And bake … UK households embrace cooking up DIY Christmas treats

Families are preparing for a home-baked Christmas as they tackle the boredom of lockdown restrictions by making their own puddings, mince pies and cakes.

Retailers are reporting a surge in sales of festive favourites such as dried fruit, marzipan, candied peel and mincemeat while first-time bakers have also prompted a rush on sales of pudding bowls and baking trays.

Waitrose said sales of homebaking goods were up by a fifth including a 70% jump in sales of mincemeat, the key ingredient in mince pies, and a 77% rise in marzipan, which can be used to make stollen as well as a topper for cakes. Sales of chocolate chips have more than doubled.

Another main supermarket said sales of sugar, marzipan, cherries, candied peels and chocolate drops were up by more than a quarter on previous years with some shelves looking bare as stores struggled to keep up with demand.

The therapeutic power of baking has been a theme of pandemic life, from experimenting with homemade sourdough bread, to trying to recreate takeaway favourites. Such was demand for flour in the spring that supermarkets ran short and flour mills struggled to keep up with demand.

The homewares shop, Lakeland, said it had seen a 47% rise in sales of mixing bowls this year. There has also been a leap in sales of bowls for a Christmas pudding and a more than 80% increase in bun tins suitable for making mince pies. Sales of Christmas cake decorations – such as model Santas, holly and robins- are also up on last year.

Natalie Breslin, home baking buyer at Waitrose, said many customers were baking their christmas gifts this year: “We know that our customers are looking to add a homemade touch to the gifts they give. Putting time and effort into a bake or making a special gift is a way of showing those around us how much we care.”

Research by One Poll for Waitrose and sister chain John Lewis found 42% of people are planning to be more creative with homemade gifts this year than previous years.

Katherine Paterson, customer director at Hobbycraft, said the festive DIY trend was not just about baking. Its bestselling products this year includes fillable advent calenders and baubles as families seek to personalise decorations: “It’s going to be the biggest handmade Christmas ever with people making and creating with the passion and skills they’ve learned throughout the year,” Paterson said.