’Tis the season to fill your house with festive cheer. From foodie treats to get-ahead gift ideas, here’s how to make this time of year even more wonderful
From work dos to old friends’ get-togethers, early December is the time to gather your pals for a spot of festive frivolity. Keep a selection of seasonal spirits on hand to serve your guests, from our crisp, cool, five-times-distilled vodka, to a bottle of Christmas spiced gin (available in store now). Pre-batched cocktails are just the thing when you need to whip up a speedy round of drinks. Choose from an array of festive flavours, such as zesty Jaffa Cake liqueur or spicy mince-pie cocktail. Simply shake and pour over ice into your favourite glass, then serve alongside our boozy, cocktail-inspired Mixologist Chocolate Gift Box. If you’re hosting, make pretty garnishes for your drinks by slicing citrus fruits then removing the pulp in the middle, so you’re left with one long strip of peel. Simply twist, and the peel will hold its spiral shape. Cheers!
As December draws on, the gift wrapping and card writing can begin in earnest. It needn’t be a mad Christmas Eve panic: turn on the Christmas tunes, snuggle up in your favourite PJs, and keep a cup of our festive hot chocolate (available in store) on hand, then spend a chilly afternoon sending cards and wrapping presents. Be sure to include a couple of extra gifts for when unexpected guests drop by – our velvety Belgian truffles, gorgeous Signature Chocolate Collection, or Prosecco and Panettone Gift Selection are all guaranteed crowd-pleasers worthy of stashing away under the tree. To make your gifts look extra special, go for plain-coloured tags and wraps in shades of red, gold and green, tied with a sprig of fresh rosemary or eucalyptus and a couple of bright baubles.
Getting ahead in the kitchen now will help you stay sane when the busiest time of the year steps up a gear. Stuffing, gravy and red cabbage can all be made ahead and kept in the freezer to save you time during Christmas lunch, as can our selection of tasty party-food bites, available in store and via our year-round Food to Order service (the new spicy pulled pork tacos are a must-try). Now’s also the time to check your roasting trays, chopping boards, tea towels and oven gloves are in ship shape. Write a list of everything you’re going to make, then check you have enough kit to cook and serve everything simultaneously, as well as plenty of crockery, cutlery and glasses to cater for your guests. Finally, ensure you order and pick up your festive food: the last date for our online Christmas orders is 5pm on 15 December, and 22 December will be the least busy day for collection, which ends on 24 December.
It’s the little extras which make Christmas even more magical. As the big day gets closer, visit your local M&S and stock up on edible treats to see you through the holidays. Think spiced Christmas tea to enjoy while curled upin front of a Christmas film; red velvet curd to spread on scones or dollop over ice cream; buttery shortbread biscuits; and chocolate and orange spread to slather over toasted crumpets. For last minute get-togethers, stash away a bag of our whisky-glazed gammon crisps and chocolate cinnamon tortilla rolls, and whip up a batch of spiced nuts by roasting nuts with smoked paprika and chilli (delicious alongside a G&T). For mulled wine in an instant, simmer cinnamon, cloves, clementine peel and a vanilla pod with sugar and water to make a spiced syrup, then decant into a sterilised bottle and heat through with red wine whenever the mood takes you.
Editor: Heather Taylor / Photographer: Carolyn Barber / Food stylist: Bianca Nice / Prop stylist: Agathe Gits / Art director: Jo Usher