FORGET expensive perfumes, futuristic gadgets or sensible socks. This year’s Christmas gifts are more likely to be edible – and home-made.
Supermarkets are stocking up on jam-making kits, storage jars, empty glass bottles and even gingerbread-house making kits in expectation of a Christmas rush from shoppers looking to make their own presents for friends and family in the kitchen in a bid to save money and deliver a gift with a little more thought attached to it.
Popular gifts expected to be given this Christmas include home-made chocolates, sweets such as fudge and tablet, chutneys, jams as well as alcoholic drinks such as blackberry vodka and spiced liqueurs.
Even celebrity chefs have jumped on the bandwagon, with Jamie Oliver publishing an online guide to making edible Christmas gifts, while Tesco features Gordon Ramsay’s edible gift recipes on its Christmas website, including one for chocolate mint truffles.
A Sainsbury’s spokeswoman said: “In recent years we have seen the trend for giving and receiving home-made Christmas gifts grow increasingly more popular, with a particular focus on edible gifts. It seems people are choosing to make chutneys, chocolates and poached pears at home in the run-up to Christmas.” She added: “To provide inspiration for customers we have information on our website including recipes for sweet treats as well as savouries and customers will find all the ingredients and equipment available in our stores.”
Marks & Spencer meanwhile, is selling a range of specially designed Christmas cake tins so customers can gift home-made cake and puddings, while Waitrose has published guides to making a whole range of presents including chocolate truffles and shortbreads, individual stollens and puddings, biscuits and cookies and miniature mince pies.
Scottish food blogger Hilary Sturzaker, of MyMonkfish.com, said the trend was partly connected to the British public’s newfound love of baking.
“A lot of it is probably to do with the Great British Bake Off,” she said. “Baking is on the rise, so it makes sense that people baking presents is also on the rise. But it’s also because it’s a good way to save money, and give people presents that actually mean something. Instead of getting something off Amazon that just involves a couple of clicks, it’s something you’ve sourced locally and cooked yourself in your kitchen.
“There’s a sort of 1970s’ home, sweet home mentality to it. It’s what we used to do in life, there’s a nostalgia attached to it.”
She suggested sweet things would make particularly popular festive gifts for family and friends.
“Christmas cookies are a good idea, as are chocolate truffles, or mini Christmas cakes. It’s nice to make things for people specifically for Christmas Day, things that might make the day a little easier or provide a special treat,” she said.
“Other pressies that are enjoyable to make are things like pickles and chutneys – something that will last in the cupboard for a while but that people will not necessarily have time to make themselves. That way it really does feel like a lot more thought has gone into it rather than ‘I’ve got five minutes, I’ll just order everything online’.”
Sainsbury’s said that some trends within its stores suggest that people were going to a huge amount of effort in order to create edible Christmas gifts.
“Products that are popular are jam-making kits and gingerbread house kits,” said a spokeswoman. “A large selection of Kilner jars, which can be used for pickling or storing chutneys, are also popular.”
Food writer Ren Behan, writing on Oliver’s website, said: “More and more of us are getting into the spirit of making edible Christmas gifts, to add something of a homemade and personal touch to the season of goodwill.”
She continued: “The good news is that making edible gifts can be easy and enjoyable. All you have to do is to start gathering together some pretty ribbons and tags and then follow a few basic rules when it comes to preparing jars and bottles.”
The cook Nigella Lawson has also long been an advocate for Christmas gifts, and publishes an extensive guide to making your own edible gifts, including fig and olive chutney, baklava, vanilla shortbread and chilli jam.