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Rob Greig / Time Out

You don’t give to receive… or do you? How to make Christmas presents work for you

By Nicola Arencibia

You know that episode of 'The Simpsons' when Homer buys Marge a bowling ball for her birthday, and she feels touched that he wants her to join in with his hobby… until she realises he's had it engraved with his name? Well, while we’re not advocating the sort of behaviour that could end up in domestic fireworks to rival The Queen Vic on Christmas Day, we do think that IF YOU CAN GET AWAY WITH IT, you should definitely make the gifts that you buy kind of for yourself, too. So, with Christmas in mind, we’ve thought up a few foodie treats that you can buy for yourself. We mean, for someone else (but really for you). 

Case in point: we all know afternoon tea is more fun when there are two of you, right? So treat a loved one to the Oxo Tower’s British-themed afternoon tea (just £35pp if you book this special deal), and they’ll probably invite you to share the bubbly, posh finger sandwiches, scones and luxury nibbles. Book now for January, when the riverbank will still be lit up for Christmas and the euphoria from the sugar and booze will banish any winter blues.

Or if the cheese board trumps the dessert trolley for you every time, then how about indulging in a spot of urban cheese-making together? You can dress up the idea as ‘quality time’. The one-day course at Wildes Cheese teaches you to craft cream, curd and fresh cheeses that you can take home, plus you get to stuff your face on cheese. Other ways to turn food into a DIY outing include hands-on masterclasses in chocolate, gin and… bacon.

That’s the significant other sorted – what about the parents? You could team up with a sibling and shout the whole family to a slap-up meal at Heston Blumenthal’s Hind’s Head gastropub in Bray. This brilliant little deal includes a welcome drink and a four-course set menu for just £45pp, with dishes like chicken, ham and leek pie with mustard sauce and mash, and treacle tart ice cream. Nom nom. 

As for that catch-up with a friend that’s long overdue, turn it into a Christmas present via a wine handbag. Then you can get together and share the contents while reminiscing about your misspent youth downing boxes of plonk before a night out. What’s that? You don’t know what a wine handbag is? Well, er, it’s like a box of wine – but styled as a handbag. And, you know, nicer. Let’s just say you’ll definitely want her to share the goods.

Aren't tempted by these suggestions, but love the idea of a gift that gives back? Try some of these sparkly restaurant deals. Go on – you're worth it.

In other news, it's one month until Christmas - here's your ultimate guide to everything that's happening.


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