Festive thumbs up for…

We’re into the final few days before the big ho ho ho and if you’re anything like me this year and leave most of your Christmas shopping to the last-minute, here are a few festive ideas for gorgeous gifts and tempting treats…

Festive Thumbs Up Collage

Things to give

Scone with the Wind: Cakes & Bakes with a Literary Twist (1)
A novel gift idea for your friends and family who love to both bake and read. With these 75 delicious literary inspired recipes,  you can bake your way through the classics from Jane Eclair to Tart of Darkness, Banana Karenina and On the Rocky Road, Flapjack and the Beanstalk to Nineteen-eighty Petit Fours! RRP £9.99.

Cooking for Geeks (2)
‘Cooking for Geeks’ is for anyone who wants to do more than follow a recipe. It’s the perfect book for the curious, smart and hungry geek and those who need the answers to ‘why’ as much as ‘how’. RRP £26.50.

Tesco Sea Salt Caramel Butter Fudge (3)
This heavenly butter fudge from Tesco’s Finest range is made with Cornish sea salt and is beautifully melt-in-the-mouth and exceptionally moreish. RRP £2.50.

Prêt à Pousser – Go Grow Mushrooms (4)
Prêt à Pousser’s Go Grow Mushrooms kit has just launched in the UK, and allows you to grow fresh and tasty, organic mushrooms at home, in just ten days. There are three kinds of Go Grow Mushrooms, the Grey Oyster (£14.90), Yellow Oyster (£19.90), and Pink Oyster (£19.90). Prêt à Pousser also pledge to send a Go Grow Mushroom kit to a primary school of your choice. All you have to do is share a picture of your mushroom crop before you harvest it on their Facebook page. My kids find the oyster mushroom growing on our kitchen window sill right now bizarrely fascinating!

Krocus Kozanis Organic Tea with Saffron (5)
This is such a beautiful range of teas, delicately flavoured with delicious combinations of herbs, spices, fruit and honey, but most importantly organic Greek saffron, which is one of the highest grade saffrons around. If you’re quick, they currently have a Christmas special offer of four teas for £9.99.

Hans Sloane Drinking Chocolate Pure Chocolate Beads (6)
In my eyes, this has to be the best drinking chocolate around, and I’m very fussy when it comes to hot chocolate. It’s velvety, dark and rich, but not at all bitter. Just dreamy. RRP £4.49.

Pomora Olive Oil (7)
Pomora is the ideal original gift for the foodie in your life. Adopt an olive tree on behalf of your friend or loved one this Christmas and they’ll receive quarterly deliveries of some of the finest Italian olive oil they’ll ever taste, while also supporting hardworking, highly-skilled olive growers. Each quarterly delivery of Pomora includes three 250ml tins of premium extra virgin olive oil – different varieties each time.

There are various payment options; adopt a tree for £29 per quarter and the recipient receives quarterly deliveries until you cancel or foster a tree from £39 per quarter for a fixed term. For Bangers & Mash readers, Pomora have a special offer of a 25% off adoption. Simply use the special discount code MASH25 when ordering online.

Yorkshire Chorizo (8)
Another alternative foodie gift idea is delicious Yorkshire Chorizo, made in Skipton from free range British pork and the finest smoked Spanish paprika, and cured for a minimum of three weeks. From £7.50.

Festive Thumbs Up Collage 2

Things to eat

Tesco Finest Panettone Pudding (9)
For anyone, like me, who isn’t a fan of Christmas pudding, this panettone pudding from the Tesco Finest range is a great alternative. Flavoured with Amaretto and full of juicy fruits and almonds, it’s rich and boozy without being solid and heavy.

Corkers Crisps (10)
If you’re looking for new party snacks to serve this year, you’ve got to try the brilliant range of crisps from British brand Corkers. Their crisps are made in the fenlands in Cambridgeshire, and not only are the potatoes grown on the family farm but the factory is also located there and all the crisps are hand-cooked on site. What’s more, they’re ruddy tasty too and have the best crunch going. Their pork sausage and English mustard flavour in particular gets my thumbs up. Available at selected Waitrose stores and Waitrose.com. £1.85 for a 150g bag.

The Snack Organisation Rice Crackers (11)
I took these rice crackers into work to share with colleagues in the run-up to Christmas and they went down an absolute storm. So these guilt-free rice crackers from The Snack Organisation are a definite recommendation for healthier nibbles for your festive get-togethers. They’re super tasty and incredibly moreish, and just £1 a packet at Tesco. Available in teriyaki, sweet chilli and lightly salted flavours.

Co-operative Moroccan Spice Nut & Fruit Mix (12)
Another fab party snack idea is this spicy fruit and nut mix from The Co-operative. Featuring peanuts, cashews, almonds, pecans and lots of dried fruits and fabulous Moroccan spices, it offers that salty-sweet combination I love so much, with a hint of heat.

Vita Coco 100% Natural Coconut Water (13)
Coconut this and coconut that does seem to be everywhere this year but I have to say I am rather partial to coconut water, particularly when I discovered it makes a rather good cocktail mixer. Mix with gin, ginger beer and crushed mint leaves to create a  skinny Fique Tranquilo, perfect for getting the Christmas party started. £2.50 for 1 litre.

Dina Baklava (14)
Just like Turkish Delight, I have to have baklava at Christmas time, and I was seriously impressed by this selection from Dina. The children of course loved the chocolate baklava, but I was rather taken by the apricot and cashew variety, and the ‘coconut delight’. Crunchy and oozing with syrup, and gorgeous with coffee as petit fours for some extra indulgence at the end of a festive meal. Available at Tesco, £4 for 350g.

Sainsbury’s Taste the Difference All Butter Ecclefechan Tarts (15)
I’ve been eating a lot of mince pies this year (and I really mean a lot), but these have by far been my favourite so far. Named after the town Ecclefechan in the Scottish borders, they’re not as heavy as your average mince pie, but beautifully rich and sumptuous. £2.50 for 4.

The Snack Organisation Freeze-dried Fruit (16)
I don’t really want to start on about new year’s resolutions this side of Christmas, but if you are looking for a healthier snack in 2016, these freeze-dried fruits from The Snack Organisation should be on your list. Uniquely light and crunchy, they pack a zingy flavour punch and are ideal sprinkled onto yoghurts and cereals, used in baking or to decorate cakes and also delicious munched straight from the bag. Choose from strawberry, pineapple, apricot and apple. £1 a bag from Tesco.

Northumberladia family

Festive Fun at the Land Trust’s sites
Finally, I’d like to finish off with a plug for The Land Trust who have the perfect solution to help burn off all of those Christmas calories by getting outdoors and enjoying their green open spaces. National land management charity the Land Trust owns manages and maintains sites across the country – including the iconic ‘Lady of the North’ at Northumberlandia, Wirral’s Port Sunlight River Park and country parks at Frickley and Fryston, South Yorkshire. These sites, along with a host of others, will be the setting for a range of activities to keep families entertained this Christmas. Activities include – a visit from Santa and his elves this weekend at Northumberlandia, Christmas crafts at Fryston Country Park, lantern making at Frickley and to help health walks at Port Sunlight River Park and Countess of Chester Country Park. Find out more about all the events taking place up and down the country on the Land Trust’s website.

Disclosure: I was sent complimentary product samples from O’Reilly Media, Prêt à Pousser, Krocus Kozanis, Pomora, Yorkshire Chorizo, The Snack Organisation, Corker’s Crisps and Vita Coco for review purposes. I receive lots more that don’t get a thumbs up, and therefore don’t make it onto the blog. No money exchanged hands and all opinions expressed are my own.

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