Here’s the stuff you should mug Father Christmas for this year.
Despite sounding more like a jet fighter’s call sign than a bottle of something delicious, this big bottle of bubbles tastes like one large, fizzy dream. This is top-notch champers and, though it’s a marque not so well known this side of the Channel, its France’s best-loved and most popular bubbly. If you’re looking to impress a Yuletide yummy this year, this is our prime pick for a bottle to toast the season.
Sound Blaster Tactic3D Rage USB, £49.99
If you’ve just shelled out on a new next-gen console, there’s every chance you’re going to need some audio support to push your gaming experience to the next level. These puppies deliver some serious sounds to your frontal lobes while also cleverly cutting out external noise. A cunningly detachable microphone – handy for online multiplayer chatter – is just the job, too.
KEF LS50 Speakers, £800
With old-school vinyl still all the rage, what better way to spruce up your system than a pair of two-channel crackers like these KEF LS50s. They’re small and discreet, but pack a whopping punch when partnered with a like-minded amp. Sure, you’re paying a pretty packet, but it’s longevity you’re getting here, and they’ll still be kicking out the jams long after you’ve tired of your newfound lust for '80s synth pop artists.
Ruby Blue Fruity Liquors, £14.99
Bring a bit of colour to your cheeks - and your glass - this Christmas with a bottle of Ruby Blue Fruity Liquor from Hughes Craft Distillery. This fruit-filled alcoholic elixir is the bedevilment of neat grain booze coupled with a choice of three different lush berries. Or, if you’re feeling fiery, there’s a chilli variety to spice a night up. Mix a nip of Blackberry with champagne for a cracking Kir Royale cocktail, or add some balls to your Bloody Mary with a slug of the Chilli Pepper.
Fisheye Pro Lens, £32
This pocket-sized lightweight lens magnetically gums itself to pretty much every mobile phone’s camera, transforming your average snaps into crazy fisheye shots. If you’ve always enjoyed the way gill-based life forms see the world, this is a worthy addition to your handset’s toys.
Nerdtendo GameBooze 8oz Flask, £12.56
We’re not sure this portable booze-bringer will win too many fair hearts this Christmas, but it’s sure to buy you brownie points with your game buddies, and any moustachioed plumbers in blue overalls you might happen upon. No prizes for sussing this mini liquor barrel is modelled on Nintendo’s iconic handheld, though sadly it will not play Tetris. It will hold enough of your favourite brew to leave you with a rosy glow while also rendering you the talking point of many a park bench… we’re sure you’re not overly desperate for tramp approval, but hey, it’s good to be popular. Now press Start and get swigging that hooch.
Bateman’s Christmas Ale, £2.99
Sorry, those of you who read that too quickly – this is not Batman’s homebrew. Instead, this heady brew apparently lay forgotten at the back of the Bateman’s brewery for over 30 years, and was only happened upon by chance. Once tasted, the family-run grog makers knew it was a winner and set about its reintroduction. Widely available in German uber-bargain supermarket chain, Aldi, this full-strength beer (7.5%) is the closest thing you’ll get to Christmas pudding in a glass this Yule.
These days just about every movie franchise worth its salt gets the LEGO transformation treatment. The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug is the latest to get a Danish pop block version, with this Dol Guldur Battle set the pick of the bunch. Just don’t act like a Hobbit and walk around in bare feet while you’re building this – we all know nothing stings as bad as stepping on a Lego brick.
Yes, the shiny new next-gen consoles recently released from Sony and Microsoft boast state-of-the-art glossy graphics, but if you want something both addictive and immediate this Christmas, then look no further than the Italian plumber and his colourful chums. It’s true that there are elements of repetition and Mario moments from yesteryear bouncing off every wobbly platform, but the level design, length, and variety is so rich you’ll find it hard to resist.
With the UK’s big shift to digital-only radio kicking in in 2014, now is the right time to join the party or upgrade your old radio. Pure makes some of the best sets available, and the Evoke D4 - with its Bluetooth capability and 50 hour roaming playback - gets the nod from us. It’s also svelte enough to sit inconspicuously in any room, but packs bags of punch and enough clarity to dominate your living space.