Gin through the post, a floral Christmas pud and some seriously tasty decorations: What are the M&S experts giving from their own ranges?
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Christmas is around the corner and unless you want a hideously panicked dash round the shops on Christmas Eve, it's time to start planning your Christmas shopping now.?
Opening presents, whether under the tree or from a stocking, is one of the most magical parts of Christmas - but it can be hard to know what to get for all the special people in your life?
But there's no need to hit the high street blindly; we've asked our favourite M&S experts for their handiest hints and tips to bag the best pressies going this season.?
From stocking fillers for nieces and nephews and gorgeous gifts for your girlfriends, right up to the perfect vintage wine for hard-to-buy-for dads, we've got it covered this year thanks to tips from in-the-know experts telling us what's on their Christmas shopping list - plus a few sneaky treats for themselves.
Maddy Lovett – Drinks Expert
Maddy is the woman behind M&S's exciting beverages, working with the world's top experts to come up with delicious drinks for customers.?
'My job is to taste drinks every day! From juice and tea and coffee to beer, cider and spirits.
Maddy Lovett is buying The Collection Oak Aged Gin for her mum - and might buy herself a bottle, too!
'I spend a lot of time researching drinks trends, travelling to source the best ingredients and coming up with fun ideas that may eventually end up in the shops. And this Christmas at M&S there are some real gems.?
'My mum will be treated to a bottle of our new The Collection Oak Aged Gin?(￡40 for 700ml, online and in stores) which has a remarkably complex flavour thanks to its 22 botanicals and the fact it is aged in six different casks for five months. It makes the ultimate G&T and I'll be treating myself to a bottle while I'm at it.
'I'd really like to find a bottle of our new Chocolate & Peanut Cream (￡12 for 700ml) in my stocking too; it tastes like liquid Snickers!?
The Chocolate & Peanut Cream (left) is a perfect stocking stuffer, as is the?Christmas Cider, (right) which is one of the best value gifts in the collection at just ￡2.50?
'My Dad is hard to buy for, but this year I've already decided I'll be getting him some of The Collection Speyside 21 Year Old Single Malt Whisky, which I'm really proud of. It's an amazing quality whisky in beautiful stand-out bottle and is the perfect gift.
The Collection Speyside 21 Year Old Single Malt Whisky is an amazing quality whisky which comes in a beautiful stand-out bottle
'For stocking fillers our Devon Christmas Cider?is one of the best value gifts in the collection at just ￡2.50; it's a cloudy winter cider with citrus flavours and festive spice made with vintage English apples at Sandford Orchards in Devon – a great one for the guys.'
Simon Richards – Flowers Expert?
'My number one hobby is gardening, so this really is my dream job. I've now been in the M&S horticultural department for 12 years working on our beautiful collections, signing off new ranges and travelling all around the world to find the best blooms.
'This Christmas we'll be hosting as usual - we love to – so there will be presents around the (oversized) tree, a late dinner, which will be turkey, of course, but also M&S has AMAZING veggie dishes this year. We'll have a log fire whatever the weather and board games for those left awake.
Simon Richards, Flowers Product Developer for M&S says the?The Collection Christmas Glamour Bouquet (pictured) is a real treat gift for someone special?
If you are looking for a centre piece with real wow factor for your festive table the Christmas Pudding Arrangement (￡40) from M&S is just the ticket?
'For friends I won't get to see in person our Christmas Pudding Arrangement (made out of flowers) is a lovely tongue in cheek gift. It is a great table centrepiece for Christmas Day and better still has zero calories!?
'Trendy family members will be receiving one of our succulent plants – we have beautiful ones in little bark pots, tree trunks or bowls, plus this Succulent Trough,?￡38.?
'For a real treat?The Collection Christmas Glamour Flower Bouquet is the one: a gorgeous mix of flowers including orchid heads, sweet Avalanche roses and shimmering foliage in on-trend shades of rose gold.'
The Succulent Trough, ￡38, is a perfect gift for trendy family members?
'Personally I'd love any of our Letterbox Plant Gifts this year which can be ordered online – like the Postal Snow Decoration of painted white wooden letters, a mini fresh wreath and twinkly lights - then if Santa runs out of time he can simply post them through the front door to save a chimney visit.?
The Postal Snow Decoration of painted white wooden letters, a mini fresh wreath and twinkly lights will give any home some festive chic and the good news is it can be ordered online
'Oh and if you are going to a party over the Christmas period and want to take flowers choose one of our 'Aqua' gifts from the Christmas range that are presented in their own water bubble. That way your host or hostess won't be politely cursing you as they hunt for a vase.'
Suria Darley Visser – Gifts and Hampers Expert?
'I was a chocolate expert for many years – then my role evolved into hampers and gifts and I love having the opportunity through my job to explore ways to make those special occasions even better.
'I sometimes struggle to choose between our delicious hampers, as it is all so tempting.
'I spend a lot of time listening to customer feedback and meeting with top suppliers to plan even more fabulous gifts for future seasons; I'm currently working on Christmas 2018!?
The Afternoon Tipple Letterbox Gift (￡18) which has mini gins, salted caramel nuts, single origin dark chocolate and all-butter shortbread can be posted easily through the letterbox
As Simon mentioned, this year we're helping give chimneys around the country a rest with our fabulous new range of gifts that can be posted through the door. If you're struggling to buy for anyone then our fun little Letterbox Gifts are the answer – there's something for everyone, from tea time treats to port and flowers to decorations - and the fact you can order them online and let M&S do the posting is even better. I like the?Afternoon Tipple Letterbox Gift?(￡18) which has mini gins, salted caramel nuts, single origin dark chocolate and all-butter shortbread.?
Suria, pictured with the Wee Whisky Letterbox Gift, says they're ideal if you're stuck for ideas
'I know I'm getting my mum the Connoisseur Gin Mixing Gift Set (￡25) – then she can make her own cocktails on Christmas Day! It would delight any gin lover and includes all you need to create your own delicious spiced gin cocktails.
'And my husband is normally so hard to buy for, but he'll be receiving the Connoisseur Whisky Selection Gift Set (￡35) which I'm really proud of; it comes complete with tasting notes to try our finest whiskies in the range, making it a real experience.
The Connoisseur Gin Mixing Gift Set (￡25) includes all you need to create your own delicious spiced gin cocktails with recipe ideas
The Gluten Free Christmas Gift Bag is full of tasty treats like mince pies, Christmas cake and Merlot - all gluten free!
'I have a friend who doesn't eat gluten, so I've found the perfect gift in the?Gluten Free Christmas Gift Bag (￡40). Christmas really shouldn't mean going without, and this is a super tasty selection of mince pies, Christmas cake, Merlot and lots more delicious gluten free treats.?
The impressive Berrington Collection Hamper includes?includes Casa d'Amello Prosecco, a hand decorated Christmas cake and an array of Italian seasonal favourites
'If you're wanting to splash out or treat someone there really is something to please everyone in the?The Berrington Collection Christmas Hamper with Prosecco (￡150). This massive hamper is a indulgent selection of everything that makes M&S special.'
Katy Patino – Chocolate Expert?
'I've been at M&S for 21 years and in this particular role for just over two years. You need to have a good palate as I spend much of my day tasting chocolate!?
'Before the big day, I'd definitely like to find a few of The Salted Caramel Pinecones in my Christmas stocking – they are my favourite. ?Simple but totally delicious.
Katy ?Patino,?Chocolate & Confectionery Product Developer for M&S, may just have the best job in the world
'All my girlfriends will be getting the Shimmering Chocolate Bauble – who doesn't like Champagne and chocolate? And my husband, who always says he doesn't need anything, loves fudge, so I will give him the Handmade Fudge Cones and some of the wines from this year's fabulous range.
Katy is hoping for some?Salted Caramel Pinecones (left) while she thinks the?Fire & Ice Chocolate Box (centre) and the?Shimmering Chocolate Bauble (right) make the perfect presents for friends
'My dad will love the Chocolate Coated Liquorice and my mum would definitely be impressed by the?Ultimate Collection Platter. She also?loves a walnut whip so I will give her the Winter Whip Selection as well. My children love chocolate too, so anything from our Novelty range would be welcomed in their stockings – maybe the Penguin Igloo for my daughter and the giant coins for my son.??
Katy's lucky mum will be receiving the incredible?Ultimate Collection Platter - delicious!
'If you want to really wow someone I would recommend Fire & Ice Chocolate Box which?includes really trendy flavours and looks beautiful, just like a jewellery box - perfect for your girlfriends.'
Rosie While – Cheese Expert?
Rosie While, with the M&S Camembert Bake with Rosemary & Pine Nuts, says melted cheese is 'a huge trend'
'I have the best job in the world- I get to eat cheese all day! On any given day I could be meeting with a supplier to look at some exciting new flavours or going to new cheese shops like the Cheese Bar in Camden for inspiration– I love it!?
'This year I'll be giving my sister and her husband the Oak Grove Cheese Hamper as it not only contains their favourite cheeses but comes with biscuits and chutney which are all presented in a gorgeous wicker hamper. And for my brothers, the baked bries will work swimmingly.
'My partner Andrew loves our Gruyère as well as the Truffle Br?lée Bake, so he's got some goodies to get through.?
'I think this Christmas will see the end of the festive dinner party and the start of the festive fondue party!?
Rosie's sister will be happy to receive the?Oak Grove Cheese Hamper which comes complete with biscuits and chutney
But Rosie is hoping for the Traditional Swiss Cheese Fondue to be under the tree this year
'I love having a fondue in Switzerland, so if there's one thing I'd like to find under the Christmas tree this year, it's our Traditional Swiss Cheese Fondue Kit, which has a mix of all the best Alpen cheeses for the ultimate fondue party.?
'Oh and I'd definitely love to have my baked Pearl Wen cheese from Caws Cenarth with pine nuts and rosemary as a gift. The pretty dish can be kept for even more cheese bakes in the future.
Rosie, with the Cheese Lover's Selection, says no Christmas is complete without a cheeseboard
'My mum isn't a huge foodie, so I might have to go beyond cheese, and my dad is not easy…it's usually a bit of a gamble. They're both pretty hard to please but I think a delicious port or the After Dinner Wine Gift Selection will really make them happy this year.'
Anyone hard to please will love the After Dinner Wine Gift Selection
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