For many, Christmas shopping is in full swing, albeit online from a sofa or kitchen table while still in lockdown.
It might be tempting to click on the obvious, but there are plenty of alternatives to billionaire Jeff Bezos’s Amazon for people who want to put time and thought into their festive spending.
Also, though supermarkets are providing a vital service, they don’t need to be a one-stop shop for all we buy over Christmas.
Cash pile: Online behemoth Amazon has made its founder Jeff Bezos, above with partner Lauren Sanchez, a billionaire
A GOOD READ…FROM A LOCAL BOOK SHOP
An antidote to Amazon could be the recent launch of uk.bookshop.org. It’s an online marketplace that brings together independent bookshops from around the country – and financially supports them – while delivering the books that customers want to their doorstep.
You can either buy directly from a local bookseller or order through the general website where a large portion of profit is pooled and distributed back to bookshops. Andy Hunter, chief executive and founder of Bookshop.org, says: ‘Books make wonderful gifts – they carry meaning, pleasure, and personal connection. Bookshops offer those things, too, on high streets and in communities. We cannot allow them to be a casualty of the pandemic.’
More than 200 bookshops are on its platform, which is easy to use and delivers quickly. Hunter adds: ‘It keeps your money in your community where it is needed most.’
Another independent online store is the Big Green Bookshop, run by Simon Key, author of We’re Asleep Dad. The website also offers adult or child subscriptions to the company’s Book Club, which can be bought as gifts for three, six or 12 months.
Better World Books sells new and second-hand books, with an aim to keep old books out of landfill, and funds literacy charities.
For those who want to read more about how to shop with a conscience, annual gift subscriptions to Ethical Consumer magazine can also be bought for £30 at ethicalconsumer.org/subscriptions.
Tim Hunt, co-editor of Ethical Consumer, says: ‘The beauty of the internet is that you can access ethical independent stores from all over the country. Whether it is brilliant second-hand bargains from the likes of Better World Books and Oxfam, or handmade crafts from Ethical Shop, you are only ever a click away from a wealth of ethical retailers.’
FESTIVE FOOD FROM AROUND THE CORNER
Fresh cuts of meat – and the Christmas turkey – can be bought online from local butchers. Many have opened up or expanded their online stores since the first lockdown. To find contact details for a butcher near you, try searching on the National Craft Butchers website at nationalcraftbutchers. co.uk/local-butchers.
Keenly priced seafood can be bought online and delivered from Cornwall the following day by Fish for Thought and The Cornish Fishmonger. Both also sell gift vouchers. Visit fishforthought.co.uk or thecornishfishmonger.co.uk.
Meanwhile, chocolate lovers can be catered for with a wide range of treats at hotelchocolat.com/uk.
Drink high quality cocktails at home with a cocktail-in-a-box delivery from niococktails.co.uk. They are transported in slim, flat containers that fit through a letterbox.
Alternatively, if you can’t get to a pub, send a ‘bar in a box’ gift set via microbarbox.com. The Christmas box is £35 and features a mini Prosecco, Baileys Irish Cream, raspberry Gin and Vodka. Christmas food and drink hampers can be selected from Oxfordshire-based Hampers.com. There are variations to suit every taste – catering for lovers of wine, beer, cheese or cream teas – and prices start from £22. Patrick Gore, its managing director, says: ‘Now is the time to act. Shop now, shop early and avoid disappointment.’
GIFTS WITH THE PERSONAL TOUCH
One-of-a-kind gifts – including jewellery, arts and crafts made by independent sellers – can be bought on Etsy and notonthehighstreet. com. Shoppers can also find Advent calendars, decorations and Christmas stockings to help get the family into the Christmas spirit.
Add a customised twist to conventional presents with the Personalised Gifts Shop – with bottles of wine, sweet jars and mugs bearing a recipient’s name.
Get a 10 per cent discount with the code 10-OFF at the online checkout at personalisedgiftsshop.co.uk. Organic and sustainable gifts, food and clothes can be sourced from Traidcraft – ‘the home of fair trade’. It is co-founder of the charity Fairtrade Foundation, which supports fair terms of trade for farmers and workers in developing nations. Shop for gifts at traidcraftshop.co.uk/ gifts.
For personalised art and bespoke pictures, try littleflorence.co.uk. It is a business started by Katie Randall and inspired by her daughter Florence, who has Down’s syndrome, and is described as ‘strong, fearless and outgoing’. Randall’s prints celebrate all the individual personalities within a family.
COSMETICS THAT ARE KIND TO ALL
Cruelty-free cosmetics, hand creams, lip balms and bath bombs can be bought online from high street favourites Lush and The Body Shop.
Both have ready-to-go Christmas gift sets and stocking fillers. Buy a haul worth more than £45 at Lush and get free delivery. The Body Shop is offering cut-price deals in advance of this week’s Black Friday – the American-inspired discount shopping frenzy that takes place on the last Friday of November. Get 15 per cent off with the code 14672 and free delivery on orders worth over £25.
YOU CAN EVEN CLICK ONTO A CHARITY SHOP
Buy cards and brand-new gifts but support good causes with online charity shops.
The British Heart Foundation is asking people to take on its Charity Shop Challenge this year and buy at least one ‘preloved’ item – something donated to the charity – for Christmas.
Allison Swaine-Hughes, the charity’s retail director, says: ‘Our online shop has a wide range of Christmas cards, giftware and winter accessories, with all proceeds going towards our life-saving research into heart and circulatory diseases at a time when we need support more than ever.’
She adds: ‘There is a treasure trove of preloved items to discover in our eBay shop or on the shopping app Depop, with affordable vintage pieces and retro sportswear added each day.’ Visit bhf.org.uk/ shop. Oxfam also sells a wide variety of gifts, clothes, books and music at onlineshop. oxfam.org.uk.
Cancer Research UK sells on multiple platforms – with an online shop, a marketplace on ASOS, a store on eBay, a Depop store and a designer selection on Vestiaire Collective. Find out more at cancerresearchuk. org/get-involved/ways-to-shop.