Tuesday, 28 November 2017

Local Christmas Gift Guide

As usual, I'm not really 'feeling' Christmas. Perhaps it's a symptom of getting older, but I simply don't get excited about the prospect of boozy parties, overeating and overspending any more. While conceptually I'm totally on board - I embrace the idea of a long break from school and work and of spending time with loved ones - it's the build-up (something that starts earlier and earlier these days) that leaves me feeling decidedly Scoorge-ish; the constant Black Friday emails, the stream of texts from family members demanding to know your plans, and the worrying knowledge that money is literally draining from your bank account while a tax return awaits at the start of the new year.

But it's Christmas shopping that I find most draining and dispiriting. I hate buying for the sake of buying and I also hate the idea that someone else may be going through a similarly frustrating time trying to find a present for me. It's an area that divides people - my mum, an only child with just a few relatives, gets cross when I suggest cutting back on the present buying. For her, buying things for family members is a joyful experience that fills her with a sense of purpose. Generously-spirited, present buying fulfils an important function for her. I get this, and I don't want to be stingy; and thankfully my own relatives are pretty easy to buy for so we won't be forsaking gift giving in our family any time soon. 

But I can't help but feel that in an era of increasing financial and environmental insecurity we should be a little more mindful with our spending this Christmas. At the risk of sounding a little earnest and morally superior, I am cutting back a bit this year and trying to give experiences rather than physical gifts. And I'm also trying to buy local and independent - through writing this blog I've been introduced to some fantastic local businesses who offer brilliant products at competitive prices; you'll find them showcased in my short and sweet gift guide below, as well as some other ideas from further afield. 

Candles from Amphora Aromatics, from £9.48

A recent discovery, this lovely shop on Cotham Hill stocks a range of aromatherapy products. Founded in 1984, it's one of the UK's largest suppliers of pure essential oils, but it also stocks gorgeous natural skincare, haircare and body care products. I picked up one of their candles on my recent visit (a candle is always a good gift idea, in my opinion) and it's gorgeous - there are lots of Christmassy fragrances in the beautifully packaged range (I opted for the Mulled Pear & Spices) and they come in at a very affordable £9.48. 

Brass Spoon Set, Bombay Duck, £15

Who said spoons are boring? I think these hammered, handmade brass spoons are beautiful pieces to have in your kitchen. Just £15 for the set of four, they have a luxe, expensive feel that I think would make you feel happy every time you open up your cutlery drawer.

Panda Organic Babygrow, £17

Very little babies don't need toys or expensive presents...but their parents will appreciate a stack of baby grows - you simply can never have too many. Combining organic cotton with a super-cool panda illustration, this lovely option is designed in Bristol and even uses organic ink for extra ethical brownie points.

Spotty egg cups, £5 each

Made in a tiny little shop on Princess Victoria Street in Clifton, these super-cute ceramics make a lovely gift for the boiled egg lover in your life. They can also be personalised though you may need to visit the shop in person to arrange that in time for Christmas.

Radiance Mask, Wild Source Apothecary, £24

Or any of the products in this range - I've tried them all and they're all excellent (you can find out more on my blog post here.) I was so glad that to find that these products genuinely work and are lovely to use as I love the idea of supporting a local, small-batch beauty company. The prices compare very favourably to big brand deluxe beauty products and personally I prefer the idea of using something made by hand in Bristol to slapping something more mass-produced on my face. I can't recommend this brand enough.

Gold Geometric Architectural Earrings, Jules & Clem, £18

Handmade in Bristol, these earrings offer something a bit different from the displays of gaudy, mass-produced Christmas bling that clogs up the high street at this time of year. Also check out out their cute star pieces, available on the Mon Pote website.

D-Ring Cross Body Bag, & Other Stories, £69

I highly rate & Other Stories accessories - I've been buying all my bags here for the last few years as they look expensive and are well made but don't come in over the £100 price point. Beautifully presented in dust-bags, they make a very luxurious gift for someone special. This particular style is designed in Paris and comes in a range of colours, including this punchy red but also more neutral options. 

Dunleavy Rose Wine, £11.75

I don't believe there's a rule that says you can't drink rose at Christmas. If you know someone who consistently channels the spirit of summer, even in deepest December, then this wine is for them - it immediately transports you to warmer climes. Made from grapes nurtured in a vineyard just outside Bristol, this wine is outstanding and makes the perfect alternative to more obvious wine choices this winter. You can read more about what makes this wine so special here. 

Bishopston Supper Club Preserves Trio, £11

It doesn't get more local than this (well, if you live where I do, that is.) Every year I vow to spend a cosy weekend making my own jams or chutneys to give as gifts, imagining myself as a Kirstie Allsop who's also got a hand-poured candle on the go and has decorated the house in home-made wreaths and pom-pom bunting. Of course, none of this ever quite happens. But this is surely the next best thing - gorgeous small-batch preserves, from the same kitchen as a very highly regarded local supper club. I'd be very happy to receive these goodies. 

Personalised Cycling Prints, Graphivelo, £12.50

Everyone knows a cycling obsessive these days. If you want to avoid buying them something made from lycra, here's a great alternative - super-cool, graphic-style prints that you can personalise. A great idea for teens and adults, they make a stylish way of recording their cycling achievements. They're designed just outside Bristol and available to buy from Not on the High Street.

Moa Aphrodite Facial Oil, Fox + Feather, £22

I can't think of a nicer gift to give a fraught mum at this time of year. Christmas is totally draining and unkind to the skin - a wonderful combination of central heating, frequent wine imbibing and lack of sunlight doesn't tend to enhance the complexion; this time of year is definitely a good time to channel the goddess of beauty and I'd personally be very grateful to find this in my stocking. 

Meri-Meri Days of the Week Hairclips, Mon Pote, £10

I mean, I would wear these. Aren't they just adorable? With just the right amount of glitter to enchant little girls who love sparkle, these make the perfect stocking filler for a fashion conscious little person.

Cactus Shot Glasses, Graham & Green, £29.95

Just the right side of kitsch without being too novelty, these make a fun gift for tequila aficionados. The perfect accessory for setting up your very own mezcaleria at home.

Just My Type Mugs, Anthropologie, £10

If you're over monograming and like personalised gifts without the twee factor, these mugs are perfect if you're buying for someone with a romantic, adventurous or dreamy sensibility. 

Hampton Holistics Candles

I know. Another candle. But I fell in love with these all-natural aromatherapy candles when I tested them a short while back. Made from soy wax so they don't fill your home with toxins, they're hand-poured in Bristol and smell amazing. The Calm candle would be perfect for restoring a bit of tranquility to a loved one's home in the midst of the Christmas madness.


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