Ever since I discovered S&R it has become one of my favourite places to shop, especially for imported food. I think anybody who has visited S&R will agree that the place is a treasure trove of interesting imported brands and food items; from meats and other frozen things to pasta sauces, spreads, confections… Even body and beauty brands like the famous EOS Lip Balms have now made their way to S&R’s shelves. It’s really nice to be able to find something new in-store each time I visit.
My Dad, brother, and I decided to do a little last-minute Christmas shopping a few days ago, and as we arrived at the Congressional branch on a Thursday afternoon I was a little surprised by the number of people who were shopping. It’s not as many as the people who flock to S&R’s now-infamous sales but still quite a number for a weekday. Guess everyone is engaging in their favourite hobby with the upcoming holidays as an excuse haha! 😛
I always like to visit S&R around this time of the year because all the cute holiday packs and the seasonal goodies sprout like daisies on the shelves. I am never disappointed, I tell ya. There has always been a lot, but it feels like this year there’s even more! Cookies and candies and chocolates in gorgeous holiday packaging with a ribbon on top, holiday bundles from famous brands… They are making it incredibly easy for Christmas shoppers to reach the bottom of their to-buy list. Year after year, my family comes here to shop for the things we fill our gift bags with because there are a lot of unusual choices.
Just a note to those who might be unaware: S&R is a membership shopping establishment, which means you have to be a member to be able to shop here. At the very reasonable price of Php 700 per year (that’s less than Php 60 per month, really) you can avail of a Gold Membership already, and you can even add an extension card for another member of the household for just Php 400. (They have a corporate card as well but since we only have the Gold card I can’t really say much about that one. You can check out this link for more details though.)
Essentially what being an S&R member means is that you get to shop at low prices for items that you would not be able to find anywhere else! (Bonus since S&R has slashed the prices even more for certain items thanks to their Anniversary sale until December 31! Look for the price tags in RED!) S&R is well-aware that many people are hankering for the most interesting products that come from all over the world, but they need for it to also have the best value for money of course. With that in mind they offer S&R Club Pricing for their members to help them shop at lower prices and save money on their purchases, especially during the holiday season when everyone has such a long list of things to buy. Being a member here equals shopping at low prices! 🙂
That said, I thought it might be nice to share the interesting things I saw (and bought) during my visit. This “walking gift guide” of sorts is going to be patterned after what my family picks out when we begin to pack our own giftable goodie bags every year, as well as some holiday cheer-inducing items we have around the house.
Let’s start with the very first thing I came face to face with when I arrived, and that is the Christmas trees and decorations.
I admit I was a little bit sad looking around because we weren’t setting up any Christmas decorations around the house this year, as per Chinese tradition after a loved one in the family passes away. But for those who do get to decorate to their hearts’ content, S&R has a bunch of beautiful Christmas decors that would look wonderful in any tree or home. The best part is that they are being sold at low prices and are exclusive only here in S&R.
Stockings for stuffing, wreaths to usher in happy guests, beautiful glittery Christmas balls and flowers, angelic tree-toppers… Name it and you’ll see it. I managed only to snap photos of the ones on display but you can see more in their Christmas catalog.
My favourite Christmas decor to buy from S&R are their set figurines because they are beautifully made and evoke such an amazing Christmas feeling. The one on display at Congressional is a lot smaller but we have a version of the Nativity scene with bigger and more intricate statues in storage at home. I shared a photo of it last Christmas on Instagram and that’s the set we place on the foyer.
The other set we bought earlier is a village set which I LOOOOVE because it has a rotating tree and the snow-capped village houses have pretty lights inside. It’s such a serene scene to look at and I always make it a point to be one of the people who would take that set out of the box because it’s my favourite. It’s the set that appears in my food photos for last year’s lamingtons recipe.
It seems S&R is set on making all Filipinos’ holiday fantasies come true because for the first time ever, I am able to see a real-life fresh cut Douglas Fir Tree imported straight from Oregon, USA. It stands at 7 to 8 feet tall and surprisingly costs only Php 3,999.
This might sound just a little weird but I actually sniffed the tree and sure enough it had the woody cozy scent I always imagined a fresh-cut Christmas tree would have. It’s not too late to get yourself one of these yet, but you’ll have to call ahead and reserve one. And then all you’ll need now to complete the fantasy is a fireplace and a hot cup of cocoa. (And pretend that it’s snowing outside!) 😉
Okay, so now that we’ve got the house all set up and ready for Christmas, it’s time to prepare the gifts. I know for a fact that some people get a real kick out of putting together a gift basket rather than ordering one, so I’ll just throw out some suggestions that I feel would fit well in a goodie bag/basket. And like I said, it’s going to be patterned after the one my Mom prepares every year. First of all, we always have two kinds of beverages in the bag. One is a wine or sparkling drink, and the other is just a regular old drink for all ages.
S&R has a huge array of wines and spirits, and since I’m not an expert on that, I’ll just talk about other stuff I like and which I think many people would enjoy thoroughly as well.
For instance, The Berry Company’s juices, especially the Mixed Berry and Pomegranate flavours. This pack of three they have for Php400 is a great deal because I think individually these juices are sold for Php 200 in other supermarkets. You can gift this as a set or separate the three flavours into three gift baskets.
I also find that Swiss Miss comes up with the most adorable holiday packaging, and I adore these Swiss Miss Ceramic Jars, as well as the Swiss Miss packaged in recyclable pretty metal tins. These range from Php 600 to 700 so you can give them as a set on their own already without putting them in a basket. My uncle actually gave us a set of the Swiss Miss Tins so I expect you’ll be seeing the tins in Christmas food photos next year hehe! I’m really excited to give the Mint Chocolate drink a go!
It wouldn’t be right for me not to mention one of my favourite coffee brands to drink in the morning, and it’s ON SALE!!! This Folger’s Classic Roast is a huge container of quality coffee and for that price it’s a steal! It’s a little bulky to put in a gift bag but maybe not in a gift basket. But if you’re gifting a tea drinker, maybe something with matcha green tea in it is more suitable? Matcha is going to be huge next year I think, and I love it!
And since we’re on the subject of beverages, I spotted these lovely mug sets from Starbucks and Godiva which would make great gifts or bonus pieces in the gift basket!
After the beverages of course, we have edibles that make up the bulk of the goodie basket, comprised of packs of cookies, a snack or chips, or some form of confection. I spotted a mix of saucy-looking cookies and cult-favourite brands with special flavours so in picking a brand for your goodie basket it might be good to consider the age of the recipient.
For the more “sophisticated” recipient there are choices of cookies in beautiful tins, such as these La Grande Galette French butter cookies (Php 749.95), which are made with French butter and sea salt. I also spotted some really yummy-looking LOC Maria chocolate-covered crepe cookies (Php 599.95) in a super pretty container that would make such a nice storage tin once all the cookies have been devoured.
If the household is made up of younger people then these Chips Ahoy Ice Cream Creations cookies in Mint Chocolate Chip or Dulce de Leche (Php 248.95 each) would be perfect.
If the household is comprised of even younger kids, then designed gingerbread cookies would surely excite them. Or better yet, a gingerbread house!
And speaking of kids, I spotted a bunch of awesome stocking stuffers in the store. I realize most of us don’t really do Christmas stocking stuffing here but I think it’s such a fun undertaking and even a 23-year-old like me would have so much fun trying to think of nice things to put in there, and at the same time trying to figure out the surprises stuffed in my own stocking. Stuffers aren’t limited to food though and they could be anything really, but here are some of the edible things I think kids would loooove to receive for Christmas:
I remember as a kid I loved eating those gummy-candy lollipops and trying to figure out which part to eat first. Kids are lucky these days because brands have gotten a lot more creative with their holiday offerings. I don’t ever recall seeing those candy cane-packaged Reese’s pieces in my youth. The Pepero cookies sticks however have become quite a favourite around the house and I think it is great as part of a goodie bag for any age.
Or what about these candy-filled Christmas character boxes? Soooo cute! These have bonbons and peppermint candies inside.
But of course, at the end of the day, what kids love receiving most are toys and S&R has quite a few on display. Nothing is more pleasurable for children on Christmas than finding a huge wrapped gift addressed to them under the tree, and that’s the truth haha!
Since we’re on the subject of toys, they have big-people toys as well here, and because I love to cook and bake a lot, that to me essentially means kitchen utensils and appliances. I’m planning on buying a hand-mixer here in the future probably as a birthday gift to myself, but right now all I can do is ogle at all the lovely kitchen equipment, including the gorgeous Classic KitchenAid mixer, which frankly even if I already own one I still can’t help but admire. (By the way, it’s on sale!)
Give a baking enthusiast like me a KitchenAid for Christmas and we will love you forever! Promise! =))
And now we go to what I am especially excited to talk about: CHOCOLATE! There was a lot of chocolate choices this year and if it was possible not to spiral into a sugar coma if I ate them all I honestly would’ve bought a pack of everything. The thing I really love about holiday edition goods is how beautifully everything seem to be packaged these days. You don’t really have to do much gift-wrapping because the packaging already wows.
I mean you could buy each of your friends a pack of any of the chocolates below and already it would feel like such a classy Christmas gift. The Hershey’s ones (Php 249.95 each) look yummy, especially the cherry one, but I’m more impressed by the Ghirardelli Squares (Php 349.95 each) because their offerings are more Christmas-y, not to mention look at how pretty!
They also have Kit-Kat in the more rare flavours like this Cookies & Cream one. I think I bought some Green Tea Kit-Kats before from here as well. Cult-favourites Snickers, Andes Mints, Dove chocolates, as well as Hershey’s nuggets in Cookies n’ Mint flavour are also available. Personally I am a fan of mint chocolates especially during this season so I pretty much stocked our shopping cart with that for personal consumption hihihi…
Look at these wine-shaped containers of Witor’s chocolate truffles! Very creatively packaged, methinks.
Say hi to the pack of chocolates that is now resting in my bedroom drawer aka not-so-secret stash compartment, Hershey’s Kisses Dark Chocolate Mint Truffles (Php 239.95)! Like I said, I can’t resist mint chocolate around this time of year and lucky for me I seem to be the only one in the family who feels this way about mint chocolate. So this is ALL MINE. Bwahahaha!
These boxes of have caught my eye for a while because look at how cute they are! You could gift this on its own and it would be pretty impressive already. They are so pretty it’s the sort of thing you kind of feel bad about eating because you’ll want to preserve them since they look so great! (But I know you’ll eat them anyway hahaha!)
Check out this interesting mix of chocolate from Kirkland. Labeled “Chocolates of the World” (Php 849.95) it is a combination of milk and dark chocolate from Belgium, Canada, Germany, USA… I think it’s cool how you get to eat stuff AND have an education as to how these different countries make chocolate too.
My list wouldn’t be complete if I didn’t mention the gift packs of one of my favourite chocolate brands to eat. These Lindt Hello (Php 339.95) packs look so fun and colourful, how could you not take a second look as you pass by? If that’s a little small for you they also carry the Lindt Signature Collection (Php 799.95) box of chocolates. Ugh, so yummeh…
And what about these Belgian chocolates? Another almost-too-pretty-to-eat selection! And I say almost because the moment I saw this I zoned in on the reindeer and thought about how I would bite off the antlers first haha!
Here is my favourite find for the day, which my brother and I were both over the moon about because it was such a great find not only for the product but for the price! We are a huge fan of these VSC liquor chocolates which we could only ever buy at the airport when we travel, but those are pretty darn expensive and contain just 24 pieces, so imagine how happy we were to find this set of 40 liquor-filled chocolate for just Php 699.95! It was a struggle not to hoard them. Just ask my baby brother haha!
Moving on to the snack items, I have one that is chocolate-covered too in a brand that I feel has become quite the favourite because I keep seeing people snacking on these on my Instagram timeline. I am a fan of the Brookside chocolate-covered pomegranates but these Berry Medley Chocolate Clusters (Php 749.96) look soooo good!
We also really enjoy these Snack Factory Pretzel Crisps (Php 199.95), and bought a big pack of The Daily Crave Veggie Chips (Php 399.95), which I think has the coolest packaging ever!
Whew! That’s a lot of options isn’t it? But I know that not all of us get an adrenaline rush out of the whole putting-a-Christmas-basket-together exercise, but not to fret because S&R does actually offer ready-made Christmas baskets that look packed to the brim and mighty impressive.
Alongside the gift baskets, my Mom usually sends a box of fruits to our closest relatives and family friends. I was pleasantly surprised that S&R now offers this service as well because you literally now can complete your shopping list in one place. I don’t recall them having this before.
So now we get to the sort of bonus part of this post where I talk about some awesome baking and cooking finds they have here at S&R. If you ever have someone like me who is an enthusiast in the kitchen in your life then I think it’s safe to say that a basket of baking/cooking ingredients and utensils would make the most amazing gift. I always love spending a bit of time looking through the vast selection of spices here. And this is the place we stock up on quinoa and olive oil. They also have cooking spray and whole almonds which are some common items used in cooking and baking.
They also have a nice selection of cheeses which is why I always come here whenever I’m planning on making something involving some rare (at least for a regular local supermarket) cheese. I always buy my mozarella here.
And I just wanted to mention that with my new appreciation for cheese I started trying out different kinds of cheese spreads and this Mable’s Fruit & Nut Cream Cheese Spread has been one of my more recent favourites. And it’s on sale so I think you guys should go try it out and let me know how you like them! 🙂
They have some Duncan Hines cake mixes over here for the budding baker. I never use cake mixes but these caught my eye because if I’m not mistaken it’s the brand Max uses in Two Broke Girls haha!
And I also spotted my new source of chocolate chips because I think this big pack at Php 549.95 for 36 ounces offers much more value for money compared to the smaller packs sold in other supermarkets. Ghirardelli chocolates are a favourite among bakers because of the quality and taste, and personally I like using it because it really is semisweet chocolate of good-quality and you can tell immediately just by popping one in your mouth. Every time I make chocolate chip anything at least 6 pieces of these end up in my mouth. Sorry I’m not sorry.
I’ve mentioned before that I have managed to buy some hard-to-find ingredients here just like the phyllo pastry I used in my baklava post before this one. But by far this is the only place where I have seen these Andes Mint Chips! I get excited over newfound ingredients so needless to say I am looking forward to making something with these!
Well that’s it! This is a pretty darn long gift guide isn’t it? But thanks for sticking with me to the end and exploring all the Christmas basket possibilities in store for you when you shop at S&R! Thanks to S&R Club Pricing you can get your money’s worth of truly awesome giftables, and I think even if this is the season of giving it’s still pretty important to consider this. So go now and shop your heart out at S&R knowing that the care you put in choosing and preparing all your gifts will be felt by all the people who will receive them this year. 🙂
For more information, visit S&R’s website and like them on Facebook!
Full disclosure: This post is sponsored by S&R Membership Shopping but all opinions stated above are solely my own.