We’ve definitely reached peak Christmas preparations here at Honeybuns Bakery HQ. All hands are very much on deck now as we focus on getting customers’ online orders safely packed up and out the door.
It has been a little bit fraught this year- with postal strikes putting a great strain on all the courier companies. Rest assured, we are on the case with chasing things up if parcels do get delayed. Usually the hold ups will be a day or two so we advise everyone to allow a few days wriggle room. Send parcels just that little bit earlier to avoid delays.
Help! I’m running out of time to get all my present buying done and I don’t know where to start!
I know the feeling! The little tree we bought for the office is still naked and unadorned as we’ll all been to busy even to dig the bauble box out and sort the decorations out. Thank goodness that here in Dorset we are surrounded by amazing producers of fabulous food and drink. There is no need for us to panic buy unimaginative gifts from random companies online.
Within a 10 mile radius of Honeybuns you’ll find world class makers of chutneys, jams, chocolates, cheese and of course…gluten free cakes! We’ve carefully edited down to a select 3 foodie artisan companies – thus sparing you from that overwhelming feeling of “where on earth do I start?”
How do I know if a smaller company is reliable and trustworthy?
It helps that a lot of our friends and neighbours are also fellow artisan food producers. We’ve known many of them for 20 years and can vouch for their awesome quality products as well as their amazing customer service and fabulous eco credentials. After all the best recommendations are the word of mouth variety.
A word of caution when buying in a hurry online:
Did you know that (I’m quoting from New York Magazine, July 2022), “According to the fraudulent-review-detection service Fakespot, around 42 percent of 720 million Amazon reviews assessed in 2020 were bogus.” Shopping online can sadly sometimes be a bit like venturing into the Wild West. Each of our top independent family businesses have glowing, genuine reviews on their social media pages and their own websites. No bots in sight.
Do your bit and support your local small food producers
The saying “use it or lose it” could never be more apt. Seeking out and supporting specialised, independent makers and bakers will help ensure they can continue making extraordinary foods for years to come. How much duller and blander would life be without access to hand crafted local delicacies? Sure – the supermarkets offer an array of foodie gifts but when compared to the real deal of artisan foods there really is no contest. Smaller companies can also go the extra mile with customer care too. How lovely it is to be able to just pick up the phone and place an order with a real life human rather being left on hold with the dreaded Muzak?
The top best foodie gifts this Christmas
From a small batch coffee roaster to an award winning local cheese maker we have found some utterly delicious treats that you can order as gifts for him, her, best friends, teachers, work colleagues, ….yourself. It’s always so much more special to be able to gift items that are not available just anywhere. These delicious goodies cannot be found in the supermarket, making them suitable for the choosiest of foodies. All these independent food producers can ship throughout the UK too. So why not either:
A: Order from the list below and send a hunk of cheese or a tin of our very own Honeybuns gluten free cakes to your friends and family or
B: Order multiple items from each of the featured producers below. For example 5 x jars of chutney from Dorset Blue, 5 x vegan hot chocolate kits from Honeybuns ….to then assemble your own hampers at home.
Need to buy gluten free and vegan Christmas treats?
Our top favourite local food producers
Dorset Blue is a fabulous artisan food producer based literally just down the lane from us here in the Blackmore Vale, Dorset. Makers of the famous Blue Vinny Cheese, Dorset Blue offer a gorgeous range of gourmet goodies online.
Emily started this company the very same year that we started Honeybuns and we are just 1 mile apart. We supported each other through the trials of converting old barns into artisan food hubs – it has been quite the adventure.
Check out their hand made trio of chutneys at £11.85. Each goes perfectly with cheese, cooked meats or a lovely slice of quiche. Everything is hand made by scratch on the farm.
For the foodie traditionalist, how about a 500g wedge of Dorset Blue Vinny cheese? It comes beautifully wrapped in Dorset Blue branded paper, featuring an image of Woodbridge Farm. This is a genuine, artisan family business and employer of local people. Their range of cheeses, chutneys and pickle are not available in the supermarket – making them that little bit extra special. Gluten free options available.
Reads Coffee is again, literally just down the road from us in Sherborne. Set amongst the wooded hills of the Digby Castle Estate, their coffee HQ looks as divine as it smells.
The aroma of coffee leads you to their super cute roastery where the magic happens. Giles Dick-Read is the owner, founder and chief roaster and has a well earned reputation for being the region’s top coffee guru. Reads coffee is served in the best independent coffee houses and hotels in Dorset. Honeybuns have Reads on speed dial for the very best espresso blend for when our VIP customers visit.
We especially like their Sumatra bourbon espresso which comes in 250g or 500g packs. It’s rich, smooth and packs a powerful, chocolatey punch.
Reads coffee is not available in the supermarkets and is one of Sherborne’s best kept gourmet secrets.
Honeybuns was started by myself 25 years ago (eeek) next year. We are a multi award winning, independent artisan bakery with a team of just 26.
We hand make all of our traybakes and slices from scratch using thoughtfully put together ingredients. Polenta, almonds and pistachios are our store cupboard staples. We specialise in making classic flapjacks, layered slices and chocolate brownies with a nod to Italian baking traditions. All our cakes happen also to be gluten free and we now offer a great range of plant based, vegan and dairy free options. If you’re seeking a stand alone gift of free from cakes, I’d recommend our taster box at £22 to introduce people to the range. If you’d prefer to assemble your own treats for a DIY hamper then you can buy either slices or why not give our gorgeous hygge hot chocolate kit a whirl? As well as making delicious treats, we are passionate about the environment, our team and supporting local causes.
Step by step guide to making your own free from luxury food hampers
There is a lot to be said for taking a DIY approach to gifting.
- By re using a basket, box or tin you are doing your bit for the environment. I re used a little wicker basket. Buy less, waste less.
- Sourcing local goodies helps sustain smaller, independent businesses. Why not spend your money in your local economy rather than handing it to a huge enterprise with no community connections?
- You can personalise gifts so much better yourself. From a cheese loving Aunty to a gluten free best friend- you can tailor the contents to the very last detail.
- Get creative with the choice of packaging and wrapping you use – making it that much more personal. How much nicer to open a box of goodies that a loved one has hand picked and put together just for you?
So let’s get started on putting your home made hamper together.
- Choose your “hamper”. Recycling is by far the greener option. A pre loved basket, an old vintage biscuit tin or even a cardboard box covered in pretty paper will all work well.
- Line your hamper with pretty tissue paper.
- Select your filler of choice which will serve to protect the hamper items in transit. I prefer a light, straw coloured “shred” which you can buy online- try crafting stores such as Hobbycraft UK.
- Rest your foodie items on the shred and “snuggle” them in- so they are not rolling about on top of the shred.
- Tie some pretty ribbon on the hamper basket handle along with a hand written luggage tag.
- You can then place the entire hamper in a recycled cardboard box – filling the gaps between the hamper and the outer box with scrunched up paper to help protect the contents.
FAQ about making your own Christmas hampers
Q: How long will cheese last if I post it?
A: Cheese, if a hard variety and if it is protected with a wrapper will last for weeks. Always check shelf lives prior to purchasing any food stuffs. An “Ambient product” means that food can be kept at room temperature. I’d personally avoid anything that needs to be kept in the fridge.
Q: How do I find out about allergy information?
A: This is a particular bugbear of mine. At Honeybuns we take a lot of care to share and update allergy information for all the cakes we sell online. Some producers are better then others at this. Call them if you are unsure and ask them specific questions. Better still email them so you have confirmation back in writing.
Q: Why is post and packing so expensive?
A: It can seem expensive depending on the quantities you are ordering. For instance although we charge £6.50 P&P on our shop we do not make any profit on this. We choose to add the P&P whereas other companies will offer free P&P when the actual cost is incorporated into the retail price of the products they are selling. I do not think there is a right or a wrong way. We prefer to charge separately so the customer can more easily gauge what the product costs and what the P&P is.
As ever – if you order more items in one go you benefit from economies of scale and the P&P becomes better value. It’s also worth remembering what a hassle and an expense is to actually travel out to shop (though I do think there’s a time and a place for all kinds of shopping).
Customer service and delight is something we take really seriously, so it is really frustrating to know that sometimes cakes are not arriving on time. This is due to circumstances beyond our control – namely the postal strikes and the overstretched courier services. We endeavour to communicate as clearly as possible with everyone and if you need to know more about your order, you can either email us or give us a call. We’re always delighted to hear from you and will take onboard any feedback and comments you may have.
Wishing you all a very happy lead up to Christmas and if you need any gift advice, please get in touch
Make sure you don’t miss out on our product updates, gluten free baking tips, all the news from the bakery, and a monthly discount code for our yummy cakes. Sign up to our newsletter here.
You might also be interested in reading the 5 lessons I’ve learnt from running a bakery business for 25 years.