What dried fruit
If you’re going to do some of the dried fruit things, your next question is make or buy?
- The cheapest option is to buy budget supermarket offerings.
- If you’re after high quality and low effort, there are plenty of boutique offerings (for boutique prices).
- If you want flexibility and don’t mind paying for it, you can cook your own. (This might be because you want a good range of fruit in your tarts or you want a pudding that’s free of sulphites or you like to use your grandmother’s fruitcake recipe.)
If you are going to cook your own, get out your recipes now and put the dried fruit ingredients on your “watch out for” shopping list because dried fruit will easily keep for a year so, if you see it at a rock bottom price, snap it up.
Christmas Day 1970: Nanna had the most under the tree: as well as gifts from her children and her older grandchildren, she had presents from neighbours and piano students too. We adored her and I was a little sorry that so many of the offerings were so dull: hankies, soap and biscuits. But Nanna kept scented soap in her linen cupboard as if it were lavender so she was quite happy and said you could never have too much. (And, with her impressive stores of pillowslips, she could indeed soak up a lot of scented product.)
 Not steal. Back when my ex-neighbour Gustav was still working as a security guard at an upmarket food hall, he caught an old lady with a tin of shortbread, half a dozen mince tarts and a box of glâcé fruit in her capacious handbag and a family sized plum pudding under her sunhat. (It was the hat that drew his suspicions: it didn’t sit right.) He intended to throw the book at her but the manager didn’t want to spoil her Christmas and even sent her home with a little Christmas cake he was sure she couldn’t afford but Gustav says he saw her in January paying cash for expensive cheeses and chocolates.
 My brother-in-law Don says that if you make a good brandy custard, you can skimp on the pudding, and if you make a really good brandy custard, your pudding could be mostly sawdust and you’d still be happy.
 My sister Wendy sneers at the products of one popular bakery which, she says, are almost entirely sultana and shouldn’t be allowed to be called fruit mince.
 So it’s a good food for your fallout bunker (along with baked beans and honey. You’ll eat like a king).
 All things that your parents were supposed to provide for you and hence not fair game as presents.