What do you love most about Christmas? When we asked recently on Instagram, the most common answers were: quality time with family & friends, time off work to relax, decorating the house, festive activities, the lovely food and presents. We are hoping that this post can help to add 'shopping independent' to the list.
Christmas shopping doesn't always make it to the top of the 'favourite things' list; it is often more likely to make it to the 'most stressful things' about Christmas list. It can really hit sore spots for people colliding with other Christmas stressors: money worries, feeling rundown, demands on time, long queues in packed shops, consumerism, mass produced unethically-sourced goods, the pressure of expectations.
Here's our top tips to finding the treasures, beating the overwhelm and maximising the 'feel good' factor of buying and giving.
1. Start early & have fun with the list making
Like our minis, we love making lists at Christmas and if it is something you enjoy, there's no better time of year to go for it! The earlier you start, the more you can work at a comfortable pace for you and the less stressful it will be. Making a list can protect some time to consider the values and preferences of the recipient which might provide inspiration for gift ideas or alternatives (like a night out with a friend instead of a present).
Themes that have helped us to prepare solid lists in the past start with the 'who' - who would you love to treat and can we avoid buying out of duty, which is a habit we sometimes fall in to. There's also budget (either overall or per person), recipients' likes/interests, what previous presents have been a hit, your favourite businesses that you'd like to support. If you still aren't loving the idea of list making, why not partner it with things you do love - make lists with others, with a glass or cup of something you enjoy, do it somewhere you love. Help your lists to be the most user-friendly possible for you by giving them space to develop and deciding if paper or electronic versions will mean you look at them more.
2. Relish the research
Here's where social media and the internet can really help save time in the long run. Independent online market places like Etsy, Not On The High Street, Folksy and And So To Shop are a great way to see the diversity of what's on offer and what different businesses specialise in. We love how inventive some of the filter services are to help the search.
If you're a fan of instagram searching key hashtags can also turn up some great finds: #shopindie #shoplocal #shopsmallsaturday #justacard #madelocal #curatedmakers or local ones e.g. #northeastcreatives. Maker market collectives, curated fairs/ pop ups (as done so well by Curated Makers and Shop Creative UK ) and independent shops stocking a selection of local creatives (such as Thought Foundation Shop, For The Love of The North, Hey Ho Print Co , Creative Artist Studios Northumberland and Walter and May) can be a real treasure trove to explore - this can be both in real life visits as well as some having online presence too. There are some very special independent 'Gift Guides' available that have been put together that are definitely worth a look too, like this one from Creative Boom. We have linked in some of our previous ones as related posts.
3. Connect with your faves