Musings of a self-confessed beauty addict from the heart of London!

Thursday, 1 December 2011

Gourmand Gifting

It's the 1st of December today, so it's officially ok to start getting jiggy about Christmas. For many this jigginess starts after Bonfire Night (5th of November for those unfamiliar with our bizarre Brit tradition), but for me it's today that marks the beginning of the festive season. I'm now 'officially' allowed bring my Nigella Christmas book off the shelf and into the kitchen, I can burn cinnamon and spice candles and incense, I can put up fairy lights, and I can dig out everything sequined and glittered which has been in hibernation for the rest of the year. Officially.

So, I'm celebrating the start of Christmas with a little dedication to all the wonderful scented (and flavoured) offerings which you may gift to your loved ones or perhaps even self-gift, which sounds a lot more philanthropic than just saying 'I bought this for me'....
'I've gifted this to myself' is simply an acknowledgment of your rights as an individual worthy of receiving wonderful things. You are asserting your self-worth.
Therefore, self-gift and be happy.

The inspiration for all this was my little unexpected visit to Godiva today.  I paused by window, captivated by the small blocks of sugar-encrusted marzipan which was so enticingly displayed on crystal cake stands. Some were plain, some had walnuts encasing them. Before I knew it I was leaving the store with two pieces of each in a little bag.
Godiva Marzipain with walnuts..... pure angel food
 I stood in the rain and took a bite....and then I tasted all that was good in the world. The sweet, comforting warmth and delicate perfume that only almonds and sugar could provide, so redolent of Christmas and all it's joys. As I walked along the road I savoured every bite and it was all I could do to stop myself from devouring Mr P's share.

So, almonds and Christmas. It's a very classic partnership,  and in fact, all nuts seem to come out at Christmas, both literally and metaphorically...

In homage to all things 'nutty' and delicious here are my favourite gourmand treats for Christmas:

First up is L'Occitane's incredible Almond (Amande) range. In my opinion the range is one of the best that they do and the products really are wonderful. Ironically my favourite of them all is the one I've never actually possessed in a full size, it being one of the most expensive body creams they do, if not the most expensive. The Milk Concentrate (Concentre de Lait) is a lush, lightly whipped body cream with a scent I can only describe as almond perfection. It captures the freshness of the almond as a fruit as well as the more creamy, gourmand quality you would normally find in almond scented goodies. It smooths the skin like no other cream I've ever tried and my skin is at it's softest whenever I've had the fortune to use the numerous samples I've been given.

 The almond shower oil (£16) is a luxurious treat for the skin, especially dry skin. It feels sublime to wash with and leaves the skin feeling silky and fragrant. Wonderful stuff. It's less scented than the body cream so you'll never be overpowered with almond if you choose to use both.

 The Delicious Paste (£26 )is a gorgeous body exfoliator which manages to be gentle yet rough enough to actually give results. This leaves me feeling like a GODDESS. I've bought this (sorry, I mean self-gifted this) numerous times. :P

For those in Italy (and elsewhere) lucky enough to have access to the amazing L'Erbolario range you're in for a treat. Their almond (Mandorla) range is incredible.

I particularly recommend the body cream and soap. The scent is that of a sweeter, headier almond than the the L'Occitane and is more of a one-note fragrance. For me this is the ultimate winter/Christmas scent. L'Erbolario bring out new fragrance ranges frequently, but this, along with the divine Narcissus range (Narciso) is my favourite.

Do I really need to mention Lush again? Well.... Snowcake, obviously. Just do it people.
All of Lush's Christmas offerings are pretty wonderful and in fact, Christmas seems to bring out the best in Lush's creative team. Take your pick of numerous bath bombs, bubble bar slices, soaps etc and make your own gift to someone. Alternatively there are some gorgeously imaginative ready packaged gifts. Here is my favourite.... someone I know will be receiving this from me ;)

Innit dinky??? Extra points for usefulness as the tin would make a super-cool trinket box.

Perfume wise, I'm totally in love with Diesel's new offering, Loverdose. It's a total vanilla-licorice overload but I LOVE it. It's a classic gourmand (sorry I keep using that word, but it basically means something that's edibly sweet, so very appropriate here) and I think that many will love it. Many will also hate it precisely for that reason, but I'll have you know that I normally don't like overly sweet perfume but this one has me hooked. Mr P loves it too. Babies also seem to like it.... (long story!)...
 I've actually asked for this for Christmas.... let's see if the Brothers P come up with the goods!

Another sweet offering comes by way of Zara Chocolate eau de toilette. There are two seemingly Christmas perfumes in Zara at the moment, Chocolate and Cherry.

Cherry smells like a hasty Duty Free till dash en route to Magaluf. Avoid.

Chocolate on the other hand is yummy and sweet but in a grown-up way. It's more of a milky-vanillary chocolate but warming and comforting all the same. Would be lovely spritzed onto woolly scarves and hats so you can snuggle in all it's milk-chocolate goodness :)
Best of all, it's only €4.95 for 10ml. It would make a lovely little stocking-filler. Sorry I can't seem to find a photo of this one....

I hope that's provided a little gift inspiration and brought about warm, cosy feelings of Yuletide.

If I had to choose one thing from here I'd just be really, really happy with a big box of what inspired me to write this in the first place.

Hint, hint Mr P... there's a Godiva down the road don't you know.


  1. OMG!!!
    you made hungry, I'm not kidding!!
    it has happened for the last 3 months: I'm just feeling a strong urge to eat as many sweets\cakes as possible, but this includes gourmand soaps, body creams, butter (oh, I love butters so much, so rich and thick)!!I would open the shea body butter jar and swallow it, then drink a bit of my sweet strawberry shampoo, this is insane, I know!!!right now I just want ALL the things you posted, almonds are delicious!
    shame on me, I live in italy but I've just tried the erbolario tea line (I would die for tea)!
    now you'll be certainly thinking: oh god, she's gross!!yes, I know but it's christams so indulge ourselves right?
    ...and during the other days of the year, let's do it again waiting for christams time :)
    unfortunately I live in a very small town and we don't have any nice shops like the one you bought marzipan from...I've never ever tasted a real cupcake!!!so that's the reason I'd eat my soaps and the whole lush stores!!

  2. Living in Italy...selling L'erbolario in my shop...what can i say?? I love them, obviously, but honetly I don't know the others! I trust in you!!! :)
    PS... scuse me for my always bad english, girls!!! ;)))

  3. @Iris, my dear, I do not think you are gross or crazy... you could be me!! I think you might enjoy this post:

    By the way, where do you live in Italy?

    @Silvia, sei fortunata! ;)

  4. Hmmmm,seems like I'm trying Loverdose by Diesel...You know I love Vanilla perfumes!!!!


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