well, sorry, nothing doing. Next!

2. Hamptons Hampers – hampers from the shop of the same name in Stow on the Wold, which provided us with some very nice little foodie treats last weekend, with my favourites being Oxsprings English Air Dried Ham, and Woodchester’s Cherry & Balsamic Fruit for Cheese. On the hamper front, depending if it’s for now or later in the year, I could be tempted by the indulgent Christmas Cheese Hamper or the Luxury Cheese Hamper, and then the Swell Hamper, just for the name really. Great quality contents, some of the best I’ve seen.

3. The Original Gift Company – we went into this shop just to laugh at the really naff stuff. Of which there is plenty. If this was the only place to shop for the foodie in your life, then I would possibly risk a personalised plum pudding, or even a personalised party bucket, as being kitsch, probably tasty, and possibly useful. I would avoid the personalised wine like the plague. Likewise the personalised plates, mugs, tea towels and one touch electric wooden pepper mill. And the chocolate fondue. I’d maybe just give up and buy a penguin dynamo torch instead.

4. Bright Minds – really sad to see no kids starter kit in molecular gastronomy, although there are plenty of other science kits. Might have to settle for buying future Heston’s their own personalised apron instead!

5. Presents For Men/Gifts for Girls – a little similar to The Original Gift Company. What can I say? You must know a man who is crying out for a lager bottle pepper mill, or a toilet shaped mug. Or a female foodie who would love a kitchen utensil wall clock or pink lady gardening gloves for tending only pretty vegetables. If you forced me, then I would choose to buy: a pack of 5 Envirosax to save the planet with, a PinQY Fire Extinguisher for those who practice smoke alarm cookery, the whisky decanter set as it’s actually quite tasteful and Drinking Roulette. Well, too much good taste is boring!

6. J Parker – for the grow it yourself foodie, then I would look at some of the more unusual stuff in here. How about a loganberry or tayberry plant? A talking point with red gooseberries? Or health on the patio with goji berries, honey berries and vitalberries? Certainly unusual for the green fingered foodie.

7. Pedlars – I love these people, and a lot of what they stock. I’ve written about items they carry before, and you could wander round the house and find stuff from them I’ve bought. Right now, as a foodie, I am lusting after the vintage Hovis tins, some vinyl coasters, some of the big stainless steel casseroles, and a L’Econome peeler.

8. I Want One of Those – another old faithful that I regularly turn to, but usually not for foodie stuff, more for fun stuff. That said, if I wanted a foodie gift right now, I would be looking at the V Gauge Wine Preserver and Vinturi Wine Aerator, for gadget loving wine drinkers, and a BeepEgg for those just learning to boil an egg. But I have a feeling that a cuddly Yoda might just slip into the basket too.

And that’s just the first pile I’ve worked through. More to follow!

Great photo of mailing junk mail back by Oran Viriyincy.