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East Village, London

With 25 acres of parks and wetlands, East Village is a place to breathe the air and get active. Even our gigs and gatherings take place outdoors.

Elephant Central, London

Perfectly placed to make the most of the city, yet with a character and community all of its own.

New Maker Yards, Manchester

The buzz of two great cities. The cool calmness of the canals. A place to live, work, meet friends.

It’s beginning to look a lot like…

Well, Christmas will be here, as reliable as ever on the 25th December. Forget the mad last-minute online shop and needless overspending. Here’s some sparkling gift inspiration, because boy-oh-boy we all need a treat.

 

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If they’re into their homes (and let’s face it, who isn’t?) unique pieces that aren’t mass produced or widely available are true gems that they can enjoy forever. Also, the fact that you’ve trawled for something and discovered a piece that is ‘so them’ is what gift-giving is all about. So where to source these room-enriching, conversation starters? For homewares, vintage and secondhand is where you’ll find real treasure (and it doesn’t get much more sustainable than that).

If you’re a bit of a magpie and fancy making a day or even a weekend of it, get yourself to the infamous Shepton Flea Market (next date: Sunday 29 November) yes it’s not on the doorstep but if you like a decent rummage and have an eye for antiques it should be on your hit list. If you go weak at the knees for Murano glass, Italian wall sconces and Mid-Century furniture – maybe leave your credit card at home (or don’t. But hire a van for the day – lol). If you’re time poor, fantastic Instagram businesses @Theantikstore_ and @luckygirlvintage have done the sourcing and digging for you, or nip into the divine @masonandpainter on Colombia Road or @mrrobinshop in Dulwich for curated collections that will spark joy.

If you’re in Manchester, get yourself to Object Style on Beech Road, Chorlton for handmade pottery, art, plants and even organic skincare, handcrafted jewellery and slow fashion from small, local, independent businesses. Etsy look after some brilliant budding artists too, like Margo Mcdaidart and Loveis Wise. Or check out the vibrant works of Olimpia Zagnolia, sure to brighten up their days and make for a beautiful presents hat they can cherish forever.

Source something random (and fabulous) at an antique flea market. Unique gift inspiration to treasure at Mrs Robinson Shop, Dulwich. Damselfly’s caption candles will take pride of place on the shelf. Find exemplary art gifts for someone special at Print Club London and Etsy.

@persephonebooks, @theopenbookrichmond, @gaysthewordbookshop and Brick Lane Bookshop are just a few of the quaint little book-specialist emporiums London has to offer. Lose yourself for the afternoon and pick up some meaningful gifts while you’re at it. Also, see SNAP on Roman Road, with its laugh out loud card collection, hand-poured candles and cute gift-ables from local makers. And then there’s Marby and Elm on Exmouth Market, with their bespoke stationary and fun trinkets.

Gift the joy of writing with this 5-year journal, from SNAP. Treat them to bespoke stationary to perk-up WFH, from Marby and Elm. A book is for life, not just for Xmas; help them escape to another world with a new release or an age-old classic. Find artful home accents and gift ideas at Magma, Manchester.

A gift that reminds us of sunshine and fun-time? YES PLEASE, the Mykonos bag, £20 is just one of the delights available to buy from Beaches and Cream. Because we live in the U.K. raincoats are serious bang for your buck. Unisex earring, Alex Monroe x Raven Smith collab. Veja trainers for all!

If you use Christmas as a time to invest in pieces for yourself and those you love then here are some amazing brands and businesses to check out. Brothers We Stand is an ethical menswear clothing brand that serves-up super cool classics to be worn and enjoyed for years.

A raincoat is a wise investment piece and a pretty spectacular gift (hint-hint Santa). Check out Tretorn for functional pieces that look great and don’t cost the earth. Trainer buffs and the sartorial-savvy will know the brand Veja. A stylish main-stay, these unisex treads (also available for children) are made from organic cotton, wild Amazonian rubber, and recycled plastic bottles in fairtrade conditions, working with small-scale producers and social initiatives in Brazil and France. Veja for all is available online but you’ll find some women’s styles at the beautiful 69b Broadway Market – a must visit for ladies seeking sustainable, stylish garms.

Jewellery fiends should check out the exciting new collab with London based jeweller Alex Monroe and the fabulous Raven Smith, for unisex pearl-dotted pieces they (or you ) will never want to take off.

If it’s a bit of sparkle you’re after, do check out Beaches and Cream, this small Manchester based business run by Gabrielle Ball serves up divine accessories that offer a little escapism, think lobster (PARTY) earrings and sensational shell necklaces (from just £15!)

Impressive chocolate gift boxes at Chocolate and Love. Divine wine from Passione Vino. Support local producers with a Borough Box. For caffeine lovers, see Coffee island.

If you can’t indulge at Christmas-time, then what is life? Shower gluttonous gourmets with delectable, squeal-inducing treats, and from as little as £4. Chocolate and Love curate almost too pretty to eat (I said almost) gift-boxes of fairtrade, organic decadence. While at Borough Box you can order food-and-drink gift packages from the very best  local producers.

Support small when it comes to wine-gifting, check out the impassioned Alessandro’s wine shop Bon Vino, Bermondsey. And coffee fiends can revel daily if you gift them Coffee Island’s excellent fresh coffee-capsules. For something more exotic visit House of Morocco, Caledonian Road, this coffee-shop-cum-shop sells wonderful edibles that taste of far-flung spice n’ sunshine (and they have some lovely homewares too).

Nightlight, £30.90, Soren’s House; Sustainable 100% organic cotton Bear cardigan, £34.99, Kit & Kin; Handmade ethical wooden bus, £32, Yours Sustainably. Personalised story books, £19.95, Letterfest.

For the little people in your life, treats to keep them feeling safe and cosy or to help them learn are winners. Forget unsightly plastic toys, Soren’s House offers chic Scandi-designs, while Yours Sustainably curates carefully-crafted products from around the globe to support smaller makers and creators.

Emma Bunton’s , Kit & Kin is not so much a small business but celebrity mother and ex Spice Girl, Emma B has used her ‘platform’ to ensure that with every Kit & Kin sale that she, in partnership with  the World Land Trust, works to protect the rainforest and nature.

And remember. Christmas isn’t about extravagance and keeping up the Jones’. It’s a break. Let’s all take stock – and take care of each other.

For some more lovely shopping ideas check out our feature: 8 Amazing businesses to support today, tomorrow, forever.

And more great gift ideas in here, courtesy of your very creative neighbours.