In the midst of a pandemic, there’s no time like the present to lift the spirits of the people you love by treating them to a thoughtful gift. Rosie Greenaway reveals the Christmas collections waiting to bring a smile to Brits’ faces this December
If you find it hard to wrap your head around what the nation will be unwrapping in December, you’re not alone. But think about Christmas we must, with autumn now in full swing. Back in summer, some retailers were chomping at the bit to dust off their baubles, with Waitrose publicizing its hotly anticipated festive fare in early August (during a heatwave, no less), and John Lewis launching its online Christmas Shop exactly four months before Christmas Eve.
The foodies at Waitrose have cast their plant-based wands over the Christmas Collection and featured Vegan Festive Filo Swirls, flavoured with Moroccan spice (and all things nice), while on the gifting front Heston Blumenthal’s hand-decorated Chocolate Candles got the spotlight, filled with a ‘warming mandarin Buck’s Fizz milk chocolate ganache’. Over at Holland & Barrett, five new sustainable Christmas boxes have launched, ‘catering for everyone from vegans to gym-goers’: The Beauty One, The Premium Beauty One, The Active One, The Vegan One and The Sleep One.
But what might we find on the shelves of our indie elves? In short, some very appealing gift sets and hampers, curated by brands which truly understand the art of indulgence.
A tonic for tired faces
Let’s be frank: there aren’t many kinds words to be said about 2020. Brits have endured hard times, it’s been difficult to make plans and, for many people, there has been a renewed focus on the here and now, practicing gratitude and enjoying simple pleasures. So, if there was ever a time to spread festive cheer through a thoughtful, life-enriching gift (while boosting the economy) it’s this December.
And it’s this idea of ‘light relief’ which inspired fuss-free face mask brand Faace to launch its ‘Love your Faace’ sets, comprising the ‘no BS capsule collection of Faace masks’, hair grips and branded socks which allow you to ‘wear your mood on your feet’, housed in a black cotton pouch.
Faace founder Jasmine Wicks-Stephens explains that because of what the nation has been through, when winter comes simple self-care practices will have elevated importance. “We’ve seen an increase in people being their own beauticians … I think this will continue, partly due to the cost-saving element of applying your own products at home, but also as it can provide a moment of light relief during times of uncertainty.
“We wanted to bring something out that felt a little more gift-like, and Christmas is of course the perfect time to do this. We’ve kept it chic and simple.”
Wicks-Stephens says Tired Faace – which is accompanied by Period Faace and Sweaty Faace – remains the brand’s best seller ‘because being tired is relatable for most people at some point’. “Whether you’re a parent, working hard, stressed – there are lots of reasons why you might not be getting enough sleep and feeling it in your skin.”
Between the distinctive orange, purple and black tubes, how would your customers choose the right mask for their friends? “It’s likely you’ll know how your friend feels about their appearance or what they’re doing in their life. I think a lot of people mention things like ‘I didn’t get a good sleep last night’, or ‘I’m feeling a bit hormonal’, or ‘I’ve been running and have broken out’ in passing … so you’d have a clear picture of what type of product might be a good fit. If you haven’t seen a friend for a while then it’s also likely you’ll be following what they’re up to on social media and therefore have a good idea of what could work.”
With the central heating back on, everyone’s skin is starting to resemble a dry riverbed, so it’s likely your customers’ faces are thirsty for some deep hydration. Here’s where Antipodes steps up with its Hydration Heroes gift, packed with performance-oriented formulations. Distributed via Kinetic, the packaging alone is worthy of a moment’s admiration; the eye-catching box features a fresh, botanical garden design guaranteed to bring a smile to the recipient’s face. Inside the box the joy continues: first up is Baptise H2O Ultra-Hydrating Water Gel – an intensive but weightless moisturizer which is deeply thirst-quenching. Joe Jackson, owner of Apothecary 27, says the gel has become one of his top-selling beauty products. “The combination of antibacterial and skin-brightening manuka honey with skin-hydrating hyaluronic acid is a perfect combination. Our customers can’t stop raving about the natural rose scent of the lightweight formula too.” Completing the gift are luxe miniatures of Hosanna H20 Skin-Plumping Serum and Avocado Pear Nourishing Night Cream.
Antipodes’ other sustainable skincare set, the equally pretty Beauty Icons, visually depicts the ‘lush green nature … that envelopes New Zealand’s towns and cities, where residents are always only moments away from a forest area’. Eye-catching ferns, synonymous with New Zealand, showcase a trio of natural skincare treats: Kiwi Seed Oil Eye Cream, Apostle Skin-Brightening Serum and Vanilla Pod Hydrating Day Cream.
For both boxes the brand used one piece of quality recycled card, sourced from sustainable forests, ‘reducing the need for excess packaging, glue or plastics’, while the floral designs were printed with vegetable inks.
Farm to fork
Christmas doesn’t get much cosier than in the rolling hills of the Cotswolds, which Daylesford Organic calls home. Introducing its festive range for 2020, Daylesford says: “The Christmas season offers families a chance to gather around the table to enjoy precious time together. Throughout the pandemic our farmland has continued to thrive and we remain hugely grateful to our teams who have continued to tend to our land, gardens and animals. In doing so, they each ensure that we have an abundance of local, British and organic food to bring to our tables and yours.”
With sustainability always front of mind, Daylesford presents a range of seasonal favourites bundled into hampers and gift sets. Highlights include: Bee Happy, comprising two Oxfordshire honeys, a hive candle and bee-friendly seeds for planting; Elevenses, full of organic teas, coffees and biscuits; Good Cheer, featuring organic Prosecco, rosé and apple juice, plus blackcurrant liquor and cider in a willow cooler bag; Snowed In, which includes truffle and pecorino nuts, panettone, sweets, organic mulling spices, single-origin hot chocolate, biscuits, wine and a botanical fig candle; Organic Pantry, the stars of which range from kitchen essentials like chickpeas to treats like dark chocolate covered honeycomb; Good Gut and Wellbeing, centred around fermented food and other digestive health staples; Night Before Christmas, packed with mince pies, nuts, tasty organic tipples and a scented candle; and Ethical Chocolate Lovers, filled with – you guessed it – the food of the gods.
Sharing is caring
It can’t be denied that Christmas – and the month of December in general – is a time of decadent indulgence, and for sweet-toothed families it doesn’t get much better than a sharing bag of their favourite chocolate. But for anyone with intolerances to dairy, soya and gluten, or who prefers to avoid refined sugar, mainstream chocolate brands will rarely come up trumps in meeting their needs.
This season, Conscious Chocolate is introducing ‘conscious sharing’ to its customers, with new luxury sharing bags which don’t just cater to the free-from market but should appeal to everyone, thanks to three flavoursome new variants of premium snack: Salted Chocolate Dates; Chocolate Orange Figs; and a Christmas classic – Chocolate Brazils.
Crunchy Bolivian Brazil nuts, juicy Turkish figs and sweet Pakistani dates are covered in a coating of 66% rich, creamy dark chocolate, all handmade in Sussex in a facility powered by 100% renewable energy sources. Keeping conscious all the way down to the packaging, the brand presents these sharing packs in plastic-free, recyclable and home compostable materials.
Counting down the days
Each year, B Corp-certified Divine Chocolate brings out a new advent calendar, and this year’s two additions to its archives promise to be as popular as ever with customers who want to open the door on a fairer kind of chocolate each day throughout December.
The ‘deliciously dark’ Luxury Vegan 70% cocoa calendar is a solid option for those with a sophisticated palette, with little dark chocolate hearts and an interesting animal fact behind each door. The smooth Milk Chocolate alternative will be the go-to for those who like their calendar chocolate a little lighter in taste; behind each window it says Merry Christmas in a different language.
Both palm oil-free and Fairtrade, the calendars were designed by illustrator Stephen Waterhouse and support the livelihood of a family-run cocoa co-operative in Ghana, which receives a share of the profits to invest back into its farm and community.
Antipodes Beauty Icons and Hydration Heroes Gift Sets
Unveiling two boxed gift sets from Antipodes. Beauty Icons contains Kiwi Seed Oil Eye Cream 30ml, Apostle Skin-Brightening Serum Mini 10ml, Vanilla Pod Hydrating Day Cream Mini 15ml, whilst Hydration Heroes contains Baptise H2O Ultra-Hydrating Water Gel 60ml, Hosanna H2O Skin-Plumping Serum Mini 10ml, Avocado Pear Nourishing Night Cream Mini 15ml. Featuring New Zealand native ingredients such as nutrient-rich avocado oil, world-famous manuka honey and Vitamin C rich kiwi seed oil, all products are certified vegetarian or vegan by the UK vegetarian society, and most products in the sets are scientifically validated.
Crazy Rumors- delightful seasonal lip balms!
As the weather turns colder and your lips need a little extra TLC, why not try the wonderful seasonal flavours from Crazy Rumors. Limited edition and perfect stocking fillers for the holiday season – pick up winter favourites Peppermint Twist, Gingerbread and Pumpkin Spice!. Established over 15 years ago in the USA, Crazy Rumors exceptional 100% natural and vegan lip care is still handmade in small batches for the purest and freshest balms. Clean, tasty and ethical, the super moisturising balms include Organic Shea Butter and Jojoba oil with mouth-watering flavours sourced from fruits, vegetables and spices. The range includes over 30 flavoured balms including tinted varieties
Booja-Booja Chocolate Truffles
Booja-Booja chocolate truffles are multi award-winning, deliciously vegan and 100% organic. The beautiful range features boxes for every occasion and budget, from new Eight Truffle Packs (RRP £4.99) and the Award-Winning Selection (RRP £9.99) to the stylish Special Edition Gift Collection (RRP £12.95) and beautiful Artist’s Collection, hand-painted in Kashmir, India (RRP £19.99). Winners of multiple Great Taste Awards, Free From Food Awards and Academy of Chocolate Awards (among others) the melt-the-mouth flavours include Almond Salted Caramel, Hazelnut Crunch, Around Midnight Espresso and Fine de Champagne. All handmade in Norfolk and available now from all major wholefood wholesalers.
Natura Detox Oil
This specially formulated detoxifying facial oil is high in Linoleic acid that helps target overactive sebaceous glands to help regulate oil production & a potent herbal blend to soothe inflammation and tackle blemishes. A Hero product for all seeking an alternative to harsh Acne treatments.
Like It On Top offers 100% natural and vegan skin care products for acne, dark marks and hyperpigmentation. Where everything is ‘Made with Love’, Like It On Top is the latest fun-filled plant-based skincare brand that gives your skin all the satisfaction, without the environmental impact. The brand’s #skinpositivity ethos is based on changing the way that you see your skin, instead of focusing on changing the appearance of your skin. Feeling confident on the inside means that we can also feel confident outside – so that you ALWAYS #LikeItOnTop. Available online at www.likeitontop.com or Instagram @LikeItOnTopSkin
Clearspring Organic Japanese Seasonings
Make Christmas extra special this year with Clearspring’s range of Organic Japanese seasonings. Whether you are adding an extra layer of flavour to your salads or vegetables or want a delicious dip for your finger-food spread, Clearspring has a wide range of premium quality sauces and seasonings to choose from. This includes their award-winning, best-selling artisanal Yaemon Tamari, flavourful Teriyaki Sauce or their most recent addition, Yuzu Ponzu. The range is organic, plant-based, free from any artificial ingredients and deliciously versatile.
Stock up for Christmas 2020!
Get set for Christmas 2020 with the best selling lavera gift set! The lavera Sweet Moments gift set is the ultimate pampering set for super soft and supple skin. The delicately scented body wash and body lotion will cleanse, hydrate and nourish leaving the skin feeling fresh and soft with a scent of organic plum and vanilla. RRP £15.95. Lavera is the leading natural and organic skincare brand that offers a comprehensive range of modern, innovative and effective products for all. Lavera focus on powerful yet gentle-on-the-skin formulations with active ingredient compositions using natural and organic ingredients to enhance beauty, regardless of age. Lavera is certified natural and organic by Natrue.
St Lawrence Gold Pure Canadian Honey Gift Set
St. Lawrence Gold Launches the Gift of Honey – New Honey Gift Set makes a Sweet Canadian gift
UK based DJM Food Solutions are pleased to announce the launch of their spectacular St. Lawrence Gold Honey Gift Set. Known for its award-winning range of pure Canadian maple syrup, St. Lawrence Gold honey is 100 per cent sourced in Canada and has had minimal processing, preserving all the pure Canadian flavour.
All five St. Lawrence Gold varieties are included in 150g jars within a distinctly “Canadian” designed presentation box. The set also includes a unique honeycomb shaped fact leaflet that describes each variety’s unique properties.
From hives in Carlisle, Ontario:
• Canadian honey
• Buckwheat Blossom honey (new to mainstream retail)
From hives in Winnipeg, Manitoba:
• Organic prairie wildflower
• Organic wild clover
• Organic honey
“Our new St. Lawrence Gold Gift Set offers the consumer a chance to sample all five of our honey varieties,” said Director of Sales, Stephen Jackson. “The set makes an appealing gift for a special occasion, but honey lovers will also want to pick one up for themselves.” St. Lawrence Gold also offers the widest range of pure Canadian maple syrup in the market including 250ml, 500ml and 1litre bottles. The range includes the rich taste of amber in standard and organic and organic dark for a more robust taste.
Delivering on their commitment to corporate responsibility, DJM have ensured this gift set is fully recyclable (including lids) and meets specifications of the internationally recognized On-Pack Recycling Label (OPRL). St. Lawrence Gold maple products are available now from CLF Wholesale, Tree of Life, The Health Store. Good Food Co & Amazon. Learn more about the unique range of award-winning St. Lawrence Gold maple syrup and honey products