Not long till the big day now! Many of us have already started decorating the house, ordered the Christmas tree and are frantically trying to finish the gift shopping. Christmas markets are in full swing around the UK and are the perfect way to get into the festive spirit. I like to check these out even if I don’t buy anything (which is quite rare) and enjoy some roasted chestnuts with a mulled wine (preferably with a shot of brandy – to stave off the cold of course!). These markets are a great opportunity to sample and purchase local arts and crafts, drinks and food.

This week, our attention turns to presents and mood setters. Through out the festive period, I like a bowl of oranges on the table, studded with cloves, cinnamon and star anise, as they give off a sweet aroma. Another great way to make the house to smell lovely, is to make mulled cider or wine (check out our recipe here).

Home made presents

For home made presents, why not make a pouch of the mulling spices – they make for great stocking fillers and can liven up any leftover wine. Another staple I like to make, are tea blends. The addition of spices and flowers turn an ordinary tea into something special. Check out our recipes here. Another easy to make gift is a set of flavoured salts. The combinations are endless. Just combine 100g of salt with:

  • 1 tablespoon finely ground dried mushrooms
  • 1/2 teaspoon of smoked paprika and 1/2 teaspoon of chilli powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon of dried basil and 1/4 teaspoon of tomato powder
  • Zest from 1 lime and 1 lemon
  • 1 teaspoon of lavender
  • 1 teaspoon of desiccated coconut, 1/2 teaspoon of turmeric and crushed kefir lime leaf

For more elaborate gifts, you can make festive fudge (recipe here), shortbread or meringues. Flavoured booze is also a great gift. Simply pick your flavourings (berries, coffee beans, cocoa nibs, rhubarb or cucumber) and pour vodka or gin over. Leave for a few weeks, strain and present in a lovely bottle.

More gift ideas

Spice mixes
Egg Nog
Stained glass biscuits
Soft caramels