Not just a Christmas food preview…this is a ‘fill-in-the-blanks’ Christmas food preview…

In a small corner of Drury Lane for a few magical hours as the sunlight dipped and the twilight lifted, it was very definitely Christmas today…

Fairylights twinkled around polar bears, sleighs and delightfully jolly Santas…

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…armchairs bedecked in tartan beckoned, their squidgy plump cushions inviting you to rest your weary feet…

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…uniformed toy soldiers stood guard around overflowing stockings…

…oh, and did I mention there was food? Lots of food. And drink. Lots of that too. Festive and celebratory and indulgent, this was a Christmas food preview and then some…

Let’s start this tour of Christmas from one of our oldest and most loved companies with the thing that most people put right at the top of their list, be that drinking or wishing for – a festive tipple or two…

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Christmas Cake Liqueur has been described by its creators as ‘a taste of the festive season in a glass’ and you’d need to be full of the joys of the Grinch to turn that down. Methinks a liberal splash in a vintage, stemmed, cut-glass beaker or stirred by wooden spoon – and the probable sticky fingers of youthful helpers – into a home-made cake mixture would be a delightful way to kick off the festive season.

For the more traditional customer for whom Christmas is synonymous with Baileys, how about a Tiramisu cream for something a little different but still deliciously familiar this year? A generous glug of this would be equally at home in a tumbler over ice or in a bowl over ice-cream.

And for the cocktail lover who wants nothing more than to slink into something spangly and throw the Gatsby-esque party of legend, may I suggest a warming-from-the-inside-out Apple Pie Martini or a gold G&T made with tea infused, gold leaf sprinkled gin? Like the sound of those? Then hang onto your festive britches because we’re only just getting started…

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It’s no secret that we love Christmas cake in the UK and this year, sat on golden platters alongside the more traditional offerings we’re used to seeing, there was a stunning version that came adorned with LED lights that cast a magically icy glow on the smooth surface and celebratory trees that stood proudly on top.

Not a fan of fruit cake? Try a towering Five Gold Rings chocolate dessert of exceptional decadence and style to add more than a touch of glamour to the dining table come December 25th.

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Friends could easily be mistaken for thinking that piles of these Mini Snowy Rocky Roads sat high on a cake stand were the product of your own hard work, the same for the sumptous and perfectly proportioned Mini Christmas Pudding Cakes…just remember to hide the packaging!

Candy canes, metres of Walnut Whips and chocolate baubles all vied for our attention as the room filled with the sound of ‘Ooh look!’ followed by ‘Oh no wait, look over there!’ and ‘Have you seen THAT?!’

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Who fancies a treat-sized mouthful of deliciousness to end the meal with? One a time please and in a nice orderly queue…we are British after all. And don’t worry about the kids – these adorably presented chocolate clementines will be as popular as last year’s chocolate sprouts were…fruit & veg you won’t have any issues getting them to eat.

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The product developers have really outdone themselves this year with a range of treats that not only looked beautiful in their gloriously festive packaging but also tasted every bit as rich, sweet and unputdownable as you’d expect…if Christmas is the season for treating onself for a year of good behaviour, prepare for your tummy and tastebuds to think you’ve been a very good little boy or girl indeed this year.

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If sweet things aren’t really your thing, can you be tempted with Christmas in a pie? Complete with turkey, stuffing, cranberry sauce and of course, the obligatory-and-often-fought-over-pigs-in-blankets, this would be the perfect Saturday lunch after a long, hat-glove-and-scarf adorned walk through frosty fields and holly laden lanes, a dollop of pickle and a pint of something smooth the only necessary accompaniments.

Or perhaps a wickedly good sounding Christmas pudding boule is more up your street? Dark in colour, light in texture and warmly fragranced with the scent of all things festive, imagine a slice or seven of this toasted, smothered with butter and eaten in front of a roaring fire…

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Hampers and gift boxes were laid out with my brain hardly being able to keep up with my eyes which skipped greedily from one shelf to another, mentally making notes of who would like what…the answer BTW is ‘me’ and ‘everything’.

Don’t forget to treat your own four walls this season as well and make them look as beautiful as  can be – a visit to the Enchanted Florist will ensure that your humble abode looks as fabulous as the love child of ‘White Christmas’ and ‘Love Actually’ in a riot of gloriously scented & jewel toned colour, tradition and beauty.

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I couldn’t possibly leave you without a thought for the more virtuous among my readership, those for who Christmas indulgence is mildly offset by the much loved addition of one Mr. Brussel Sprout to your plate. Not a fan in physical form? How about juiced with apples and pears? I promise it’s real. I promise it’s delicious. I promise it’s an easy way to start the detox before January rolls round and you realise that once again, all your clothes have mysteriously shrunk…

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Taking the things we adore and putting a spin on them that doesn’t steal their originality, the thing that made us love them so in the first place, is exactly what was achieved here. Christmas is the time of year when we like tradition; we like the not knowing of what we’ll get and from whom but we very much like the knowing of what we want to eat and drink and how special these things taste not only due to the way they’ve been imagined and brought to life but also because of the memories associated with them. Being able to reimagine the most wonderful time of the year is never easy but a slow hand clap here today because holy Santa’s whiskers, at Marks & Spencer, they’ve done just that.

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