As I walked around town the other day in search of some last minute bits and bobs, I wasshocked at the amount of tat on offer. And tat with a hefty price tag.
Lots of you have been in touch asking for my thoughts on last minute presents and I thought I would share some of my suggestions with you today. When you have to shop at the last minute and let's face it lots of us do, the most important thing is not - to buy any old thing that is sitting on the shelves, but to try and buy something the receipient will enjoy. When I need to shop like this, I always turn to food.
I have never known anyone to turn down a well thought of bottle of wine, or a good plate of cheese. These are prefect gifts for those difficult to buy for family members, or for friends, or hosts.
Bottles of bubbles, never go a miss, in any household. My favourites this season are Marks and Spencer Precesso, which is very dry, lightly bubbled and refreshing, its taste is smooth and fresh. Precesso is perfect on its own, or mix one bottle with two dashes of Cointreau over ice, with a carton of Pomegranate juice and some clementine segments and a cinnamon stick for a Christmas aroma in a cocktail glass.
Presecco also works as an aperitif before a Turkey Dinner, or as a refreshing drink to accompany the heady flavours of a Turkey Christmas Dinner.
Bellante is a rose vino Spumante, also from Marks and Spencer has a refreshing strawberry flavour, with hints of cherry and summer fruits. Served icily cold it is a sweet aperitif. Pink Bubbles are a present you can never go wrong with for those gals in your life. Surprisingly both these sparkling wines are pleasant accompaniments to light snacks or a piece or two of Cheese.
I love the Acaia wood of this cheese board which comes with four artisan cheeses, a Manchego, a bake in the box brie, a piece of mature Cheddar Cheese and a creamy stilton. This Marks and Spencer product takes the stress and hassle out of trying to chose or serve a cheese board, but cheeseing and presenting it for you, and on a soft and strokeabout woodedn board that can be used time and time again, and not only for cheese, Marks and Spencer allow you to tick cheese off your 'to do' list in one action.
Port is a natural accompanient to the end of a meal, and its not only for old men, but women and young people too. Served with a slice of lemon, and a few cloves, some brown sugar or a dash of honey, it becomes a Porttoddy, and is infinitely sweeter than the traditional whiskey laced one.
This Marks and Spencer finest reserve comes in a gorgeous round bottle, which for the past four years I have washed out and used for salad dressings, oils and vinegars. Port is commonly served as a digestif, but mixed with ice, tonic water and a squeeze of lemon, it ibecomes a drink that is slinky and soft a porttonic, and the rich berry flavours in this finest reserve make it a perfect.
I absolutely love this box of biscuits, the decore is very French, and the biscuits haven't been fiddled with too much, they are crisp, crunchy and the box is divine, one that will bring generations of pleasure to its users, when the biscuits are finished.
Maybe you want to buy a small whole cheese, then Marks and Spencer have just the cheese for you - Stilton in a Jar, and Cranberry and Stilon in wax, these cheeses are full of a flavour, and will bring days of great eating.
When you have to buy at the last moment, steer away from chocolate, and instead buy cheese and crackers, wine and cocktails. Don't buy cheap flowers, or any packaged gifts. Buy things you would enjoy eating, and you will be amazed at just how much your gifts are enjoyed.
That's it for now ...
Salt & Sparkle = Life REMARKABLE