Now’s the time to stock up on spices for the Christmas cooking. You will need some in the cupboard for cooking and even for decorations. So which ones should you have on hand?

Cinnamon sticks are always useful – they are needed for everything from mulled wine and juices, to spicing up hot chocolate, and poaching seasonal fruits like pears, apples and clementines.

Whole nutmeg is a must for grating over  baked rice puddngs as well as adding to savoury tagines.

Star anise is also good for poaching fruits – it adds a little oriental taste to the syrup.

Vanilla pods are a must for proper custard, and for flavouring sugar for festive baking.  

Cloves are also added to mulled drinks and used traditionally for piercing into the rind of a glazed ham. You can make tree decorations also with whole fresh clementines, pierced all over with cloves, and tied with a pretty little ribbon loop for hanging. They look and smell gorgeous.

Also use whole cinnamon sticks, star anise and dried orange slices for fragrant bundles to  tie onto tree branches, garlands or wreaths. Or as a beautiful finishing touch to Christmas gift wrappings. Have you any particular favourite spices you like to use for cooking or decorations at Christmas? We would love to hear about them!