Vegan Friendly Christmas Treats and Gifts

“You’re vegan? But… what about Christmas?”

The classic question! Personally, I don’t miss any of the traditional festive dinners half as much as I expected to. I do however feel a bit left out when it comes to all of the festive sweet treats that get passed around. Whether it’s after dinner chocolates, a festive tipple or a selection box of chocolates, I usually have to politely decline.

Luckily the high street is starting to get on board with the growing demand for vegan friendly sweets, chocolates and edible gifts. I attended a Christmas taster evening at Queensgate Shopping Centre in Peterborough last week and was absolutely chuffed at how much they had to show me. I even got to have not one, but TWO festive meals, all entirely vegan.

With that in mind, I’ve rounded up some of the best vegan friendly christmas treats and gifts available on the high street this year and where to buy them.

Vegan Friendly Christmas Treats

For watching Christmas movies in your pj’s…

Vegan Friendly Christmas Treats and Gifts

Vegan Vanilla Marshmallows | The Naked Marshmallow Co | Lakeland

Vegan marshmallows! My goodness how I’ve craved a super indulgent hot chocolate since going vegan, but until now I haven’t found a high street retailer that stocks vegan marshmallows. Finding these in Lakeland made my day!

After Dinner Treats

Still in Lakeland, I found these chocolate covered cherries which really are the perfect after dinner christmas treat. They are slightly sour with a dark chocolate coating and a lovely chewy inside. They come gift wrapped in cellophane so would make a nice gift to take round if you’re visiting someone else for Christmas.

Growing up, we always had a box of After Eight at Christmas. Sadly I checked and they aren’t vegan, but I discovered that Lakeland stock Beech’s After Dinner Mints which are a conscience free alternative and delicious in their own right.

For the Prosecco Lover

It’s almost time to start opening our advent calendars, but to be honest I have found the vegan chocolate ones I’ve tried hugely disappointing. For a fun alternative, Popaball have a ‘Pimp Your Prosecco‘ 12 day advent calendar containing 11 bubbles of different flavours and one shimmer.

For Impressive Christmas Gifts

Vegan Friendly Christmas Treats and Gifts

I’ve always loved using Hotel Chocolat for gifts as everything is so beautifully packaged. Now I love them even more, because this year they have a huge vegan friendly selection that non vegans should adore just as much. You need to avoid the milk chocolate (obviously!) but as well as their dark chocolate range, many of their alcohols are also vegan (oh hello Salted Caramel Cocoa Vodka Liqueur).

Vegan Friendly Christmas Treats and Gifts

Some of their Christmas sweets such as their Rose & Lemon Turkish Delight are vegan too – it’s worth checking the label or asking a member of staff for help if you’re not sure.

View the full vegan range here: Hotel Chocolat Vegan Range

Vegan Friendly Christmas Treats and Gifts Vegan Friendly Christmas Treats and Gifts

For A Buzzing Christmas Party

Vegan Friendly Christmas Treats and Gifts

Once finished shopping for vegan friendly Christmas treats and gifts I also headed to Turtle Bay, Peterborough’s fun and lively Caribbean restaurant where the atmosphere is always buzzing. If you’re sick of Christmas music and want somewhere a little different for a festive get together, this place is a winner.

Vegan Friendly Christmas Treats and Gifts

Vegan Friendly Christmas Treats and Gifts I tried the Spiced Chickpea Ital and Sweetcorn Fritters. Both were super tasty but be warned these are SPICY dishes that build heat over time. If you’re sensitive to spices, you might want to ask your waiter for guidance on how hot the dish is before you choose!

Vegan Friendly Christmas Treats and Gifts

If you have a Christmas party to organise, two courses from the Christmas Lunch menu are £14.95 and two courses from the Christmas Anytime menu are £19.95. You get a £20 gift card as a thank you for booking a table of 10 people or more (£50 gift card for tables over 30).

I have to thank Queensgate and their stores for once again being wonderful hosts and showing me that there are plenty of vegan friendly Christmas treats and gifts to enjoy this year!

LovedByLaura

*Disclaimer: All food and drink consumed on the night was complimentary thanks to Queensgate Shopping Centre and the participating retailers. I have shared my personal highlights from the evening to share with you here.

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The Indulgence Gift Box | Harrods Christmas Hampers

A visit to Harrods department store in London would not be complete for me without at least ten minutes spent gazing longingly at their Christmas Hampers and Gift Boxes. As a total foodie with a taste for the finer things in life (if not always the money to back it up!) they epitomise my dream luxury gift. Gourmet treats, beautiful packaging embossed with the iconic Harrods logo and the general feeling that in being gifted one, someone is letting you know just how much you mean to them!

Well pinch me please because as the title of this post probably gives away, I felt very special indeed when Harrods themselves contacted me to ask if I’d like to receive a gift handpicked especially for me from their newly released Christmas selection.

I chose to keep the contents as a surprise to make opening it even more of a pleasure. The huge cardboard box that it came in gave nothing away, but just look what I found inside!

 

The Indulgence Gift Box | Harrods Christmas Hampers

Harrods had obviously done their research on my favourite past-time because they had chosen to send me their Indulgence Gift Box*, otherwise known as the Pamper Hamper! It’s the only hamper in their Christmas collection to feature relaxing pampering products from one of my favourites Molton Brown in addition to a selection of gourmet food and drink items – what a match made in heaven!

Let’s take a closer look shall we?

Harrods Indulgence Gift Box Christmas Hamper

Harrods Indulgence Gift Box Christmas Hamper

I was thrilled to see not one but two large boxes of luxury truffles, a truly decadent treat that I enjoy on only the rarest occassions usually! My favourite flavour Marc De Champagne features in one of the boxes but I’m equally looking forward to trying the liquid centered passion fruit caramel truffles, they sound scrumptious!

Harrods Indulgence Gift Box Christmas Hamper

There are are two mini bottles of Harrod’s own Premier Cru Champagne. Each bottle would fill a champagne glass I believe making these perfect for toasting the festive season with a loved one.

From Molton Brown there’s a full sized scented candle in Rhubarb and Rose which smells just wonderful – really sweet but fruity at the same time…

Harrods Indulgence Gift Box Christmas Hamper

…accompanied by their Rose and Rhubarb Handcream….

Harrods Indulgence Gift Box Christmas Hamper

…and a full sized bottle of Rose Body Wash. I was really pleased to see this in there as I adore Molton Brown bath and shower body washes. Not only do they foam up into a really good lather but they always smell amazing too.

Harrods Indulgence Gift Box Christmas Hamper

If I’m honest I’d have liked to see a few extra items included as it’s a huge box which gave me the impression upon opening it that I was going to keep finding more goodies as I dug through the cardboard padding. In fact, most of the items were displayed in the top layer and only the bottles of champagne were concealed underneath. However it IS a beautiful keepsake box and because of it’s generous size I think I’m going to use it as a blanket box so that I can keep it on display in my living room!

Harrods Indulgence Gift Box Christmas Hamper

You can view the full selection of Harrods Christmas hampers here. Prices start at a very reasonable £35 for a champagne and truffles gift box and go all the way up to a mind blowing £5000 for The Ultimate Harrods Christmas Hamper, which contains everything from caviar to smoked duck, Louis Roederer Champagne and rare Malt Whiskey!

Thank you Harrods, I feel well and truly spoiled…

…and isn’t that just how you want to make someone special feel on Christmas Day?

LovedByLaura

*Disclaimer: As mentioned above Harrods very kindly gifted me the Indulgence Gift Box so that I could share my honest thoughts with you. All views are, as always, my very own.

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Life Lately Gravitas Magazine Prevost

The past month or so has been a lovely mixture of fun filled hectic days followed by wonderfully quiet uneventful ones. Here are a few of the highlights!

Christmas In July

Life Lately Gravitas Magazine Prevost

Although it’s way to early to be counting down to Christmas I couldn’t help but get into the festive spirit and feel a tingle of excitement when I visited The White Company’s press day preview: Christmas In July. I’ll be doing a full post in November but I just had to include a sneak peek because oh my gosh I’m excited for Christmas 2017 now!

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There were gift ideas spilling from every corner of the room and dreamy dinner table display that makes me want to considerably up my dinnerware game.

Life Lately Gravitas Magazine PrevostLife Lately Gravitas Magazine Prevost Life Lately Gravitas Magazine Prevost Life Lately Gravitas Magazine Prevost

Candles and diffusers filled the air with gorgeous scent combinations that immediately made me think of Christmas .

Life Lately Gravitas Magazine Prevost

If that wasn’t enough this little scene stole the show for me.

Life Lately Gravitas Magazine Prevost

It’s totally Hygge and makes me WANT it to be cold so that I can snuggle up under a blanket with a good book and lots of scented candles. Basically they did a fantastic job of making me wish away Summer, even though I know I’ll be moaning like anything the day I need to wear long sleeves and a coat again!

Bounce Ping Pong

I’ve wanted to go to Bounce in Farringdon for years. It’s a similar concept to going bowling except you’re playing Ping Pong instead. It’s a huge place with row upon row of ping pong tables so there’s a really buzzing atmosphere when it’s busy. A bar runs the length of the space so you can stick around after your turn at the tables at watch how everyone else handles a bat after a few drinks!

Life Lately Gravitas Magazine Prevost

I felt like I got a good workout from all of the running around and spent the half hour laughing my head off as stray balls went everywhere, including into drink cups and ricocheting off people’s heads! Luckily a ball guy would pick up all the escaped balls and refill our bucket at regular intervals so even though neither of us turned out to be particularly skilled at keeping the ball on the table we never ran out!

Life Lately Gravitas Magazine Prevost

After 6pm you can only advance book a table for six or more players, but we had popped in before 4pm and so managed to bag a table for two at 7pm as walk ins. When we arrived people were getting turned away so it’s good to organise it in advance or go before peak times if you can manage it.

Price wise it’s a bit hefty at £15.50 for 30 mins per table if there’s only two of you (adding on more if you buy some drinks too which of course we did!) but it was a really fun unique experience too so that just about justified it for me!

Gravitas Blogger Photoshoot

On Saturday I took part in a photoshoot for Gravitas who are running a feature on top local bloggers in their Autumn edition – eep!

Life Lately Gravitas Magazine Prevost

Gravitas is a regional luxury lifestyle magazine which launched six months ago. It’s aimed at professionals in the Peterborough area and is full of offers for local restaurants, bars and shops as well as lots of inspirational articles on all of my favourite subjects like food, fashion and beauty. I love having a flick through as I can relate to so much of the content so it’s incredibly exciting to think that I’ll be part of the next issue.

The photoshoot itself was nice and relaxed mainly thanks to the fact that I was with lots of other lovely bloggers so we all had a chat and a giggle during the process. I can’t wait to see how it all comes together!

If that wasn’t enough, the shoot was held at Prévost which is Peterborough’s renowned fine dining restaurant. It was a privilege to be allowed in before opening time as not only is the decor gorgeous for photos, but also I got to see them preparing for a busy day’s restaurant service.

Watch out for a review coming soon as I’ll be back there in a few weeks time for lunch!

Masterchef Australia 2016

I finally got to finish watching last year’s Masterchef Australia and I’d forgotten just how much I love the show! It always inspires me to be more creative and experiment with new cooking or baking techniques. Last week I made chocolate honeycomb for the first time after seeing them do it in an episode. It was such a fun process as when you add bicarbonate of soda it instantly bubbles up and triples in volume, plus the end result tasted delicious!

I’m hoping that the return of The Great British Bakeoff will help fill the gap that it’s left! (Game of Thrones is currently helping…)

LovedByLaura

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French's Thanksgiving Christmas 2016

Well this Christmas has been very different for me! I spent Christmas Eve on my own and kept busy by painting The Snug room whilst binge watching Netflix. I didn’t get around to putting up a tree and woke up on Christmas morning with nothing much to do. I solved this problem with a long lie in and then treated myself to a seriously indulgent pampering session – my hair and skin have never smelled so good or felt soft! Even Christmas Dinner bucked tradition; I cooked a Thai noodle chicken laksa because… well why not?!

Admittedly there were some low points. The holidays can be a hard time when you have feelings of uncertainty and aren’t really sure what’s going to happen anymore. In the end though it turned into a lovely day full of hope for how great the future could be. I went to bed feeling contented and had the best night of sleep in ages (despite harbouring severe guilt at the ginormous quantity of cheese and chocolate I’d consumed).

I think it helped that I’d already enjoyed the best ‘turkey and all the trimmings’ banquet of my life back in November when I headed along to Food At 52 in London.

French's Thanksgiving and Christmas 2016

French's Thanksgiving and Christmas 2016

French’s had invited chef Brad McDonald along to show a room full of hungry, foodie bloggers and writers how to cook up some American Thanksgiving classics using French’s mustard to give it all a delicious zingy twist. Despite it being a completely different holiday, it all felt very festive!

French's Thanksgiving and Christmas 2016

Brad was born in Missippi and so his food influences are from the deep south. He now resides in London bringing the best Southern US food flair to Londoners at his restaurants The Lockhart in Marylebone and Shotgun in Soho. Think New Orleans style dirty rice, grits and long and slow cooked smokey BBQ.

By the time we arrived in the evening the meats were already resting on the stove under foil, having been lovingly prepared and tended to throughout the day. Tantalising smells wafted through the kitchen making our tummies rumble in anticipation. We split into groups and set to work whipping up some side dishes under Brad’s direction. Don’t think of plain boiled veg though, think American style extravaganzas; each one good enough to be a main in it’s own right!

French's Thanksgiving and Christmas 2016

First we made a squash and potato salad with chestnuts, pumpkin seeds and a simple to make but extremely tasty vinaigrette dressing using oil, mustard and chives.

French's Thanksgiving and Christmas 2016

Next we prepared a green bean casserole. If I’d seen ‘green bean casserole’ on the menu in a restaurant I’d probably just skim straight past it, but as it turns out the US version is pure decadence and I can’t recommend it enough!

French's Thanksgiving and Christmas 2016 French's Thanksgiving and Christmas 2016 French's Thanksgiving and Christmas 2016

We chopped green beans and mushrooms whilst chatting over a glass of wine, then concocted a beautiful bechamel sauce following Brad’s expert guidance. We were encouraged to use our own judgement as to how much mustard to add to the sauce and my team pushed ours further and further, dipping in a tasting spoon every so often until we had a perfect balance of creaminess and tang. If that wasn’t enough, we then topped the sauce with a whole packet of French’s Crispy Fried Onions which added the perfect crunchy element to the dish.

French's Thanksgiving and Christmas 2016 French's Thanksgiving and Christmas 2016

Finally, the sides were complete and it was time for us to celebrate Thanksgiving! Everything was laid out on the beautifully decorated table in serving dishes and we lined up with a plate in hand. Brad carved and served the meat whilst his lovely wife Molly ladled on generous portions of the sides. Although I only knew half the people there it had such a homely atmosphere to it that we were soon all chatting away and laughing with each other, bonded over the love of good food.

French's Thanksgiving and Christmas 2016

In true Thanksgiving tradition we all took a turn at saying what we are thankful for this year. Maybe this is why my stripped back Christmas Day turned out as it did in the end, because on that Thanksgiving night I’d already acknowledged the things that truly matter to me. It’s not how many presents you get or how beautiful your tree looks, it’s all about family and friends and love and support and laughter and fantastic opportunities that come about through hard work, and I’m extremely lucky to have these things in my life.

French's Thanksgiving and Christmas 2016

So thank you French’s, Brad and Food at 52 for putting on the meal to end all meals, helping to show me what’s really important and last but not least, for introducing me to Brad’s signature dish which I couldn’t get enough of – cornbread! Expect me at Shotgun in the New Year… once I’ve worked off all this cheese I’m ready for round two!

French's Thanksgiving and Christmas 2016

LovedByLaura

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John Lewis National Christmas Jumper Day

Hey guys, happy National Christmas Jumper Day! Are you wearing a suitably garish knit to honour the occasion? I am! I was supposed to be wearing mine into the office but have ended up working from home today. Boy oh boy are the Amazon Prime delivery men in for a sight when I open the door in my very own, handcrafted Christmas puntastic monstrosity masterpiece.

If you’re currently looking rather sensible in your smart suit or uniform, there’s no need to get FOMO because there are still plenty of opportunities to break out one of these bad boys. And that brings me to a really fun idea for something to do with your family and/or friends over the festive period. A ‘Make Your Own Christmas Jumper Craft Party’!

John Lewis National Christmas Jumper Day

I got inspired to suggest this to you all after having a blast at the annual John Lewis Christmas bash. It’s become their tradition to invite a bunch of bloggers down to London and issue them with a fun crafting challenge. An evening of eating, drinking and being generally Christmassy and merry ensued this year as we attempted to turn one of John Lewis’s gorgeous knitwear items into a festive wonder.

John Lewis National Christmas Jumper Day

Now some people are wonderfully creative with a flair for arts and crafts. Then there are people like me. Give me a pencil and tell me to draw a circle and I’ll end up presenting you with something that looks like a squashed peach. Luckily, a Make Your Own Christmas Jumper Party isn’t about creating something that John Lewis would actually stock for people to buy, it’s all about having a giggle with your friends and family and making something unique that Bridget Jones and Mark Darcy would wear!

All you really need are some good fabric scissors, craft glue and some things to cut out and/or stick on your jumper! Think ribbon, felt, buttons, glitter, fabric swatches… anything goes!

John Lewis National Christmas Jumper Day

I watched in admiration as the girls around me expertly made elbow patches and shoulder trims, added sequinned felt antlers to Buster the boxer…

John Lewis National Christmas Jumper Day

…and transformed a simple red stocking into The Grinch!

John Lewis National Christmas Jumper DayJohn Lewis National Christmas Jumper Day

My effort? I kept it simple by cutting out some felt letters to spell out, ahem… ‘MEOWY Christmas(sorry I know that’s so bad) and then glued these and some pretty buttons onto my jumper.

John Lewis National Christmas Jumper Day

Despite my lack of skill and completely basic design, it turned out better than I’d hoped and I still smile now thinking back to what a fun evening it was.

John Lewis National Christmas Jumper Day

On a side note did I mention that I’m wearing mine now?  I used this jumper from the John Lewis Weekend Range* which was really quite gorgeous before I got my hands on it and snuggly soft! There are loads more to choose from here too.

John Lewis National Christmas Jumper Day John Lewis National Christmas Jumper Day

A big thanks go to John Lewis for supplying me with the gorgeous knit and all the crafting essentials needed and to Talented Talkers for organising such a great night.

John Lewis National Christmas Jumper Day

Would you hold a Make Your Own Christmas Jumper Party? How would you decorate a jumper to make it truly festive?

LovedByLaura

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