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London Souvenir Shopping Confession–I hoard Fortnum and Mason biscuits tins

When souvenir shopping in London, the best gifts come in pretty packages

I am not usually seduced by pretty packaging when souvenir shopping. Give me a homely but delicious cookie over a frilly but bland one any day.  Overly fancy packaging can make me suspicious and cause me to wonder whether the goods would still sell in their unadorned, natural state.

But this all goes out the window every time I step into London’s Fortnum and Mason.

Fortnum and Mason biscuit tins are my kryptonite.

best gifts london I walk into London’s glamorous Fortnum & Mason store, lined with rows of shiny, colorful biscuit tins and my hoarding instinct kicks in.

what to buy fortnum and mason London picadilly

Fortnum’s artfully arranged displays makes for a fun shopping experience.

There are almost too many biscuit tin options at Fortnums.  There are tins of different sizes, designs and colors, and on top of that there are usually special limited-edition tins.  And of course the biscuits inside the tins come in all different flavors– but this barely factors into my decision.  For me it’s all about the tins.

Fortnum mason biscuits cookies shopping

Grapefruit biscuits sound crazy but actually have a delicate, slighty tart flavor.

Are these the very best biscuits in London?  I wouldn’t know, because I can’t bear to buy any others.

Fortnum and Mason biscuits cookies pink gift London

Fortnums has great color schemes, I love this pink and gold together.

Fortnum and Mason biscuit cookie tins fox

Fox with a crown? Yes please.

Fortunately, Fortnum and Mason biscuits are very subtly flavored, which is important considering you can’t really try them before you buy.  It also means you can choose your biscuits based on your favorite designs and don’t have to worry about getting a dud.

fortnum and mason cookies unique giftI couldn’t resist these tall orange cylinder-shaped tins with the image of Lucifer and a tag line that reads “devilishly deceptive.”

best british giftsBut perhaps I should have given more thought as to how to repurpose them later.  Right now the empty tin is tucked away on a shelf, awaiting further inspiration.

Fortnum and Mason music box tin gift

This Fortnum and Mason biscuit tin not only plays music, but also spins around like a merry-go-round.

Some of the Fortnum and Mason biscuit tins have a built-in music box.  Just turn the knob on the bottom of the tin to hear classic British melodies.

Fortnum and mason sweets giftWhile I definitely recommend the tin packaging, on my last visit, I decided to try some lighter weight packaging as I was veering dangerously close to my check-in weight limit (and in fact ended up exceeded it by two pounds).

My London Shopping Haul:  the Fortnum and Mason Biscuit Tin collection (so far)

fortnum mason music box giftThis is my favorite Fortnum and Mason tin as I am especially partial to anything that says “coronation” or “her majesty”.  Bonus– this Tiffany blue tin plays “God Save the Queen.”

The best way to approach London Shopping:  A gift for you, a gift for me

Fortnum & Mason’s biscuit tins are the perfect gift to bring back– packable, pretty and tasty.  But, being the tin hoarder that I am, I found I had a hard time parting with them when I returned home.  Now I makes sure to only buy duplicates for gifts, so I’m not tempted to keep them for myself.

Do you hoard any souvenirs?  Tell us about it in the comments!

Souvenir Shopping Tip Sheet

  • What to buy: Pretty biscuit tins of different sizes
  • Where to Get it: Fortnum & Mason (also available online for armchair shoppers)181 Piccadilly, London W1A 1ER, United Kingdom (a new shop will be opening in Kings Cross Station). You can also pick up a limited selection of Fortnum and Mason items at the airport– look carefully in the duty-free area and you’ll find a small wall with items (but no separate, free-standing shop).
  • What to Know: Warning, collecting these tins is addictive.

Want to read more London posts?  Start here:
Why this New Yorker loves the London Underground (and my picks from the London Transport Museum Shop)
A walk through the Harry Potter gift shop at Platform 9 3/4, London

Fashion Forward Brits Declare Love for the Onesie– Not just for Babies
Big Ben, the British Flag and a Telephone Box:  Why we love British Kitsch
I got it at Primani, dahling.  Why frugal tourists love London’s Primark.

All photos by Souvenir Finder, copyright 2013.

9 Responses to London Souvenir Shopping Confession–I hoard Fortnum and Mason biscuits tins

  1. sueslaght 11/30/2013 at 1:01 pm #

    Starbucks mugs from cities around the world. I desperately love the ‘merry go round’ tin.

    • Kristin Francis 11/30/2013 at 9:19 pm #

      Sue– that’s pretty funny, I’d love to see your Starbucks mugs! Do they look different in each country then? I didn’t bring the merry go round home but only because it was so BIG! Maybe next time!

      • sueslaght 11/30/2013 at 9:28 pm #

        Kristin the mugs are all the same. Hubby and I joke while pouring coffee “Would you like to go to Lisbon this morning or Athens?” Unfortunately being the clever company they are Starbucks recently changed the line. My guess is to encourage people to buy the all over again 🙂

    • Kristin Francis 11/30/2013 at 9:48 pm #

      Sue– love it! Time to pull out my Christmas market mugs and I also ask the same question– is it Vienna or Augsburg today?

  2. fingknitcoolgal 12/01/2013 at 7:19 am #

    They are so pretty, aren’t they? Their tins are so beautifully designed, I want to buy every one of them! X

    • Kristin Francis 12/31/2013 at 12:59 am #

      I think if I was a local like you I wouldn’t be as obsessed as I am– it’s the scarcity thing– must buy now or I may not get another chance (which of course is not true, I head to London at least 2x a year).

  3. Just Add Attitude 12/01/2013 at 3:06 pm #

    Those tins are so pretty, I am not at all surprised that you hoard them. 😉

    • Kristin Francis 12/31/2013 at 1:00 am #

      Thanks for stopping by! Unfortunately, it’s not the only thing I hoard from F&M, stay tuned for more posts lol.

  4. Wesley at Library Educated 02/25/2015 at 4:53 pm #

    Those are so lovely! I’m a sucker for the blue and gold combo

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