Friday, November 06, 2009

Christmas Shopping – Online sites

An extract from a recently written article for the NCT St Albans Magazine… Hence the focus on shopping for kids’ pressies…

The ghastly spectre of Christmas is looming in the diary. A mere flick of the calendar pages and singing, sequins, champers and shopping are rearing their heads once more to entice us to spend money on more useless 'stuff' for ungrateful friends and family who want for nothing.

But does it really have to be like this? Do we really have to dread the arrival of the season of goodwill with a groan and a shuffle of credit cards? Each year I try to spend as little as possible for as much impact as possible. True, this plan has enjoyed varying degrees of success (I'm not sure my mother has yet forgiven me for the year of the 'luxury ostrich feather duster') but I like to think that an eye for a bargain and a thought for William Blake* combine to lessen the horror of the bristling pavements.


Not a creature was stirring, except a clicking mouse...

  • Compare and compare again on prices and ideas but try to draw the line at things that are so cheap as to cause you to question their origin... Much better to find a gorgeous old basket in a charity shop and fill it with homemade goodies or offerings from St Alban's fabulous market stalls, than buy a plastic hamper from the supermarket for less than £10 and wonder about the provenance...
  • Websites that are high on my clickometer would include
    • Not on the High Street: this site is choc-full of independent designers' works, usually with a great range available to personalise, and their Christmas gift guide really helps you sort the diamonds from the huge range of gems.
    • Mirrormirrorontheweb: a buyer with discretion selects the fine range of goodies here. I particularly love the candles (the depth of scent means they last for much longer than you'd expect) and the reasonably priced but high-impact jewellery means that you can send partners there without fear.
    • Though both the above have great kids' sections, other go-tos for kids are the ever dependable Great Little Trading Company and for traditional toys, MulberryBush is great value.
    • Other havens for good design are HiddenArtShop and, both of which are worth the rummage if you're at a loose end but the range of products can feel rather like walking into a department store and not having a clue what you want or where to find it!
  • If you're buying smellies for the Mother in Law or teenage girl, can I suggest Strawberry Net which undercuts the malls but is reliable enough to avoid eau-de-knock-off.

* Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful…

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