Oh, the best part of the festive season is the food and drink isn’t it? If we’re completely honest? Guys? Anyone with me here? Of COURSE you are – I’d bathe in mulled wine if I could, and I would happily eat yule log for breakfast every day. Eggnog before bed? Sure, why not. For me, food and drink is what brings everyone together at Christmas, whether it’s Christmas dinner, snaffling chocs from the tin in the 4pm slump or laughing like giddy geese on a pre-Christmas pub visit. Phwoar. So, with that in mind, here are my picks to help you eat, drink and be merry, with plenty of hygge stirred in for good measure!
Koskenkorva Sauna Barrel vodka
Ohhhh baby. This is vodka on a whole new level. I actually spotted this Koskenkorva Sauna Barrel vodka on Twitter a few weeks ago, and the delightful people at Koskenkorva sent me a bottle to share with you guys! Koskenkorva is far and away my favourite vodka brand (I really stocked up on their Nordic Berries flavour at Helsinki airport a few years ago – hard to find now, but I did track it down at Scandi Kitchen), and this is SUCH a cool idea. Because it’s aged in a barrel, this vodka has a light bourbon taste, with notes of oak and tar (apparently – I can’t say I know what tar tastes like). It’s a really cool twist on standard vodka, and I can see myself getting through this VERY quickly this Christmas. You could drink it with coke, but I reckon I’ll be mixing mine with ginger ale and a dash of pomegranate juice. It makes me imagine I’m huddled in a cabin in a Finnish forest, sitting next to a crackling fire while the snow silently sinks to the ground outside. Delightful!
A selection box with a twist
As much as I love a Cadbury’s selection box, it’s always good to branch out and try new things. I’ve been buying sweet treats from A Quarter Of for YEARS now, because I love the fact I can get pretty much anything I want from one place. I really love these decade sweet hampers filled with retro sweets, whether it’s liquorice wood from the 50s, coconut mushrooms from the 60s, foam shrimps from the 70s or kola kubes from the 80s. Or, if you’re looking for something a little cheaper, I love these little penny sweet jars. Lots of A Quarter Of’s products can be personalised too for an extra special treat.
A fun liqueur
I always, ALWAYS have a bottle of Chambord in the cupboard, but at Christmas I get through it at an alarming rate. The black raspberry flavour is great enough, but the beautiful bottle and the scarlet colour makes this one of my festive staples. You can pick it up in any supermarket for around £6, and it usually comes in a pretty gold presentation box too – waaaay easier to wrap than the gorgeous, but awkward, globe-shaped bottle. I also want to recommend St Germain elderflower liqueur – it’s not your typical festive flavour, but it’s nice and light and fresh after days (weeks) (months) (years) of excess. And I can’t go recommending liqueurs without mentioning Tuaca! It’s hard to describe the flavour – it’s sort of vanilla with a hint of coffee and spice to me, and it seems to be pretty hard to come by outside my hometown of Brighton. It’s actually fondly known as the ‘Brighton liqueur‘ in this neck of the woods for that very reason (even though it’s Italian), and its sweet, spicy flavour makes it the perfect addition to your Christmas drinks cabinet.
Decadent hot chocolate
I think I mentioned this a couple of posts ago, but Whittard’s peanut butter hot chocolate is totally worth another shout out. I got some for my birthday, and I am POWERING through the tub. Don’t try to cut corners and replace some of the milk with water like I did a few nights ago – it’s all or nothing with this, and I want it ALL. Milk, cream, marshmallows, the works. It is SO GOOD – ever so slightly salty, so creamy, oh my god. But if for some insane reason you’re not into peanut butter, I also spotted this spiced hot chocolate set – more super cosy Christmas vibes, but this time with a MASSIVE JAR OF MINI MARSHMALLOWS. Or, if you want to treat your family, these hot chocolate spoons are a really fun option. I first tried a hot chocolate spoon in a café on the beach in Cornwall – my friends and I were 16, had just finished our GCSEs and we’d gone to Newquay with the rest of our year, and it RAINED THE ENTIRE TIME. We took ourselves to a café for chips and hot chocolate, and it came as these stirrers with mugs of hot milk – it was seriously hyggeligt, and these will always remind me of that.
A smoked salmon hamper
When I think of Nordic cuisine, my mind immediately goes to delicate, melt-in-the-mouth ripples of smoked salmon. I’ll say this upfront: this pick is EXPENSIVE, but if someone has been especially good this year, then this smoked salmon hamper is a fantastic choice. It contains a selection of sweet and savoury items, including (obviously) the smoked salmon, Black Bomber cheese, Deerness Distillery gin fig chutney and much more. Now, I do appreciate that it’s not cheap, so I’ve also found this ADORABLE Fortnum & Mason smoked salmon hamperling (bonus: you can keep the little bag and use it for luxe everyday lunches) or this Ardtaraig Scottish Surprises box (there’s a jar of that Poacher’s Pickle with my name on it, I’m sure).
I am a total sucker for anything glitzy and glittery, which is why I’ve been eyeballing this rose gold prosecco shimmer for the last few months. As much as I love the look of it, I just can’t quite justify that price yet, so I’m going to hold tight and hope for a sale. I’ve seen it said that champagne (or prosecco) isn’t hyggeligt, but at Christmas? It totally can be. It’s a special occasion, and enjoying a luxe glass of fizz with friends and family is a real treat – so why not go the whole hog and glitz it up a bit? If you know any gin fans, I’ve spotted these bursting blueberry and lemon bubbles, which I guess work a bit like the mysterious globules in bubble tea. Yes, they’re gimmicky, but if you can’t share a gimmick with friends at Christmas then when can you?
The gift of home baking
Lots of people think baking is too much effort – buying all the ingredients, weighing everything out, washing everything up afterwards… so I went looking for a way to make that easier. I LOVE baking, and for me there is little more hyggeligt than enjoying something you’ve baked yourself fresh from the oven, but as a gift you’d probably want something a little bit nicer than a shop-bought cake mix in a box. I just found The Busy Baking Company, and I think it fits the bill perfectly. The dry ingredients are measured out for you, meaning you just have to add the wet ingredients (like eggs and butter), making home baking unbelievably easy. For a festive option, how about the cranberry and oat cookie mix, the chocolate and cranberry brownie mix or the gingerbread mix with a cutter?
Scandi Christmas drinks
Every Christmas for as long as I can remember, I’ve gone poking around on the Scandi Kitchen site and ended up ordering more than I intended to. I would love to throw an intimate pre-Christmas hygge party and crack out some of their delicious festive drinks – and luckily the non-alcoholic options are just as good as those for the drinkers. Swedish Julmust outsells Coca Cola at Christmas, and tastes a bit like root beer – it’s definitely an intense flavour! Hopping over the border into Norway and you’ll find Julebrus (which I prefer), which is a sparkling raspberry-flavoured soft drink in a bright, festive red. For those enjoying a tipple or two, Blossa Vinglögg is a must, or for beer drinkers, Tuborg’s famous Julebryg is a brilliant gift. Did you know that there is a whole day dedicated to Julebryg in Denmark? It’s called J-Day, and it marks that year’s launch of the Christmas beer – definitely a holiday I can get behind!
A reverse advent calendar
This isn’t a gift for anyone you know – in fact, it’s highly unlikely you’ll never know who has received your reverse advent calendar gift. But it’s just as important as anything else you’ll buy this month. The reverse advent calendar concept is simple: you just fill a box with 24 items, one for each day of advent, and donate it to your local food bank. The box will then go to a family in need of some extra help this Christmas. Tis the season for giving, and this is a very real, tangible way to make a difference to someone at this time of year. I’ve organised a reverse advent calendar box for our office for Brighton and Hove City Mission, and there’s still time for you to do the same. UK followers, you can find your nearest food bank here, and be sure to find out the cut-off date for delivering your box.
So there we have it! What will you be giving to your foodie friends and family this Christmas? Leave your gift inspiration in the comments!