Good Food Blog
Top 10 stocking fillersPosted at 12:02PM, 12 December 2012 by Natalie Hardwick - Web assistant, bbcgoodfood.com
Whether you mean stocking filler in the literal or figurative sense, a miniature present bundle draws out an unwrapping session in glorious style. The key is simplicity, dinkiness and something that won't break the bank. Whether you need to fill a sock-shaped bag or just fancy getting together some small presents for friends, we have some ideas for you...
1. Standing tall: Egg cups
There are few people who'd turn their nose up at a good-looking egg cup. Alessi have a kitsch cartoon boy-shaped cup with an ingenious salt shaker hat. Other favourites on our list include a classic glass hen shape and a double holder for the ravenous bruncher.
Cico egg cup with salt castor and spoon, £11.00, Alessi
Glass hen egg cup, £3.00, The Orchard
Porcelain double egg cup, £6.50, Whisk Hampers
2. The upper crust: Pie birds
Great British Bake Off (GBBO) fever was rife this year, with even the most unlikely of candidates donning an apron and flouring their mitts. Of all the cakes, bakes, puddings and pies, the latter is our favourite. Soggy pastry is the nemesis of the amateur baker - and pie birds help with that. They're available in all manner of stocking-sized styles.
Stoneware pie bird, £5.00, Le Creuset
Multi-coloured silicone pie funnels, £8.25, Divertimenti
Classic black ceramic pie bird, £3.60, Tala
3. Beanie babies: Coffee
As gourmet products go, coffee is a realm well worth investigating as you can get some really high quality products for reasonable prices. Ethical, independent roasteries like Weanie Beans or Kopi sell deliciously full-bodied beans, plus they have ranges of small gifts like chocolate-coated coffee beans. Beans last longer un-ground, so pick up a good grinder- Japanese-designed cylindric hand grinders are the among the slickest out there.
Coffee gifts, from £3.00, Weanie Beans
Limited edition single-origin coffee, £9.95, Kopi
SPLASH OUT- Ceramic hand grinder, £39.95, Porlex
4. Spice is nice: Herbs, spices and salts
Most kitchen lovers have a herb rack scattered with dried oregano dust and random shards of cinnamon, so pick them up something special. Salt may sound like a snooze, but you can pick up interesting varieties from specialist suppliers, like black lava sea salt, Himalayan pink crystals and fleur de sel. Alternatively, pick up a delicious spice rub in modern packaging - Spicentice have a ready-made gift set including ras-el-hanout, tandoori and harissa.
World salts, from £2.50 a bag, Sous Chef
Spice rubs, £3.99, Spicentice
5. Stamp it out: Biscuit cutters
To reprise the GBBO theme, cookies, shortcake, gingerbread and all manner of crumbly crispy wonders are very 'of the moment', depending on who you ask. Cookie cutters are available in heart shapes, with motifs, with faces - you name it, it's out there. Kids will like fun shapes, while the more serious cook may want a round set of 6 circular cutters.
'Home made' or 'Eat me' stamp cutters, £4.95, The Little Picture Company
Set of three animal cookie cutters, £5.00, John Lewis
Colourful cookie cutter set of six rounds, £3.99, Lakeland
6. Pack it up: Lunchboxes
Come January it's back to school, back to work and back to sensible eating - sorry to ruin the festive buzz. Things may be slightly more interesting with an aesthetically-pleasing lunchbox. Some good versions include the box appetit range with separate compartments, or try a stackable bento box or a playful giant LEGO brick.
Box appetit bento lunchboxes, from £10.50, Black + Blum
Bento lunchbox, £9.97, Aladdin
Lunchbox, £10.99, LEGO
7. A Christmas tipple: Spirits
A thimble of booze is nigh on integral for many at Christmas. Seek out some interesting, independent spirit merchants - Sipsmith's copper-distilled gin is smooth and packed with botanicals, while unusual rare spirits like mezcal will raise eyebrows and warm cheeks. The Whisky Exchange website has a great selection, including hundreds of stocking-friendly thrifty miniatures.
Dry London gin miniature, £4.49, Sipsmith
SPLASH OUT- Mezcal, £24.95, Gusano Rojo
Spirit miniatures, from £0.65, The Whisky Exchange
8. Keep it cool: Flasks
If a floral tea flask is too twee for your edgier pals, pick up a metallic hipflask for all that artisan gin- there's something for everybody in the world of flasks. A decent sized Thermos is great for the coming winter months as it can be packed with soups as well as steaming hot tea and coffee. Go for patterned or a traditional Stanley version. When it comes to hip flasks, classic silver is a universal, unisex option.
Roses flask, £15.95, Wild & Wolf
Classic thermal vacuum flask, £19.99, Stanley
SPLASH OUT- Steel hip flask, £32.95, Barbour
9. Life is sweet: Chocolates
We're not talking a selection box from your childhood here - although they're never to be sniffed at. Beautiful, hand-crafted chocolates are widely available these days, from high street shops like Hotel Chocolat, to more boutique independent chocolatiers who offer mail order on weird and wonderful flavours such as sea salt, rose and mandarin.
Chocolate cubes, £16.00, Amelia Rope
Sea salt caramel truffles, £9.95, Charbonnel et Walker
Lindor maxi ball, £14.99, Lindt
10. Precision technique: Measuring spoons
No chef worth their salt would be bereft of a set of measuring spoons. Sets usually contain five spoons ranging from tablespoon to quarter teaspoon and can be girly and decorative or colour-coded and bold. If your recipient prefers to take an American approach to cooking, you could pick up set of measuring cups too.
Russian doll measuring spoons set, £5.50, Rockett St George
Set of five measuring spoons, £3.00, Colourworks
Four stainless steel measuring cups, £9.99, Lakeland
Prefer to take a more DIY approach? Try our recipes for edible gifts.