Christmas in Belgium

This giveaway is now closed. The winner was Nickie Chapman, North London.

Today’s Christmas Giveaway is for an amazing Interflora Essential Christmas Hamper RRP £100. Find out what’s inside and how to enter at the bottom of this post.

But first here are some Christmassy photos from a December trip to Belgium.

The great thing about a weekend getaway to Brussels is that the hotels are such good value.

As the centre of the European Parliament, the hotels are expensive during the week when all the bureaucrats are about. Come Saturday night they’ve all gone home and the hotels are selling off their rooms very cheaply.

That’s not to say Brussels isn’t a place for tourists, December especially sees the streets surrounding the Grand Place filled with atmospheric Christmas Markets.

You can get a very good four star hotel room in the centre of Brussels for under £100 per night including breakfast, we booked Hotel Windsor using We had driven from the UK and parked overnight in an underground car park near the Grand Place for around 12 euros.

This was 4 years ago now but I have been researching trips to Belgium more recently and know this hotel at weekend would be phenomenally good value even now. Bruges on the other hand, is very pricey, very difficult to book at weekends near Christmas since its proximity to Calais makes it very busy for “booze cruisers”.

Brussels is worth the extra hour’s drive. We were able to leave Brussels at around 4pm on Sunday and using Eurotunnel still be home for a reasonable 9pm and not be too tired for work the following day.

In the hotel lobby, we were captivated by this village of gingerbread houses. I vowed to make one myself but to this day have not yet managed to do so.

Aren’t they gorgeous?

The lobby was filled with smell of gingerbread, it was so welcoming. I think these are the best gingerbread houses I have ever seen.

As a food blogger, taking this many pictures would be normal but this was a long time before so that gives you an idea what an impression they made on me!

Time now to enter the Interflora Essential Christmas Hamper giveaway…

Interflora Essential Christmas Hamper RRP £100 Giveaway

Interflora Hampers make ideal last minute gifts for far away relatives and friends. They vary in price from around £25 to £200 for all budgets and all tastes.

We have an Interflora Essential Christmas Hamper to give away to one lucky reader and it contains the following treats for the festive season and beyond:

  • Presented in a Wicker Hamper
  • Robin Reed Handmade Concerto Musical Crackers x 8
  • Pinot Grigio Il Papavero Italy 2008 75cl
  • Primitivo Il Papavero Italy 2007 75cl
  • Warres Warrior Special Reserve Port 37.5cl
  • Waterthins Crunchy Sourdough Poppy & Cracked Pepper Cheese Twists 110g
  • Chocca Mocca Real Raspberries Dipped in Fine Dark Chocolate 100g
  • Sally Williams Soft Nougat Pieces with Roasted Almonds 150g
  • Walkers Luxury Milk Chocolate Orange Royal Shortbread 125g
  • Thursday Cottage Handmade Blood Orange Marmalade 340g
  • Twinings Coffee Blends Intense & Enlivening Coffee 227g
  • The Jolly Good Pickle Company Poachers Chutney 200g
  • The Jolly Good Pickle Company Cranberry Sauce 200g
  • Thursday Cottage Handmade Raspberry Jam 340g
  • Farmhouse Biscuits Assorted Butter Biscuits 400g
  • Walkers Luxury Miniature Mincemeat Tarts 225g
  • Just Chocolates Fine Chocolate Selection 125g
  • Gold Crown Delicious Christmas Pudding 454g
  • Olives Et Al Sesame Nuts 200g

There is one mandatory way to enter and several ways to get bonus entries.

This giveaway is only open to readers based in the UK. With other giveaways I’ve said you can still enter if you are overseas provided you have a friend with a UK mailing address and forward the parcel on yourself at your own cost. This prize will weigh A TON. You would be nuts to try and mail this to yourself overseas. Therefore, I suggest you sit this one out! Sorry guys!

The winner will be chosen using an online randomiser and announced in a subsequent post on this blog – the winners of several of the 12 giveaways will be will announced together across 2-3 posts according to their closing dates.

To win:

1. Mandatory. Leave a comment below telling me what your essential foodie Christmas item is.

2. Second chance to win, follow this blog using the Google Friend Connect widget in the right hand side bar and leave a second comment saying you have done so.

3. Third chance to win, tweet a link to this giveaway as follows: “Win @interflorauk Essential Christmas Hamper RRP £100 @maisoncupcake” WITH A LINK TO THIS POST as it may no longer be the home page item if you enter later this week. Then leave another comment saying you’ve done so telling me your Twitter ID.

I’ll also throw in extra entries if you leave comments to say you are following @interflorauk on Twitter.

You must leave a further separate comment for each bonus entry otherwise they cannot be selected in the draw.

Closing date: midnight GMT on Sunday December 19th 2010.

The winner will be notified by email. If the winner does not reply within 48 hours, a new winner will be drawn. Please reply promptly to increase the likelihood of you receiving your prize before Christmas.
Good luck everyone!

Prize sponsored by Interflora

Also up for grabs during the Maison Cupcake 12 Days of Christmas Giveaways:

Waitrose Christmas goodies RRP £35 Closed

Green & Black’s Ultimate Chocolate Chef gift set Closed

Nigella Living Collection Measuring Cups Closes Jan 16 (bloggers’ competition, international)

Alex Polizzi’s Little Black Book of Hotels Closes Dec 14

Sainsbury’s Different by Design cookware Closes Dec 15

Chai Caramels from Matcha Chocolat INTERNATIONAL Closes Dec 16

Eric Lanlard’s “Home Bake” from Octopus Books

Cookware from Jamie Oliver and Mum et Moi

Don’t forget to come back tomorrow to see which prize is next!


  1. Simon says

    Looks like I am first… ooeer

    My christmas foodie essential is a tricky one. I think it is probably a bottle of spiced rum. I splash it in lots of things – but it gives a particular zing to my rum butter (which I have to have with christmas pud and mince pies – not brandy butter!)

  2. Nikki says

    I think my chrissy food essential has to be…bucks fizz. A glass of bucks fizz on christmas morning with a bacon roll before scrummaging under the tree for the presents! I love christmas and although this year employment issues mean we have less to spend this year, it will still be magical as we still have each other and our friends and family. Hope everyone has a great christmas and lets hope 2011 brings us a fresh start and new adventures. x

  3. Bridget says

    I’d say I’ve got two essentials, good quality cheese (preferably Stilton) and some nice Scotch. The Scotch has become a standing joke with my family so that I get given 2 bottles every Christmas in lieu of other gifts and to keep me going through the year. My family works on the gift motto of ‘eat it, drink it read it’ and I’m pretty happy with my ‘drink it’.

  4. Jo Orr says

    Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without my home made turkey stuffing. Sausagemeat,stuffing mix, chopped apples and onions and a few bacon lardons – the family would rather eat just the stuffing and not bother with the turkey!!

  5. Sharon A says

    My Christmas foodie essential is definitely homemade chestnut & cranberry stuffing and also a good bread sauce :)

  6. Jo Bryan says

    Goose Fat for my potatoes is an essential.
    Thanks so much, really loving the articles as much as the gorgeeous giveaways. I feel so Christmassy looking at the pictures on here and reading the posts.

  7. wendy mcdonald says

    Christmas isn’t Christmas without brussell sprouts! Not a popular choice I’m sure, but they are just so evocative of the festive season. I buy them fresh on the stalk and the children help to prepare them!

  8. says

    Ooo, you can’t have Christmas without Cranberry Sauce, surely??
    Entry one- comment- check.
    Entry two- follow you- check.
    Entry three- tweet- check @domesticgoddesq
    Entry three (b)- follow interflora- check.
    Keep fingers crossed hoping to win- check!

  9. Charlotte Hoskins says

    My essential Christmas Food has got to be that big old tin of chocs – whatever your fave is really. Christmas evening wouldn’t be the same without trying to get through the whole tin and being surrounded by wrappers ;o)
    I’ve tweeted too @charbarcrazy

  10. Kerry Farrow says

    My essential food item is a chocolate log made by my mum! Christmas is not christmas without a chocolate log!

    Tweeted @NFZ0809LOVE

    Already follow your blog!


  11. Rhoda Kellar says

    My essential is amaretto. I use it in lots of the Christmassy treat – cherry liqueur chocolates, ice cream, liqueur coffees to name but a few.

  12. says

    My favourite christmas foodie item is mulled wine! I LOVE it! I’m not a big wine fan generally but mulled wine; home made or M&S’s, I absolutely can’t resist – what’s not to love about hot, spiced wine??

  13. mazz mullarkey says

    Mine would have to be my own homemade sausage meat! Always goes down a treat and I think many people forget about it over christmas,but I absolutely love!

  14. Deer Baby says

    My essential Christmas foodie item is/are Clementines – with the leaves on. We always put one in the stockings, have a big bowl of them and juice them with Cava for breakfast.

    Look at those deer on the big wheel – how pretty. I love those gingerbread houses – I did attempt one last year and it suffered from subsidence. The walls had to be shored up with a lot of icing but it looked pretty.

    Love that ice rink. What a great trip to go on. I always say I’ll go to one of the Christmas markets.

    Following Interflora.

  15. zoe allen says

    My product would be the gingerbread house we make every year technically its not a foodie item but i love the fact that the kids and me all make it together and get to have fun in the kitchen without any squabbles and eating the finished product after christmas is always good!

    I have completed all the steps above tweeting as @zoenmya

    And thankyou for such generous giveaways

  16. says

    Cheese! It has to be cheese! Imagine Christmas without the port, grapes, chutney, cured meats and cheese! Not worth thinking about.

    Not sure if this would be classed as a foodie item, but fresh cinnamon bark as well. Can’t have Christmas without cinnamon!

    Hamper sounds lovely by the way!

  17. Kim Allen says

    Ummmmm I guess the most essential to me would be some really good dark chocolate to make hot drinks with! Topped with cream or marshmallows, there’s nothing nicer to wind down with at the end of the day and over christmas who cares about all those extra calories 😉

  18. Sarah Jay says

    My fav food has got to be my uncles home made banoffee cheesecake that he makes for us every Xmas without fail. My mouths watering thinking about it lol. Following your blog, and posted on twitter too. Fingers crossed I win as this would make my Xmas. Thanks @misssarahjay

  19. Kim Allen says

    I’ve used the google friend connect, I know it’s a different email but it’s the only way i know how to do it, you can tell it’s me by the pic though 😀

  20. jade phillips says

    My christmas foodie essential is sausages and bacon from my local farm shop to make the pigs in blankets as for me they are the best thing on a christmas dinner! Have retweeted, followed :)

  21. says

    My important foodie essential used to be Mum’s Christms Cake, very lovely, very secret recipe and very boozy. She is no longer with us and nobody can do it quite as well.

    I love chocolate logs – just something very magical about them for some reason, easy enough to make and look lucsious.

  22. Sharon Hingley says

    My essential foodie item is my Norfolk Bronze Turkey not only for christmas day but to make a scrummy family recipe Turkey & Ham pie on boxing day and a turkey curry for all that drop by.

  23. Suzanne Heath says

    I think its got to be pigs in blankets. For me it epitomizes Christmas dinner. The hamper looks amazing. I’ve tweeted the comp too, thanks x

  24. says

    Essential Christmas foodie item would probably be some decent cava for making Christmas morning Buck’s Fizz. It’s just not Christmas if you’re not very slightly merry by lunchtime (oh that sounds terrible, but true).

  25. Beth says

    My fave foodie thing about Christmas is munching on the bacon that’s been protecting the turkey breast while it’s been slowly roasting overnight. Yummy!!

  26. Anne says

    Sausages wrapped in bacon, cook them up for brekkie with a glass of bucks fizz – wouldn’t be Xmas without them

  27. Rhian says

    I’m also following @interflorauk

    Many thanks for running this fab comp! I’ve got my fingers crossed! x


  28. says

    My essential foodie item for chrimbo has to be our gingerbread house – I make one every year and then stock up on sweeties galore so me and my boys can decorate to their hearts content!

  29. Julie Johnson says

    Essential foodie food would have to be all sorts of different Cheese’s and crackers with Cranberry jelly or my mates home made Marrow & Garlic Chutney, and just pig out on that,mmmm

  30. Kelly Young says

    my essential christmas food would have to be my mum’s bake wells she bakes every year and her chocolate buns mmmm they taste like heaven :)

  31. Jan Ashenden says

    My Christmas foodie essential is a lovely slice of Christmas cake – well soaked in brandy, with a good layer of marzipan – yum

  32. T Westwood says

    my yule essential is home-made white bread to make those days of turkey and redcurrant sarnies more than a practical using up of left-overs.

  33. Sarah Laycock says

    Drum Roll – Wait for it whilst he adjusts his crown and sorts out his stuffing. Have you guessed it – TURKEY!

  34. Jane Willis says

    Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without Brussels Sprouts. Not just because they are one of my favourite vegetables, but as families grow up and food fashions change, the other elements of the Christmas feast vary and grow more sophisticated. The one element of thre meal that has been constsnt all my life is a lovely great pile of sprouts.

  35. Jane Willis says

    I’ve tweeted, am follwing your blog, and amfollowing both you and Interflora on Twitter. My Twitter name is @compergrapevine

  36. maria louth says

    mines got to be the Christmas pud it’s only me that eats it in our house but i have to buy one every year :)

  37. Nina Greaves says

    Slices of locally sourced pork pie and mustard for breakfast, washed down with champagne bucks fizz :)

  38. Andrew Sheppard says

    Turkey, of course! Roast on Christmas Day itself, cold with pickles on Boxing Day, then in sandwiches for the rest of the week! There’s only the two of us, so it takes days to eat it all!

  39. Lisa King says

    Following blog :)

    My essential xmas food would have to be mini sausage rolls which we always have on boxing day :)
    Tweeting too @lisanorfolk and already follow interflora :)

  40. Chris Cleave says

    Essential item – streaky bacon wrapped round smoked cheese, to go with the turkey – could not imagine Xmas without them now!

  41. Joanne Ogden says

    Sprouts. I know they are contraversial but I love them at Christmas cooked with shredded savoy cabbage, pancettaand roasted chestnuts. Yum

  42. Billie says

    For me it has to be Stilton (and of course a good bottle of port to go with it). Christmas wouldn’t be the same without it.

  43. nicci cowdell-murray says

    my essential item is christmas pudding , its yummy and i hate having to wait a wholoe year to eat it lol

  44. maxime goodwin says

    has to be the old prawn cocktail starter! also selection of cheese’s washed down with a glass or 2 of port yum

  45. Julie Kenny says

    Thanks for the chance to win Xx @relisys222

    My Christmas foodie essential is brandy sauce xx

  46. Lyndsey Brett says

    Chilli powder!!
    Because I’m not a fan of christmas food, I find it so bland! I’m much happier with a chilli or curry on christmas day rather than a christmas dinner!
    (washed down with lots of wine, followed by too much chocolate)

  47. Laraine Spiteri says

    Essential Foodie Christmas Item, well that would have to be Sainsburys Cointreau cream, really essential for the mince pies and the organic christmas pud! So Moreish!

  48. kayleigh white says

    My essential xmas item is mince pies…of course with some brandy cream – yummy. Following you on twitter @avoidorange

  49. says

    My Christmas essential has got to be my Dad’s Christmas Cake recipe, which since he’s now gone I have taken over the traditional of making. It’s rich, fruity & full of brandy, it tastes of Christmas!
    I love the pictures of the gingerbread village, I’ve just made one for the first time this year! x

  50. Vanessa Cox says

    My essential Christmas food is chocolate truffles! I usually make my own but I also buy some in shops too :) My special treat once a year :)

  51. Jane Wright says

    There are many smells and tastes that are “Christmas”, but the one thing I can’t think of doing without is several glasses of Harveys Bristol Cream whilst cooking the festive feast. Following you on Twitter and have retweeted. @compnut

  52. Julie Davies says

    Has to be brussels sprouts, only time of year they get eaten but wouldn’t be Christmas dinner without them

  53. says

    Cinnamon and Orange Brady. I soak it into the christmas cake, and the Christmas pudding,
    Because It makes a fab gift, & I make brandy butter with it. It is the base of a fab christmas cocktail mixed with ginger beer and I use the brandy butter mixed with currents to make my Christmas Eccles cakes. and Cinnamon
    wards off colds and flu and viruses .. so it’s medicinal too.

  54. says

    Although Christmas dinner wouldn’t be Christmas dinner without the turkey the thing I’d miss most of all was Christmas pudding…..that is Christmas to me. Although I usually keep a stash and have it a couple of times during the year too. :)

  55. Katherine says

    My essential Christmas foodie item is my mother in-law’s ham hock … she does it every year and I only have it once a year!

  56. stephanie Taylor says

    my two christmas essentials are brussel sprouts with my christmas dinner and a nice bit of stilton and crackers for pud :o) yum

  57. Lisa Clayton says

    My fave is Christmas Yule Log-an essential tradition for Christmas eve that always makes me feel like Christmas is finally here and the celebrations are about to start!

  58. hannah griffin says

    It’s got to Blue cheese. It tastes so wrong and yet so right. It wouldn’t be crimbo without it

  59. Linda Revell says

    My favourite is Christmas cake. I make it myself and it’s always a Christmassy pleasure to tuck into it on Christmas Day.

  60. says

    My essential foodie Christmas item is a single, red & white striped, peppermint candy cane. I absolutely NEED to have one for it to be Christmas, but more than one is just too sickly sweet. Unfortunately it’s difficult as they come in boxes of 12-18!

  61. Naomi Wallis says

    Duck Fat for roasting up the best tatties!!!! oh and lashings of Bread Sauce on that Turkey!!!!!

  62. Kim Coate says

    i love all christmas food, but if i have to pick a favourite then its got to be the christmas pudding with lashes of cream

  63. Renate Kriegler Edwards says

    Christmas fruit cake. That is my one absolutely indispensable essential. We have tried all sorts alternatives for the meal, but the Christmas cake gets baked every year – preferable in June/July!

  64. Renate Kriegler Edwards says

    Aw Guess who really really really wants the hamper… I am now following @InterfloraUK as @RenateKriegler xxx

  65. Roy Holbrook says

    It is Gingerbread houses for us from the German Xmas market in Manchester every year. Its now a household tradition…

  66. Lisa Armstrong says

    My boyfriend is Brazilian, so we enjoy traditional Brazilian sweets called ‘Brigadeiro’, made from chocolate and condensed milk. They are delicious, and they really make him feel at home at Christmas !

  67. Alison Tripp says

    My must have food for Christmas is sprouts, love them or hate them they are a must for Christmas day.

  68. Cristina says

    Christmas essential: custard – it always gets forgotten and we all prefer it on our Christmas pud

  69. Ann-Marie Titley says

    My essental Christmas Foodie is homemade cranberry sauce. My hand always seems to shake when I pour in the port so it is always nice and boozy.

  70. Rosemary says

    My essential christmas foodie item is Christmas cake, served with strong cheddar cheese and an apple, all washed down with mulled wine. You just can’t imagine them together, but they really work.

  71. colin joyce says

    Hi my Christmas favorite food has to be mince pies i love um i could almost be a mince pie addict all you mince pie makers please make more more more MERRY PIEMASS ALL

  72. Simon says

    Mine would have to be a rich, moist Christmas cake, bursting with fruit and served with a wedge of Colston Bassett Stilton. Christmas on a plate.

  73. Annabel says

    Please enter me in the competition. My favourite foodie Christmas item has to be the brandy butter to go with the Christmas pudding

    Thank you very much for your post and reviving those lovely memories. I grew up on the Continent. As Hansel & Gretel was one of my favourite stories, my Grandmother use.d to make me a big gingerbread house every Christmas, which I would take to school and share with my classmates.

  74. says

    BREAD SAUCE…that is all! I adore bread sauce and Christmas would just NOT be Christmas without it, for me anyway :-)

    I follow and I will also tweet from @mummysshoes x

  75. Sarah says

    Essential Christmas foodie has to be Tunis cake – with HARD chocolate covering, none of the fondant chocolate nonsense that’s on the Mark & Spencer variety. Tesco do a nice one but they fly off the shelves as soon as the stock goes out. Every year it’s the same. The whole family, up and down the country is on high alert from the beginning of December. The first person to spot them buys as many as they can carry home. My sister drew the short straw this year and had to carry four home on the bus!

  76. Sue Harrison says

    Pigs in blankets, made at home with our local butchers prize winning sausages ( not the mass produced shop ones)

  77. Deborah Ryall says

    It would have to be the old christmas pudding – it covers everything for me, its sweet, fruity, lots of alchol and top it off with extra thick fresh cream – roll on Christmas Day

  78. Maya Russell says

    The essential food at Christmas dinner is the gravy, for sure! I can’t imagine turkey, roast potatoes… without.

  79. Emily Hutchinson says

    It’s got to be mince pies, so simple but so very Christmassy – especially hot from the oven covered in cream

  80. amelia says

    My foodie must have is ALWAYS christmas pudding i cant get enough!
    Tweeted with link.
    Followed on Facebook.
    Tweeted Follow Interflora.
    Done done done 😀
    Good luck FANTASTIC prize xxxxxxxxxxxxxx

  81. donna baxter says

    my essential Christmas item would have to be a King Prawn Ring – already purchased and sitting in the freezer waiting

  82. Wendy Collard says

    My essential Christmas food item is pigs in blankets, delicious but we never seem to have it any other time of year, don’t know why! ~x~

  83. Matthew Bramwell says

    The essential christmas food has to be turkey! Its just a plate of vegetables if not 😛

  84. Ursula Bingham says

    My essential food item at Christmas has to the turkey. It always takes pride of place on the table surrounded by all the trimmings. Mmmmmmmm.

  85. Steph Morris says

    Wensleydale cheese with Cranberries. I can eat it by the pound, and have to be very disciplined and only buy it around Christmas time.

  86. Sarah Williams says

    Bread sauce, its the only time that I have bread sauce with my turkey dinner and I love it.

  87. Nickie C says

    Eggnog. I love it and while it’s not easy to find in the UK, when I do find it, I’m so very pleased!

  88. Kathryn Waites says

    my essential Christmas Item has to be mulled wine – just the thing after a long winter walk!

  89. Linda Hine says

    has to be Christmas pudding with lots of cream – when else could you down so many calories at once and not feel guilty about it?

  90. Louise Pearce says

    Sage and onion stuffing. It’s essential for the christmas roast and is absolutely essential for the turkey and stuffing sandwiches the next day!

  91. Caroline Eccles says

    I love the sausages that i cook inside the turkey overnight on Xmas eve, and eating them for breakfast on Xmas day is lovely

  92. Loma Wood says

    I always treat myself to a bar of Cadburys Dairy Milk Chocolate. It is the only time I eat chocolate now but we had a sweetie shop when I was small and it bring back such good memories of my lovely parents.

  93. Julie Wood says

    My essential Christmas foodie item
    Is a homemade Christmas Pud
    All the kids muck in as we bake together
    And it usually tastes rather good

    You see Christmas isn’t Christmas
    Without one
    Made with lots of love and fun
    And that to a Mum is essential
    so it’s my Christmas Foodie No. 1

  94. kim corke says

    It has to be the gorgeous selection of cheeses and biscuits for sitting on the floor at midnight having a munch

  95. Sharon Bell says

    I would love to win this hamper it looks gorgeous! My essential christmas food item would be the Christmas Pudding..yum yum!

  96. dmon says

    a turkey (avec crispy skin) and stuffing granary loaf sarnie and a good slab of belgian chocolate; failing that, gimme a bottle of blind monkey whiskey and some jamaican ginger beer!

  97. Penny Wilsher says

    Mine has to be boxing day lunch, cold meats, bubble and squeak and pickles. Christmas would not be christmas without it.

  98. Andrea Taylor says

    Mince Pies warmed with brandy butter on top- always feels like christmas has arrived with the first mince pie!

  99. Sharon Curran says

    It has to be a lovely honey roasted 454gammon joint – lovely with christmas dinner and can be used cold for Boxing day sandwiches :o)

  100. Belinda Matthews says

    My essential food item would be the chocolate selection boxes we all recieve in our stockings, christmas is the one day you can eat chocolate for breakfast

  101. heather gilbertson says

    Lots of weird and wonderful flavoured cheeses, for a family cheese night. One year I found a chocolate cheese, but there doesnt seem to be as many strange flavours around any more, shame.