10 Dorset Christmas gift ideas
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Still struggling to come up with the right present? Here's a selection of unusual Dorset gifts to pop under the tree or in the post
Brilliant Books: We featured Jonathan Drori’s book Around the World in 80 Plants (published by Laurence King £20) back in April. The stories behind the plants are extraordinary and that combined with Lucille Clerc’s exquisite illustrations make this a brilliant Christmas gift. The Travel Book Company in Semley is a new and independent bookshop that specialises in the very best of travel writing from across the globe, they offer a bespoke subscription which allow the recipient to lose themselves in fantastic travel writing based solely on their interests (from £45 for three books).
Toasting New Spirits: There’s been a flurry of new Dorset spirits arriving behind the bar in the lead up to Christmas including Conker Port Barrel Gin, Black Cow Christmas Spirit and Viper Mulled Gin.
Others to look out for include Christmas Cheer by Fordington Gin (flavours of damson, hibiscus and cherry). Yuzucello from The Wasabi Company is a far eastern take on limoncello liqueur from Italy, with a tart and complex heady floral aroma accompanied by yuzu's signature citrus notes of lemon, mandarin, grapefruit, and lime. Serve as an aperitif mixed with soda water or sparkling wine, neat as a digestif, or shake it over ice with white rum and fresh mint to make a Yuzucello Mojito. Or for a sophisticated non-alcoholic tipple try Bowser LEAF from Conker Spirit with botanicals of mint, tarragon, patchouli, thyme and basil – just add tonic, ice and a slice. Delicious!
Tours and Tastings: Booking a tour of a local vineyard, brewery or distillery, with a chance to sample what’s being made, is always a popular gift. Dorset vineyards offering tours include Langham Wine Estate, Furleigh Estate, English Oak Vineyard, Bride Valley Vineyard and Melbury Vale Winery.
Spirit makers offering distillery tours include multi-award-winners - Conker Spirit Dorset Gin in Southbourne. Brewery tours include Palmers Brewery in Bridport, Badger Beer in Blandford and Poole Hill Brewery in Bournemouth (home of Tingay’s and Southbourne Ales), some of Dorset's smaller microbreweries offer tours and taproom events too. Another great gift would be a mixed box of bottled beers from one of Dorset’s breweries or some Dorset ciders visit dorsetfoodanddrink.org to find ones local to you or check out your local farm shop or famers’ market.
Pick up a Penguin: Those multi-award-winning chocolatiers from Purbeck have created a brilliant new festive treat which would look splendid as a centre piece on any Christmas table. Chococo’s Gold Chocolate Penguin features a caramelised white chocolate penguin in a cubist design, who sits proudly looking up at the Southern Cross. Standing 18cm tall, and with a nostalgic retro caramel flavour, it’s got our bells jingling with delight. It also comes in milk, dark and tigernut milk (vegan) chocolate (£10/120g). Buy online at chococo.co.uk or at their Chocolate Houses in Swanage, Exeter, Winchester or Horsham.
A Smokin’ Hix Fix: Mark Hix, who writes the Hix Fix column in Dorset magazine, started smoking his own salmon for his restaurants back in 2008, but it is only available at his restaurant, pub or local delis…until now. Hix Smokin’ House range includes four cold smoked fish (Cornish sardines and anchovies, haddock and Hix salmon) and one hot-smoked (mackerel), all cured in sea salt and molasses, before being smoked over oak and apple chips, each box contains nine packs, approximately 20 portions (£50). Also available are whole sides of Mark’s Flodge smoked salmon ‘Hix cure’ (from £30). Boxes are delivered on Fridays with no delivery charge to anywhere in England and Wales, place your orders at soundseafood.co.uk/hix-at-home before 6pm on a Tuesday.
An ideal gift for foodie friends or relatives would be an invite to one of Mark’s Kitchen Tables. Join Mark in his kitchen at his stunning home in Charmouth where he talks about local producers, food, foraging and fishing as he cooks for you. Each event can accommodate up to 8 guests, buy one individual ticket or book a private event on a date to suit you (and Mark). Each guest will enjoy a Hix Fix on arrival, lunch or dinner with wine, leaving with a signed cookbook and goody bag (£225 per person). Enquire about dates or book online theoysterandfishhouse.co.uk/marks-kitchen-table/
World class concerts from your armchair: Due to various lockdowns, live music performances were on hold for most of 2020, however there was a small silver lining for the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra (BSO) who, with the help of a grant, set up new facilities so they could livestream their concerts. Their performances reached a global audience, and has been so successful that they have retained this option. A subscription to the Winter /Spring 2022 BSO@Home would make a great gift for a classical music lover who is unable to go to a concert in person. Either buy the 10 livestreams for £90, or individual performances for £10. Concerts coming up include works by Rachmaninov, Mozart, Wagner, Brahms, Schubert, Sibelius, Walton, Britten, Bax and Parry. Each concert features a pre-concert talk and can be watched from your armchair at home.
Groovy Baby! Founded in Dorset in 1963 by the inventor of the Astro lava lamp Edward Craven Walker, Mathmos have been creating this 20th century design classic at their Poole HQ for nearly 60 years. Their latest lava lamp is their biggest to date. The Saturn Giant Lava Lamp stands at 1.5m high, and is filled to order – choose from 10 colour combinations. A swinging sixties statement piece for any groovy pad, and it’s made entirely in the UK. With a price tag of £2,500 it’s a very special gift to put under the tree...but what a piece of Dorset heritage!
Coffee Subscriptions: During the darker days of winter, the arrival of a gift through the letterbox gives the recipient a boost, which is why gift subscriptions are such a lovely idea. Dorset has some seriously good coffee roasters offering monthly subscription packages including Fountain Rock Coffee Roasters in Weymouth, Bean Shot Artisan Coffee Roasters in Sherborne; Bad Hand Coffee Roasters in Bournemouth; Carve Coffee Roasters in Swanage, to name just a few. Check out dorsetfoodanddrink.org for a more comprehensive list of Dorset-based coffee roasters.
Say Cheese: Ordering a cheese selection direct from the producer is an easy way of supporting local cheesemakers, and these selections also make great gifts for foodies. The Book and Bucket and James' Cheese offer cheese hampers and bundles. Hollis Mead Organic Dairy have moo-ved into cheese making with three new additions to their prize-winning herd of products. The Benville is a brie named after neighbouring Dorset hamlet, and The Corscombe is a Camembert named after the village next to the farm, while The Marvel is a washed rind Camembert. Buy from their 18 vending machines across Dorset, Somerset or Devon or their website.
Not sure what to choose? Cheesemongers such as Parlourmentary (in Southbourne and also online parlourmentary.com) are a splendid place to browse and sample a selection from around the county.
The gift of Dorset: Another gift that keeps on giving is a year’s subscription to Dorset magazine. It’s a great present for someone who loves the county as every month Dorset magazine will arrive through their letterbox packed with Dorset stories, places to visit, walks, wildlife, history, arts, food and drink - it’s a great read from cover to cover and filled with fabulous photographs of the county. A year’s subscription including print and access to the digital version of Dorset magazine is only £25 greatbritishlife.co.uk/gift/dorset.
If you wanted some extra Dorset sparkle, then add the Dorset Magazine 2022 Calendar featuring 12 stunning Dorset landscapes £8.99, order at magsdirect.co.uk