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Christmas Gifts – how to save/spend a fortune on useless stuff

I love food, you might have guessed! I’m also a serial cookbook addict.  I love reading them, trying out new recipes, reading them again. It’s sad, I know.   I also love food and foodie stuff but there are some things that I draw the line at being utterly ridiculous, including some gifts that the mainstream press are recommending for Christmas gifts…..

Popcorn maker –  The Times – £28.  It’s a pan, all you need to make popcorn is a pan with a lid.  Come on just every food lover must have a pan, just a plain, boring, ordinary pan, it’s a thing you use to cook with.   Any food lover worth their salt will have a pan with a lid.  Buy them a bag of popcorn kernals if you must plus some nice flavourings but not a popcorn maker,  utter waste of money and sense.

Chopping board oil – The Times – £35.  Really, what’s wrong with Danish Oil at £9.99 from B&Q, Screwfix or your local hardware store.  OK it’s not in a nice bottle but that means you’re spending £25.01 on a nice bottle.  Off you pop to Hobbycraft and buy a nice bottle, or even Wilko, they’ve got some smashers for a few quid, transfer the Danish Oil to the bottle, print off or colour in nice sticker and put the rest towards a couple of bottles of prosecco instead. If decanting it to a bottle it too creative just cover the Danish Oil tin with some sticky back plastic instead, again Hobbycraft do lots.


The Telegraph on the other hand have some interesting ones….

Electric Corkscrew – The Telegraph –  £28.80.   On face value a good idea.  I know, how can I slag off a popcorn maker and say that an electric corkscrew is a good idea.  For one I have arthritis in my hands and this would make me life so much easier to get the cork out.  Secondly, anything that gets me into a bottle of wine quicker is fantastic but hang on a minute  When was the last time you had a bottle of wine with a cork in it?  Having a quick check in my wine rack and they’re all screw tops, apart from the champagne which this wouldn’t work with.  So, nope, complete waste of money

Champagne Sabre –  The Telegraph – From £80. This a gift for someone with a silly amount of money to waste.  OK it’s cool, the sabre isn’t sharp and it theoretically not allowed to be sharpened.  You slice the champagne bottle with the blunt side of the sword, sliding the blade up to the neck of the bottle and striking it sharply just below the knobbly bit.  if done properly it’s a great party trick, if not done properly then you crack the bottle and waste a good bottle of fizz

Champagne sabre

Soup Maker  – generally utter tosh.  A complete waste of £40-140.  Shame on Which? to spend an entire article reviewing these.  What’s wrong with a pan,?  You know the same pan you’d make popcorn in?  If you’re a food lover you’ll surely have a pan plus astick blender, food processor, liquidiser or even a potato masher?  So if you want smooth soup, for those people who don’t like lumpy soup or soup with bits in (sorry, get over yourself, chewing is good for your teeth, that’s why you have them) most people will have something already to de-lump soup.

Lots of stuff Lakeland sell – Don’t get me wrong, I love some of the stuff Lakeland sell, they’re an amazing business who have seriously reinvented themselves, but…..

A ginger grater – why do you need a separate instrument to grate ginger, what’s wrong with a grater?  The one you use for citrus zest or parmsan.  if you want to buy a food lover something useful then buy them a microplane, they’re awesome and worth every penny.  Lakeland sell these one but they flog the plastic ones, great blade but the plastic cracks with use.  Go to Nisbets who sell the metal, professional  ones, a little more pricey but they’ll last a lot longer.

Avocado tool – What’s wrong with a knife?  Most food lovers will have a knife in a drawer, this is just another daft tool that will take up space and you’ll never be able to find it when you want to cut open an avocado so you’ll end up using, guess what?  Yep a knife.

Vintage Style Citrus Press – Lakeland –  £29.99.   I rather like this although it would probably gather dust in a cupboard but it is rather swish.  If you have room and don’t mind dusting it then it would look great on your worktop, although a Phillippe Starck rip off from John Lewis at £49.99 would look even better

Cole and Mason Professional Nutmeg Press – Lakeland – £25.99.  If you’re a food lover you’re  not a professional chef, therefore unless you’re professional chef when are you ever going to need vast amounts of fresh nutmeg?  Never!  Buy a microplane, see above, then you use the same thing for zesting, nutmegging and general fine grating of ginger, parmesan and other stuff

Automatic Stirrer – Amazon – £18.99.  Ideal for those times when you really can’t be arsed to pick up a 49p  wooden spoon  and ask your firend, partner, whoever, to help you stir the dish if it gets too much trouble or your arm aches a bit.

Conclusion.  There are whole heap of utterly useless gadgets and gizmos out there purporting to be ideal for food lovers.  People, it’s a complete con to get you to spend your money on stuff that will go into a cupboard never to see the light of day until one day it’s found and goes to the charity shops.  Great for raising funds for charity but if you want to buy your food loving friends something nice then a good bottle of champagne usually does the trick.  Unless they’re tee total or recovering alcoholics then it’s a bad idea and buy them a microplane instead.