My Christmas chocolate-buying guide

buying festive chocolates is a skill


Who needs a chocolate buying guide?

I never used to buy Christmas Chocolates. Apart from selection boxes for children’s stockings, I’d just have the usual odds and ends in the sweetie tin in the cupboard. But other people’s bowls of lifestyle-magazine-perfect wrapped sweets must have lodged in my mind and created one of those goals in life I never knew I had. Until that was, I found myself in the trolley-packed sweets aisle of Waitrose last Christmas. Swept along by other shoppers’ enthusiasm for the 2-for-1 limited-time offer on all the boxed sweets, I bought 2 boxes, as I detailed in my confessional blog piece last January.

I felt pretty smug to have proper chocolates in the house for Christmas, but as my last-year blog tells, it didn’t end well. It was me who ate the whole two boxes and I got little pleasure from them.

So I resolved to chocolate-shop more wisely this year, and in case you’re as much of a novice as I was this time last year, or you’re in a Christmas chocolate rut and your buying skills need a re-fresh, here’s a quick summary of what I learned and how it has worked out this year.

Lessons from last year

To bring you up to speed on the lessons from last year, I decided to

  • Put the date to buy this Christmas’s chocolates in the diary for December 2018 and on that day, choose the chocolates people will really want
  • Freeze the leftover chocolates once the festive season is finished
  • Have some vegetable-only meals over Christmas and new year to balance the chocolate eating

Progress report and new lessons learned

A key lesson from last year was to buy only my very favourites and to plan when to shop rather than buying on spec. True to my word, I put “Buy fabulous Christmas chocolates” in my diary. The planning was a huge success in terms of how much pleasure I got from it. I kept seeing “buy fabulous Christmas chocolates” written in for December 16th and the anticipation of a purposeful trip to Thornton’s was repeatedly joyful. When I got there (a week earlier than planned, but no matter), there was a huge “Buy 2 Get 3rd Free” offer on, so I flexed my self-discipline muscles and went to work studying the boxes’ contents. Although Thornton’s Continental has a special place in my mind’s “blissful things” file, I’ve never actually bought a box for home-use and I didn’t really know what was in it apart from a couple of real favourites.

To cut to the chase, I discovered that my very favourite Thornton’s chocolates now come in bags of a single type – like Quality Street have done with the purple and orange ones – so that’s what I went for. My two favourite centres. Then (because so far this was really only me catered for) I went off to the newsagent’s to fill in the gaps with Heroes and Terry’s chocolate orange, then on to M&S for a bar of dark chocolate. The 3-for-2 thing in Thornton’s (for anyone who’s really paying attention) meant I came away with three, and my plan is for the third to go to the local food bank collection.

It was great fun and I’m enjoying the thought of how nice those chocolates will be, come Christmas day. Which means more pleasure – my number one thing with food.

A chocolate shopping trip will be an annual event from now on.

Here’s my guide:

  1. Plan when you’re going to go chocolate buying. Write it in your diary and enjoy the anticipation
  2. Choose your favourite place to shop
  3. Be open-minded about what might turn out to be the most fabulous thing available
  4. Don’t fall for BOGOF or 3-for-2 offers unless you’re happy to give the extra unintended chocolates away or put them in the freezer
  5. Freeze what’s left by the time your festive season is finished
  6. Enjoy some vegetable-only meals over the festive season, choosing your favourite vegetable and perhaps a favourite sauce. I’ve written on this before here. I love these veg-only meals so much that they are now a regular feature of how I eat year-round.

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