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Catering for Food Allergies this Christmas

Any food allergy is going to be a worry for children and adults alike over Christmas. The biggest thing that is important nowadays, is asking our guests if there are any allergies when the come to us for food. It’s easy to cater for allergy or intolerances if we know what they are. For me, I cannot have anything with almonds, hazelnuts or with high refined sugar. All the nice things !!!

Just Love Food wanted to find out what happens with cooking and possible allergies, and sent me this information, which might be helpful for some of you.

With 1 in 5 people in the UK suffering from a food allergy[1],  and the rise of Brits having other dietary requirements to cater for, it can be a challenge when hosting friends and family over the festive period.  Research from Just Love shows that 26% of children with allergies have had an allergic reaction when visiting a family members house, and 20% when visiting a friend’s house.

With so many social events over the Christmas period, it is not surprising that hosts find it difficult to cater for the allergy and other dietary needs of their guests.

Research from Just Love reveals that 99% of parents of children with allergies take additional steps to consider allergies when hosting Christmas events.  65% of parents ask guests for their allergies in advance, while 43% ensure they provide a variety of options to put on the table. 

Bringing the nation together with inclusive celebrations year-round, Just Love provide cakes that can be enjoyed by everyone without sacrificing texture or flavour, meaning hosts won’t need to buy multiple dessert centrepieces this year.

Mike Woods, CEO and Founder of Just Love said: “Christmas celebrations are an important time of year, yet we know that a huge percentage of families will be catering for loved ones with allergies or specific dietary requirements.

To us, it’s our mission to bring people together with cake, ensuring inclusive celebrations can still take place and that people with food allergies and other dietary needs are not made to feel different or left out whatever the setting.”

Just Love want to make Christmas hosting easier for everyone, whether you’re catering for your own allergies and dietary requirements or for those joining you, festive celebrations should be enjoyed by all. Just Love cakes can be found on the Celebration Cake Aisle.

@instagram: justlovefoodcompany


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Regifting at Christmas

What is Regifting?

We all know someone who does it. I don’t have many friends nowadays, and very little family, so regifting is something that I haven’t done, but I have given away gifts that I haven’t used, like slippers two sizes smaller than I wear etc, but in the size of the giver…..

Anything I don’t want tends to go by way of charity raffles or into a charity drop off, but given that I don’t get more than a few presents these days, it’s not really an issue.

When you get a battered or dusty box wrapped up, or one that just looks a bit dog eared, it’s a dead giveaway that it’s been an unwanted regift, which is fair enough if someone has no other option. Personally, I’d rather receive nothing than someone else’s unwanted gifts, but that’s me, because it’s usually junk.

Unwanted gifts are usually unwanted for a reason…because the recipient didn’t like it, so they’re pawning it off onto someone else. Maybe that’s my age showing, because a study undertaken about regifting this year seems to show that younger people are happier to regift.

Regifting Study Results by The Works

Leading Book Retailer, The Works, were interested in regifting and how often it happens, so they commissioned a study to find out just how many of us were regifting unwanted pressies.

  • Around 40% of the UK regifts for different reasons.
  • Women are 20% more likely to regift than men and it’s estimated about 50% of all women regift.
  • Women are less likely to get caught regifting.
  • One in 10 regifters get caught.
  • Younger people are more likely to regift with feelings of guilt than older people, with guilt showing at under the age of 34.
  • Over 55’s have a more casual approach to regifting.
  • The most popular regifted products are health & beauty and alcohol, with books alone making up about a quarter of all regifts.
  • Women tend to wait about 7 months before regifting, while a quarter of men regift almost immediately, leading to them being discovered more frequently.
  • Charlotte Blaquiere, Search Marketing Manager at The Works said, “There’s no shame in regifting presents today. While many people do feel guilty, we should be pleased by the one in five aged between 25 and 54 that see it more as an eco-friendly exercise.”
  • Regifted and unwanted items are more likely to come from friends and also to be passed onto friends.

The Works commissioned a survey of 2,000 people across the UK asking questions relating to gifting, sentiment around it, and who they are most likely to receive unwanted gifts from and who they’re most likely to give them to. The survey was undertaken in October 2023.

Are you a Regifter?

So, are you a regifter? I’m more guilty of having a couple of extra gifts and then using them the following year as birthday presents or Christmas present add- ons.

For the last few years, I suspect there are more and more gift regifts. It would be surprising if there weren’t, due to the economy and finances with the increase in the cost of living and energy prices. Perhaps saving gifts by regifting is the new Secret Santa, and beats finding a decent present for a tenner any day.

My biggest snort of laughter had to come from getting back the gift I had given someone two years before. I am sooooo glad I didn’t open it in front of her. I’d probably never have seen her again, and I do like her an awful lot. In fact, she’ll probably phone me and laugh her head off when she sees this post, as she’ll recognise herself, and she is lovely.

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Staying Safe at Christmas

We shouldn’t really have to say this, should we?  Only we do….

Fire kills, and Christmas is really a time where we roll out decorations and lights for trees, that we use rarely, then bundle them up and squish them back into the decorations box until the next year.


There are lots of hidden dangers around Christmas, and for this year, I wanted to highlight the main ones for my readers.

Christmas Lights Safety Checklist

  • Only buy lights with the British Kitemark.
  • Buy from a respected source, ie a large chair or reliable name.  Do not buy lights second-hand, or from a dodgy bloke in a pub.  You have been warned.
  • If your lights are a few years old, treat yourself to new ones if you can.
  • Before adding your lights to your lovely new tree, check each one for signs of damage and change bulbs if needed.  If the cables are worn, replace the lights.
  • Switch OFF the electric before removing or adding a new bulb.
  • Use a surge protector.
  • Don’t use indoor only lights for wrapping around the top of your garage outside etc.  Keep indoor lights for indoor only.
  • Watch out for the trip hazard that cables along floors can create.
  • Switch off the lights when you go to bed, or when you go out.
  • Christmas lights are not toys, neither are the fibre optic trains and santa sleigh’s out there.  Don’t let your kids play with them.

Christmas Fire Awareness

  • Extinguish candles before you go out, and before you leave the house.  Candles really shouldn’t be left unattended at any time.  When you have them lit, make sure they are out of drafts and away from soft furnishings and curtains.  Keep candles, lighters and matches out of the reach of children.
  • Keep decorations well away from heaters, fans and lights.  It’s tempting to hand a star from a chandelier, but just don’t do it.  Don’t.
  • No matter how tempting it is, don’t put on your Christmas dinner, then leave the house.  Cooking needs to be kept watch over.  Kitchens are dangerous places.  Keep dish towels away from hobs and hot ovens.
  • Check smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors.  Are they working correctly?  If not, replace them, or change the batteries until they are.
  • Do not, and I repeat, do not, overload sockets.  With all those new gadgets and whole families in one house, all eager to charge them, stop and think… it worth the risk?
  • Be careful with Christmas costumes.  Some materials are very flammable and can catch alight easily.  Know what fabric you are wearing and your risks.  Making a stir fry using an open flame on a hob, but wearing a flammable material, is a recipe for disaster.

If you can think of others I’ve missed, please add them in the comments.





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Reviews: Christmas Suggestions For Mums

We all end up wondering what to buy mums for Christmas, especially if we don’t have hundreds of pounds to spend on something nice that she’d like.  Here are some of my favourites of the things I’ve had to try for this festive season.  I’d be tickled pink to get these as a present too.



I’m a right candle fan, and when I want something a little special to give as a gift, I always head for a branded one, and they don’t come much better than the Yankee Candle Brand.  Scents are sharp and gorgeous, even to the point of being scrummy enough to eat when they’re of the fruity variety, which is one of my favourites, along with spicy delights.

Yankee CandlesYankee Candles 2I received one of their Advent House in the Snow products, which includes a gorgeous tealight for each day of December, and a lovely votive for the 24th.  Scents included Candy Cane Lane, the new Bundle UP, the new Winter Glow, Spiced Orange, Snowflake Cookie, Icicles, and the lovely Christmas Even votive.  I really love this idea.

Of course, I couldn’t wait for December to give it a try and let you see what I received.  Candles are a staple of mine, so this was always going to be popular.

As a present, I’d buy one of many different things from the range of goodies on offer at this time of year.  Even our local chemist is stocking them, and the smells are fabulous every time I need to visit.   I’ve become quite a fan of their reed diffuser sets recently too, as they seem to last longer than other ones  I’ve used in the past.   There are gift sets galore to choose from, or you could even just buy some votives or tealights and wrap them up in a gorgeous cellophane bag with some ribbon.

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Rock Rose Gin

Some of you might not have heard of it, but Rock Rose Gin is handcrafted Scottish Gin.   A little gift box would go down a treat with the mums who like a wee tipple, on it’s own, with some mixers, or even as an ingredient in punch or cooking.   It’s well suited to simply being served with lots of ice, and my sample box may well be my yearly tipple on Hogmanay night this year.   It’s a hand crafted gin, created by an infusion of local and traditional botanicals, by Martin and Claire, and took many experiments to get it tasting just right.

Rock Rose Gin 2 The gin even has its own still, called Elizabeth, which was designed exclusively to make the Rock Rose Gin.  It has a handmade copper head and a botanical vapour basket.   The gin is made in small batches, to make sure the quality is carefully maintained.  Each bottle is also hand waxed and signed by the distiller.

The rose comes from a botannical forage along the Pentland Firth cliffs, where the Dunnet Bay Distillery was introduced to Rhodiola rosea, or “The rose in the rocks!”

According to Martin and Claire of the Distillery, Vikings would harvest the cliffs for Rhodiola rosea as they thought it would give them extra strength for long and difficult journeys.  What a fabulous story to base a unique taste from in the Highlands of Scotland.

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Speciality Condiments/Preserves and Chocolate

Speciality condiments were hiterto unknown to me before beginning blogging.  I didn’t know a value version from a good quality, but I know better now.  There are a lot of good brands out there, and Fortnum and Mason are one of those brands with good taste in developing and creating exquisite tastes for Christmas Food.  If I were buying some of these products for a gift, I’d probably put them in a basket and wrap it with cellophane and tie off with ribbon, for an extra special gift.

Fortnum and Mason let me have some of their samples for Christmas this year.   They’ve got some lovely Christmas food on the go, and I’d like to try some more.

The first thing to be opened here was the Spiced Chocolate.

Fortnum and Mason Christmas Spiced Chocolate

Fortnum and Mason Spicy Chocolate

Actually, the first thing I thought of when I read spiced chocolate, was how horrible it must be.  I shared it with my mum and one of her carers, who promptly said it was lovely and was definitenly getting some of it for xmas.  I have to admit, I really rather liked the slightly spicy but very subtle taste of the rich and creamy chocolate.  Sadly, I went online to look for it, and it seems to only be in the hampers.  Hopefully it is still on the list to come into stock for December, as I’d like to give a couple of bars to her as a Christmas present from my mum.

Other goodies I liked were:

  • Bucks Fizz Marmalade
  • Christmas Mulled Wine Jelly Preserve with Edible Gold Leaf is going to be my party piece on Xmas day at the table.  How cool for the kids to go back to school and tell everyone that they ate real gold….

We haven’t tried the Christmas Mustard as yet.  Mustard isn’t a thing that we’re terribly fond of, so it will go to a very good home, and to someone who really appreciates a good jar of the yellow stuff.

Fortnum and Mason Bucks Fizz Marmalade

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Doesn’t almost everyone enjoy a cookbook?  I think most of us do, even if we don’t admit it.  I’ve had some lovely books in the past, including the newest Jamie Oliver Superfood, and Ma Broons Cooking with Bairns.

New for this year, is The Social Bite Cookbook.

Social Bite Cookbook 3

It’s a fabulous concept, created from stories and recipes from formerly homeless people who have turned into chefs.

(Affiliate Link)

With an endorsement from Bob Geldof, a foreword from Chris Hoy, and chefs who’ve cooked for George Clooney, the book is a little delight, and 50% of all profits go to help the homeless, but it doesn’t stop there…oh no, the menu is created by Michelin star chef Mike Mathieson, and a whole 100% of the profits – yes, all of them, are given to good causes.

The Social Bite is a social enterprise, which trains and employs formerly homeless people to also work in their cafe’s. They also feed the local homeless community through their suspended coffee and food initiative.

The whole point of the cookbook, as a social enterprise, is that has a diverse menu, that is also affordable to cook.  I know I’ve had cookbooks in the past where there was no way I could afford to buy all the ingredients and cook that way on a daily basis, but this book isn’t like that.

Social Bite CookbookThe premise is simple.  Actually it’s one that I really agree with on a regular basis.  There is a section which includes only five ingredients, lunches, one pot wonders, main meals and sweet treats.

Some tasty recipes include:

  • Caramelised apple and pear upside down cake.
  • John’s emergency cheese cake.   I have to mention this, as I make my own, almost exactly like this and it’s a doddle.
  • Chicken with mozarella and parma ham.
  • Creamy garlic chicken.
  • One pot wonder: Michael’s Jamaican stew.
  • Black bean salad.
  • Jerk port chops with roasted butternut squash.
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Christmas Delivery Dates Calendar

This is a thoughtful and helpful feature from Castle Cover.  They have built a delivery dates calendar for us all to use.

If you’re not sure when the Christmas Delivery Dates are, then just take a look at the interactive pages on their website and it will help you make the right decisions about those last-minute presents you are hoping to buy.

Clicking on the Delivery Calendar image takes you to their website, were you can check the last posting dates of different types of items and some high street stores.  Don’t waste any time as we are reaching the end of the road for buying our late goodies.

Castle Cover



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“Flooer wi a Wish” New Year Doric Poem for all my friends with the English Translation

Fir a oor freens fae ower e warld               (For all our friends, all over the world)

Fir abody wi ken                                                         (For everyone we know)
Ah’m wishin ye a gran new year                (I’m wishing you all a great New Year)
Oor freens are a wi hiv                                             (Our friends are all we have)

Lets nae tak ony crabbit fash                       (Lets not take any bad tempered worries)
Tae come ower us a nixt year                               (To come with us for next year)
Sae shak oor hauns wi pride                                   (So shake our hands with pride)
An forgie wi bleeting heart                                  (And forgive with a talkative heart)

Hud yer wheest, an quaitely prov                    (Stay quiet, and quietly prove)
We a agree tae brig e past                               (We all agree to bridge over the past)
Fir e need tae hae freens new an auld       (For the need to have friends new and old)
Is wi us a fae birth tae dree us a                  (Is with us from birth for us all to endure)

Sae here’s a flooer, wi a wiss                                (So here’s a flower, with a wish)
Fae me tae yous the day                                           (From me to you all today)
Nae matter far wi kep or r gaun                        (No matter where we met, or go)
Is grand tae hae ye near.                                          (Is good to have you close)

A birsle tae ane an a                                                      (A toast to one and all)

Image: luigi diamanti /

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“Shhhhh fir Santa” Christmas Doric Poem

It’ll seen be time fir christmas
Time fir abody tae say
Hud yer weesht, it’s gettin late
Shut them peepers at end o the day

But, seen as yer ma’s heids hits e hay
Ye teeter oot o yer covers an mair
Yer lugs wirk sae hard, they shiver
An hush as ye go, near tae at door

Creepin doon yon steps fair sleekit
Teetin roun an roun, yer een openin wi frite
Shhhhhh em bells tinkle an jinngle
Ye look thru windae panes, an clap yer haun tae yer muth

A sleigh skiffs by, unner yer nose
Wi a flash fae rudolph, winkin is een
Shh lik a moose, scurry an shimmer
Up tae yer bed, afore santa slips doon yer lum

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“Snow” Christmas Doric Poem

Wi thon muckle flurries, ah watch oot ma windae
Yon white draps, wi wee crystals aboot em
An ah dream o yon year, fan ah wis a quine
A lass wi a bin liner, slidin doon nigg bay slopes

We’d nowt on oor hauns, and sookit feet
The caul nivver entered intae oor heids
Thinkin back now, ah canna believe it
Ah feel the caul, jist thinkin aboot it

Ah’m stannin back, an love far ah am
Ahin me, is a fire, glowin n burnin
An the morra winna stap me, ah’m gaun oot wi the bairns
Fir an efterneen o sledgin, trussed up lik a chook

Ah’ll hae ma gloves, an ma hat oan ma heid
An them leggins wi paddin, thit keep oot the weet
Dinna forget thon bitts, wi paddin an fleecin
As ah’ll skite doon at mound, laffin and jokin