It’s Christmas in July! Did you know that the big retailers launch their festive product ranges just after the mid-point of the year, months in advance of Christmas? I’m not entirely sure why they showcase their wares so far in advance – it’s probably a combination of manufacturing lead times, getting a sense of what will sell, and factoring in the advance deadlines of glossy monthly magazines, and not wanting to be left behind by the competition – once one retailer decided to go in July, the rest probably had to as well.
So it was a blazingly hot day in July when I was invited to three Christmas launch events on the same day. I had a day off work to recover post-honeymoon (blogging is not my day job, I actually work in the City) but the jet lag wasn’t too bad, so I decided to take advantage of the time off to visit all three events and gather some content for my blog and meet a few people as well.
The event I was most excited about attending was Lakeland. I’m a big fan of Lakeland, even though I think some of their products are a bit unnecessary - I don’t need a tool to cut an avocado, I use a knife – which is not to say their tool isn’t easier, but there comes a limit to how many kitchen gadgets one person can have! But one person’s avocado peeler is another person’s spiralizer – and I have to admit I do own quite a few Lakeland products.
Speaking of spiralizers, Lakeland had a whole display devoted to them. At the moment (until 20 July) they are doing 35% off selected spiralizers.
There are now several types, including a new electronic one from Morphy Richards which makes very fast work of spiralizing. It will cost £50, I'm told, and comes with different blades though I think you might have to trim larger veg to fit. It doesn't take up much more space than the manual spiralizer and is good for people who have difficulty turning the handle of the original one (which I have myself) - so I can see the benefit.
They also have a new range of microwave containers; I tend to just stick things into the microwave in a dish so am looking forward to trying the one that I was given as a parting gift. I watched a cookery demonstration of the microwave containers where they cooked some of the spiralized veg and some chicken which smelled amazing. I also had a chat with BBC Good Food columnist Gerard Baker, who has written a recipe book with Lakeland on jams, curds and preserves, about how it's actually quite easy to make jams and curds. I've never tried and tend to resort to shop-bought lemon curd but Gerard urged me to have a go at making my own and I might just have to do that!
I was also pleased to see the Smarter iKettle and coffee machine on display.
Here I should declare something of a vested interest: my husband's cousin's husband invented the iKettle and wifi coffee machine and runs the company behind them, Smarter - a really innovative company it's worth keeping an eye on. The idea of the iKettle, if you haven't come across it before, is that you can boil the kettle using your phone - you can set it to wake you up already boiled, or to switch on when you are coming in through your front door. You can choose a different temperature to boil the water to, depending on if you are making tea, green tea, coffee etc . The coffee machine takes this one step further, enabling you to grind coffee controlled by your smartphone, and adjust the strength to suit your own tastes. As we hear more and more about the 'connected home' with everything controlled by wifi - from your heating to seeing who is at your front door - I think Smarter have hit upon a genius idea. And I'm not just saying that because I know them! The iKettle is £99.99 and the Smarter Grind & Brew Coffee Machine is £179.99.
And now for something completely different... why not have a sprout party this Christmas? Love them or hate them, you can have everything from paper plates to Christmas crackers with Lakeland's fun sprout design. Prices for items here start at £2.69. They also have a lovely range of more traditional Christmas decorations if that's more your thing!
Here's a slogan I could live by.... found on a cake tin that's part of a pretty range of crockery and kitchenware. This tin is a very reasonable £9.99.
Speaking of cake... the Lakeland press show had an entire room devoted to baking and cake decorating products and I was in heaven. This huge display of cups and saucers caught my eye; take closer look at the jug pouring milk into a bowl of cereal on the top:
It's actually cake! Made using Lakeland's anti-gravity cake kit, which I got for Christmas and used to make this floating Mini Egg cake at Easter.
Lakeland has two other products in this range; the first is already on sale and the second is part of their new range that I got to see at this event. You can use their 'tiers and spheres' anti-gravity cake set to make this:
Very impressive, huh? I'd love to try but think I would need to buy the kit and I'm not convinced my cake would look this good! The other kit that is being launched is a Minion cake kit (£14.99), but you could actually use it to make anything where you want a character or animal to be standing on two legs, with the main body raised off the base, so I think it will be quite a versatile kit.
Another item that caught my eye was these Shot Tops (£4.99). I remember one of the contestants on the Great British Bake Off - I think it was Luis - making cupcakes where each one came with a tiny pipette of alcohol (brandy I think) to be injected into or drizzled over the cake by the person who is eating it. So you get the strongest hit of flavour as the ingredient is only added at the point of consumption, and it makes the cupcakes really fun. Lakeland has brought out its own range of mini plastic pipettes, shaped like little bottles or cocktail glasses, which you can fill with a flavouring and push into the top of your cupcakes.
They even gave me a kit to try at home complete with recipe book, which I really can't wait to try out!
These look pretty awesome too - a cake tin where you can make an edible cup for a drink or dessert!
As usual Lakeland has a great range of smaller Christmas gifts:
I've previously bought the mug cake mug on the top left in this photo below for a friend (did you know you can make cakes in a mug in the microwave?). They've now expanded the range to include a peanut butter cupcake mug (which I really want!) and a takeaway cup style ceramic container which has a recipe for noodles on the side, which I love the idea of as well.
A couple of other products which I was given in a goody bag from the event include this magic tube, which goes inside any spray bottle and lets you use it from every angle, making sure you get out every last drop, which is a great money saving idea:
And finally these prosecco gummies and gin and tonic flavour frosting (part of a range that includes other flavours) - yum!
Thanks to Lakeland for inviting me to their Christmas press show; I've chosen for myself the products I wanted to write about and all opinions are my own.