Dare I mention it again? This year has been the worst. But Christmas is approaching regardless. With so much of the economy in tatters, this year’s seasonal post features some ideas to support and help out the independents, the charities, the individuals, the museums; some of them have been heavily affected by the pandemic.
Why buy from the big corporations when you can shop from small business, usually much nicer people? And while we’re stuck at home for the next few weeks, what’s better than a bit of online shopping?
Prepping for the festive period
The Christmas cards
First things first, Christmas cards. While I am all for digital / zero waste options and charityable possibly, I do send a small number of paper cards. Nancy Gallup is a talented young graphic designer with some cool work on her portfolio; this year’s greeting cards are no different and really elegant. I have already received mine and couldn’t be happier!
The Christmas tree
Last year I was very proud of myself: I had managed to convince the husband to buy a potted tree instead of a condemned-to-death cut one so we could keep it and re-use it, alive and well. Unfortunately the poor tree perished in our back yard sometime in the summer (it is the year that keeps on giving…)
So this year, to avoid committing tree cruelty again, we will be renting one. Available in London and immediate surrounding, London Christmas tree rental is pricey but it’s a great idea to ‘save a tree’
Ok so you’ve got your tree, now how about some sustainable, ethically produced decorations? Felt So Good sells some super cute ones, all made of felt in Nepal. They are sustainable, plastic free, biodegradable and the company employs local workers ensuring fair trade prices and conditions. They don’t just do festive items, so do check them out!
Of course you want this also to be plastic free, sustainable, recycable. Most wrapping papers and tapes are not recyclable at all and not only can contaminate your recycable waste bin but they just end up in landfill.
Already some large supermarkets have announced they’re not selling any glitter based wrapping paper this year but to go a step further, why not buy the whole thing recycable. & Keep sells a great selection of items – I have been using recycable tape since last year and love it.
Let’s go shopping!
So now you do need to actually buy some presents. Forget Amazon – here’s a few nice things to buy directly from the manufacturers. Make an independent happy!
“When you buy from a small business, an actual person does a little happy dance”*
A genius idea: like an Amazon but supporting independent sellers, UK Bookshop is basically a digital shop windows for brick & mortar bookshops, so it’s the perfect way to support your local bookshop during lockdown closures.
Their mission is to financially support local, independent bookshops. They believe that bookshops are essential to a healthy culture. They’re where authors can connect with readers, where we discover new writers, where children get hooked on the thrill of reading that can last a lifetime. They’re also anchors for our high streets and communities.
A book I would currently recommend is Accidentally Wes Anderson. it’s beautifully put together and there is a photo from my talented friend Giulia inside too!
Big brands are convenient, have variety and those PJ Masks socks but how nice is to source individual designs produced by an artisan? I bought a couple of lovely sweaters from Sophia & the Fox – they can also be customised with names and dates, if you are searching for something a little bit more unique.
For younger kids, I really like what the Muffin Sisters make, using traditional African fabrics merged with modern European styles to create heritage children’s products. I have not purchased yet, but a friend loves their brand so I will be ordering something soon myself! And for Christmas, they sell some very colourful stockings too.
My go-to for custom made pieces is my friend Anna, behind Anna Lovell Jewellery. She’s made stuff for us for years – decades even – from our wedding pendants to my ‘sea port’ ring a few months back. She incorporates loads of vintage elements in her work (buttons, beads) and often recycles old silver or gold into new artwork.
She’s talented, reasonably priced and does a lot of work for mental health charities as well.
No seriously. Why not? Especially since we’re all cooking way more than we used to, why not reward someone with a special iron spun pan made in Shropshire by the lovely Netherton Foundry? Their pans are beautiful, and even Nigella uses them! Plenty of choice too, from skillets to woks. Yet, they have been incredibly busy recently, which is great but it also means that for a guranteed delivery for Christmas, they offer a smaller selection than normal.
Masks and Socks
Socks, a classic. Masks, not really. Let’s hope that these won’t feature in any Christmas list in 2021 but for now, you might wish to buy a reusable mask for a loved one (or yourself of course). I love the ones from Marine Conservation Society – they are organic cotton and feature a double pocket for adding your own filters and are washable and reusable for everyday use, and they come in completely plastic free packaging.
Each purchase from the MCS shop also benefits their work, so win win!
They also sell really cute bamboo socks for men and women as well as funky designs on tees and sweatshirts.
But a truly special socks’ choice for the film lover is from the BFI online shop:
The film lovers out there will recognise the pattern for sure. The BFI – like MCS – is a charity so any purchase from their range will support their work, much needed at this moment in time when unfortunately the cinemas are closed.
A few ideas in this particular cathegory, of course. All things that go really well at Christmas of course.
Let’s start with hampers, which is always a classic. This year, I couldnt recommend the mouthwatering selection from Fat Macy’s more. I love their food, their ethos, their people. They are a social enterprise based in London but their Christmas hampers travel nationwide! Starting from £50, they include cardamon biscuits and their famous granola, amongst other things. Each hamper bought means a young apprentice cook can practice and learn more so it’s a win win situation!
If you wish to give a sweet, precious and also helpful gift, why not adopt a bee hive in Italy? You can choose the location, the type of honey and you get to monitor the hive throughout the year (from stats such as temperature to cute fact like the queen bee’s name).
The funds help supporting independent beekeepers and their bees, and they really need support! Bees are incredibly important to the ecosystem but are terribly endangered by humans (pesticides, decline in flowers and ecosystems, pollution). To learn more, I recommend a video by my friend, TV presenter Nicholas Daines.
Depending on your chosen package, you also receive a jar of honey! They ship to the EU and UK (for now!) for a small extra fee. I have adopted 3 already. Have a look at their website.
Finally, chocolate. I was introduced to Tosier by my friend and chocolate expert Jen of Chocolate Ecstasy Tours, and I absoluytely love it. It’s premium, but it’s fair trade, bean to bar, UK made chocolate. It’s just incredible. Do yourself or someone you really like a favour, and order a pack. It will look so elegant under the tree.
Even more ideas…
*no idea who wrote that, but I felt it was appropriate for this post; not one of the businesses listed in this post sponsored me in any way or asked me to be included. Opinions are very much my own.