My last minute guide to shopping local in St Albans this Christmas!
PUBLISHED: 10:06 12 December 2019 | UPDATED: 10:06 12 December 2019
Do you still need to find a Secret Santa gift? Something perfect for a favourite teacher? Not sure what to buy your dad? Here are my shopping suggestions for delicious things to eat and drink that will make excellent presents – and you will be supporting local indie businesses at the same time!
Let's start with Smallford Farm Shop. If you need to whizz out and buy last-minute presents, this smart, spacious shop has plenty of parking (you can cycle along the Alban Way if you prefer!). Twist Teas are based in Kinsbourne Green and their smart white tins of tea would make a great gift for a work colleague or teacher - how about Brewdolph tea, mulled wine tea or my favourite, mint humbug? I really like the Hibiscus Lily range of marmalades and chutneys too; the red grapefruit looks very festive and costs under £5. If you want to make up a hamper, there is so much to choose from - I also really like the Canatella & Colletti caponata, made with Glinwell aubergines and tomatoes (lovely piled onto hot sourdough toast).
Buongiorno Italia is the place to go for panettone and panforte: the Loison range includes pistachio, chocolate, fig and lemon as well as the classic fruit pannetone, and the pretty boxes come ready wrapped in thick ribbon. An easy and delicious present sorted. The deli also sells hampers, or you could pick up pistachio paste, chocolate, wine, biscuits etc to make up your own.
Parker & Vine bake wonderful Christmas cakes every year, either topped with icing or with dried apricots and figs. They always sell out, so head over there quickly.
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Campfire Gin, over near Tring, have won so many awards nationally and were the only gin to score 10/10 in the recent Telegraph review. You can buy bottles in The George Street Canteen and The Fleetville Larder as well as some of the local wine shops.
Campfire do vouchers for cocktail demos over in the distillery, with some dates in January available and throughout the year, which sound great fun.
Everyone loves pud, right? The Pudding Stop are now making very cool little puds in boxes which you can buy in the shop on Verulam Road (or Selfridges if you prefer). Baked cookie dough, Bramley apple crumble, sticky toffee pudding, and more, including a vegan choc pud. They will last for seven days so will work just fine as gifts (they can be frozen) and they come in single servings or sharing size. They also do lovely wrapped Christmas puddings.
If you are buying for someone who loves coffee, then head to Charlie's Coffee & Company on London Road, who do smart bags of coffee, as well as coffee-related gifts. Walk on up to The Beer Shop for a bottle of Farr Brew Brewdolph or a rare indie beer - the choice is fantastic.
Battlers Green is another fab farm shop where Christmas shopping is a pleasure. Sugar to Tea is one of their smaller shops, but has a fab selection of old-fashioned sweets, perfect for stocking fillers. In the main farm shop you will be able to buy excellent wines, cheeses and crackers (great for gifts and for yourself!). Battler's Green is a useful place to buy your groceries too, with a Brimarks butcher, Westons fishmongers, a proper greengrocer and a smart café for a quick break.
Don't forget, the St Albans Christmas Charter market runs right up until Christmas Eve, and you will be able to support lots of indie traders there. Stop by Ye Olde Fighting Elves pop-up bar for a mulled wine and enjoy your festive shopping!
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