Shopping small this Christmas

It’s Small Business Saturday!

(It is also, if you have an AMEX card, the beginning of its annual Shop Small promotion, which runs until December 17th and gives you back £5 for every purchase you make over £10 in a bricks-and-mortar small business. All the info is here if you have an AMEX. If you don’t, I seriously recommend getting one, at least for the first year when it’s free. Over two years I’ve accrued over 100,000 Avios points, which I will soon be converting into a very fancy holiday. If you go through my referral link you get 22,000 points to start, and I get a 9,000 point bonus.)

Obviously we should be trying to shop small and support independent businesses all year round, but ’tis the season for rampant consumerism so I guess it makes more of a difference at this time of year. But, in honour of Small Business Saturday, and in case you’re in need of some pressie inspo, I’ve rounded up a few of my favourite independent businesses:

  • Optiat recycle old coffee grounds into posh shower scrubs and discarded hemp husks into organic face masks. My sister got me into them after gifting me the peppermint and vanilla scrubs for Christmas last year, and they’re excellent for sloughing off dead winter skin. The only downside is that they make a bit of a mess in the shower (but hey, you’re giving it to someone else, so clean-up isn’t your problem).

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  • Rococo and Paul A. Young tie for my favourite chocolate shops in London, but they’re bloody expensive. They do make them fertile shopping grounds for the chocolate connoisseur in your life though. You can’t go wrong with a bag of Rococo’s salted caramel-filled seagull eggs or Roald Dahl-themed chocolate bars.

  • The ultimate gift for anyone who spent most of the nineties playing Flight Simulator, Flight Experience in Putney is one of the world’s most realistic flight simulators, endorsed by Boeing and used by real life pilots in training.

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  • Independent London barbers Murdock do a nice range of men’s toiletries and shaving paraphernalia, but they also do really nice gift experiences that are a good Get Out Of Jail free card for the man who has it all. Mike tried out the full works last year (see here – he fell asleep during the manicure, to his eternal shame).

  • One of the best things about Christmas, except the cheese and the pigs in blankets, is the pickle. I’m not talking one sad pot of Sainsbury’s red onion chutney, I’m talking about a dazzling array of spreadable delights that’ll see you through to at least June. My housemate and I discovered Cherry Tree Preserves at Borough Market about seven years ago and now every year we put in bulk orders of their Sweet and Spicy Garlic and Nigella Seed chutney (and whatever else tickles our pickle. They do about 50 different kinds.)

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  • In the spirit of taking more breaks from screen time, I recently learned to crochet with the lovely ladies from Hook A Monster, who’ll have you making a cute little toy in under three hours. I was going to stuff mine with catnip for Nelson to abuse but it ended up being too cute. They do gift vouchers from £40.

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  • I’ve given loads of people terrariums this year – they’re so pretty and long-lasting. Jar and Fern sells them ready-made, but it’s more fun to give someone a voucher to make their own.

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  • And finally, someone’s finally invented tights that actually stay up, don’t sag at the crotch, don’t wrinkle at the ankles and don’t go manky in the wash. They’re expensive but absolutely worth it (and you get get 15% off if you sign up to their newsletter).

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Header photo by David Everett Strickler on Unsplash.

Author: Emily Gibson

Emily is an urban adventurer, blogger and glutton foodie on an epic quest to uncover the best things to eat, drink and do in London. She lives in Islington and loves ceviche, cycling and magic shows. Lifelong nemeses include beetroot, beards and wine served in tumblers.