I hate shopping for clothes, shoes and practical necessities but I do love shopping for presents. There's something wonderful about finding the perfect present for a loved one; a present you know will light up their face when they receive it; a present that fits like an oven glove!
Recently, I shared some recipes for homemade presents.
Now I'm sharing my favourite ideas for presents you can buy.
Hint: if you're looking for inspiration for gifts for me, this should give you some ideas!
A Food Blogger's Christmas Wish List
AdHoc Tea Infusers
These nifty tea infusers by AdHoc bob about in your mug, gently infusing your chosen tea into the hot water. Available for £8.95 plus postage from Kitchen.
Food Christmas Tree Ornaments
I'm enchanted and amused by these fantastic food and drink ornaments for Christmas trees, made by Inge-Glas, a German family glass-blowing business. There are over 125 to choose from and I've made a collage of my favourites, above. Thanks to My Tiny Plot for introducing me to these, via her post on Inge-Glas' vegetable ornaments. She links to a US-based online retailer, but it's probably worth contacting Inge-Glas directly to ask about European suppliers.
Bert & Ernie Cheese Cutters
I mostly love these for their names, but I like the clean and simple styling too. Available from Create & Barrel for £4.05 each (plus postage).
Nudo Adopt An Olive Tree
I was invited to meet the founders of Nudo Italia recently, at an event where we tasted the latest harvest of oil before enjoying a meal incorporating the various flavoured oils. In fact I'd come across their flavoured oils a few years previously, so was already a fan of the fresh, clean flavours. I like all of them but particularly recommend the lemon, basil and garlic ones.
For £65 you or your recipient will receive an adoption certificate with information about the adopted tree and the grove it sits in. In spring, the adoptive "parent" will receive extra virgin olive oil from trees in their grove, between 1.5 and 2 litres. And in autumn, they will be sent three tins of flavoured oils, 250 ml each in size. I love unusual present ideas like this and can't wait to receive the oil from my own adopted tree, which I was gifted by Nudo.
Le Creuset Espresso Mugs
These Le Creuset mini mugs would be perfect serving dishes for rich, home made desserts such as lemon posset or chocolate mousse. I can't decide whether I'd go for all one colour or get a mix. Available for £6.50 each from Kitchen.
I shared these clever jar tops from Dutch company, Royal VKB in my 2010 Christmas presents list but I like the idea so much I'm sharing them again for 2011. They screw onto standard jars and transform them into useful household objects. Get creative and leave the labels on some of your favourite condiments and jams for an even funkier look.
Neal's Yard Remedies Shower Gels
Although they sell everything from bath oil to moisturisers to shampoos to perfumes, it's Neal's Yard Remedies' shower gels that I particularly love, in a range of enticing flavours such as rose & geranium, rosemary and elderflower, citrus and jasmine. Priced at £14 for 200 ml.
Fridgeezoo Fridge Pets
You could probably guess that these crazy, adorable fridge pets originate in Japan, right? When you open your fridge door, their sensors detect the light and the Fridgeezoo pets call out a greeting... in Japanese, of course! Even though our small fridge is always completely full, with everything slotted in like a 3D tetris, it's hard to resist that cute little penguin. Available for £14.99 each from Firebox. Many thanks to MissWhiplash for bringing these critters to my attention!
Spoon Coffee Mugs
Always losing your tea or coffee spoon? These cute mugs with integrated spoon holder may help. Mostly I just think they look very funky. They come in white or "sprout" green. Available from Create & Barrel for £2.69 each or £10.75 for four (plus postage).
Contigo Autoseal Travel Mug
This suggestion is a recommendation from my friend Matt, who tells me the Contigo is not only a highly efficient thermos flask which keeps drinks piping hot (or refreshingly cold) but also ideal for drivers; press the blue button and sip from a small hole that opens up in the lid. When closed, it's a tight enough seal that the mug can happily lie on it's side on the passenger car seat without leaking. Available on Amazon.co.uk for £19.99, free delivery.
Another food-flavoured toiletry range that I really love is L'Occitane's Verbena range. Including shampoos, soaps, bath foams, creams and my personal favourite, their shower gel. I particularly like that they sell eco-friendly refill poaches for the shower gel, encouraging reuse of existing containers. Available directly from L'Occitane.
I collect egg cups. I have hundreds and hundreds of them. Here are a few that have caught my eye lately.
Kathleen Hills Egg Cube
I love the geometric lines of this egg cup. It's pricey though… available from mydeco for £17.50.
Egg & Soldier Egg Cups
How cute is this pair of egg cups, a little crenelated castle tower and a small horse? Available from mydeco for £23.50.
OK I didn't own this but, as I was writing this post I couldn't help myself, and a few clicks later I found I'd somehow placed an order! Surely a must for all boiled-egg-loving Dr Who fans. Available for £4.98 from Amazon.co.uk, free delivery.
Keith Brymer Jones Word Egg Cups
And I do own this set too, a kind gift from PR agency 84 Buckingham Road, after I enthused about the egg cups during a Clarence Court Eggs evening at Hix (Brewer Street), and they learned I collect egg cups. I think they're just adorable. Available from John Lewis for £15.
Ultimate Pong Cheese Selection
I've a particular soft spot for Pong Cheese's Ultimate Pong box because it was my idea. And it seems I was not alone, as it's one of their best sellers; no surprise, given the delicious contents of strong, stinky and delicious cheese! Available for £28.95 plus postage.
Mrs Beeton Christmas Pudding on Stand
A bit of a bargain from Tesco Direct, I reckon. This Mrs Beeton Christmas pudding comes on a glass cake stand, for just £10. Available from Tesco Direct.
The Irkafirka Tea Ninja Mug
Remember how delighted I was when I finally joined the hallowed halls of those who've been irkafirkaed? I was even more delighted when I persuaded the magnificent men at irkafirka HQ to create a mug version for purchase. They kindly made available these marvellous Tea Ninja mugs (with the text removed so it could be any Tea Ninja, even your own). Available from £11.60 at zazzle.
Australian Stickies (Dessert Wines)
Australian dessert wines are very well regarded by wine experts and great value too.
Yalumba Museum Reserve Muscat sounds right up my street. A beautiful deep amber in colour, it's described as very sweet with flavours of fresh, dried and candied fruits, hints of honey, ginger and burnt toffee. Available from Morrisons for £11.99 or winedirect for £11.95 plus postage.
De Bortoli Show Liqueur Muscat is said to be robust enough to partner with Christmas pudding or blue cheese, both difficult matches. Its flavours are described as figs, raisins and caramel with a strong scent of rose on the nose. Available from Majestic Wine for £14.99 (or less when Australian wines are on special offer, as now).
Hand Crafted Aprons
Sites such as Folksy and NotOnTheHighStreet are a great place to find unique crafted items, such as the beautiful love bird bowls by Prince Design, which I featured in my gift ideas post last year. This year I've been inspired by hand made aprons.
The Patchwork Heart offers custom made patchwork design aprons for just £12. I particularly love the burger design but you can also have tea cups, wine bottles, cup cakes and more.
Rosie Ann offers retro vintage-inspired aprons for £20. I love the feminine styling of these and the contrasting fabric choices too.
Clare Carter Designs decorates aprons with colourful illustrations. Food designs include cakes, jellies, sundaes and picnic items. Available for £19.99 each.
Mamta's Kitchen Aprons
This year we launched Mamta's Kitchen cookery classes and they've gone down a storm. So it's a good time to remind you about our own Mamta's Kitchen aprons, made by a catering industry clothing specialist, from heavy-weight 100% cotton, with reinforced corners and extra-long anti-tangle ties, they're generously wide and long and can be machine-washed at 40 degrees, even with the embroidery.
This fun mug for biscuit dunkers comes in left or right handed versions, so that the owner's biscuits are front and foremost. Available from Mocha for £16.99 plus postage.
Also from Mocha is this clever combined tea scoop and infuser, which can also be used to stir in the sugar. Available for £11.99 plus delivery. When you drink as much tea as I do, you can never have too many tea infusers!
Opies Bottled Fruits
This range of bottled fruits makes me salivate. Whether it's the alcoholic options such as Messinia figs with courvoisier, Fujan stem ginger with Teacher's whisky and Bulida apricots with Drambuie or the non-alcoholic offerings such as Baby Pears With Vanilla and Halved Peaches With Cinnamon, I'm still drooling. Available from Waitrose, priced between £3.49 and £11.
These glazed ceramic bowls by Caroline McGrath transport me back to childhood holidays by the sea. I think they'd make a great present as a fruit bowl for a seaside themed living room, or to grow herbs in the kitchen. Available for £25 plus postage.
Grenadier Stacking Mugs Set
Stacking mugs are a great space saver. This set is designed to look good individually and splendid when stacked. Available for £15 a set plus postage.
Simply Relish Hamper
Ann Busby of Simply Relish is a friend I met online, chatting about food on various chat boards. Her relishes have won numerous awards, for good reason as they're absolutely delicious. (I speak from personal experience, having tasted a number of Ann's creations). Contact Ann directly to discuss the contents and price of a gift hamper or inquire about your local stockists.
And while we're on condiments, I also recommend the historically-inspired range of condiments from Tracklements. 40 years ago Will Tullberg didn't intend to start a new business, when he first made the first wholegrain English mustard as an accompaniment for the sausages he was then selling. It proved so popular with friends and family and local pub landlords that a new business was soon born. Today, Will and his son Guy, have added a wide range of new condiments to the original wholegrain mustard, many of which are inspired by old traditional English recipes found in ageing cookery books. Our personal favourites include chilli jam and sweet mustard ketchup. I would go for their DIY gift hampers, which allow you to choose which items to include from their range. Available for £28 or £31.50 from Tracklements.
Home Whisky Blending Kit
This is definitely a great present for whisky lovers with a secret dream of owning their own distillery. My whisky-loving husband has been salivating over this! The blending kit includes 12 x 3cl whiskies plus pipettes, measuring cylinders and a whisky glass in which to enjoy your personal creations. Available for £49.95 plus delivery, from Master of Malt.
There are many British chocolatiers I love from Paul A Young to William Curley to Gorvett & Stone, to name just a few. Thoughtful selections from any of them will light up the face of a chocolate lover. However, these Christmas specials from Rococo caught my eye, featuring two of my favourites – floral creams and high quality marzipans. Flower fondant creams £11.95, walnut and almond marzipan £13.50 from Rococo.
I hope you've found some lovely ideas to inspire your own present shopping or put on your own wishlist when family ask what they can buy for you.
Many of the gift ideas I shared last year are worth a look too.