|Le Marche de Noel, Strasbourg - French Language Blog|
Whatever your chosen technique, you will undoubtedly also face the question of how to find those soon-to-be-cherished items, do you go for the 'Dear Santa...' list (aka the Amazon Wish List), or do you try to hunt out that something special; the gift they won't have any idea even exists, but will remember for years to come? For us, it's that little extra thought put into each present that makes the whole process so enjoyable, and creates the perfect atmosphere for getting into the festive spirit.
As we've already finished all our Christmas shopping we thought we'd lend a hand and offer our advice on what you can do to infuse a little French style into the gifts you give this year.
1. We love hand-made gifts! There's nothing quite like presenting something that you've worked on to add a personal touch; seeing an idea become a proud reality. But if you find that this is easier said than done then there are plenty of websites out there where you can get quality hand-made gifts at great value.
One of our favourite craft blogs with a wonderful French style is Callaloo Soup, and it's sister Etsy store, Callaloo Soup Vintage. On her blog, Francine of Callaloo Soup (follow Francine on twitter here), offers a glimpse at some of the crafts she is currently working on, plus a generous dose of the French lifestyle, and there are some great Christmas gift ideas to be found at her Etsy store. Francine sources classic vintage items directly from French flea-markets. We recently bought from her two bundles of lovely French book pages and sheet music to use to make some bunting for our wedding. So we highly recommend taking a look for your Christmas shopping.
2. Last year we received a Christmas hamper as a gift. It was a really lovely surprise and felt really festive, which brings us on to our next idea, try creating a Christmas Hamper à la française? A selection of good cheeses, wine, jars of warming cassoulet, duck confit, maybe a few decadent macarons, all in a wicker hamper will be the gift of choice for the connoisseur in your life. Though these items can sometimes be a little hard to find in the UK, you may be able to pick up a good selection from supermarkets such as Waitrose or Marks and Spencer.
Again, if you find yourself a bit strapped for time or resources then sites like French Flavour offer everything you need to put together your own, or just purchase one of their ready made French Hampers, designed to fit all budgets and tastes. They source all their products from small scale "artisan" food producers, so you know they're the real deal.
3. For a change, why not present someone with an alternative to the traditional Christmas cake, a Bûche de Noël? A traditional French dessert served on or near Christmas, it is commonly known in the UK as a 'Yule Log'. Usually consisting of chocolate sponge, with a cream filling, it can also include berries such as raspberries or cherries for a unique twist. It can be as elaborate as you like...tis the season!
|A fantastic Buche de Noel!|
And while you're in the kitchen, why not join us in mixing up some cost-cutting festive liqueurs to serve to guests as an aperitif or digestif this Christmas? Grand Marnier is easily imitated using brandy infused with sugar and oranges.
4. If you're worried about the time it will take to have authentic French home-ware items shipped across the channel, then you can easily find convincing imitations at affordable prices in the UK. We recently stumbled upon these cushion covers in H&M (of all places!).
|Linen Cushion Cover 'Sel de Mer' - H&M|
Of course, if the high street isn't your 'thing' when it comes to Christmas shopping, why not head down to your local antiques dealer and get rummaging. You'll be amazed at what you can find, and if you're after something in particular, don't be afraid to ask the dealer for some help!
5. You can't go wrong with a good book for Christmas, and we've recently discovered two books perfect for lovers of all things Parisienne; 'Paris for Men' by Thierry Richard, and 'My Little Paris' by Fany and Amandine Pechiodat, and Anne-Flore Brunet. These are both simply wonderful collections of descriptive works on the simple pleasures of a rich and vibrant city.
Though they work well as travel guides for those wishing to stray from the beaten track, they also are the perfect coffee-table books for flicking through when you find yourself with a spare moment.
So as we draw our first festive feature to a close, we'd like to wish you all a Joyeux Noël, Merry Christmas, and a Happy New Year. And we'd like to thank Blog In France for including us in their Christmas Blog Hop! Don't forget to check out the other hoppers!