As far as I’m concerned the jury’s still out on home-made presents. There’s a big difference between giving those endearing handmade, hand drawn or home cooked presents that your children have made for their grandparents and the grown ups making something homespun to give teachers and sometimes even work colleagues before the Christmas holidays.
The only kind of homemade present I’ve ever been any good at is jam, jelly or chutney. ‘Well, I should hope so.’ I hear you say, seeing as I used to make them for a living…
Well maybe it’s because I’ve made them so often that I’ve already made the mistakes. Perhaps I’ve spent so many summers drowning in fruit that I’ve had to be innovative and come up with new ideas to make the best use of it. Or, possibly, it’s simply just the best part of my cooking repertoire.
You see I’ve tried the obvious foodie presents – Fudge that was so tooth-achingly sweet you could never eat more than one piece, ever , Chocolate Truffles that were simply too dense, Honeycomb that could crack a tooth and, our most recent attempt, Salted Caramel sweets that never set (but we did turn it into a sauce that was fantastic with vanilla ice cream).
I’ve had so many failures that I will have to admit to turning to fraud. In that last minute panic to be a good mother and give a nice, wholesome present to my children’s Primary School teacher at the end of the Christmas term, I bought my favourite fudge and re-packaged it, 100% passing it off as handmade by me and my children. And why did I think they wanted something sweet and sickly? Surely after a long term of teaching my little darlings all they really needed was alcohol.
So, I’ve finally learnt to stick to what I’m good at. This year there won’t be a whiff of toffee, chocolate truffle or fudge, it’ll be jam, jelly or chutney for those that like it and a bottle of well-earned wine for the teachers and sports coaches at the end of term.