I have a neighbour who has confessed to putting cheaper gin into an empty bottle of something a little more expensive for when certain guests visit. Don’t get me wrong, as he’s not mean. In fact, he is a very kind and generous fellow.
What we have in common is a rather gobby neighbour who loves gin and drinks like a fish. She claims she only drinks a certain brand and would never touch supermarket gin. She is the precise reason why he keeps a bottle of Tanqueray filled with Lidl’s own brand. He delights in the fact she can’t tell the difference and told me it serves her right for always arriving for drinks parties empty handed.
And what has this got to do with Christmas chocolate, you ask? If you are anything like me … lots!
Like my neighbour, I am also a generous soul. But I will most certainly not share my Charbonnel et Walker Pink Marc de Champagne chocolate truffles with visitors, especially at Christmas. My brother-in-law would swill it down with Jack Daniels and a small belch, my sister-in-law would sneer at the mention of champagne and their children would just smear them into the carpet.
I do not waste my beautiful chocolates on people who do not appreciate them. In fact, I have been known to rank my chocolate on the occasion as well as the likelihood to share. For example, a visit from an emotional friend needing red wine and comfort will get to share her body weight in Galaxy with me while I ease her pain. A gas engineer would be offered a two-finger Kit Kat with his cup of tea. When it comes to sharing chocolate, there are tiers of acceptability.
When it come to Christmas, I need to do some careful planning in the chocolate department. Tubs of Celebrations and Heroes are great for the office and visitors in general. A cheeky box of After Eight mints will be brought out after dinner in a kitsch kind of way, as they deliver such lovely smiles and recollections of dinner parties gone by, or even the cheesy TV adverts.
A box of Milk Tray used to be a Christmas staple, but I’m now happy to share these or even regift since Cadbury changed the recipe of the chocolate … I’m not the first person to describe them as oily.
I am prepared to share some chocolate, such as Orange Matchmakers. Unfortunately, my husband consumes them using the inhalation method, so to be sure I get my share I split the contents into ‘his’ and ‘hers’, enabling me to nibble at my half in my own time.
Boxes of Maltesers are also tricky, as again, he eats them much faster than me. If I share, I want my full share. I refuse to eat them at his speed, so again, these are shared equally. Although not an expensive treat, these are no longer shared with visitors after one Christmas I found my niece had nibbled off the chocolate and put the honeycomb back into the box.
Christmas would not be complete, however, without a Terry’s Chocolate Orange. This used to be my treasured childhood chocolate and is now a nostalgic tradition. Usually the first gift to be opened on Christmas Day, this treat will be devoured by Boxing Day.
The 1980s advert for this festive treat showed George, a husband left home alone and searching for his wife’s chocolate in an Indiana Jones themed offering. They later moved to the lovely Dawn French who was just as keen to keep this cheeky treat to herself, sharing it with no one.
Hiding your favourite chocolate is totally normal and acceptable behaviour, even more so at Christmas. I’m already in good company when it comes to protecting my chocolate stash, so there is no need to feel any guilt if you choose to store it out of sight. Just don’t forget where it’s hidden!