Our Favourite Independent Shops for Festive Gifts

Our Favourite Independent Shops for Festive Gifts

’Tis the season for festive gifting. Swerve the last-minute panic this December by shopping for handmade homeware, sustainable skincare, rare vinyl and delicious sweet treats at these brilliant independent boutiques

makes our soul sparkle quite like the festive spirit of
a local high street. Spruce trees draped in fairy lights, shop
fronts piled high with snow-dusted displays and soundtracks serving
up sweet songs of the season – we’re wrapping ourselves in tinsel
at the thought of it.

The reality, however, all too often looks like a last-minute
dash. Ploughing through swamped streets and desperately trying to
remember the name of our brother’s favourite aftershave is a sport
we’ll happily avoid this December. With the countdown well and truly on, we
visit the independent boutiques providing perfect stocking-fillers
aplenty. From an east London craft mecca to an Edinburgh homeware hero, these are the addresses to
have on your radar (and most have an online offering, too).

The best independent boutiques in the UK for Christmas

Homewares at Bound Concept, Belfast
The team behind Bound Concept in Belfast

Bound Concept, Belfast showcases new designers and
ethically-sourced artwork.

Form SE15

Peckham, London

Scented candles and dazzling decorations, colourful knitwear and
dinky jewellery are just some of the staples that fill the wooden
shelves of Form SE15. Impossible to miss, thanks to its
sunshine-yellow facade, this Peckham shop first opened its doors in
2018 and has been delivering the gifting goods ever since.
Showcasing brands that champion sustainability and spotlight
talented emerging artists, its Christmas gift guide sees an
impressive selection priced at under £25: organic hand soaps,
covetable journals and cocktail herbs, here we come. We’re picking
up the vegan, blossom oil-infused Esh peach soy candle for a thoughtful secret
Santa gift. For those who can’t visit, a UK-wide delivery service
is a godsend.

186 Bellenden Rd, London SE15 4BW
+44 20 7635 9359

Bound Concept


Co-founders Tara Thallon and Natalie Davis were brought together
by their love of design, a shared passion that led to the opening
of their Belfast boutique Bound Concept. The space, which also
operates as an online concept store, features ethically sourced
artwork crafted by a bevy of visionaries, making this a great place
to discover new designers and their collections before anyone else
does. We can think of no better place to find a gift for the
interiors enthusiast in our life. The porcelain flower vase by Serax? Ideal for those who have
just moved somewhere new. Meanwhile, Aaron Probyn’s heath maple
chopping board is perfect for that friend who’s
a regular dinner-party host.

108 North St, Belfast BT1 1LE
+44 7706 931 943

Products for sale at Haeckels
Inside Haeckels House

Head to Margate’s Haeckels for seaweed skincare



Haeckels’ luxurious goods, crafted using surplus seaweed, are
sold all across the country, but the brand’s flagship store is
situated in the heart of Margate (with a Covent Garden outpost serving
Londoners in need of a fix). Come armed with a spacious tote bag
and pick up oils, lotions and scrubs concocted from beach-harvested
ingredients, all packed into elegant brown glass bottles displayed
in illuminated wooden cabinets. The starter set is the perfect gift
for a friend, consisting of three hero products – an exfoliator,
day cream and hand balm. We love the brand’s Rubbish for Product
scheme; a brilliant initiative that enables customers to receive a
free item in return for a bag of beach rubbish.

18 Cliff Tce, Margate CT9 1RU
+44 1227 203 675

Piccadilly Records


It’s no surprise that Manchester’s edgy Northern Quarter is home
to the coolest independent record store in the UK. Piccadilly
Records has been thriving since 1978, specialising in pre-loved
vinyl, limited-edition specials and hot new releases. A gritty
facade is indicative of the shop’s interior, where
polished-concrete floors and poster-clad walls backdrop baskets
jam-packed with legendary titles and shelves offering various
categories such as “staff picks” and “what we’d sell for free if we
could”. It’s almost impossible for any music lover to leave
empty-handed. Can’t get to the store? Don’t worry – the website is
just as rewarding and always has great deals, too.

53 Oldham St, Manchester M1 1JR
+44 16 1839 8008

Incense on sale
The entrance to fragrance shop Oneironaut

Shoreditch’s Oneironaut sells smells: candles, incense, reed
diffusers and more.


Shoreditch, London

Oneironaut sells smells. Fresh greenhouse flavours, the
atmospheric note of soft tobacco, the sweetness of damson plum –
we’ve sniffed them all in this warmly lit Shoreditch store, finding
layers of reminiscence and emotion hidden within soy wax candles,
fine sticks of incense and the brand’s distinctive onyx-black reed
diffusers. Alongside a core range of unique fragrances (including
the woody and evocative Old Havana, and the frankincense and
cedar-laced Dickens, described as “evening snowstorms with a book,
a blanket and a warm beverage”) that perfume everything from bath
lotions to mist sprays, you’ll find tactile incense holders and
rustic ceramic creations, too. The name? It refers to the ability
to travel within a dream… the perfect moniker for a shop selling
transportive memories and moments captured in a scent.

12 Cheshire St, London E2 6EH

Objects of Use


Oxford might just be our favourite shopping destination, thanks
to its slew of dynamic foodie start-ups, hip hangouts and brilliant
boutiques. After taking the obligatory stroll around the city’s
Covered Market, venture around the corner to Objects of Use, a
contemporary homeware store with an ethos of “voluntary
simplicity”. Products for the home, garden, kitchen and camping are
all conscientiously sourced “archetypal” examples of their kind,
from Ukrainian enamel bowls to Portuguese notebooks. We’d argue
that the shop’s impeccable displays are reason alone to visit the
city, alongside its hand-dipped beeswax candles, which are made entirely from
wax originating in UK hives and hand-crafted in Cumbria.

6 Lincoln Hse, Market St, Oxford OX1 3EQ
+44 1865 241 705

Homeware at The Hambleton, Winchester

Independent department store The Hambleton’s homeware

The Hambledon


When in doubt, head to The Hambledon. That’s our motto when it
comes to gift-giving, anyway. Located in an airy, whitewashed house
in Winchester city centre, this independent department store sells
a curated collection of homeware, kitchenware and bath and beauty
products (as well as clothing and other odds and ends), sourcing
quality products from across the globe that fit with its
uncompromising ethos of well-made, well-presented goods. Seeking
something for a houseproud friend? Pick up a bottle of body wash made by America’s oldest apothecary,
dinner candles the colour of sugared mice,
adorable acrylic spoons with a faux-tortoiseshell pattern and
quirky replica match strike pots based on early 20th-century

10 The Square, Winchester SO23 9ES
+44 1962 890 055



Founded in 2013 by Sidonie Warren, Papersmiths has built up a
small stationery empire (with one shop in Brighton and two in
London, plus an online offering) selling playful deskware. The
Brighton store is a terrazzo-tiled haven of brightly coloured
notepads, pens, rulers, rubbers and wrapping paper, but it’s the
brand’s own collection that we’re popping in stockings this
Christmas. The eye-catching range includes colourful notepads in
fuchsia pink, yolk yellow and limoncello green, plus pens and
wittily branded tote bags.

Sydney St, Brighton BN1 4EN
+44 1273 696 769

Tinsmiths goods
Earthenware Pottery

Herefordshire homewares at Tinsmiths. | Photo credit: Mike
Garlick Design



Tucked beneath the Tudor-beamed eaves of Ledbury’s Quality
Street-esque High Street, Tinsmiths sells a well-curated selection
of homeware, lighting and fabrics, but it’s the art prints that
make it one of our favourite UK shop stops. Fill your tote with
botanical illustrations by Sophie Elm, the woodland-inspired
woodcut prints of Mark Hearld and eclectic circus-style posters by
Jonny Hannah.

8A High St, Ledbury, HR8 1DS
+44 1531 632 083



Championing minimalist design, this London Street store stocks
classic Scandi favourites – including items from Hay and Ferm
Living – alongside lesser-known brands from across the UK and
Europe. We head here when gift-seeking for those friends furnishing
their kitchens using Kim K’s home as inspiration; the tactile
pottery, woven jute rugs and playfully textured cushion covers in
earthy, neutral hues are right up their street. Pop a
pinecone-shaped beeswax candle in a stocking, and treat yourself to
a set of shimmering antique star decorations for the tree.

53 London St, Edinburgh, EH3 6LX
+44 7808 527 386

Books on sale at Mr B Bath
Mr B's Bath

Bath books at Mr B’s Emporium.

Mr B’s Emporium


We’ve all found ourselves falling victim to the gift of a
celebrity autobiography – and if you haven’t, lucky you. Swap the
supermarket shelves for a visit to an independent bookshop, where
thought-provoking essays and anticipated novels from leading
authors await. We’re making a beeline for Mr B’s Emporium, a
three-floor space gracing Bath’s St John Street. Floor-to-ceiling
windows allow light to flood the shop’s vibrant interiors,
characterised by red walls, worn floorboards and playful murals.
Designed to offer a warm welcome to bookworms, the space features
lots of cosy nooks decked out with Chesterfield armchairs primed
with pin-striped cushions – come prepared to settle in for the
entire afternoon. Gift inspo? These guys are known for their
award-winning bespoke book subscription. Each month, a title is
hand-picked by an in-house bibliotherapist to suit the recipient’s
interests – that’s another present ticked off the list.

14-15 John St, Bath BA1 2JL
+44 1225 331 155

Hoyle’s of Oxford


Need to organise some structured festive fun? Get down to
Hoyle’s to pick up traditional chess boards, beautiful backgammon
sets and board games galore. The cherry-red frontage of this games
shop has shone brightly on Oxford’s High Street since 1997,
offering an ever-varied selection of traditional and modern games
in England’s brainiest city. With both vintage and new sets on
offer, there’s a chance to pick up wacky games of yesteryear as
well as evergreen classics. Our pick? Ticket to Ride: Europe,

71 High St, Oxford OX1 4BA
+44 1865 203 244

Choosing Keeping

Covent Garden, London

One for serious stationery obsessives, this Covent Garden store
is an Aladdin’s cave of desktop delights, from gold-nibbed fountain
pens and Japanese Katazome paper-covered notebooks to Italian
woodblock-print wrapping paper and letter-closing wax seals, all
neatly presented in precision-organised piles, salt-glazed pots and
glass-fronted cabinets. Stop by for Arts & Crafts-inspired
wrapping supplies (we love these retro present tags), and you’ll inevitably leave with
a set of Japanese watercolours – the perfect present for
a burgeoning Monet.

21 Tower St, London WC2H 9NS
+44 20 7613 3842

SUITCASE Vol.39: Ritual issue


An independent round-up wouldn’t be complete without a shout out
for our print magazine. Treat the discerning traveller in your life
(or yourself) to our collector’s bundle, featuring 30 issues of thoughtful
stories and beautiful photography. Or snag our latest issue:
Ritual – a magical journey that celebrates the
joy found in traditions old and new around the world. Inside,
you’ll find features on the quotidian Asian breakfast that’s been
elevated to an almost spiritual act, one writer’s annual bird-like
migration to Antarctica, the surprisingly contemporary world of
Romanian witches and more. The act of reading these stories? A
ritual in itself.

Shop now

Dalloway Terrace, Bloomsbury

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