Christmas is here – yes it is that time of year again – or as I prefer to call it the ‘holiday season’. For those of you used to much colder holiday seasons it may be a surprise to be celebrating in temperatures above 20 degrees Celsius. With indoor shopping malls it is easy to forget the balmy weather outside and also lose track of time whilst out shopping. When you are in a rush and the shops are heaving with people it can be difficult to find gifts for loved ones and friends. Consider my Christmas/Holiday Gift Guide for the gastronomy-lover in your life.
The easiest gift to give to a food-lover is of course food. Yes, I know, it is not a great revelation and before you turn away in exasperation keep reading and consider these creative options for a more personalised gift.
A really good-quality honey will always be appreciated by any good epicurean. Raw Yemeni Sidr honey has a complex flavour and great nutritional benefit. BALQEES Honey is an excellent brand producing gourmet-style organic honey with a professional finish, selling different jar sizes in gift bags. Their Yemeni Sumar Honey is beautifully handled and tastes excellent. Currently EATOPIA exclusively sells the brand in their store based in Gate Mall. For a more affordable option try the raw honey from PurelyHoney, a family-run business based near Souq Waqif.
If you have been invited around for a meal then take your favourite dessert as a gift – that’s the sweet course sorted! MONOPRIX has Noel Logs on offer, whilst W Hotel has American-style baked pies to take-away including Pecan Pie (be aware you may have to order at least 48 hours in advance). Add a tropical element to the season with Magnolia Bakery’s Hummingbird Cake, or stick to their festive-styled Vanilla and Chocolate Cupcakes. If you are looking for a gluten and vegan-free alternative then try the Black Velvet Cupcake from Red Velvet Cupcakery. Make sure you contact retailers and book your preferred dessert choice. You do not want to battle Doha traffic and crowds to find sold out signs.
You can find dates in most places from the usual supermarkets to independent date retailers. For the best go to Bateel which has a wide range of dates on offer as well as their own handmade exquisite chocolate-covered dates. Helpfully they have a large variety of gifting options and price ranges but their Casssandra Gift Box range stands out to me. If you don’t have time check out the big supermarkets for gift boxes and commercial brands.
Chocolate is a safe last-minute option and truffles are a popular choice. Buy a good-quality brand with a seasonal twist and you are onto a winner. Patchi has a variety of flavours with some excellent gift boxes. Lindt is a beautifully smooth and silky chocolate and this year MONOPRIX has a large variety of choices for gifting. Try internationally-renowned Niederegger Marzipan (found at LAKELAND) for a more seasonal choice. Don’t forget you can also find some good ranges in the big supermarkets.
For a more fun festive gift consider buying a ready-made Gingerbread House from places like EATOPIA. For a child-friendly gift then buy a DIY one such as the Pre-Baked Gingerbread House Kit from Tavolo . It has all you could need to create a hand-decorated gingerbread house within 30 minutes.
For a special more thoughtful gift put together a food hamper with some food products you have enjoyed and would be happy to gift to others. Why not put together a basket of fresh fruits or tailor the products to the person receiving the gift so for cheese-lover try putting together a cheeseboard hamper. If you don’t have time to source your packaging then try LAKELAND for a Hamper Kit. If you really don’t have time then ask your favourite restaurant, café or deli if they do gift hampers such as W Café who have put together hampers and EATOPIA has some seasonal gourmet hampers that are well worth a look.
Try looking in the seasonal dinnerware section of the big supermarkets for some interesting festive crockery. Tavolo and LAKELAND have lots of options and I love the festive mugs from Tavolo. For budding chefs you should consider a kitchen tool such as a Pasta machine or a Tagine. And if you are feeling really generous then consider a Kitchen Aid Mixer, which is more than just a snazzy gizmo.
Try Jarir Bookstore, Virgin Megastore and LAKELAND for recipe books by famous chefs, popular food cuisines or general food books. Anything by Nigella Lawson and Jamie Oliver will be a hit. Otherwise try choosing based upon cuisines such as Middle-Eastern cooking or try a baking book such as The Great British Bake Off Big Book of Baking from LAKELAND.
If you are finding it difficult to find the right gift then consider purchasing a gift voucher. Most major retailers provide the option of gift vouchers of differing monetary values to suit all budgets.
For those of you with a little more time on your hands then try making something handmade. This is especially nice to do with young children and helps to personalise the element of gifting in what can be quite a commercialised season. You could bake some holiday cookies and package them in a nice box with ribbon. Or bake your own gingerbread house from scratch and decorate it with sweets and biscuits. If the creative juices really start flowing then try baking a famous Doha landmark – anyone fancies a bite of Tornado Tower? You could skip the baking element and instead put together Kilner jars of baking mixes for people to bake themselves, such as a Cinnamon Hot Chocolate mix or Chocolate Brownie Mix.
It is always difficult to get organised and prepare for the busy Christmas period, but I hope you have got some useful ideas to help you choose for gifts for your family and loved ones this holiday season. Good Luck with the shopping and have fun thinking creatively when wrapping presents!