24 ways to have the best Hertfordshire Christmas
- Credit: © 2017 Danny Loo, All Rights
Shop local and support the county’s finest farmers, brewers, tree growers and chocolatiers
TREES & DECORATIONS
Dane End Christmas Tree Farm
Enjoy a walk around the wood at Highview Farm in Dane End near Ware to find your perfect Christmas tree, or choose from a large display area, then opt for free tree trimming if needed before it is bagged or tied for easy transportation. With a large car park and many helping hands to assist with loading, getting your tree couldn’t be easier. Open seven days a week throughout December, from 8.30am-5pm.
Festive Trees Hertfordshire
Offering sustainable farm-grown potted or cut Christmas trees in a range of sizes – including Nordmann fir which boasts non-drop needles – Oaks Cross Farm between Watton-at-Stone and Stevenage has a tree for every space and budget. In its barn, the farm also sells cast iron and water-holding tree stands, seasonal decorations and a variety of Christmas wreaths, made daily from fresh foliage and holly from its own plantation, with an online ordering service making things super simple.
GI Rogers & Son
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‘Ensuring the highest quality for the entire festive season,’ GI Rogers & Sons on Berkhamsted’s Goose Hill Farm freshly cut their Christmas trees and deliver them to your door. But why not take the family to browse the Christmas shop and really fire up their Christmas spirit? Open 9am-5.30pm November 26 to December 23, and 9am to midday on Christmas Eve.
Hatfield Park Estate
With varieties including Norway spruce and a number of firs, Hatfield Park Estate promises Christmas tree prices to suit all pockets. Estate-grown, they are cut only a day or two before going on sale to ensure maximum freshness, from December 3 to December 22. The outlet, in the beautiful grounds of Hatfield House, also has a range of stands and a variety of indoor and outdoor lights to give your tree an extra special look. Weekdays 10am-4pm and weekends 9am-4pm.
Littlefield Christmas Tree Farm
Open seven days a week, 9am-5pm, from December 1, this Harpenden tree farm is a family business focussed on family fun. An old apple farm, free apples are offered to children, with hot apple punch served at weekends, and free holly for anyone buying a tree. With covered display areas, parking, and a local scout group on hand to carry your tree to your car, things couldn’t be easier. There are thousands of Norway spruce and Nordmann fir trees to choose from, ranging in size from 3ft to 30ft and pot-grown trees up to 5ft,
Magic of Christmas
As well as a great selection of real and artificial Christmas trees, which can be pre-ordered, the enchanting Magic of Christmas shop at Walkern’s Old Rectory Farm is packed with sparkling decorations that will add a touch of magic to your home during the festive season. As luck would have it, Santa also has a grotto in the ‘magical barn’, so little ones can share their Christmas wishes.
MEATS & MORE
Trussell’s Butchers & Deli
A family-run business which has been in the heart of Knebworth for more than 120 years, Trussell’s has a range of Christmas meat hampers, which you could fill with free range turkey, gammon and topside beef for example. There’s even an ‘I Don’t Like Turkey’ hamper. Place orders before December 12.
Holme Farm Turkeys
A family-run business with more than 50 years producing turkeys for Christmas, white barn-reared turkeys and bronze free range turkeys are available to order direct and collect from either The Homestead in Baldock or Holme Farm in Ickleford. Holme Farm is accredited with the Golden Turkey Quality Assurance Guarantee and the birds are grown to full maturity and to the highest welfare standards.
If turkey doesn’t tantalise, fear not, you can order pretty much any meat you can think of from Ardeley’s Church Farm – goose, duck, chicken, gammon, pork, beef, lamb, and of course turkey for traditionalists. With a Christmas Essentials Fruit and Veg Box, as well as a mouth-watering choice of sauces, pickles and preserves, you can source everything on your Christmas dinner shopping list in one place, and add a Boxing Day Breakfast Box while you’re at it.
Brookfield Farm Butchery
The friendly family-run farm near Stevenage has a prize-winning herd of pedigree Aberdeen Angus cattle, as well as free range pigs and, having farmed in Aston for three generations, the family knows a thing or two about producing quality meats to the highest standards. Their beef and pork are sold in the farm’s butchers’ shop, where they also make their own sausages and burgers and cure their own bacon, all of which have won awards, as well as making their own meat pies. To complement their produce, there’s carefully selected lamb, chicken, turkey and local game.
Bulls Green producer Jackie Boakes, who rears Shetland sheep and alpacas, is launching her sustainable food brand Coltsfoot-the-Farm in December with sparkling afternoon tea and Christmas gift ideas including hogget boxes and alpaca wool. Hogget is sheep in its second year, unlike commercial lamb which is usually only five months old. While collecting your hogget box from the farm gate, why not pick up some wool made from Coltsfoot-the-Farm alpacas to make homemade gifts for family or friends? Colours include navy, silver and white.
Foxholes Farm Shop
This family-run farm in Hertford has been in the business for nearly a century and there’s now a great farm shop and butchery selling meats including dry cured pork and sausages made from the farm’s saddleback pork, and beef from its Aberdeen Angus herd.
Hedges Farm Shop
On the edge of St Albans is Hedges Farm Shop on the family-run farm specialising in lambs, cows and turkeys. Sheep and lambs are reared outside naturally with no extra feed to force growth beyond hay and dried grass in winter. Calves are Hereford bulls and are known for their tender, flavourful meat and the farm’s turkeys are very popular at Christmas.
Wobbly Bottom Farm
Add a bit of oomph to your cheeseboard this Christmas with the help of Wobbly Bottom Farm. The farm on the edge of Hitchin has artisan cheeses infused with extras including tangy root ginger, real ale and mustard and cracked black peppercorns. Ranging from creamy soft to hard, it’s all handmade in small batches from their small herd of goats.
The Cheese Plate
A lovely little shop on Buntingford’s High Street, The Cheese Plate also has an online shop with ‘ultimate cheese boxes’ and hampers to buy. Owner Toby Archer has been a World Cheese Awards judge (and for that matter a Hertfordshire Life Food & Drink Awards judge), so you know you’re getting great stuff.
Distilled at Church Farm in Ardeley in small batches, this award-winning vodka is triple-filtered over charcoal using a 200-year-old Georgian family recipe passed through the generations. It comes in 11 delicious flavours, including caramel, honey, rhubarb and sloe. The company sells gift sets, 700ml, 200ml and mini bottles - a great way of trying new flavours.
Tring Brewery, founded in 1992, is an award-winning microbrewery that uses traditional methods to produce an impressive list of beers, such as Hoppy Ale, Golden, Side Pocket for a Toad, and Brock Bitter. To buy, visit the brewery shop at Dunsley Farm, Tring, or Beer Shop in St Albans, or the online shop.
Since its launch in 2016, Herts’ first gin distillery in Wilstone near Tring has gone from strength to strength, with its Campfire gins gaining plenty of awards. The winter seasonal release PUD PUD Gin sees Herts-made Christmas pudding distilled and the vapour passed through a basket containing Macedonian juniper and sweet orange. Or why not plump for PUD PUD Cherry Gin, which starts life as PUD PUD Gin before fresh cherries are added and it’s left to infuse in bourbon casks? Gin gift sets, individual 10cl and 50cl bottles and gift vouchers are available online or visit the distillery shop in the Artisan Workshops in Wilstone.
Apple Cottage Cider
Established in Baldock almost two decades ago, this family-run business produces fresh apple and pear juice and award-winning cider and perry using fruit hand-picked from local orchards. Apple Cottage prides itself in not using artificial additives or sweeteners, and also offers an apple pressing service to turn your windfall into gold.
From its award-winning Porter to Black Listed, Golden and Pale ales, Farr Brew is dedicated to making great beers. Hops are grown in the UK, honey comes from local bees, waste water is used for fertiliser on the farm, and packaging is 100 per cent recyclable. To buy, visit the brewery tap room at Samuels Farm in Wheathampstead on a Saturday 11am-5pm (there’s also a good range of local produce on sale) or visit the brewery’s pub, The Rising Sun, in Slip End, or Farr’s micropub, The Reading Rooms, on Wheathampstead High Street, open daily midday-10pm.
The Lessiter family began manufacturing chocolates and truffles in 1911 and have a factory in Woolmer Green near Knebworth, where there is also a café and shop, The Secret Truffletier. Supplying shops, hotels, restaurants and cruise liners, the master chocolatiers are now busy making all kinds of chocolate treats, from reindeer and snowmen to Christmas puddings and festive lollies. Boxes and hampers can be bought at the shop or online.
Yvette’s in Berkhamsted produces artisanal chocolates by hand using only natural ingredients and flavourings and a 24-hour infusion technique. Aiming to create a wow reaction, choose from orange, raspberry and cinnamon to chilli, olive oil and sea salt. Five of its flavours now have Great Taste Awards.
Le Mare Chocolat
Designer and chocolatier Mick Le Mare set up this small artisan chocolate-making business in Stevenage after training with top Swiss and Belgian chocolatiers. Using only the finest Belgian chocolate, and importing beans from plantations involved in responsible labour practices, Mick produces an original range of fresh soft-centred chocolates and individually structured designs. He specialises in edible high-definition images printed directly on to chocolates which have ganache or caramel centres, ranging from pistachio nuts with lime to strawberry and a balsamic caramel.
If you’re looking for the perfect Secret Santa gift, the Artisan Chocolaterie in Hatfield may be just the place, with sweet treats including bonbons, truffles, chocolate bars and novelty shapes, starting from just £3. There is also the option to personalise your gift – such as chocolate baubles, bars and even edible photo frames – with a printed image.