Christmas Gifts for Culture Lovers: Outdoor Socialising Edition
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It seems that outdoor socialising will be with us for a while longer. Now, in the northern hemisphere, when the temperatures are dropping toward freezing, sitting outdoors with friends and family for extended periods is becoming a bit more difficult
For this Christmas gifts post, I thought I’d put together a list of things that help keep me socialising outside, in comfort, even during the coldest winter months. I won’t talk about clothing and layering – if you live in the Northern Hemisphere – then you already know about that.
I do hope you find something in my list that will enrich your and your loved ones' outdoor social lives during the next few months.
Wishing you all the very best for your health and happiness.
Eating and Drinking Outside: The Kit
One of the best ways to keep warm outside is to eat and drink lovely hot things. Unfortunately, you can’t guarantee you'll be able to find something at a nearby kiosk or cafe. My solution is to bring my own supplies using light, easy to carry and easy to clean kit.
I took this photo last winter, on my of my walks.
Since the clocks have changed, I’ve taken to having a lot of lunch time winter picnics outdoors with friends and family. In an English winter, when it gets dark in the early afternoon, taking an hour for lunch outdoors might be the only time I spend outside during the daylight hours.
Double walled food pots
These little thermos style pots make fantastic and reasonably priced gifts. They come in a myriad of colours and will please instagram-conscious teens and all sorts of outdoorsy types.
I've bought these for myself as well as giving them as gifts. While they're not specifically for food, I've been using them for food and so far, they've worked really well though I should say that I always pack them in a way that keeps them upright. I don't fully trust the silicone seal at the top.
I have number of titanium, long handled sporks and they are surprisingly useful. Titanium sporks are super light - they barely add any weight to your bag and the long handles make it easy to reach into your thermal pot.
They also make surprisingly good salad tossers - much better than those huge, clumsy things that seem designed to fling your salad across the table.
Keeping warm for longer periods, especially if you are sitting still, means hot drinks. I have a large one for tea and for boiling water - to make up food on the go - see below!
I have a small dedicated two person thermos, for those days when I want to have a coffee with a friend, outdoors. Despite what thermos and other manufacturers say, I can always taste a thermos that has held coffee - so I keep one like this for coffee only.
Al Fresco: The Food
I don’t have the extra energy to cook delicious food to pack for outdoor picnics during the week. So, I’ve found a few solutions which means that I can be ready for an outdoor picnic, with hot, quite nice food in a few minutes.
One brand of food I use for week day outdoor lunches in winter is Huel's new hot and savoury freeze dried meals. If my destination is close by, then I'll make up the meal in the my food pot to bring with me. If not, I'll take it in the pot dry, and make it up with my thermos when I get there - it takes less than 5 minutes.
For those who are used to eating beautiful home cooked food, then these meals will taste a little bit bland. Adding 1/2 tsp of good, appropriate spice mix to each one meal, along with a pinch of salt, livens things up a lot.
While no freeze dried meal can replace a freshly and lovingly made home cooked meal, these Huel meals are much better than a shop bought sandwich or something similar.
The other brand I use is Firepot - which is great and used by explorers the world over. It is a lot more expensive per meal than Huel though - which may be an issue if you plan to eat it regularly.
One bag = one meal - which is £6.95 here
A bag of Huel or Firepot along with a titanium spork would make quite a thoughtful, useful and unusual Christmas gift.
My final gift suggestion for yourself or a loved one is my favourite brand of hand warmers. A pack of hand warmers, along with some of the other suggestions in this list, makes a very practical and useful gift. The packaging is fully recyclable.
Feature image by Genessa Panainte.
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