Six of the best holiday gift ideas

It’s hard to know what holiday gifts to bring to relatives when you come and visit them

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YOU ARE going on holiday to meet family and friends and it’s only natural that you want to bring them some gifts. But what to get them? It can’t be too big as your suitcase is already overloaded, It can’t be too small as you want to give them something decent. Whatever it is, make sure it is securely packed so doesn’t get broken. You don’t want a bottle of red wine to break in your suitcase and mess up your holiday clothes. Here are my top six holiday gift ideas to give to visiting friends and relatives.

1. Box of chocolates

Nothing beats a box of chocolates unless the person you are buying it for are on a diet and are not eating any sweet things. People always want just one, but once they get the taste for it, if it comes in the box, it usually ends up half empty. Chocolate come in all shapes and sizes, from a small wrapped up size to a box, so you can buy one that fits into whichever suitcase you want to put it in. A small box of  good quality chocolate will be as much appreciated as well as a bigger box that’s less expensive. I’m a great fan of dark chocolate which is more healthy because it is less processed and has more cocoa, but those who like their chocolate less bitter and more sweetened go for the milk chocolate. So, it’s always good to ask your relatives beforehand. Otherwise, your gift may become someone else’s birthday or Christmas present. That’s something I have a habit of doing if I get chocolate liqueurs.

2. Scottish biscuits should be shared

Scots have been eating it since the mid-16th century. Mary, Queen of Scots, at that time, was very fond of her Petticoat Tails, a crisp, thin buttery shortbread, and the recipe hasn’t really changed much since then. Now the whole world eats shortbread.  I love breaking into a tin of shortbread, and then dunking it in a large mug of tea or coffee. If it’s made in Scotland then it will be regarded as more authentic and will be better appreciated. Some people opt for plain shortbread like me, but it’s nice to have a variety, with chocolate mixed in. At least that way, you know that everyone is catered for.

3. Tea is our tradition

Everybody in the world knows that the English like their cuppa, so why not share it with your relatives? Bring them a box of rosie lee – that’s tea in cockney. We’ve been drinking it since the early 17th century when the East India Company brought it over. But at that time it was very expensive and only the rich could gulp it down. But as the demand grew and smugglers started to bring it in, the Government of the day caved in and reduced the tax on tea, so more and more started to indulge in it. According to recent figures from the UK Tea & Infusion Association (UKTIA), around 100 million cups of tea are drunk daily in the country. So, anyone coming from England would be expected to bring some tea.  If your relatives ask you when the milk goes in – before or after the tea is poured in – tell them that most people put the milk in last, though not everybody drinks it with milk.

4. Jam now, not later

Jam or as the Americans call it jelly, or if you want to be posh, call it preserve, comes in fourth place for me as a suitable holiday gift for friends and family. You’ve probably never heard of Marcus Gavius Apicius from fourth century AD in Rome, but if it wasn’t for him, we wouldn’t be spreading it on our toast in the mornings. Marcus invented jam and created 500 recipes, mainly using Indian spices, but later soft fruit heated with honey. I’ve been eating jam for years and I still can’t make up my mind which I prefer – raspberry or strawberry. Whichever, they both taste equally nice, and I would be hard-pressed to give them away as gifts.

5. British souvenirs

A mug neatly wrapped up in a box would be a great choice that would remind its recipient every time they put their lips to it. Sometimes it’s hard-pressed to know what to get, as everything is now available practically everywhere. You can find British products in most countries. The only difference is that in other countries the price will be higher as they’ve been carted half-way round the world. If the mug doesn’t make it to the kitchen table, at least it will hold pride of place in the kitchen cabinet, held as a souvenir.

6. Baker Street pub sign

Rated as one of the most popular souvenirs bought by tourists, this metal vintage style pub sign featuring the intrepid fictional detective, Sherlock Holmes, based in Baker Street, is a must. It measures 16 ins x 12 ins (400 x 300 mm). It comes in three sizes.

Enjoy your break

Whatever you get as your holiday gift to your relatives or friends you are visiting, I’m sure they will be most grateful. As the saying goes ‘it’s not the gift that matters, but the thought behind it’. When I went to the US I bought my relatives an English teapot with the Queen’s head on it. Let me know what you’re getting and I’d be happy to hear your suggestions. Bon Voyage.





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