Check yourselves in for festive fun at Hotel Chocolat

Hotel Chocolat chocolate Christmas tree

We’ve been busy doing lots of Christmas-themed posts in the past couple of weeks. So much so that we need to give our own Christmas plans a little more attention maybe – especially on the Yuletide gift front.

Hotel Chocolat packaging | H is for Home

We’ve just been sent a beautiful chocolate parcel by Hotel Chocolat and it got us thinking… chocolate has to be the best foolproof Christmas present ever. We’re don’t know the exact percentages involved, but surely there aren’t many people who don’t like a bit of chocolate! In fact, in all my years, I’ve only ever met one person that doesn’t like chocolates… and I think they were just in denial! You can be pretty confident that a present involving chocolate will be a big hit with most people.

Christmas Hotel Chocolat

The standard newsagent bar of chocolate is fine for everyday consumption however, at Christmas you want something just a little bit special – whether it be superior quality, creative flavours or festive themes & packaging. Fortunately, Hotel Chocolat has built it’s reputation on fulfilling all three.

Hotel Chocolat Christmas stocking | H is for Home

Chocolate is the perfect gift idea for grown ups and for children. Kids especially like the fun shapes, novelty packaging, exciting flavours and quirky twists on a Christmas theme. The chocolate parcel stocking we received contains some lovely little treats including creamed caramel puddles, a sleigh team and Santa on a stick!

Children's chocolate from Hotel Chocolat | H is for Home

The kids’ section on the Hotel Chocolat website contains a myriad of chocolate-themed Santas, snowmen, robins, penguins, snowflakes, puddings and the like. We’re looking forward to trying our novelty reindeer/ we enjoyed sampling our novelty reindeer, but perhaps most grown ups will be looking towards more sophisticated options.

Hotel Chocolat & Prosecco gift box

The classic champagne & chocolate springs to mind. A variety of choices are available on this front. There are other boozy options too including gin, Prosecco or even beer & chocolate collections. Or how about incorporating the chocolate into the drink itself with delicious salted caramel cocoa vodka?

Hotel Chocolat wreath box

There are things for the whole family to share – such as Christmas crackers, advent calendars and tree decorations. There are hampers too with something for everyone to enjoy. Some of the hampers and boxed collections are so attractive that they’d make a wonderful centrepiece display for those festive get together meals and parties.

Hotel Chocolat subscription box

The Hotel Chocolat website is a joy to browse – full of tempting choices for all occasions. Chocolate is wonderful gift for Christmas, however – Valentine’s Day, Easter, Mother’s Day and anniversaries provide plenty of other chocolatey opportunities too!

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Get their look: Christmas fireside

Christmas firesidecredit

Have you put up your tree and hung your decorations yet? What’s your colour scheme? We usually go for traditional red on the ground floor and copper on the top floor. We really like the look & feel of this Christmas fireside; simple rustic with minimalist white tree ornaments and wrapping paper.

The addition of a vintage wooden child’s sled adds a sense of fun. The unusual, half-moon wood-burning stove is the focal point of the room (well, it is when the Christmas tree isn’t there!). All its accessories are close at hand – logs, newspapers, companion set… there’s even a vintage metal fire bucket to add a flash of colour.

  1. Vintage chalkboard
  2. John Lewis Croft Collection Stanley rattan large easy-to-fit ceiling light
  3. Scan 85 Series High Top fire
  4. Vintage wooden wine box
  5. Vintage fire bucket
  6. ALSEDA banana fibre stool
  7. Vintage wooden sled
  8. Black fireside companion set
  9. Personalised wooden storage box

Get their look: Christmas fireside | H is for Home

Cakes & Bakes: St Stephen’s pudding

Home-made St Stephen's pudding with custard | H is for Home #recipe #Christmas #pudding #steamedpudding

If Christmas pudding is too rich or stodgy for your taste, we have a delicious alternative for you to try – St Stephen’s pudding.

Home-made St Stephen's pudding mixture | H is for Home

It’s also a whole lot quicker to prepare than Christmas pudding. There’s no soaking of fruit in alcohol overnight or resting it before steaming. And besides, Stir up Sunday was last week and I’ve missed it!

Home-made St Stephen's pudding mixture in a pudding bowl | H is for Home

As the name suggests, St Stephen’s pudding is eaten on the “Feast of Stephen” – Boxing Day. Apparently, it was eaten at St John’s College, Cambridge on this day. I’ve only managed to find mention of this pudding on Delia’s website and the Cooking with the Saints cookbook. There’s also fleeting mention of the dish in The Ordinary, a 17th century play by William Cartwright where the character, Slicer utters, “Let the Corporal Come sweating under a breast of mutton stuff’d With pudding”.

Pudding bowl with parchment and foil lid | H is for Home Cooked home-made St Stephen's pudding in a steamer | H is for Home

I combined all the ingredients, pressed the mixture into a pudding bowl and secured the lid before putting it in the fridge to cook the following day. There’s no reason why it couldn’t stay in the fridge for up to a week before whipping it out for its 2-hour steam.

Home-made St Stephen's pudding | H is for Home #recipe #Christmas #pudding #steamedpudding

When I prepared it, I followed Delia’s recipe to the letter. However, if I was going to make this again (and I probably will) I’d add an extra 25 grams of sugar and only include the zest of half a lemon.

Save the recipe to Pinterest for later!

St Stephen's pudding
Serves 4
Cook Time
2 hr
Cook Time
2 hr
Ingredients
  1. 110g/4oz white breadcrumbs
  2. 50g/2oz self-raising flour, sifted
  3. 50g/2oz light brown soft sugar
  4. 75g/3oz shredded suet
  5. pinch of salt
  6. 110g/4oz seedless raisins
  7. 2 medium Bramley cooking apples, peeled & grated
  8. grated zest of 1 lemon
  9. 3tbsp milk
  10. 1 large eggHome-made St Stephens pudding ingredients
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Instructions
  1. In a large mixing bowl, combine all the breadcrumbs, flour, sugar, suet and salt
  2. Add the raisins, grated apples and grated lemon zest
  3. Stir thoroughly to combine well
  4. Beat the egg into the milk and stir into the mixture
  5. Pack the mixture into a well-greased pudding basin
  6. Cover the basin tightly with a sheet of baking parchment, then with a sheet of foil, make a pleat in the centre and secure with string
  7. Boil a kettle and pour the boiling water into a saucepan, about half full, place it on a medium heat and, when it comes back to the boil, fit a steamer over the top
  8. Steam the pudding for 2 hours, checking every so often that the water in the saucepan hasn't all evaporated away
  9. Remove the sheets of foil & baking parchment. Place an upturned plate on the top, quickly flip over and carefully lift off the pudding bowl
Notes
  1. Serve with custard or rum butter
Print
Adapted from Delia Online
Adapted from Delia Online
H is for Home Harbinger http://hisforhomeblog.com/

A Grand Hamper from Clearwater Hampers

The Grand Hamper from Clearwater Hampers | H is for Home

We’re well into thinking about Christmas now. Festive decorations have started to go up, we’re pencilling in dates to meet up with friends & family, cards and presents have been bought (well, some of them at least)…and we’ve just started picking up all those special food & drink treats. We buy them gradually in various markets and shops – whatever catches our eye – and display them in baskets on a table next to the tree. It’s a lovely sight – and a tempting one too! We’ve just been given an early boost to our haul with this Grand Hamper sent by the lovely folks at Hampers.com. The attractive wicker basket contains a very nice selection of classic Christmas goodies.

Champagne and chocolates in the Grand Hamper from Clearwater Hampers | H is for Home

For starters, many people’s idea of the ultimate treat – champagne & chocolates. Specifically, Autreau Roualet Brut NV Champagne and Hamlet Gold Box assorted chocolates. Will we have the bubbles at breakfast or for a pre-dinner aperitif… decisions, decisions!

Smoked salmon and Serrano ham in the Grand Hamper from Clearwater Hampers | H is for Home

Or perhaps the champagne will be sipped alongside smoked salmon or cured meat canapés – another delicious option. The hamper contains both traditional Scottish smoked salmon and Spanish Serrano ham.

Cheeses in the Grand Hamper from Clearwater Hampers | H is for Home

Next we have some fabulous extra mature cheddar – Black Bomber from Snowdonia in Wales – great name and a great cheese. And what better to accompany it with than the Tracklements damson cheese? This tangy chutney works well with all manner of cheeses. Perfect with pies or the Christmas ham too.

Crackers and shortbread biscuits in the Grand Hamper from Clearwater Hampers | H is for Home

And of course, your cheeseboard will be needing cheese biscuits too. This luxury selection has a variety of textures, flavours and bakes contained within – they’ll work well with those party dips. And sweet biscuits get a look in also with these luxury chocolate and toffee shortbreads. A cup of tea and a shortbread for those little quiet moments in amongst all the Christmas madness perhaps.

It’s a fabulous selection of items – a perfect present to yourself or a loved one. We’re certainly looking forward to ours!

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Price Points: Christmas cookie cutters

Selection of Christmas cookie cutters | H is for Home

Yesterday, I was talking about topping your home-made mince pies with Christmas-themed pastry lids. They’re so much prettier than plain old circular tops. There are lots of different shapes to choose from; fir trees, snowmen, gingerbread men, stars, holly leaves… Rather than fiddling around with making the shapes by hand, Christmas cookie cutters will give you quicker results and a more professional finish.

A set of cookie cutters is generally the more economical option than buying them singly. Here are three of the best.

  1. Mini Christmas cutters: £6.99, Lakeland
  2. Set of 3 Croft Collection copper cookie cutters: £10, John Lewis
  3. 12-piece Linzer cookie cutter set: £25.99 Wayfair

Top 5 Christmas gadget gifts to get this holiday season

Gold paper wrapped Christmas presents

It’s that time again! The most wonderful time of the year. The season that brings families together in the spirit of giving and joy. Depending on how good you are with picking presents, there might just be a tinge of terror mixed in with all the merriment.

We’ve all been either the perpetrator or the recipient of what can honestly only be described as a less than stellar gift. Maybe even a terrible one. We’re looking at you, pair of socks and multi-coloured, comedy sweater!

As much as we know that gifts are not really what Christmas is all about, it certainly helps to feel confident about the presents you bought and to see sincere joy and amazement in your loved ones’ faces. If in the past you’ve stood in shops, helpless and surrounded by too much choice, this article’s for you.

We’ve decided to take on the role of Santa’s elves and help you come up with some fantastic gift ideas. We’ll focus on gadgets in this post. Gadgets always make great gifts because they tend to be functional and useful, new ones are launched each year, and there’s such a variety available today that it definitely isn’t solely the domain of dads or teenagers any longer.

So, without further ado, let’s see what great Christmas gadget gifts you can get to help spread some festive cheer this season.

XBOX ONE X

Xbox One X

Proudly dubbed the “World’s most powerful console” by its creators, you can rest assured that any console gamer in your family would be absolutely thrilled to receive this gift. Playing games in native 4K HDR has been the dream of gamers for a long time now. To make things even better, all pre-existing Xbox One games will be compatible on the X so it’s a great choice as an upgrade. Especially considering the recent release of some big game titles such as Assassin’s Creed: Origins and Shadow of War that can now be taken full advantage of.

Who’s it for?

Practically any console gamer you know would be ecstatic with this gift.

Alternatives

  • PlayStation 4 Pro: Very similar to the Xbox One X, this console was brought out as a more powerful version of the PS 4. Although not as powerful as the One X, PS is known for the most tantalising, exclusive games.

DJI Mavic Pro drone

DJI Mavic Pro drone

What might have seemed like just a fad a few years ago, they have proved to be anything but. Drones are still popular and more in demand than ever. We’ve only recently begun to realise the potential for these awesome gadgets, for even the average person. From shooting incredible holiday videos to drone racing with VR headsets, they’ve captured the imagination. The DJI Mavic Pro Drone is a higher-end drone and comes packed with capabilities that more than justify that price tag. It has a 12.35 megapixel stabilised camera that can shoot 4K video in up to 30fps and boasts a 27-minute flight time.

Alternatives

  • Parrot Bebop 2: This is a more affordable and slightly lower-end alternative. The biggest downsides being that it’s not as easy to pack up and go as the DJI and doesn’t feature the same build quality.
  • GDU O2 Plus drone: A more direct competitor for the DJI Mavic, this drone features almost all the same capabilities and has a very similar aesthetic.

Amazon Kindle Paperwhite e-reader

Amazon Kindle E-reader

What better gift can you give to the bookworm in your family than a Kindle e-reader? A device that lets you store hundreds… even thousands of books on a single, hand-held, lightweight, portable, tablet-like device? What’s even better, is that the E ink electronic screens are anti-glare so that they don’t strain your eyes and can be read in bright light with ease. Some newer models also come with built-in LEDs to self-illuminate in low light conditions. To top it off, these devices provide you with the widest access to books straight from Amazon itself. The Kindle Paperwhite and Oasis are variations that come enhanced features such as higher resolution screens and the Oasis is even waterproof.

Who’s it for?

Anyone who loves books and is constantly on the go.

Alternatives

  • Kobo Glo HD: The Kobo Glo HD is a like for like replacement for the Amazon Kindle. It’s definitely one of their staunchest competitors in a market dominated by Kindle. This specific model has a similar screen and most of the same features as the Paperwhite.

Sphero R2D2 droid

Sphero R2-D2 app-enabled droid action figure

Since the start of the Star Wars story all those years ago, our hearts & minds have been captured by the adorable and capable android, R2-D2. This unlikely looking droid managed to be both cute, yet completely indispensable with its emotive beeps and bleeps and multitude of tools. The newest in a line of in-phone, app-controlled droids, this one promises to be just as much fun and rekindle your love for Star Wars.

Who’s it for?

It’s suitable for all ages. As long as you can play games on an app you can handle this droid. A fantastic gift for any Star Wars fan in your family or one who has a love for novel gadgets.

Alternatives

  • Sphero BB-8 app-enabled droid: The BB-8 managed to do the seemingly impossible: become a worthy successor to R2-D2 and be just as adorable. It came out a few years ago and reviews have been mostly positive.
  • BB-9E app-enabled droid: This is the “evil twin” of the BB-8. Most users will prefer the BB-8 but this is a great addition if you want to complete the collection.

We hope you’ve found some fantastic and appropriate Christmas gift ideas on our list! Now, with your shopping list done you can finally sit back, relax, and take in all the merriment going around this festive season. If nothing else, maybe you’ve found an idea for a present you yourself want and can now go hint to your family members. And don’t forget to set up your workstation for the new year with a desk from Jason L!

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