Christmas Food

We love the festive period at The Amazing Blog - the time for twinkling lights, mulled wine and time spent with loved ones. As if that’s not enough, Christmas is also the time for gourmet food choices, from the classic roast, to the after dinner cheese board. Tis’ the season for overindulging and treating ourselves, and with the New Year diet looming, it seems only right to make the most of the festive treats on offer. There are also few things we love more than to receive a selection of foodie treats on Christmas morning, so we thought, why not compile some of our favourites, so you too can give the gift of food!

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Firstly, we came across Cottage Delight, a brand based in the Staffordshire moorlands, bringing hand-crafted and innovative flavours to the condiments market. Established in 1974, the vast amount of experience helps the brand to lead the way in providing delicious additions to our meal (which more often that not, are even more delicious than the foods they are paired with). We were therefore excited to try their Gin & Fizz Set, compromising of two jams, a curd and marmalade - perfect to spice up any scone, crumpet or piece of toast.

Firstly, we tried the Raspberry & Prosecco Jam - a delectable treat to jazz up any morning. Made with 43g of fruit per 100g, this jam is characteristically tangy, but with a depth of flavour thanks to the addition of prosecco. Similarly the Lemon Curd with Gin has a zesty kick, yet an almost buttery texture that is not only indulgent, but also delicious. The addition of gin cuts through the tartness - ideal for any gin lovers in your life. For those who gear towards orange, the Marmalade with Gin has a fruity and juicy flavour - we love it spread across freshly made bread. Finally, for those who like a traditional strawberry jam, the Strawberry Jam with Marc de Champagne is a great option. Made with whole strawberries, this reminded us of our Grandma’s homemade jam. The champagne adds a luxurious aftertaste, solidifying this set as the ideal Christmas present. If that’s not enough, then the box itself is ready made for present giving, so there’s less hassle with wrapping, and more time to indulge in a glass of mulled wine (or two). Purchase a Gin & Fizz Gift Set here for £9.95.

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Secondly, for any chocolate lovers, we recommend Elements for Life. We tried their Yummy Scrummy Brownies not so long ago (see here), and more recently, their Raw Chocolate Making Starter Kit. Founded by Dan and Paula Knowlson, experts in raw chocolate, this brand continues to ensure products are suitable for vegans, diabetics and coeliacs, as well as those with lactose intolerances. This is something particularly difficult to find at Christmas, so we’re sure this set would be popular with anyone who suffers from a dietary requirement. That said, we all equally enjoyed this set, whether intolerant to common allergens or not.

The Raw Chocolate Starter Kit contains 100g raw cacao powder, 100g raw cacao butter, 100ml Sweet Freedom syrup and a reusable silicone chocolate mould. You can also choose your mould design, picking from the spiral swirls (which we went for), or the Valentine’s hearts. Using Peruvian Criollo raw cacao powder and butter, the ingredients are the best of the best, providing a rich and smooth chocolate that has a low GI. This makes it suitable for diabetics, furthermore displaying the inclusive nature of this brand. In terms of making the chocolate itself, we found the process incredibly easily. Simply melt the cacao butter, add the cacao powder and Sweet Freedom syrup and you’re done - pour into the moulds, pop them in the fridge and return to professional looking chocolates. To purchase a Raw Chocolate Making Starter Kit for £17.99, click here.

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Although we’re big sweet lovers at The Amazing Blog, we’re equally enticed by flavoursome and spicy dishes. For the spice lovers in your life, we present SteenbergsMediterranean Mini 8 Spice Box, a set packed with numerous spice blends, heavily influenced by the Arabic side of the Mediterranean. Having tried their Botanicals for Cocktails in October (see here), we were keen to try this set for ourselves - and can confirm that it will indeed be well received by any foodies in your family.

Founded by Axel and Sophie Steenberg in 2003, Steenbergs is passionate about providing top quality and organic spices, with over fifteen years of experience to draw from. You can therefore be safe in the knowledge that by gifting their Mediterranean spices set, you’ll be helping your foodie recipient to create delicious meals, with ingredients they can trust. This set compromises of organic tagine, ras al hanut, za’atar, organic harissa with rose, organic Italian herbs, organic Lebanese 7 spice blend, organic paella spice blend and organic chermoula spice blend - a vast array of flavours to create a multitude of dishes. Our personal favourites are the organic paella spice blend, which helps us to create an authentic taste of Spain, and the chermoula spice blend, which we were admittedly less familiar with - but now cannot be without. To purchase your own Mediterranean Mini 8 Spice Box for £15.99, click here.

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Finally, for something a little more luxury, we came across Haupt Lakrits, a Swedish liquorice brand aiming to bring gourmet products to the market. Having tried a variety of their products, we can confirm that these are far from the packet of slightly squashed liquorice wheels in your cupboard, but instead, provide a new take on a traditional classic. Even those less enthusiastic about liquorice were found sneaking these on our lunchbreak - testament to their scrumptious flavours.

Firstly, for those of us with a penchant for liquorice, SÖT (€9.00) proved to be popular. Thanks to being cooked for 8 hours and stored for 10 weeks, this liquorice is soft and sweet, and has a pleasantly chewy texture. Secondly we tried the Hallon (€9.00) flavour, liquorice dipped in 60% Belgian milk and dark chocolate and coated with raspberry and vanilla. These proved very popular amongst those will less of a liking for traditional liquorice, and we found they work well with rose wine. Thirdly, we tried the limited edition God Juhl: Merry Christmas (€11.00) jar. Coated in Belgian white chocolate and flavoured with a Swedish Christmas spice mix, this liquorice is undoubtedly festive, even covered in a glittery outer layer. Finally, we tried the slightly lighter God Helg: Happy Holidays (€11.00) liquorice. Dipped in Belgian white chocolate, the additions of lingonberry and saffron add sweetness, yet the fruity nature helps to cut the sickliness often associated with white chocolate. Like God Juhl, this Christmas edition liquorice is best paired with a glass of mulled wine. Visit the Haupt Lakrits website here to purchase your own liquorice delights - some flavours are also available as gift sets, smaller jars and refill packs.

So there we have it - four foodie treats guaranteed to put a smile on your receiver’s face. And if you’re thinking ‘I’ve already finished my Christmas shopping’, then why not treat yourself instead? After all, we think the festive period is the perfect excuse to indulge!

Christmas Stocking Filler Ideas

We're halfway through our week of gift-giving inspiration at The Amazing Blog, so we thought it would be apt to help you along your way with some stocking fillers. We wanted to steer clear of the usual shower gels, novelty gifts and chocolates, instead have compiled a few alternative gifts sure to bring joy on Christmas morning. Enjoy!

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Firstly, who doesn't love a food-related gift at Christmas? We certainly enjoy nothing more than discovering new treats, so we were excited to try the offerings of Wilding’s. As the first world maker's of Duck Crackling snacks, this brand aims to provide innovative products, with a focus on creating new and exciting flavours and textures. All too often, our snacking game is pretty weak, so we were excited to try their three signature products. We can confirm that we were not disappointed!

We tried the Duck Crackling Variety Pack, consisting of three flavours: Traditional Peking, Smoked Sea Salt and Kampot Pepper and Habanero Chilli and Lemongrass. Each 25g pack contains signature spice blends, and only natural oils and premium grade local duck are used. This adds depth of flavour, and alongside the hand batched processing, the finished result is a light snack that has been triple cooked for maximum crunch and taste. The Traditional Peking Duck Crackling provides a classic flavour which works well when paired with red wine. The Smoked Sea Salt and Kampot Pepper Duck Crackling gives an oaky flavour which we found delicious alongside a good quality beer - gone are the days of bog-standard pork scratchings! Finally, our favourite was the Habanero Chilli and Lemongrass Duck Crackling, providing just the right amount of spice, thanks to the balance of coconut sugar. We’re sure any foodie would relish the chance to try these products, or perhaps Wildings Snacks could feature as part of your Christmas Eve snacking bowls. Whichever suits you best, you can purchase your own Duck Crackling Variety Pack for £7.50 here.

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We know that stocking fillers often contain beauty products, perhaps lip balms and body butters to be more precise. We wanted to steer away from these products, so were excited to discover the offerings of EBO Beauty. We were impressed by the brand concept of bringing luxury aromatherapy to our daily routines, without the need for overly complicated ingredients. This is something they have achieved, with 100% natural products, free from the use of chemicals.

We tried the Essential Mood Oil Trio, consisting of three oils: serenity, clarity and immunity. Serenity quite literally helps to you feel serene and stress-free, with the use of bergamot, geranium and lavender to encourage relaxation. We especially enjoyed using this before going to bed. Clarity is somewhat the opposite, designed to improve concentration levels. Thanks to the lemon, rosemary and basil oils, we felt awakened and ready to take on the day. Finally, immunity has proven to be popular in the last few (very busy) weeks at the office. This oil contains eucalyptus, cinnamon and clove bud oils, adding a festive touch, while helping to boost our energy levels. We like to use all three on our inner wrists, and you need only use a small amount each time, making them a long-lasting and well-received stocking filler. To purchase your own Essential Mood Oil Trio for £30, click here.

If you're after more of a skincare based product, then we also tried the Winter Essential Facial Oil, a nourishing oil containing sweet almond and sunflower oils, as well as lavender, sweet orange and geranium. This oil has a particularly rejuvenating effect, with neroli oil to kick-start a sluggish circulation. Especially an issue at this time of the year, you're sure to be popular with your recipient. You only need to use about 5 drops, simply warm them between your hands and apply to your face gently. To give the gift of a glowing complexion, then you can purchase the Winter Essential Facial Oil here for £12 (10ml) or £24 (30ml). You can also purchase Ebo Beauty’s products on the Beauty Stable website here.

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We love nothing more than something sweet in the evening, especially at Christmas time! However, thanks to the extremely busy festive period, we don't always have the time to bake. This is where Bakedin have come to the rescue - with three mug mixes that require only butter and milk before cooking. The concept of bringing time conscious baking to the market was born in 2013, and the brand has only continued to grow. We particularly love that the recipes have been developed by Michel Roux, a renowned pastry chef - so you can be safe in the knowledge that scrimping on time, will not scrimp on flavour.

We tried all three flavours: Sticky Toffee, Belgian Chocolate and Gooey Chocolate, all of which are designed to be microwaved in a (microwave safe) mug, taking no more than 80 seconds to cook, and 5 minutes to cool - trust us, that part is crucial! The Sticky Toffee Mug Cake Mix has a rich and gourmet taste and is delicious when served with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. For a chocolate lover, the Belgian Chocolate Mug Brownie Mix has a delectable taste, with the guarantee of a gooey centre (often difficult to achieve from homemade baking). Finally, our favourite, the Gooey Chocolate Mug Cookie Mix is reminiscent of eating cookie dough as a child, with a sweet and soft cookie dough, full of Belgian chocolate chips. Once again, this is delicious when served with vanilla ice cream - it really is hard to believe that it takes just 5 minutes (from start to finish) to prepare! To gift a sweet treat this Christmas, then you can purchase a Top Selling Mug Mix Bundle here for £12. This compromises of three sachets in each flavour, or you can see the full list of Mug Mixes here if one particularly takes your fancy.

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For the tea lovers in your life, we came across the Penguin Infuser Mug from the RSPB. Since 1889, this well-known charity has been dedicated to conserving nature, acting as the largest conservation charity in the country. In line with their ethos, the shop proceeds are fed directly back into the charity, using the money to nurture species in trouble, and to run multiple reserves across the UK.

The mug itself is made from English fine bone china and has a sweet penguin design on each side. The removable lid helps to encourage your tea of choice to develop, as well as keeping it warmer for longer, while the removable infuser makes this mug suitable for loose leaf tea, herbal infusions and ground coffee. Gone are the days of owning delicious loose leaf tea but not being able to drink it! Additionally, the mug is also dishwasher safe and you can, of course, use this mug with other non-loose leaf tea and hot drinks. To do your bit for charity this year, as well as providing your recipient with a lovely mug to drink their Christmas tea in, then the Penguin Tea Infuser Mug is available here for £12.99.

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Finally, we present an alternative stocking filler for a makeup lover in your life. Majic Beauty are the first genuinely safe and hygienic beauty brand with an instant application process. With years of formulating and testing, their Instant Eyeshadow products have been designed with high-quality and natural ingredients, all of which are easily transferable and durable. They certainly have us hooked!

Born from the issue of cross-contamination within the makeup industry, Majic Beauty wanted to create eyeshadow products that reduce the risk of spreading bacteria, creating single-use applicators that hygienically transfer colour directly onto the eyelids. This is something they have achieved with success! We tried both the Creme Brulee and Smokey Eyes applicators, both of which contain five applicator pairs. For those of us with blue eyes, we found that Creme Brulee's bronze shades made our eyes pop, while the silver tones of Smokey Eyes are perfect for an evening party look. We also found the applicators easy to use - simply take them out of the packaging and gently press over your eyelids. To smudge the colours, slide the applicator gently across the eyelid, and we discovered it is easiest to blend the colours by lightly using the applicator edge. Thanks to the use of cruelty and paraben free ingredients, the eyeshadow is also gentle on the skin, while still leaving a professional finish. To try Majic Beauty's Instant Eyeshadow for yourself, then click here to check out their range on Amazon. You'll find a plethora of shades, all of which start from £5.99.

From food, to beauty and lifestyle products, we hope this stocking filler guide has helped you to think slightly outside of the box this year!

Christmas Gift Guide for Women

Yesterday we published our ‘Christmas Gift Guide for Men’, so we thought it only fair to share a little gift giving wisdom for women too. Besides all of the beautiful candles, and festive food and drink available, we’ve created an overview of some of our favourite gifts for women, ranging from the affordable, to the more exclusive. With our help at The Amazing Blog, we hope that you’ll be able to find what she desires, creating the perfect Christmas gift (and giving you some last minute inspiration too!)

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Let’s get started with something that won’t make you dig too deep into your pockets. All That Jazz is a specialist (and certified vegan) nail care brand, providing professional manicure and pedicure products. Founded in 2013, the company has been our go-to when it comes to nail care, especially since we loved their Caribbean Collection (see the blog post here). With their core range consisting of 36 on-trend shimmer colours, they have created their own game-plan, with a long-lasting base coat and choices of super quick drying top coat, matte top coat and top coat, specifically designed to magnify and smoothen glitter colours. Used by countless celebrities and thousands of nail technicians, this is a brand you can trust.

Bringing out four seasonal collections each year, The Designer Collection is our absolute favourite! This is the perfect add-on for Christmas, as the colours are glittery and powerful, inspired by the works of iconic fashion designers. Combining elements of runway glamour, four unique colours are created, from the timelessly chic, shimmery blue of Vivienne, through to the metallic red Coco. The collection also contains a cool nude, Vera and our favourite, the sparkling silver Betsey. The best part? This professional nail lacquer won’t break the bank. Click here to purchase The Designer Collection for just £11.97.

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Another modest choice is from Heathcote & Ivory. Established in 2000, in London by Denis Aaronson, this brand is passionate about creating beautiful products with wonderful ingredients. Their colours, textures and patterns combine an eclectic mix of novelty, with British pedigree. Their forward-thinking design celebrates the role of women in ‘making Christmas happen’, where retro Christmas wrapping designs, sparkle and glamour greet the spirits of traditional British Christmas.

A perfect gift for her is their Vintage & Co. Baubles & Belles Festive Bath and Body TinThe packaging is a Christmas dream, elegantly designed with a festive pattern and finished with a beautiful pink hand-tied bow. Containing three bathing delights infused with orange-peel oil, this is the perfect company for the relaxing self-care holidays. The gentle cleansing shower gel has a silky texture that lathers well, and the scented crystal bathing salts with sweet orange essential oil fill the bathroom with a delicious (and festive) fragrance. Finally, the softening body lotion enriched with almond oil and shea butter locks in the skin’s natural moisture, perfect for any New Year party. All three products are scented with spiced rum, pomegranate, red berries and orange zest, and are guaranteed to give the fragrance of Christmas. Click here to purchase a Baubles and Belles Festive Bath and Body Tin for £15.

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One of the sweet delights of Christmas is that there is always a beautiful scent in the air. That said, it is sometimes difficult to know how to blend fragrances together, something that Aqua Oleum can help with. This brand’s knowledge of oils spans over three generations, with over 30 years of experience in providing top quality oils, at reasonable prices. Managing Director, Julia Lawless, well known as an author and expert in aromatherapy, personally ensures that every product is of top quality - so an Aqua Oleum gift is sure to be one that will not disappoint.

Their Blending Notebook (£28) is ideal for anyone passionate about creating their perfect scents, giving clear and concise introductions into the art of blending. Introducing theory guidance and formula ideas, it is a great way to track and develop your own aromatherapy elixirs at home. Containing all essential information, journal pages to write your own formulations, a glossary of key essential oils and a perfumery chart with notes on how to train your nose, this notebook is great to get you started. It is also beautifully designed, gold foiled and singer sewn bound. To get started right away, combine this with their Clear Head essential oil for just £5.22 (10ml). It helps with breathing (particularly if a Winter cold sets in) and works to penetrate and soothe your sinuses. Equally, their Festive Joy for £6.07 (10ml) is just as great, with a heart-warming, rich, and spicy scent that is comforting and uplifting, the perfect natural room fragrance for the festive period.

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If a new fragrance is what you’re looking for, then we introduce Ancienne Ambiance. Already lovers of their Goddess Waters, we were keen to try their new Mini Colonia Gift Set. Providing luxury gifts with paraben-free quality ingredients, Ancienne Ambiance products are free from animal testing and encased in recyclable packaging.

The Mini Colonia Gift Set contains five 15ml limited edition mini roll-on perfume gift bottles, the perfect scent selection to propel your spirits. Different scents for different days, complementing your clothing and making you feel good. Although we like all five scents, our favourite is Colonia IX (nine) - an exotic, woody and oriental fragrance, blending cedar and sandalwood with a hint of patchouli. It genuinely smells like Christmas! Staying true to the origins of niche perfume, all scents are hand-produced in limited quantities (in France), with the finest ingredients. Packaged in a handcrafted purple-golden gift box, this luxury gift delivers the perfect Christmas spirit (and the box can be reused at a later date). Purchase the Mini Colonia Gift Set here for £60.

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Last but not least we introduce April Aromatics. Since trying their Rose L’Orange Eau de Parfum in August - the perfect scent for that balmy summer - this organic scents and cosmetics company has been one of our favourite fragrance houses. Founded by Tanja Bochnig in New York, the brand delivers natural perfumes with pure extracts that create inner well-being. Their perfumes are also pure and natural, and no animal ingredients are used.

We were therefore excited to try their Tempted Muse scent, the ideal present for Christmas. Packed in a silver shimmery, elegant box, it immediately put us into the most festive mood. Inspired by the nectars of the gods, with sweet fruity golden extracts of frangipani and jasmine, this perfume is uplifting and aphrodisiac. Purchase your own Tempted Muse for a loved one for €169 (30ml) here.

There you have it, five brands that have hopefully given you some inspiration for the special someone you are struggling to buy for! Whether they love nail varnishes, home fragrances or perfumes, we’re sure she’ll be opening her presents with a big smile.

Christmas Gift Guide for Men

With just eight days to go until Father Christmas arrives, we can’t quite believe how quickly the season of giving has come around. We’re not yet at the stage of panic buying; however, it has to be said that most of us at The Amazing Blog, are beginning to cut it fine with our present ideas. If you too are struggling, then this week we will be providing some last minute gift guides, helping you to spend less time worrying about the tricky receivers to buy for (we all know someone), and more time enjoying the festivities. Today we start with ‘Gifts for Men’, ranging from grooming products to technology and accessories. Grab a mince pie (and a glass of something nice), and let us do the research for you.

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Firstly, we introduce The Bluebeards Revenge - a shaving and grooming company who provide products that promote a sustainable grooming routine, as opposed to the quick rush (and inevitable cuts) from using mass-market products. We previously reviewed their Ultimate Sea Salt Spray (see here), and so we were thrilled to try their Soap Stack Kit. True to their promise of creating products that are neither cheap cans of mass-produced products nor designer creams that are more akin to moisturisers, this set consists of three expertly produced soaps.

Ideal for any wash or gym bag, these soaps are unique in many ways. Primarily, the three scents are the perfect balance between providing a less feminine smell, while also promoting hydration and comfort. The first, ‘Classic Ice Soap’ is a modern twist on the British barbershop fragrance, a welcome scent that provides manliness and moisturisation simultaneously. Secondly, ‘Big Blue Bar of Soap for Blokes’ has a simple and fresh scent, and thanks to the bright blue colour, stands out amongst the sea of other generic products. Equally, ‘Cuban Gold Soap’ is ideal for days when an exotic aroma is needed (calling all Monday mornings!) With inspiration from the Caribbean, this soap packs a punch, and as a result of the unique shape, it is easy to handle, and unique to the eye. To make life even easier, these soaps come packaged in an aesthetically pleasing box, which coupled with the attractive colours, makes for a ready-made present. These soaps lather well and help to invigorate the body. To gain optimum benefits - use from head to toe, either in the bath or shower. The Bluebeards Revenge are also strictly against animal testing, and these soaps are both vegetarian and vegan-friendly - the perfect grooming gift that doesn’t involve a generic body spray or cheap aftershave. The best part? The Soap Stack Kit is affordable, at £13.99. Click here to see for yourself.

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For a man with a newfound grooming routine, a durable wash bag is undoubtedly next on the list. We turned to a brand that we know and love and discovered Morris & Co.’s ‘Refined Gentleman Washbag’, which we think fits the bill perfectly. Part of the brand Heathcote & Ivory, Morris and Co. similarly specialise in creating unique and detailed lifestyle products. We have previously featured both Heathcote and Ivory’s Inflight Essentials and Christmas Gifts Set, so were excited to try a lifestyle product aimed at the male market. Thankfully we were not disappointed!

The Refined Gentleman Wash Bag is the ideal gift for a man that is looking for some luxury. The wash bag itself is generous in size, fitting full sized products in, with ease. Thanks to the use of a zip, it also opens and closes easily, and uses vegan leather, which ensures it is wipeable, and therefore easy to keep clean. The real standout of this product is the Acanthus print, inspired by Morris & Co.’s first wallpaper design. As the primary showcase of the brand’s plan to create large-scale wallpaper designs, we like this historical link, as well as the elegant and unique finish. The inner fabric is also wipeable, made from 100% polyester, meaning any spillages can be quickly rectified. To purchase a wash bag for the gentleman in your life, then click here, where you will find The Refined Gentleman Wash Bag available for £24.

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For a gentleman that enjoys a tipple, we also came across Morris and Co.’sThe Refined Gentleman Hip Flask’. Designed with the same embossed pattern as the above wash bag, this hip flask is a classy addition to any inner pocket. Although it is slim enough to fit most pockets, it contains enough room to hold approximately 200ml of liquid. Once again, the fabric is vegan and wipeable, meaning any sticky alcohol spillages can be removed with ease. It comes packaged in a simple, and elegant box (yes - we look for presents that are easy to wrap too), and we think it would make a great present alongside the Wash Bag or would be equally welcomed with a small bottle of your receivers favourite spirit. Either way (or neither way, as it is equally lovely on its own), you will find it on the Heathcote and Ivory website for £22 - a reasonable price for a present that is durable, and sure to be well loved.

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For something a little more outlandishly festive, we came across Lime Lace. Stockists of stylish home accessories, gifts and furniture, their website offers an abundance of gifting options, from artwork to lighting and cushions. It was, however, the candles that caught our eye, in particular, The Christmas Jumper Candle the perfect balance between Christmas kitsch, and clever design.

This candle adds a little festive spirit to any room and will be sure to make your receiver smile. We must confess that we were concerned by the prospect of this candle looking too novelty, however, we were pleasantly surprised by the enormous amount of detail. The wax has been carved to look like intricate wool, and the addition of the glitter is an excellent way to jazz up any table or mantlepiece. The detail even goes as far as to emulate red stitching around the cuffs and hem, and we were pleased to discover that the glitter is non-transferable. Gone is the worry of packaging a present, only to find a product that has become distinctively less glittery in the process. Additionally, you’ll find the outer box easy to wrap, although we think it would look lovely when wrapped in cellophane, with a red ribbon bow. The size of this candle also surprised us, at 11x12cm, a decent dimension to create an optimum festive atmosphere, without being overbearing. To send a little Christmas cheer of your own, purchase a Christmas Jumper Candle here for £16.95.

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Finally, for the gadget lover in your life, we discovered Orbitkey. Founders, Rex and Charles, started the company after they decided enough was enough when it came to key organisation. Initially, it took just 30 days to gain 5,000 supporters, and with bases in Melbourne and New York, the success is now notable. Based on the concept of making key storage less bulky, we were keen to try the brand for ourselves.

Although Orbitkey have a plethora of different options, we particularly like the Orbitkey 2.0 Leather. This design comes in a vast array of colours, from simple black and stone to more eye-catching sage and tan. In a nutshell, this product provides a way to hold up to 7 keys, organising them, preventing them from scratching and providing a durable and lightweight finish. Now, of course, this product is not merely limited to men, but we particularly think the concept is perfect for men who often carry keys in their pockets. We were astounded by how convenient this product is, not just for protecting the keys, but also other ensuring other items in pockets and bags are equally protected. Orbitkey have also considered the inevitability of needing to add car keys separately, which can be done utilising the slim D-ring at the top of the leather strap. We tried the Orbitkey in Charcoal with Grey Stitching, which has proven to be popular in the office - especially among the male members of our cohort. There is also the option to monogram the genuine cowhide leather, which screams present giving to us (although you may be pushing it this week). We get the impression that design and ergonomics are paramount to this brand, which only extends further into the stylish and sleek box that the product arrived in. To encourage organisation for a man in your life, see the Orbitkey website here, where you will find this design for £35.59 or £46.23 with monogramming.

So there we go, five products that have hopefully given you a little inspiration for any gift giving nightmares. Perhaps you’ve even found a little something that you’d quite like yourself (when is it too late to add to your Christmas list exactly?) Be sure to check out the rest of our guides this week for even more inspiration, or for those of you who are indefinitely organised, perhaps these could be potential gifts for the New Year. Happy shopping!

Friday Favourites: Beers and Ciders

There’s no doubt that as Christmas approaches, beers and ciders are some of our more pleasurable lighter tipples… One thing we don’t enjoy though, is in our rush to replenish our fridge, is only having a limited choice from supermarket. Supermarket buyers please take note: There are some fantastic indie brands there! With a little research we’ve found some new and interesting options, from fruity ciders to chocolately beers. Keep reading as we at The Amazing Blog introduce you to some of our new festive favourites!

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Let's start with something fresh. Sassy's Cider, created in Normandy, is made of 100% pure juice, is 100% naturallow in calories and no added sugars. We started with the L’inimitable, a bright and golden balance between a traditional-dry cider brut taste, and the fruitiness of a semi-dry cider. It works well as an aperitif, but is also delicious alongside any meat or cheese. The full bodied aroma reveals apple and leather, creating a subtle balance between acidity, bitterness and roundness. Our next treat was Le VertueuxClear and pure, this can be perfectly combined with fish or light chocolate desserts as it gives you a sharp and slightly tannic mouth feel at first, finishing off the soft and subtle flavour of pear. This taste is something we certainly hadn’t come across before and it’s delicious!

Our favourite however, is La Sulfureuse, a cider blended with apple spices, creating a soft and semi-dry cider. Ideal with desserts like sorbet or pastry. lt is lower in alcohol than other ciders and has an intense pink colour, as well as a delectable smell of apples and red fruits. If you want to try Sassy’s ciders for yourself, then you can purchase 12 mini bottles (330ml each) for €44 or 6 bottles of 750ml each for €43 here. Alternatively, you can purchase a set of three for £24 on the John Lewis website here.

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Another fresh and new cider experience is provided by Lilley's, this time from the UK. Their lightly sparkling Rhubarb Craft Cider is characteristically tart, packed full of rhubarb flavour, yet still has a delicous sweetness. The taste is fulfilling, perhaps going down a little too easily at times! Lilleys, a family run cider business, based in Frome, Somerset, offers a diverse range of traditional and experimental blends of cider. Always made with care and a lot of enthusiasm, this cider definitely helps you to get the best out of the day. The notes of rhubarb effectively take away the usual over-sweetness of fruit ciders, instead leaving a light and refreshing taste. This is one of our favourites from their extensive range. We particularly like this tart nature, and it was a hit even with those who are usually put off by flavoured ciders. This Rhubarb Craft Cider was a winner in The Great Taste Awards 2018 for being ‘very sweet with lively carbonation tart and beautifully blended’ and we couldn’t agree more. This is an excellent present for a cider lover, in it’s substantial carton 5L box of rustic goodness that is certain to pack a punch for a mere £19.80 here

Delivering to businesses all across the UK, you can purchase the 6 bottles (500ml each) for £15.18 here. Alternatively, you can mix and match this cider with other great options, buying a selection of 6 flavours, including Mango or Apple & Blackberry. Click here to personalise your own crate.

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Moving away from cider, and onto beer, we came across Lowlander. There is no doubt that Lowlander’s Beer shines amongst the competition, with a range of awards for their botanically brewed beers. With its snappy branding inspired by travel to far-away lands, and discovery of exotic herbs and spices, Lowlander beers are packed full of flavour and character. A whole new dimension of flavours is added thanks to the botanicals used, and their website provides advice on how to combine your favourite beer with either food or other alcoholic beverages.

We tested Lowlander’s Yuzu & Pink Grapefruit beer, and were surprised by the lightness and freshness of this beer, revealing a bright citrus flavour characteristic of having being brewed with earl grey tea and gose beer. We also tried their Ginger & Kaffir Lime beer, which is, in contrast, rather spicy and aromatic, delivering hints of zesty citrus. This beer is brewed with Darjeeling tea and wheat beer, and both beers are presented in colourful and flowery bottles, sure to brighten up any day. With this innovative combination of botanicals, tea and beer, Lowlander wanted to provide innovative lower alcohol options (2.5% vol.). Their beers are subsequently lower in alcohol content than other competitors, but we certainly don’t think this has dampened their flavour! Launched at the Speciality & Fine Food fair in London, these beers can now be purchased from €15 for 6 bottles (330ml each) on their web shop and you’ll find them stocked in many good bars and shops.

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Another innovative brand we came across is Pillars, founded by four guys who have created their own Lager Revolution in London. Finding its roots in a garden shed, the aim of the brand was to prove that a craft lager can be just as tasty as its ale counterparts. This is something that we think has turned out to be a great success. With a lot of creativity and quality, the tasteless reputation of Lager has been smashed!

Their first creation was the Untraditional Lager, which has since become the all-time favourite (and our favourite as well). This 4.5% Session IPL combines ingredients from all over the world, producing a never before seen combination of a pilsner and hoppy IPA. This creates the delicious flavour of local British malts, with softness and fruitiness which has a slightly citrusy, but definitely crisp, finish. We also tried their Rebell Helles (4.8% vol.) lager, which combines traditional Helles Lager with new world hops. It is most definitely waves two fingers to boring beers! It is a malty maverick, revealing a full bodied taste, yet is easy to drink. Based in Walthamstow, East London, the brewery pays homage to a brand that wants to change perceptions of lagers. The packaging is metallic orange, and black and white in design, offering a graphic look that looks great on any shelf. With a reasonable price of £2.65 for 330ml, this fresh taste is definitely worth a try. Visit their website here to see for yourself.

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Our last stop of this revealing beer and cider discovery tour is Big Cat Stout from Stroud Brewery, a British Craft Brewery founded in 2006. They create premium organic beers, offering a wide range of beers in cask, cake bottles and cans. Starting out as their pet project, this dark stout is organic, and vegan and delivers a silky complexity of dark roast malts.

We decided to give this 4.5%, easy drinking conditioned stout, a try. We were certainly more than satisfied. Encased in a stylish and simple bottle with a graphic red logo, we were impressed to find that this stout is organically brewed, without any artificial preservatives, flavourings or colourings. The taste is not highly bitter, and we think is best combined with rich spicy foods, mature cheddar, chocolate or coffee based pudding. The silky smooth texture is full bodied, delivering a fruity dark chocolate aroma, with a hint of liquorice. Winner of a 2 star Great Taste Award (2017), this beer is definitely not what you find in an everyday pub! Purchase 12 bottles of 500ml each for £33 here.

As Christmas draws nearer, we hope to have opened your eyes to a few new festive tipples, we think in particular that these are great for those who normally steer clear of beers, ciders and stouts. So go on, give it a go, why not try something new?