I must admit, Christmas this year has crept up on me. The previous year’s promises of getting ready early this time have truly flown out of the window (this happens every year though). “It barely seems as if Halloween was yesterday, Christmas is ages away yet” but these honeyed words to myself are only my pathetic attempt at brushing the onrushing Christmas festivities under the carpet. Christmas is nearer than I think, less than 4 weeks away in fact, am I prepared? Am I hell!
Thankfully the saving grace in this day and age is the internet. Gifts can be researched and purchased in a matter of minutes and delivered within a few days and if you shop wisely, you can save yourself a lot of money and drinkstuff.com is a perfect example, a treasure trove of gifts from the quirky to the reassuringly useful. It makes a much less stressful (and let’s face it; warmer) alternative to the dreaded Supermarket, the veritable 24 hour bazaar of last minute treats filled with frantic shoppers and stressed-out mums in full-on festive frenzy mode. Besides I doubt Mum would be happy to unwrap a box of Mr Kiplings and a bag of onions on the big day.
Of course, there’s the other preparation, Christmas logistics. Where are you going for your festive fayre? Who’s coming over? Will Aunty Sue and her special dietary requirements or your Cousin David and his rag-tag feral children throw all your carefully laid plans to ruin? Probably; but at least you can be prepared in other areas to make the passing of Christmas day easier.
Getting the perfect Christmas table
By this I don’t mean going off to a branded furniture superstore and shelling out on some flat-packed coated chip-board (although if you don’t have a table you might want to consider it), I am of course talking about setting up and decorating your festive dining table.
Obviously good quality tableware is a good place to start and with a bewildering choice of patterns, shapes and styles to choose from it’s hard to settle on something for such a big occasion. To help; drinkstuff.com offer a wide selection of tableware ideas from crockery and creative tableware ranges which will hopefully give you some inspiration.
Matching ranges create a harmonious and eye-catching display without the clashing of mismatched patterns and shapes (unless that was the look you were going for? After all: “Vintage” is all the rage these days), personally as a former chef all my crockery is white, that way the food does all the work without competing against the plate for attention and there’s no chance of having mismatched crockery as everything’s the same colour, but then I am playing it a little too safe, some patterned crockery works very well depending on how you present your food.
If you're looking to jazz up your table, little touches like Napkins, Napkin Rings, Place Mats, Glassware and quality Cutlery make the difference between an average table and an amazing table. There are truckloads of Christmas centrepiece ideas online from the austere to the magnificent. I’ve compiled a selection of the best and most inspiring ideas here.
Raise your glass
I briefly mentioned Glassware earlier, I can’t reiterate enough that quality glassware makes all the difference, as well as having the right glass for the drink. Countless times have I raided the cupboard for glasses for a toast, resulting in the moment being soured as guests cheer with Champagne cantered in a “Keep Calm and Drink Tea” mug, not a scenario I’d want to repeat! Especially on Christmas Day!
If you're looking for Glassware, drinkstuff.com is most certainly your friend. There’s an astounding range of glasses in all shapes, sizes and colours to suit any occasion and budget from Champagne Flutes, Wine Glasses, Tumblers, Hiballs and more. For Christmas there are beautiful hand crafted ranges from LSA, especially their Moya, Polka and Bar lines which include some wonderful boxed glassware items that really are something special, even worthy of being gifts themselves.
Also take a peek at restaurant favourites; Durobor who produce a wide range of sturdy glassware in various shapes and sizes with some very contemporary lines available including their top selling Alternato and Cancun glasses. Don’t miss other wonderful ranges from Libbey, Arcoroc and Artis to name but a few, who offer some amazing quality glassware. Have a browse through the full selection of glassware lines here for some inspiration.
When it comes to Christmas drinks, your creativity is your only limit. Whether it’s a simple glass of Champagne, a round of festive cocktails or some speciality hot mochas, there’s plenty of ideas compiled online here.
So with the advanced preparation and general online procrastination all done you can now relax. The heat has been taken off you with the Christmas prep. Of course there’s still the food shop and the organising to do, but that’s the easy bit!
Bank Holiday BBQ Ideas
Summer is in full swing, the forecast is red-hot sun (with scattered showers!), the garden is green and the smell of the neighbour’s barbeque is wafting over your fence. It’s that time of year again; time to dust off the old barbeque for its annual airing. What better time than Bank Holiday Monday? With the roads and airports chock-a-block with red-faced motorists and holiday makers, get away from it all and take the time out to relax in the garden, throw a party and sizzle-up some bangers with friends.
Here at drinkstuff we have a mind-boggling array of barbeques and summer party accessories . Whether you’re looking for bbq accessories, disposable drinkware, party plates or napkins right up to cocktail sets and Inflatable Hot-tubs! We’ve also included a few recipes and Ideas but if you need a comprehensive collection of cocktail recipes then check out our cocktail books which are jam-packed with ideas for creating your own concoctions!
Food is quite rightly the star guest at any barbeque. Nothing can beat the smell of char-grilled meat filling the summer air. With so many choices available at the supermarket it can be easy to settle for pre-made burgers and sausages but if you fancy trying your hand at making your own burgers, it couldn’t be simpler with the Swift Burger Press . Mix up your mince and chosen ingredients in a bowl and spoon into the mould and press down to create your own authentic professional-looking home-made burgers!
Of course, barbeques aren’t limited to burgers and sausages. Be adventurous, try Lamb, Pork Chops or Steak and marinade your meat the night before. Also fish and shellfish are delicious barbequed and don’t forget old favourites like corn-on-the-cob, salads and nibbles like olives and nuts.
If you’re looking for inspiration; here’s a tried and tested marinade recipe from the drinkstuff team. It’s very simple to put together, using some basic food cupboard ingredients:
Smokey BBQ Marinade
300ml Barbeque Sauce
1 Onion, chopped
3 Cloves of Garlic, finely chopped
2 Tsps Smoked Paprika
1 Tsp Chilli Powder
4 Tbsps of Dark Soy Sauce
1 Tbsp Worcester Sauce
2 Tbsps Tomato Puree
1 Tsp White Wine Vinegar
This tasty and easy marinade is great for white meats such as chicken and pork, although it works just as well with Beef Steak and Fish. Simply mix all the ingredients together in a large bowl and add your chosen meat. Ensure that the marinade is covering the meat, cover with clingfilm and refrigerate overnight before cooking as normal on your barbeque. Once your meat is cooked, serve it up with a bowl of fresh salad, cous-cous or even more meat!
For the presentation conscious our Royal Genware Square Plates are ideal for presenting a plate of food a chef would be proud of! For a whole range of tableware and presentation ideas check out our ever-expanding selection of tableware and crockery for more inspiration.
Drinks all round!
Drink selection is a vital part to any gathering of friends, why not throw a BBQ party with a twist and greet your guests with a tray of refreshing Mojitos or a bowl of homemade punch?
Children and designated drivers should never be left out so don’t forget to include a non-alcoholic punch or have a blender on-hand to wizz-up some ice-cream smoothies or fruit-based cocktails. Make sure you have the right glass for the job though; cocktails aren’t just about mixing drinks together it’s about the presentation too!
Another party essential which is a firm favourite here at drinkstuff towers are the Stack Cups . These ingenious lightweight cups have a hollow handle which allows them to be stacked together for easy carrying. They’re perfect for dishing out a round of cold beers when your free-hands are limited!
If you want to save on washing-up we now have a range of bio-degradable plastic cups and recycled napkins to minimise any harmful fallout from your party. Because let’s face it; who wants to be washing up after a few Sangrias!?
We’ve included a couple of our favourite summer cocktail recipes for you. For non-alcoholic ice-cream shakes just swap the Vodka, Baileys and Kahlua for flavoured Crusha or Nesquick, the kids will love it!
Summer Ice Cream Alco-Shakes (Makes 4)
4 Scoops of Vanilla Ice Cream
100ml Bailey’s irish Cream
In a blender or food-processor add all of the ingredients and simply wiz them together until they are blended into a smooth drink. Serve in iced hurricane cocktail glasses with a straw. For extra decadence top with a generous helping of whipped cream!
Sangria (courtesy of the ultimate bar book )
2 Lemons, sliced
2 Peaches, pitted and sliced
120ml Fresh lemon juice
90ml Licor 43 (If available)
75g Superfine sugar
75cl of red wine (Rioja is ideal)
Soda to top up
Combine the lemon and peach slices in a large glass pitcher . Add the lemon juice, Licor 43 and sugar, stirring to combine. Gently stir in the wine. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours. When ready to serve, add the soda, stirring gently. Slowly pour into ice-filled wine goblets allowing some of the fruit to fall into the glasses.
Licor 43 is an ancient Spanish liqueur which has a distinctive vanilla and citrus twang. It’s not readily available in the supermarket and unless you spend a lot of time hopping over to Spain you’ll rarely see it. However several online stockists do supply to the UK for a reasonable price.
If you want to, you can replace the Licor 43 with another fruity liqueur such as Cointreau, Pimms or Flavoured Vodka.
We hope you take the time to relax and enjoy your summer barbeque. After all it’s the last Bank Holiday until Christmas! One last point to note is of course to drink safely and be careful handling your barbeque, don’t over-stock your coals or go mad with the lighter fluid, nobody wants to eat burnt sausages or worse; spend bank holiday in A&E!
Apparently several inches of snow wasn’t enough for some people, they wanted more ice...frozen slushie ice! The Retro Slush Maker Machine from Giles & Posner has been flying out the door (on DPD lorries) after over a month of waiting for stock from our suppliers. We apologise to all our customers who have been kept waiting, we hope you’re now making lots of slushie goodness without too much brain freeze!
We want you to make the most of your slush maker, which is why we’ve got some tips and recipe ideas to inspire you. Have you got any tips or suggestions? Why not add a product review to our site as we give away Drinkstuff credit to the best reviews?
The Retro Slush Maker Machine in action! This video shows a 7up frozen slushie being made.
YouTube video courtesy of freakzilla3333.
Bored of orange juice slushies? We’ve compiled some recipe ideas for the perfect tasting slushie drink!
Hawaiian Tropical Punch:
250ml Pineapple Juice
100ml Grapefruit Juice
100ml Cranberry Juice
200ml Club Soda or Lemonade
25ml Fresh Lime Juice
25ml Fresh Lemon Juice
Mix together and pop in the Slush Maker for a yummy, fruity frozen drink!
1 Sachet of Franco’s Lime Cocktail Mix 170g (Pre-mixed)
Once the Lime Cocktail Mix has turned to slush, dispense into margarita glasses (with a salt rim) and mix in the following amounts of spirit to each glass;
1 Part Squash
4 Part Water or Lemonade
Mix together before adding to the Slush Maker – it has to be extra strong for the flavours of the squash to come through. This recipe can be adapted to any squash (use less if double concentrated).
Other Slush Drink Ideas:
Premixed Kool Aid!
SodaStream Mixer (non-diet) pre-mixed according to instructions
Fanta – any flavour!
Mixed Berry Fruit Juice
Rubicon Fruit Juices
Cola mixed with 50ml of Cherry Sourz
Orange & Cranberry Juice mixed with 50ml Malibu
Ginger Beer mixed with 50ml Lime Juice and 50ml Vodka
• Drinks with a high sugar or corn syrup base will crystallize faster and produce a thicker slush than those with milk or lower sugar content. Carbonated drinks will set up slower and will not be as thick.
• Where possible, let carbonated drinks lose their fizz for quicker results
• Pre-chilling the liquid will quicken the slush making process
• Still or carbonated diet or sugar free drinks will not slush
• Alcohol does not freeze, which is why you will need to add it afterwards
• If the slush hasn’t formed within 40mins then the drink probably isn’t suitable for freezing
For the finishing touch, why not serve up your slushie with our Spoon Straws and Disposable Smoothie Tumblers. Perfect for enjoying out in the sunshine (for the two weeks of glorious sun we get a year) and keeping messy children happy.
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Here at the Drinkstuff office we've been enjoying some of our new arrivals - perhaps a bit too much! We've recently had 2 new Popcorn Machines come into stock, and of course, we had to test them. Quality control is very important at Drinkstuff, and for some reason it's even more important when there's food involved!
Our Product Development team needed to photograph the Movie Popcorn Machine and the Tabletop Popcorn Machine, so to make them look their best, we made up a batch of freshly popped snacks! Once the photos were done, the whole office team had the difficult task of disposing of the vast quantities of sweet popcorn!
Both popcorn machines have proved very popular for Christmas, and we've already had to order a second batch! Make sure to get your order in time for Christmas - these popcorn machines are ideal for parties!