Harrods Christmas World, 2016

Harrods have opened Christmas World, a whole 24 days earlier than last year.   The entire range will be in store by the 28th August, but I went along to see what you can pick up now.

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The famous luxury Department store is the third biggest tourist attraction in the capital, and hundreds of thousands of people flock here each year to wander it’s seven floors.  At the beginning of August their anticipated Christmas shop opens.  On the Hans Road side of the Knightsbridge store, it’s housed in the Harrods Gift Shop and the Buckingham Palace Collection. I’m specific here because I asked both the security guard on the ground floor entrance and a sales assistant in the kitchenware department on the second floor and they didn’t know.  I do.  I’ve been and you must.  Here’s a map from Harrods’ online site.

Snip20160804_3Bears have a strong connection with the store which goes back to 1921 when a Winnie the Pooh bear was bought at Harrods by Christopher Robin’s Mother.  In 1986, the first Harrods Christmas Bear was sold, and the tradition continues. Collectors from all over the world descend on the store when they go on sale.

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Hugh the 2016 Christmas Bear is the star of this year’s show and takes up a commanding position at the front of the Shop.  A smaller version is £24.95 with 2016 sewn onto the poor chap’s left paw.  If money or space is no object, then the huge Hugh can be yours of £1,200.

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The collectors 30th Anniversary Plates are £24.95 and the Mug £16.95.

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The ‘My First’ Christmas range includes a white stocking £19.95, a 2016 Bear Decoration £14.95, 2016 Bear on a Bauble £9.95, 2016 White Crown Bauble £9.95 and a set of 3 silver decorations £14.95 and the snowglobe, £24.95.

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The ‘My First’ range includes a puppy,  a teddy and a kitten all at £14.95.

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For the tourist, there’s plenty of suitcase-friendly souvenirs, great for their own Christmas Tree and all at £7.95.

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So apart from baubles what else can you dangle from your non-drop Nordmann Fir?

Gold Glitter Harrods Bag £9.95

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Glitter Present Decoration £9.95

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Glass blown Harrods store £9.95

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Hand finished decorations for the Christmas decoration connoisseur.

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Bear in Bell Decoration £9.95

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Set of four teddies decorations £14.95

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Set of three bears £19.95

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Snowglobes, with the Harrods Westie wearing a Santa hat.

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Festive Westie toys are £12.95.

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As well as Christmas decorations the store also has a small range of their Christmas tins which include teas, hot chocolate, biscuits, chocolate and jam.

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The Advent Calendar is simple, and while there’s a star pointer to determine the date, there’s room for a small treat as well, £19.95.

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In November, Christmas ramps up, and the store will launch with the fashion house Burberry, and it will be the first time they’ve teamed up with a brand for the festive campaign.  We do know it’s called ‘A Very British Fairy Tale’  and will follow two children on an adventure through a snow-swept English country house, complete with flying cars, floating bathtubs and secret passageways.  Expect the Burberry plaid to feature as it takes over the store’s Christmas tree and windows on Brompton Road.

And, if you want to meet Santa in-store this year, don’t forget to register ahead of its opening on the 4th November.  Bookings start on Monday 19th September 2016. All customers registered to Harrods Rewards by Sunday 28th August will receive priority booking based on their Rewards tier and will be eligible to book their tickets first before.

 

 

Marks & Spencer, Christmas in July

I always love the Marks & Spencer Christmas in July event and this year was another cracker.

Sweet, masquerading as savoury, and vice versa is a ‘thing’ this Christmas and the Seafood Knickerbocker Glory is a case in point. Prawns, lobster and a Champagne mousse are layered to mimic a Summer favourite. They’ve also taken inspiration from the chef Nuno Mendes at Chiltern Firehouse and borrowed his savoury doughnut recipe, using hot and sour prawns.

The love for salted caramel doesn’t seem to be waning.  Their Belgian chocolate and salted caramel cake is encased in a hand-decorated chocolate present and topped with a gold bow.

This year the party starts at Breakfast time with mini croissants filled with smoked salmon and egg alongside mini bacon Breakfast cups and an Egg Royale, a perfect pairing for their new Bucks Fizz with Cranberry and Clementine.

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Jenny Rea is something of a gin expert for M&S, and I had a long chat with her about this year’s top tipples. She’s been working with Charles Maxwell in Clapham, and they’ve developed two new gins. No 01 Spice (£26) includes Coriander, Angelica and Ginger and No 02 (£26) Liquorice, Seville Orange and Cassia Bark.

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No Big Dill (£12) is an infused gin with dill and a spot of Elderflower. Served straight and on ice with a sprig of Dill.

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Expect to see a repeat of the Serrano Ham joint from previous years; a 2kg joint has been matured for 12 months, de-boned and comes with both a stand and a knife.

Hidden centres seem to be de rigour this Christmas, and there are quite a few products in the desserts line.  The chocolate mousse pine cones are filled with an oozing chocolate truffle centre. Given a twist, the traditional Christmas pudding has been given a chocolate makeover.  A moist chocolate sponge has been married with raspberry compote and chocolate mousse to bring you a fantastic centrepiece. An incredibly chocolatey cabin cake has a hidden tree design inside, and there’s a chocolate pudding cake which when cut, spills out sixpence chocolate coins.

These mini Santa hats were simple, and a meringue base has a raspberry jelly and fresh vanilla cream topping

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Festive red teamed with glitter will always get my attention, and I loved this Raspberry & Cranberry jelly (£5).

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Flowers through the post is really catching on, and M&S have jumped on the bandwagon. This year, and it’s a high street first, they’ve created a Christmas Tree, Wreath and Garland that can be posted through your letterbox.

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There are great stocking fillers, and these chocolate angel wings (£10) are a good example.

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For the chocolate-lover in your life, this advent calendar is an absolute must, and if £20 is a little on the steep side, there are plenty of other options easier in the pocket.

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A sparkling table needs a sparkling outfit, and they’ve got that covered too. I have to admit to not checking out David Gandy’s range for Autograph, but I did have a look at the offerings for women.

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There’s a touch of Hollywood glamour on offer this year with plenty of gold and plush fabrics. I’ve got my eye on this skirt and its matching bomber jacket.

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Tesco, Christmas in July

Greeted by Christmas trees, snow and an awfully chill wind, Tesco’s Christmas in July event kicked off well.  A warehouse recreated a series of events in the run up to and on Christmas Day, journalists swung through a series of doors and events that take place over the Christmas period; an Advent Calendar brought to life.

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Tesco, Christmas in July

In ‘Preparing for Christmas’, there were lots of activities and things to make, including this Igloo Cake Kit (£3.99) which is something parents can make relatively quickly with their kids. Easy on the purse, it can be cooked in the microwave and comes with cut-out characters and a snow scene.   The cake is incredibly moist as it’s an oil mix, again vegetable oil being cheaper than eggs in most cases.

Tesco, Christmas in July

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Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without the usual luxury and Tesco offer it in spades. From party food, generous seafood platters, British free range Bronze Turkeys, and the all-important smoked salmon.

The products that were worthy of note are on lit plinths and this Finest Reveal dessert earned its place.   A chocolate lover’s dream, this dark Belgian chocolate dome is flecked with gold for an impressive finish and at £12 it was an impressive price point.  It then reveals something of a surprise when the hot toffee sauce hits the crisp shell dome.

This year, the traditional Christmas cake has had a makeover regarding look.  I chatted with Stephanie Bacon one of the food developers at Tesco who talked me through this dome cake.  Whilst it looks contemporary, don’t be fooled, it has all the luxury of a traditional fruit cake.  There may even be luxury truffles on the side and will come in under the £20 mark. I love coming to these shows to chat with the experts, finding out what’s new and how some of the products are still being developed right up to the wire.  So much effort goes into making these events special, and the hard work paid off for Tesco this year.

No party is complete without fizz and this year their Finest pick is a DOP Valdobbiadene Brut from Treviso in Italy and at £10 it’s totally affordable. Flavours of apple, white flowers, citrus, grapefruit and a hint of honey, these bubbles, certainly for me, top Champagne any day of the week.

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This year there’s Christmas Dinner in a box and for £25 there’s, you’ve guessed it, Christmas dinner for two which includes turkey, veg accompaniments, half a bottle of champagne and a Christmas Pudding.

Free From frozen desserts are pretty impressive, and the Berry Christmas Cheesecake is a steal at £4.  Difficult to believe that the Chocolate Yule Cake is another bargain at £4.50.

Tesco, Christmas in July

Tesco, Christmas in July

I’m sure you’ve worked out that my sweet tooth overtakes my savoury.

However, I love cheese, so this finest dessert board selection caught my eye. The thing is, it’s a reinvention of the traditional cheese board, and it comes ready to serve on a slate-effect board.  It’s not cheese at all but features a sweet passionfruit cheesecake, a coconut pannacotta coated with cocoa nibs, a light lemon mousse with a swirl of pistachio crumb and a white blondie studded with white chocolate and a fruit compote.

Christmas in July, Tesco

The Tesco Snowman Cake is a novelty for the kids in your life, young and old. Vanilla sponge is covered with soft buttercream, shaped like Mr Frosty and accessorised with fondant.

Tesco, Christmas in July

Plenty of inspiration and styling to help you organise your Christmas throughout the holidays.

Tesco, Christmas in July

Christmas in July

I forgot to mention the Smoke at Home Ham.  A dry-cured ham joint is popped on an Alder wood smoking board, which can be soaked in juice or beer prior to cooking, it’s served on the board with pickles.  Impressive.