Where I'm shopping this Christmas
Updated: Feb 23
As I'm sure you'd expect, I spend most of my time encouraging people to shop with The Arienas Collective for Christmas. And, of course, I shop here too! However, even I can't tick everything off my gift list without venturing outside our wee Christmas Shop. So, I thought I'd share some of the people and places that have helped me solve gift dilemmas this year.
My starting point is to shop local, small and independent. Here's where I've shopped so far - and forgive me for starting with The Arienas Collective!
The Arienas Collective - Jewellery School Scotland
Each year I try to make some of my own gifts. This year I booked myself onto Anna Campbell's full day Introduction to silver clay jewellery beginners workshop. It's truly amazing how many gifts you can make from an apparently teeny piece of silver clay! I can't share photos yet since it would spoil the surprise, but I'm so proud of the pendants I made for my daughter and son-in-law to be (with Anna's help). Each piece is a one-off, which I love, and makes it extra special. I'd thoroughly recommend seeking out workshops run by local artists and makers in your area (well, I would wouldn't I?!) - a workshop space or voucher makes a great gift. Check out The Arienas Collective workshops and creative kits here >>
Image: Jewellery School Scotland
Most days I walk to see my mum I pass by all the lovely Stockbridge shops and cafés, and I never need much of an excuse to pop into Independent Zebra! There's a lovely selection of gifts and cards from over 150 small, independent business based in Edinburgh, Scotland and the UK. I always get a few gifts here, but this year I came out laden with loads of goodies! I can't remember the last time I ticked so many things off my list in one hour of shopping :-) So, if you're in the area it's well worth popping in before they sell out! Shop here >>
Lucky Cloud Skincare
I first met Lucy, who launched award-winning Lucky Cloud Skincare in 2015, when she ran a guest workshop here at The Arienas Collective. One person couldn't make it on the day, and Lucy invited me to join in. I loved her plant based, eco-friendly, all natural approach, and her obvious passion for providing people with skincare that works for them. I'm now hooked on her Nourishing Cleansing Balm - it's such a joy to use and smells delicious. This year I've decided to introduce my niece to it (I don't think she's on my mailing list so it's OK to share!) along with a lovely coordinating cotton bag, and I hope she loves using it as much as I do. (And I picked up a lovely bamboo soap dish for myself too!) Lucy makes her own products and ensures they are vegan friendly, so you can also shop with a cruelty-free conscience. Shop here >>
I love a scented candle. As well as lighting them to help me relax in the evening, I also use them to scent our space when we have workshops running. I admit to being a big Jo Malone candle fan, but when the company was bought out by a multi-national I started to look around for a local, independent provider. It wasn't too long before I discovered Can-to-Candle, a small batch candle company located just outside Edinburgh. I attended one of their candle making workshops run by founder Kerry, and fell in love with their long-lasting, plant based candles.
My current favourite scent is Black Plum & Rhubarb, but there are some lovely festive scents available at the moment including this beautiful Winter Orange. Kerry has some great gift ideas too, including personalised candles, melts, Christmas Day candles, kindle cones and tea light holders. There are a few of these already on their way to family members! Sign up to their newsletter and you'll get 10% off your first order. Shop here >>
Topping and Company Booksellers
If you love book browsing, you'll love the Edinburgh branch of Topping and Company at 2 Blenheim Place. (And I think they're offering complimentary coffee again too!) I've also been to a few book events at Toppings: in fact my first post-covid event outing was listening to Bernardine Evaristo read from her new book 'Manifesto'. She was fabulous. I love getting and giving new books at Christmas, and Santa always seems to fit them into family stockings! Tickets for an author reading are a great gift too, and a way to meet face to face with writers you admire. Because they do so many author events, Toppings has a great selection of signed copies for that extra special touch. We're lucky to have some great local book shops nearby, and two of my other favourites so far this year are the new Rare Birds Books in Stockbridge who stock 'great books by great women' (and they always have lit candles too so that's a winner for me!), and of course the fabulous, award-winning Golden Hare Books on St Stephen's Street. Check out Toppings >>
If you've been to one of our workshops then you know how much I love my Shibui teas! We offer a selection of Shibui individually wrapped bags, but I also have my own stash of loose teas. Shibui is an environmentally-conscious family-run business and most of their packaging is either compostable or recyclable. In Edinburgh it's John who does pretty much everything, and his brother runs the business in Canada. They have over 100 tea blends covering just about every taste you can imagine, and have won several Good Taste Awards. My current favourite is Roobos & Orange Organic, and they also produce the best decaffeinated Earl Grey I've found. (I have to limit the amount of caffeine so save it for my morning coffee). They have a lovely festive range too - and I can vouch that the Mulled Wine tea does smell exactly like Mulled Wine! I've been trying to persuade John to do a tea blending workshop for ages but I'm glad to say he's too busy to do so! Maybe one day...
If anyone you know is a tea lover, then check out their website: they have some lovely gift ideas at this time of year and some great sampler packs. John also offers 10% off when you sign up to his newsletter. Shop for Shibui teas >>
Another Stockbridge shop I find hard to pass, especially at this time of year, is Mexican specialist Caoba on Raeburn Place. They have a great range of prices, and it's perfect for small gifts and stocking fillers. The shop is a treat for the senses, with brightly coloured tiles, decorations, candles and a wide range of incense sticks as well as silver jewellery, plants, Mexican food, decor and more - it's a bit of a treasure trove, and I can lose myself in there for quite some time!
I've decided to move away from the classic white and gold table decor this year, and have stocked up on their colourful candles and glass candlesticks. If you're looking for something a little different, and fun, do go and say hello to their super-friendly staff. They have an online shop, but this is one to visit in person if you can. Check out Caoba >>
George Mewes Cheese
Cheese is my foodie indulgence, and a main reason why I couldn't go vegan (I'm afraid the vegan options just don't do it for me). When visiting my mum in Comely Bank I often cut through Dean Park mews, so when George Mewes opened up I couldn't resist going in to check it out. The staff are welcoming and well-informed, and the shop is a haven of artisan cheese from around the world, plus artisan breads, specialist crackers and olives! The shop has been specially designed to create the cave-like conditions that are perfect for storing cheese, and I could honestly stay in there for longer than is naturally necessary! Sadly they don't sell online for those of you who don't live nearby their shops in Edinburgh and Glasgow, however this another shop you should visit in person for the full experience. If you're planning on having a cheese board this festive season, drop in and get some free advice, and go home with everything you need for the perfect platter. I'll see you there! Shop for cheese >>
These are just a few of my favourite local indy shops, there are more I've still to visit this year including Life Story and Curiouser and Curiouser on Broughton Street. That gift list still has a few people to tick off, and I usually find a few things in both those shops to add to my own wish list!
Have you got any favourites to add to the list?