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The Lies We Tell at Christmas (and the Hefty Price I Must Now Pay)

At the point at which he agreed I had to make good on the lie I had just told and actually find a Christmas dinner hamper. I looked around, asked friends and perhaps because it was early, found nothing.

I lied to someone close and now I have to pay the rather hefty price. I know that everyone lies every so often, and I promise this one was for a good reason, but the price for my lie is still high. Lying is not something I encourage or condone because eventually it catches up with you but I felt this one was justifiable. Perhaps to explain my lie I should go back and tell the whole story of love, loss, pain and good intentions.

My husband's parents were childhood sweethearts. They knew each as children in Wales and grew up to love each other. Her birthday was Christmas day (a constant source of gift frustration) but they both loved life, had many friends, were popular in church and in the Masons and generally enjoyed themselves. They spent almost 70 years together as a couple.

My mother in law died suddenly last year in early December, not long before her birthday on Christmas Day. She passed of an aneurism but what we didn't know at the time was that her breast cancer had metastasised not only in her lungs but all over her body including her liver. Her quick passing was a blessing I suppose, but it did not lessen the grief both my husband and father-in-law still feel.

Of course we went to my father in law for Christmas last year against his wishes. As Christmas approached again this year, we were again asked not to come for Christmas. At this point I said 'No trouble, I totally understand. It's just that this PR got in touch and wanted me to review a hamper of Christmas dinner and there's food for 6 so I had thought maybe we could share it. No pressure but it's an awful lot of food so I thought maybe we could have the hamper delivered here if you wouldn't mind helping us eat the food and review it. I need to look at how easy it all was and how much food and the like. It would really help me out and I'd need to take a few photos but I understand if you can't.' That was a lie and if you know my father in law please don;t tell him it was a lie.

At the prospect of being able to help and quite possibly because he didn't need to do the Christmas shop and prepare anything, he perked up and agreed. At the point at which he agreed I had to make good on the lie I had just told and actually find a Christmas dinner hamper. I looked around, asked friends and perhaps because it was early, found nothing. Luckily I have a chocolate blog so I was able to tap into the PRs I knew at places like Aldi to try and find something. I hope you'll agree that my lie was with the best intentions and that one Christmas lie to bring a bit of joy into a widowers life was worth the expense. At least, I think so.

What are my options now I must buy something? How much must I now pay in order to make this right? My research has delivered me the following end-to-end Christmas hampers from which we have chosen one based on my father in law's own tastes. I think that part of what was holding him back was the shopping, preparation and mess. Given that we can all feel a little overwhelmed by holiday shopping I thought I'd include what I uncovered. One option utterly removes all need for shopping - including for booze!

Image Courtesy The Recipe Box

The Recipe Kit: Probably the most interesting and most useful was the The Recipe Kit an exciting new recipe delivery service, and their four stunning Christmas dinner kits for the ultimate in gourmet festive feasting. Created for food lovers looking for a delicious alternative to the traditional turkey meal because not everyone loves turkey (but we do).

Delivered direct to the door in time for Christmas, each kit contains step by step recipe cards along with the finest ingredients in their exact quantities needed to easily prepare a memorable yuletide feast. Head Chef Olia Hercules, who was trained at Leiths and perfected her skills in the fiery kitchens of Ottolenghi, has created each of the four unique kits, taking inspiration from global cuisine and emerging food trends.

These folks were the first to get in touch and I think for those looking for a hamper which is not turkey-based, you'll be hard-pressed to find anything better or more reasonable short of a trip to Aldi. I highly recommend these folks for their helpfulness, attention to detail, responsiveness to my questions and honesty. These are £155 for 6 people and I feel the value is absolutely there for the money given what I saw of the box in the press release.

Image Courtesy Marks & Spencer's

Marks & Spencer: As my father in law is a life-long fan of M&S we decided to go with this option. We're adding booze to this with champagne from Nicolas Feuillatte, Merlot from I Heart Wines and a Sandeman port. I do love Kopke but if I buy any I'm hoarding it ;-) That M&S hamper serves 6, costs £100 and includes: A full main course of Free Range Turkey Crown with Pork, Sage & Onion Stuffing, Turkey Gravy, Premium Garnish Selection, Luxury Vegetable Selection and Bread and Cranberry Sauces as accompaniments. For dessert there's 6 Mini Christmas Trees and Cheese, Chutney & Oatcakes Selection. I understand we will need to collect it rather than getting it delivered but I'll have to investigate further. The PR was unsure and so she couldn't fully help but I appreciated her engaging at all since M&S generally ignore me utterly.

Image Courtesy Saturday Kitchen

Saturday Kitchen: For those of you looking for something slightly different, the Saturday Kitchen Free Range Goose Hamper is £109.95 and the Saturday Kitchen Free Range Turkey Hamper is £114.95 This seemed to be the nicest and most reasonable box with a limited edition stout pudding for dessert. I really like that this is a fresh free range turkey from Yorkshire. Apparently it is herb-fed and while I'm not a fan of celebrity tie-ups, this was a good hamper. There are pigs-in-blankets, parsnips, cranberry sauce, a 'shedload' of veggies and of course, duck fat for the potatoes and turkey. If my father in law wasn't such an M&S fan I was sorely tempted by this hamper!

Image Courtesy Melrose & Morgan

Melrose & Morgan: At the absolute top end and not something I'd have been able to afford or consider is the MELROSE & MORGAN Christmas dinner in a hamper. At £70 per person, starting at 6 people (minimum), the cost was too high for me to consider buying *but* it includes a lot of booze, a 5kg fresh turkey for 6 people and more food for 6 than an army could finish I think ;-) You are getting what you pay for here and besides being delivered in a hamper, you're getting foods such as chicken liver parfait with white port, free range bronze turkey, thyme and sea salt roast potatoes, sprouts with hazelnut butter, port and orange gravy, Christmas pudding with brandy custard, cheese & chocolates. Yes it is expensive but there is also a lot of luxury food.

So as you can see, I will have to pay for my lie in buying champagne, wine, port, a hamper and probably nibbles but you know what - it will be worth it. I like the idea of keeping it British and buying some Corkers crisps but overall the lesson is that sometimes a lie is what is needed to bring hope, joy and something to look forward to in someone's life. This Christmas though, consider not following my example and keep it truthful ;-)