Haggie Partners’ is proud to support The Children’s Literacy Charity.
If you would like to make a donation please click here.

Ten awful Christmas jokes

Q: Why did Santa ban fizzy drinks from his workshop?

A: Because they were bad for his elf.

Q: Why are Christmas trees so bad at sewing?

A: They keep dropping their needles.

Q: What do you get when you cross a snowman with a vampire?

A: Frostbite.

Q: What is an elf’s favourite kind of music?

A: ‘Wrap’ music.

Q:  What do you get if you eat Christmas decorations?

A: Tinsillitis

Q: Who hides in a bakery at Christmas?

A: A mince spy

Q:  What do you get if you cross Santa with a duck?

A: A Christmas quacker

Q: What carol do they sing in the desert?

A: O Camel Ye Faithful

Q: Who’s Rudolph’s favourite singer?

A: Beyon-sleigh

Q: How did Scrooge win the football match?

A: The ghost of Christmas passed

The Children’s Literacy Charity

We are proud to support The Children’s Literacy Charity, who help disadvantaged children to catch up with their literacy.  This festive season, they are encouraging us all to ‘Love Literacy and Share the Joy’: if you would like to support their vital work please visit: https://thechildrensliteracycharity.org.uk/

Merry Christmas from Leadenhall Market

What’s the best Christmas chocolate tin according to Haggie Partners?

Three great places for last minute gift buying in the Square Mile

  1. Spitalfields

If you are looking for a unique gift you can’t beat Spitalfields. It has a host of independent market traders and some stylish high street brands.

Inspitalfields sells an eclectic mix of homeware, beauty, books, games and even garden items.  The shop is a showcase for handmade and quirky products.

It also has some beautiful coffee table books including this Lonely Planet guide that shares a host of bucket list experiences. At £19.99 it makes a nice gift for a family with grown up children.

For younger children, these nail stickers make a fun stocking filler at £12.00

The expanded Art’s Market offers an array of hand crafted gifts. Penny Grace Knitwear has a wide selection of colourful hat, scarf and glove sets made from soft lambswool. Gorgeous presents for all ages.

The Funky Yak also caught my eye with their brightly coloured collection of mobile, garlands and homeware.

If the high street is more your thing, then there are some great brands there including Benefit, Uniqlo and Anthropolgie UK

  1. Leadenhall Market

Leadenhall also has some good high street shops with a charming setting and a very welcome Alpine Bar selling mulled wine, marshmallow hot chocolate, mince pies and gingerbread man.

Waterstones have a book that addresses one of the key topics of the year….. apparently…..the Roman Empire. Mary Beard’s latest book on the Roman Empire, Emperor of Rome. £26.99. Shelia Hancock’s memoir Old Rage £18.99 would make a great gift for an older relative who’s not quite ready for slippers and shortbread.

For fans of magical wizarding worlds, you might want to browse Hoxton Street Monster Supplies.  The store sells a variety of ghoulish sounding store cupboard supplies, such as cubed earwax, organ marmalade and edible eyeballs

  1. The Royal Exchange

The Exchange has a beautiful setting and is the place to go for designer goods. Possibly more time is needed than your lunchtime, but they could save the day for Christmas Eve panic buying. Tiffany & Co  , Hermes, Jo Malone and my favourite Fortnum & Mason. This wooden advent calendar makes a lovely alternative to Fortnum’s hampers and would appeal to the whole family £110.

Decorating the Office Christmas Tree

Something different – a Christmas trip to Ypres

Laying a wreath for the fallen of WWI at the Menin Gate was the highlight of our December trip to Ypres, Belgium. With friends, we enjoyed the Christmas lights and Belgian chocolate delights for a long weekend of history, culture and mulled wine.

Friday 1 December 2023

Two cars, eight passengers travel from Dover to Dunkirk. A smooth two-hour crossing, followed by an hour’s drive to Ypres, arriving at 5pm.

After a quick check-in at the hotel, we were excited to see the Christmas market and source a nice steak and glass of red wine, or two.

Just as the order was taken, the Christmas market was officially opened by the annual Ypres Christmas carnival: fire eaters, floats, a band and dancers all paraded the streets in the market square. Just the other side of town another Ypres tradition was off the starting line… the vintage car rally.

Saturday 2 December 2023

Started the day with a scrumptious cooked breakfast before heading to Ploesteert, better known to the British Tommys as Plugstreet, the location of the famous WWI Christmas truce. A game of football was played here between the Germans and the English. The crisp winter morning made it feel very real as empathy flooded through us with what life was like on these grounds in December 1914 for so many.

With our heavy hearts full of the pain and devastation endured by many, our next stop was Le Gheer and Laurence Farm. This was the site of Churchill’s battalion from January 1916 to May 1916, where Churchill led the 6th Royal Scots. Cold to our core we stopped for a hot chocolate and croque monsieur (or gluten free pumpkin soup for moi!). This thawed us, ready to head back to Ypres town centre for an afternoon of Leffe and shopping.

As the evening drew in, we prepared ourselves to lay a Royal Anglian wreath at the Menin Gate. Our group of eight meant that only three could make the official laying of the wreath during the daily ceremony. My travel companions are all ex-serving army, standing alongside me with their medals and their memories.

These companions, my husband and my friends, had kindly given me the opportunity to lay the wreath on our behalf. They had voted for me in a secret little WhatsApp poll!

We arrived at the Menin Gate. Every person in the crowd listened as the Last Post was played by five uniformed trumpeters. The street remained silent as the wreaths were gently placed.

Sunday 3 December 2023

Another hearty cooked breakfast devoured as heavy snow fell.

As we headed in the direction of our ferry home leaving from Dunkirk, we made two stop-offs. First was the Bandhoek Cemetery where lies one of only three soldiers awarded the Victoria Cross twice.

Our second stop was for a cup of tea in the Talbot House, Poperinge. More commonly known as Toc H, this museum brings to life the oasis of civilisation it provided for soldiers of all ranks during the First World War.

With enough tea and banana bread to fuel the rest of our journey, we headed back to Dunkirk for the rocky English Channel crossing back home.

Hannah’s Christmas chocolate smash slab


  • 400g of milk or dark chocolate
  • 100g of white chocolate
  • A bunch of sweet things (I’ve used sprinkles, smarties and raspberries)

Step one:

  • Slowly bring water to a boil in small saucepan. Rest a small bowl on top of your pan, careful so that it doesn’t touch the water, and slowly melt the milk/dark chocolate. Stir occasionally.


Step two:

  • Using an A4 baking sheet, spread the melted chocolate across the baking tray as equally as you can.

Step three:

  • Now melt the white chocolate using the same method

Step four:

  • Using a spoon, flick the white chocolate across the top of the tray.

Step five:

  • Using a chopstick or straw, lightly stir through the combined chocolate to create a marble effect.


Step six:

  • Sprinkle your assortment of treats and leave to set for a few hours

Step seven:

  • Take out your hammer and release any stress by smashing your chocolate up into different sized pieces.

Et voila! A little slab of joy.

Decorating the Haggie Chirstmas tree

A Christmas quiz! Pt. 1 – Questions

  1. What is the traditional Christmas food in Japan?


  1. Where was the original St Nicholas (Santa Claus) born?


  1. What holiday was Jingle Bells originally written for?


  1. When was the first Christmas card sent in the UK?


  1. In which city would you find Wenceslas Square?


  1. The modern Santa Claus is mainly a mix of what two figures?


  1. What famous City landmark does Ebenezer Scrooge get his prize turkey from when he awakens a changed man in A Christmas Carol?


  1. Who created the first electric light Christmas display?

Christmas Quiz pt. 2 – Answers

  1. What is the traditional Christmas food in Japan?

Kentucky Fried Chicken

  1. Where was the original St Nicholas (Santa Claus) born?


  1. What holiday was Jingle Bells originally written for?


  1. When was the first Christmas card sent in the UK?

Allegedly, 1843, in an attempt by Sir Henry Cole to encourage ordinary people to use the new Post Office’s services

  1. In which city would you find Wenceslas Square?


  1. The modern Santa Claus is mainly a mix of what two figures?

Saint Nicholas (Sinterklaas in dutch) and Father Christmas, also if you said Odin I’d accept that too

  1. What famous City landmark does Ebenezer Scrooge get his prize turkey from when he awakens a changed man in A Christmas Carol?

Leadenhall Market

  1. Who created the first electric light Christmas display?

Thomas Edison. In 1880 he put up the first Christmas display made from electric lights to advertise his light bulbs. A few years later an inventor named Edward Johnson, a colleague of Thomas Edision, created the first string of Christmas lights. 

Hannah’s ridiculous things to try and make this festive season

Never one to shy away from a challenge, here are few of Hannah Stewart’s ideas for ridiculous canapes and sweet treats to make this festive season.

An (uncharacteristically) healthy tree treat

What you need:

  • Carrots for tree base and stars
  • Cucumber – use a potato peeler to create thin slices.
  • Cocktail stick – pierce through folded cucumber


Penguins on the march

What you need:

  • Olives – use for both the head and the body of the penguin. For the body, cut through without cutting in half
  • Cream cheese to fill the penguin’s body
  • Carrots – cut out small triangle to use for a beak. The remainder will become the feet
  • Cocktail stick

Chocolate orange slices

What you need:

  • Orange slices
  • Melted chocolate
  • Desiccated Coconut
  • A fridge

Christmas pudding bites

What you need:

  • Rice crispies
  • Milk and white chocolate & butter – melt together
  • Marshmallows – add to the melted chocolate and butter
  • Green and red icing
  • A fridge

The best veggie Christmas sandwiches of 2023

As a vegetarian, the Christmas season can leave you wanting more. For too long the only options for festive vegetarians have been Brie and Cranberry, a fine but safe choice. This year, however, the selection seemed the best yet and for your benefit, I have been out there trying them all. Let me know if you agree!

No Pigs under blankets – Sainsbury’s


Saying goodbye to pigs-in-blankets was one of those most devastating parts of becoming a vegetarian so this is a happy reunion! Fake meat still has a long way to go so this was not fooling anyone, but the cranberry jam was exactly what was needed to balance what could have been the very overpowering flavour of the meat substitutes. If this sandwich had some other Christmas dinner veggies it would truly be 10/10, but as it gives money to Comic Relief, I guess we will do it anyway!

No Turkey Feast – Coop


A fantastic selection of Christmas veggies and fake turkey that was actually tasty and cranberry chutney that went perfectly with the stuffing! Vegan gravy mayo is something I never thought would exist, but I was pleasantly surprised. The shocking realisation from this sandwich, however, is that parsnips have no place between bread!

Ho Ho Pest-Ho & Veg – M&S


I was enticed by the fun pun name and impressed by the flavours that followed. Admittedly butternut squash and bread are an unusual texture combination, but the flavourful pesto with the pickled onions was a fantastic combo. I would not say it was particularly festive, but I appreciate the attempt. It is so great to see another supermarket using these fun sandwiches to give back to great charities.

No Turkey Feast – Boots


Alas, every ranking must have a loser. The Christmas roast is a notoriously loved and flavourful meal; however, this sandwich did not seem to have any flavour at all! There are very few compliments I can give it. Luckily the red cabbage and carrots were a redeeming factor and have got me very excited for dinner on December 25th.

Dishonourable mention – Tesco’s

Tesco’s failed to produce an interesting Christmas themed vegetarian sandwich. A measly attempt was made with a Brie and Cranberry, but I felt it was so devastatingly uninteresting I did not bother to try it.

The best gluten free mince pies ranked by Haggie Partners

Mince pie taste testing in the office! Courtesy of Emma Brian, we tried a range of the gluten free mince pies and decided on our favourite. Find out the best below.

In fifth place:

Tesco free from – Mini mince pies 

This was everything that you expect a gluten free mince pie to be. The brittle shortcrust had the pie crumbling in your hand and once you finally managed to eat it, it was almost tasteless.

In fourth place: 

Sainsbury’s Taste the Difference 

These mince pies had a very weak crust that fell apart very easily. This was not helped by the fact that they really lacked filling.

In third place: 

Sainsbury’s free from – Mini mince pies 

A very average mince pie. It did not wow anyone, but it was structurally sound which seems to be enough to secure 3rd place.

In second place: 

Waitrose free from – 2nd

This pie was a pleasant surprise. It had a tasty and generous filling but fell short on shortcrust as it was slightly hard and lacked the buttery, rich flavour seen in 1st place.

In first place and a clear Haggie Partners favourite:

Tesco Finest – All butter mince pies 

This could have been a normal mince pie. The buttery shortcrust had a rich taste, and the filling was flavourful. You could hardly tell it did not have any gluten.

Volunteering at Christmas

For many, Christmas is a time of peace and joy spent with family, friends and copious good food and wine. For some though, Christmas can be about loneliness, homelessness, or hunger. There are so many local voluntary groups, or church activities which truly make a difference to bringing some Christmas cheer to the vulnerable. Volunteering at Christmas is one of the most valuable things you can do, be it for a day or more:

  1. Trussell Trust

Every year, volunteers give their time, skills and compassion to support the Trussell Trust and food bank network.

  1. Crisis at Christmas

The biggest volunteering operation across the nation every Christmas takes place in Crisis’s day centres and rough sleeper centres. There are volunteer roles for drivers, musicians, cooks, good listeners, and more. Applications now open.

  1. Age UK

Age UK has highlighted that nearly 1.5 million older people feel lonelier at Christmas than at any other time of the year. Get involved through befriending a local elderly person in your community, or making time for a weekly Christmas call with an older person.

4            The London Basket Brigade

The London Basket Brigade brings hundreds of volunteers together on 23rd December to pack and deliver food hampers to families in London struggling to put food on the table over Christmas.

5            Do-it-org  

Many small charities are looking for reliable, friendly volunteers over Christmas and throughout the year. Search the national volunteering database for the latest opportunities near you.

An especially happy Christmas to all volunteers.

Spot the partners hidden in the Haggie Christmas tree

Christmas jumper day at the office

Damian Beeley’s Christmas cocktail masterclass

Bec’s top five Christmas songs

1.Christmas (baby please come home) – Darlene Love (1963)

2.Christmas Time (Don’t Let the Bells End) – The Darkness (2003)

3.Wonderful Christmas Time – Paul McCartney (1979) 

4.Jingle Bell Rock – Bobby Helms (1957) 

5.Stay Another Day – East 17 (1994) 

Maz’s top five Christmas songs

1.White Christmas – Bing Crosby

2.Feliz Navidad – José Feliciano

3.Santa Claus is Coming to Town – Jackson 5 

4.Driving Home for Christmas – Chris Rea

5.Do They Know It’s Christmas? – Band Aid

Lynda Caravello’s vintage Christmas ornaments

Today we have a special guest appearance from Acrisure Re’s global head of marketing and TikTok thrifting celebrity, Lynda Caravello.

Lynda looks for vintage Christmas ornaments at thrift stores or estate sales and then displays them in vintage bowls around her house for cost-effective decorating.

You can find her full video on shopping for vintage Christmas ornaments here or see below for some of her best finds this year.

Peter Rigby’s ‘rip-off’ Christmas recipe

Gav’s top five beers to drink at Christmas (and at any other point of the year)

 We hope you enjoyed this year’s Advent calendar! Here’s to next year’s.

Until then, merry Christmas from all of us here at Haggie Partners!