Cool Places To Buy Your Mates Presents If You’re Avoiding The High Street This Christmas

Because no one wants to be given the same present twice


by Helena Hamilton |
Updated on

Christmas provides an excuse for a lot of regretful behaviour – overeating, weeklong hangovers, being liberal with your right swipes on Tinder because you’ve just spent eight hours watching Ron and Hermione go from being friends to lovers, and everybody deserves to find their equal... But there’s absolutely no justification in lazy gift giving. If you’ve ever been on the receiving end of this kind of mindless present shopping (where someone buys a load of general presents, wraps them and then just hands them out willy-nilly), then you know first hand the resulting feeling a hairbrush and three pack of scrunchies has on the festive spirit.

We get it – you’ve got lots of people to buy for and the mince pie wave you’ve been riding since mid November is taking its toll on your energy levels, but it’s Christmas. It’s kind of your duty to put a smile on the face of at least one person you care about come the 25th.

Here’s some inspiration if you’re looking to buy an extra special present this year…

Presents for: Your foodie friends

They’ve been inviting you round theirs every week to taste a new recipe they’re perfecting and, when it was your turn to host, you made overcooked pasta with chicken nuggets and ketchup. Thank your foodie friend for filling your belly for a year with a nice hamper of all the fancy edibles they love, like a couple slabs of French cheese from Borough Market in London, or go themed and buy them a bottle of proper Italian wine and some of those delicious olives – the good ones with the stones in – from a bistro like Valvona Crolla in Edinburgh. If you’re buying for someone with dietary requirements, head to a specialist bistro like Wild Oats in Bristol and get some delicious oatcakes and crisps for them to munch on when everyone else it getting serious with the Twiglet bowl. Buy a cheap basket on eBay, tie a ribbon round it and you’ve basically just secured yourself another 12 months of free dinners.

Presents for: Your fashion devotee friends

If you’re buying for someone who’s life savings can be found hanging up their wardrobe then the likelihood is they’ve already bought and are thinking about selling (to make room to buy more) everything they want from the high street’s AW14 offerings. Surprise them with a one-off dress from a vintage store like the famous Blackout II in London, which has amazing hand-picked items for pretty much every price range, or spend your lunch break rummaging through the boutiques on ASOS Marketplace online – we love these fur clutches from Little By Little. Manchester’s Pop Boutique has loads of cool one off pieces, including stuff designed by local talent and Best Clothing in Leeds takes vintage clothes and reworks them to make unique items. Perf.

Presents for: Your caffeine addict friends

Back in t’day the only person you would of bought a tea or coffee-themed present for would have been someone you didn’t really know very well, like your next door neighbour who always signs for your online shopping when you’re out, or Uncle Terry. Thanks to the infiltration of popular specialist coffee bars and tea shops, though, and the fact we’ve all at some point had to work a triple shift in order to pay rent, you can bet that pretty much every one of your Gen Y mates is a caffeine addict. Relieve them of their expensive habit and buy a nice bag of fresh coffee beans from independent coffee shops like Workshop Coffee, who select fair-trade beans from across the world, or Debrief favourite Monmouth in London. Tea lovers will go nuts for the offerings from MD Tea Shop in Brighton, and Sugar Junctionin Manchester make their own Northern Quarter leaf blend that you can’t buy anywhere else. Sorted.

Presents for: Your magpie friends

Let’s face it: there is no better gift than jewellery. Head to London’s Portobello Market on a Saturday and sieve through the vintage and hand-made gems that the many, many jewellery stalls have to offer – if you’re on a budget, make a beeline for second-hand sterling silver, and don’t be afraid to haggle. Some stall owners will even polish your items for you and can often resize rings there and then with no extra cost. If it’s gold you want, online boutique The Individual has lots of options, too, and there’s even an ‘Under £50’ section where you’ll find really sweet pieces, like this gold-plated Helix ring for £25 and this cool amethyst necklace for £38. There’s even a gift-wrap service – HOLLAAA!

Presents for: Your house-proud friends

It doesn’t mater that they don’t own their own place or are working with a super tight budget, your house proud friends are fully committed to using scatter cushions and IKEA RIBBA picture frames in a quest to make their shoebox sized rental resemble the pages of a Zara Home lookbook. Help them out with some lush ceramic mugs and bowls from Moss Ceramics, handmade in London by super-babe Tsouni Moss. Etsy sellers are getting involved in various special pop-up locations around the UK, too, including Brighton and Leeds, and the first three-day Etsy pop-uk shop Etsy House is being held in London this weekend, so you can find the best the site has to offer IRL. If it’s artwork or a nice throw you’re after, take a look at Chirpy in Leeds, where you can choose from tonnes of affordable, cute home décor gifts by cool independent designers, and independent gift store Oklahoma in Manchester has some really kitsch home ideas, too.

Presents for: Your sexy friends

Ignore what we said earlier – a vibrator is the best gift any of us will ever get. Sex toys are winner gifts between girlfriends, number one because some people are too embarrassed to buy their own, so you’re doing them a solid, and number two it’s literally the gift that keeps giving, providing you buy a good one. Lustin Brighton has tonnes to offer and the girls that work there are total angels who’ll welcome you with open arms and all the advice. Sh! In Hoxton Square is great, too, with the cheapest vibrators coming in at a bargain £11, and you won’t find any creepy men loitering around, because guys can only enter the store if they’re accompanied by a female. Just remember to be a mate and warn the recipient not to open it in front of Ma and Pa.

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Follow Helena on Twitter @HezzleHazzle

This article originally appeared on The Debrief.

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