Start your Christmas feasting at M&S now…

Halloween is over, the festive adverts have launched and it’s totally acceptable to have a mince pie or six with your morning cuppa…start your engines ladies & gents, Christmas is a-coming.

Although you’ve no doubt started to see some of the gorgeous food products hit the shelves of your local food hall, sometimes it’s nice to get a peek at all of them together which is exactly what happened at this year’s M&S Christmas Press Show…

Set up in the absolutely beautiful One Embankment building on the banks of the Thames, this was a chance to glimpse what exactly we’d be wearing, eating, drinking & lusting over come December…or November…or October depending on how soon you like to get your festivities started!

Flowers walls of snowy roses and mirrored rooms sparkly with the twinkling from a hundred baubles set the celebratory mood with a wander through menswear to kick things off…

…smart, well cut and understated garments made for the kind of subtly stylish wardrobe any man would be happy and confident to wear and David Gandy’s new Autograph range was both cosy and dapper enough to keep Christmas comfortable enough for the sofa and smart enough for unexpected guests on the lookout for a snifter of Baileys.

Ladieswear was bursting with jackets, skirts and trousers in thickly, luxurious fabrics and rich colours…

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…while those with a shoe fetish will find it hard to stifle that this year thanks to gemstone encrusted heels and pop pom tasseled mules…

…and your handbag collection is only destined to grow thanks to metallic satchels, hot pink hearts and a cocktail book clutch.

Lounge and underwear are soft, feminine& elegant in a palette that skims from neutral shades of stone and grey to classic tones of berry & black…

…while beauty gifts cater from everyone to your mum, your best friend or your children.

Dressing the littlest members of your family this Christmas will be easy in theory with beautiful details and finishes on classic items…

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…though choosing which ones you like best might be trickier…if that cape comes in my size, you better believe I’m wearing it!

Decorating your home gets incredibly simple and beautiful thanks to dozens of gorgeous accessories for every room of the house…

…while a snowy piece of the outdoors can be yours indoors with one of the numerous prettily festive arrangements.

The glamour of burnished gold and twinkling glass…

…or the unabashed cosiness of tartan will dress your home just right for December 25th…

…and for the pug lover in your life – and lord knows everyone has one! – there are brilliant cushions and crockery they’ll adore.

Hampers and gifting this year straddles the line between tradition with whiskey, wine & cheese gifts…

and innovation with home brewing kits for the liquor lover on your list.

Partyfood is always one of M&S’s strongest points come party season and this year is no exception with seafood providing a touch of luxury in the shape of Lobster & Shellfish Thermidor and Shellfish Knickerbocker Glory…

…and Smoked Salmon & Scrambled Egg Mini Croissants mean the first meal of Christmas Day can be every bit as special as the last.

Some of my absolute favourites include Posh Fish Fingers with a Salt & Vinegar Snow (impossible to eat just the one!), miniature versions of the iconic Salmon Pearl and Hot & Sour Dinky Prawn Donuts; sweet, savoury and packed with flavour, this is serious partyfood for grown ups.

I mean come ON…these glazed, sticky, tender, pork bell squares have Christmas party written all over them!

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Not content with providing enough partyfood options for the pickiest of guests, the Deli also has a multitude of dishes designed to make your dining table legs bow under the weight of golden pastry, rainbow salads & cured meats.

Savouries come into play with a brilliant range of crisps – Blacksticks Blue & Figgy Pickle and Bucks Fizz are both monstrously moreish – as well as tortilla rolls (Cinnamon Sugar or Maple Bacon), popcorn (spiked with ginger or cardamom and drizzled with chocolate) and nuts – the Paprika Marcona Almonds are gobble-a-packet-in-one-sitting delicious.

Star of the show though has to be Chill Tortilla Chips coated in thick dark chocolate; if you have a hankering for snacks that satisfy the sweet & savoury parts of your palate, you won’t be able to stop at one and if you can, then kudos to you my friend, you’re a far better adult than I am!

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Once you’ve knocked back some canapes and dived head first into bowls of nibbles, you’ll want to be moving onto the main event.

Apart from the obvious-yet-beautiful turkeys, there’s also lamb joints and crowns…

…incredible pieces of beef…

…and gorgeously sweet & earthy vegetarian options.

The Three Squash Bake is especially plate scrapingly delicious!

If you fancy an alternative to a heavily satisfying roast, seafood options will blow you and your guests away…

…in both main course platter or elegant canape form.

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Time to carve out another hole in the belt now with the arrival of the puddings; dark and rich and squidgy chocolate pine cones anyone? Sweet & fresh jelly crowns? A ripe & fruity berry domed dessert? Crispy fruit fritters with a caramel dipping sauce? Zesty & sharp profiteroles? Oh hell, just gimme a spoonful of everything please…

And if cheese is more your thing, the Truffle Brulee is ridiculously decadent while wreath shaped Cornish Coves will pretty up your cheese board in an instant.

Obviously you’re going to be feasting to your heart’s content this festive season but what will you be washing it all down with?

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The dazzling new selection of gins will cater for both those looking for a twist on that most classic of drinks as well as puritans in search of a quality spirit.

No Big Dill is a welcome change from the sweeter end of the cocktail cabinet but if it’s something with an extra festive twinkle that you’re after, the Gold Creme Brulee is pretty damn amazing.

If you’re after something seasonal and sweet with which to kick off the day come December 25th, there’s a splendid selection of juices including the sharp, citrussy Clementine & Pomegranate.

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M&S has always led the field when it comes to a centrepiece Christmas cake worthy of ‘oohs’ and ‘aaahhs’ from your guests and this year is no different. With the ‘Made Without’ market dramatically increasing year on year, gluten free diners are well catered for with a delicate and elegant snowflake cake, while a script printed bar cake and a radiant red number add a little fun to the Christmas teatime table.

Last year’s hidden centre penguin cake is back and updated for a whole new audience but the secret fir tree inside a scrumptious chocolate log cabin cake is simply brilliant, as is the chocolate Christmas pudding cake which spills gold chocolate coins out upon slicing.

I’m a big fan of mini mince pies at Christmas – I can at least pretend to minimize my intake of them when they’re so tiny – and the ultimate 12 pack come topped with brandy butter & pecans, silver lustre or gold shimmered hazelnut nibs…

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…while frangipane topped pies cater for the almond & marzipan lovers around your table.

Party food isn’t confined to the realms of the savoury; Santa hat topped red velvet cupcakes nestle alongside Prosecco Viennese kisses and chocolate orange brownie bites among others…

…the chocolate cherry Viennese kisses are particularly light and lovely.

This year marks the launch of the Stocking Shop and the brilliant value deal – buy 3 item for £10 and get a free stocking. From sticky toffee caramels that’ll go down a treat whilst watching ‘Muppet Christmas Carol’ to fun trivia packs perfect for snoozy post lunch gaming and lines of teeny chocolate figures that you can’t help but think ‘oh well just one more’ about, this is a concept with a great choice of products for young and old, male and female.

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The world’s favourite pig is back in town for the holiday season, bedecked with his Santa cap and as sweetly delicious as ever…

…and the utterly charming novelty range this year includes a chocolate snowglobe and a cracking pinata filled with chocolate beans, pretzels & popcorn. Don’t forget the range of novelty advent calendars as well – be they Troll lovers or Star Wars fanatics, there’s one for every small – and not so small – person in your home.

The expansion of the Made Without range includes a fantastic box of Made Without Dairy chocolate discs, domes & diamonds and a bag of cranberry topped Made Without Dairy chocolate puddles…both delicious, both totally gift-able & both making sure those with dietary restrictions no longer have to feel like the poor relations.

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Sparkling molten caramels and lustrous pearls in mocha, orange & strawberry flavours will dress up your sideboard tumbled into glass jars or stemmed cocktail glasses…

…and for those extra special presents for those extra special people in your life, how about a pair of white chocolate angel wings, a truffle filled advent calendar or a glass keepsake jar full of Oudinot champagne or red velvet truffles?

Prosecco marshmallows are fizzy & sweet and a golden jewellery box laden down with edible trinkets in rich and metallic shades is a lovely new step forward in innovative packaging.

Whether you’re a connoisseur of single origin chocolate or a lover of creamy Italian confectionery, there really isn’t anyone you won’t be able to buy for this Christmas.

M&S has been working with Shelter for over a decade now with over £2m raised, all of which go to help fund the helpline. Every year the team come up with new spins on classic you’ve loved before as well as entirely new food to make your on-the-go dining that little bit more celebratory.

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Gorgeous mini smoked salmon ‘snowballs’ will make desk lunches more luxurious while a first to market runny Scotch egg packed with turkey, bacon & cranberry brings the picnic vibes of summer right into the cosiness of winter…

…this year’s Festive Club comes complete with a pig-in-blanket embellishment and vegetarians are blessed with a Scorched Squash wrap that’s sweet, earthy and beautifully full of festive flavour.

So there you have it – hundreds of things to make your Christmas a little bit more gorgeous and a whole lot more delicious…hopefully you’ve found one or two or ten or twelve things to start your festive shopping list!

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