The Ultimate Foodie Gifts for the Festive Season

Novel Mart is one of my favourite brands, cleverly combining nostalgic food items with classic casual clothing, their garments are iconic and very wearable. They have recently started making children’s t-shirts so now you can buy their items for the whole family… if I could I’d wear my croissant top everyday, and now my son has one to match.

I’ll collated my top ten culinary gifts to satisfy your friends and family this Christmas. So whether you are filling a stocking, buying a secret santa gift or just surprising a friend this Novel Mart checklist should tick every gift-giving box.

For Festive Fans…

For Cheese Obsessives…

For the Kids…

For the Patisserie Lovers…

For the Pasta…

The Stocking Filler…

A Takeaway Night in…

For the Caffeine Addicts…

For the Cocktail Drinker…

On my Gift List…

Shop with Novel Mart here.

Festive Family Shows to see this Christmas

Nutcracker

The Nutcracker, English National Ballet,  The Coliseum

15 December – 8 January (family performance 7 January 2.30pm)

The Nutcracker is, for me, the ultimate Christmas show. I used to perform in the English National Ballet’s production at The Coliseum every winter, with a very small but special role singing in the snowflake chorus. So when I can I try to see the show, and this year I’m excited to be seeing it for the first time with my older son. Theatre designed for kids is great, but there is something extra special about seeing children enthralled by classic culture that they can continue to enjoy for years to come, and I hope an annual trip to see The Nutcracker will become a festive staple for my family. With the familiar twinkling music by Tchaikovsky, choreography by Wayne Eagling and design by Peter Farmer it is a stellar production that should not be missed. Children 5+ can see any show but book for 7 January for younger kids.

The Snowman, Peacock Theatre

19 November – 31 December (all ages)

A magical show that is just as captivating for the adults as the children. The Peacock Theatre is once again hosting this classic much-loved picture book by Raymond Briggs, with the Birmingham Repertory Theatre bringing it to life on stage. The audience will be transported to a joyful winter wonderland where a young boy meets a snowman who comes to life. Children of all ages will love the spectacle of this show which features a live orchestra, spectacular design by Ruari Murchison, magical lighting by Tim Mitchell, and amazing choreography by Robert North.

Jack

Jack and the Beanstalk, The Lyric Theatre

19 November – 7 January (ages 6+)

The Lyric Theatre are bringing this familiar tale of Jack and his magical beanstalk to life with a colourful and exciting pantomime just in time for the festive season. Expect to see outrageous outfits, great music and audience participation in this brilliant festive show. Written by Jude Christian & Sonia Jalaly and directed by Nicholai La Barrie.

Elf the musical

Elf the Musical, Dominion Theatre

14 November – 7 January (ages 5+)

This staple Christmas film is on stage for a limited run of only 8 weeks at the Dominion Theatre in central London. I recommend having a festive day out in London seeing all the decorations before settling down for the ultimate Christmas show, Elf. The brilliant tale of Buddy, the unlikely elf, as he makes the journey from his home in the North Pole to New York in search of his real father, causing lots of mischief and mayhem while also spreading some much needed Christmas cheer to Manhattan.

Crackers: a Festive Family Farce, Polka Theatre

19 November – 15 January (all ages)

The recently refurbished Polka Theatre is one of best places in London to see family-focussed theatre. They have a whole programme of holiday shows, but Crackers is perhaps the most Christmassy. Written by award-winning playwright Charles Way, this story documents the trials and tribulations of the Crackers family as they get ready for Christmas Day, with a lot of fun and silliness along the way.

Stickman

Stickman, Leicester Square Theatre

22 October – 2 January (all ages)

A charming adaptation of Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler’s Stickman story. Following the adventures of Stickman as he meets animals, gets set on fire and then tries to find his way back to the family tree. This award-winning production is from the team behind Zog, Zog and the Flying Doctors,  Tiddler and other Terrific Tales, and Tabby McTat. The show features a trio of top actors and is packed full of puppetry, songs, live music and funky moves.

Goutea by Cédric Grolet at The Berkeley

When it comes to patisserie it doesn’t get more special and spectacular than Cédric Grolet. When he opened his first patisserie outside France in February 2022, I was first in line to try his creations. Positioned inside the luxurious Berkeley hotel in Knightsbridge, it is a fitting location for this legendary pastry chef.

After stunning customers with his breakfast pastries, counter tasting menu and magical fruit masterpieces, this month he has launched his much-anticipated ‘Goutea’ – a fusion of the tradition of French snacking and a more traditional British afternoon tea.

Goutea by Cédric Grolet at The Berkeley

We were seated at a beautiful corner table in the Remi Tessier designed Berkeley Cafe. The friendly staff soon appeared with appetising glasses of iced vanilla tea and poured us glasses of champagne.

The tea is available seven days a week, served at noon, 2pm and 4pm. It is priced at £85 per person, which is very reasonable when you consider the array of treats you are presented with.

Goutea by Cédric Grolet at The Berkeley

The goutea menu will evolve with the changing seasons, but I’m sure certain elements will remain the same. There are some recognisable afternoon tea staples, for example – a perfectly delicate scone sandwich filled with jam and clotted cream. The savoury features are rather more unusual – an intricate avocado tart (topped with with an egg) and a trompe – l’œil burrata topped with balsamic dressing which reveals a vibrant tomato gel and basil pesto when cut open. A mini comté and bacon quiche is delivered to the table to enjoy warm. I really appreciated that each guest is given their own stand of patisserie, there is no sharing here… thank god, because you’ll want it all to yourself.

Goutea by Cédric Grolet at The Berkeley

When it comes to the sweet part of the tea there is a real variety on offer, nothing is too sweet or heavy. The Autumn menu includes a classic Paris Brest, a pistachio cookie, Grolet’s iconic vanilla flower and a signature green apple, filled with fresh apple and dill. It’s difficult to choose a favourite, but the apple was perhaps the most beautiful, both in appearance and taste. I was beginning to lament the tea coming to a close…  but then a waiter appeared with a tray of freshly baked madeleines, I was full but it is difficult to resist the smell of just-out-the-oven Cédric Grolet madeleines.

Just as I thought I couldn’t be surprised and excited by another afternoon tea Cédric Grolet has come up with an experience that truly wows. Trust the French to add a little magic to the tired British tradition of eating tea and cake. Bravo chef.

For more information and to book Goutea by Cédric Grolet at The Berkeley click here.

I was invited to this tea as a guest of The Berkeley.