Shopping at Christmas scares me. Especially when I’m under pressure to come home laden with presents but I’ve no idea what to buy.
I definitely can’t face visiting a shopping centre like West Quay in Southampton or Gunwharf Quays in Portsmouth at this time of year.
When I do, I find myself losing my rag after about an hour of pushing, shoving and queuing. The inevitable heavy traffic on the journey in and out of town doesn’t help my mood.
That means defaulting to shopping on the Web. The problem then is that some sites are so vast that there’s thousands – if not millions – of products to browse through.
Then, when I finally think I’ve found the perfect present for little Johnny, it turns out to be a load of rubbish and nothing like the copy-and-pasted product description on the site I bought it from.
Shopping local, online
What I need is a shop that doesn’t have an infinite choice of products. A shop that cares about the things it sells. A shop that isn’t a faceless corporation that pays a few pence in tax despite making profits of several billion pounds.
The answer then is to shop locally. But that still means doing battle with the pushing, shoving and queuing in town doesn’t it?
We can still shop locally from the comfort of our living rooms. We don’t even have to put down our mince pies if we don’t want to. That’s because there are a plethora of independent Hampshire-based businesses out there selling their wares online. You just need to dig deeper than the first few pages of Google to find them.
Christmas present ideas from online businesses based in Hampshire
Here are 10 Christmas gifts that you can buy online from businesses based in Hampshire.
The 10 companies I’ve listed here are regulars on the weekly “#HampshireHour” Twitter chat, which happens from 8pm to 9pm every Tuesday. Feel free to add you own suggestions in the comments section, below.
1. Mallard duck A4 print (Artist Not Included)
Artist Not Included – aka Charley B – is a make-up artist turned illustrator based in Winchester. She sells her work on her Etsy store where you can buy greeting cards and handmade cushions as well as prints.
Gift idea: The Mallard duck A4 print signed by the artist (£15 plus P&P) is a nice present for anyone who enjoys the British countryside.
2. Lavender pillow spray (Long Barn Lavender)
The first I heard of this lavender grower was when I tried lavender-infused chocolate on a Halloween walking tour of Winchester.
Long Barn has a shop and cafe set amongst its lavender fields near Alresford. But it also sells many of its products, including plants, dried lavender, jams, cakes, oils and beauty products – via its online shop.
Gift idea: This lavender pillow spray (£6.95 plus P&P) would make a great stocking filler for any light sleepers you know.
3. Binky Bear collection gift set (Binky Bear)
Binky Bear is a “cheeky little bear” who loves to explore the world around him. He’s the creation of Alresford-based Moira Blackwell and Liz Nankivell.
Binky is the subject of three hardback books – “Binky’s Big Adventure” (set in Alresford), “Binky Gets in Trouble” (set in Winchester) and “Binky Goes to London. All are illustrated with photos of Binky in real places. So you’ll recognise some of the shots.
You can buy the books on the website as well as your own Binky Bear toy. There’s prints, cards and postcards too.
Gift idea: The Binky’s Collection Gift Set, which includes all three books plus a Binky Bear Toy, is currently on special offer (£39.99 plus £2.80 P&P).
4. Mexican coffee beans (Raw Bean Coffee)
I don’t know about you, but the coffee I buy from supermarkets never tastes fresh.
It’s good to know you’re guaranteed freshness when you order your beans from Winchester’s Raw Bean Coffee. This is because they only roast your beans once you’ve placed your order.
Gift idea: Speciality coffee makes a great stocking filler at Christmas – make sure the coffee lover in your life has a freshly ground cup on Christmas morning with these Mexican single origin coffee beans (£4.69 plus P&P) coupled with a cool Hario Skerton hand coffee grinder (£34.99 plus P&P).
5. Infinity scarf (Sprig Knitwear)
Like Artist Not Included, Sprig Knitwear has an online shop on Etsy.
The owner Antonia Sullivan makes everything by hand using 100% lambswool.
Gift idea: This oatmeal and green infinity scarf (£55.00 plus P&P) will keep your loved ones warm on those dull and chilly January and February days.
6. Bike maintenance class (Bespoke Biking)
Bespoke Biking is another business based in Winchester. It’s a non-profit social enterprise and offers bike hire, cycle tours in the beautiful Hampshire countryside, training and bike maintenance classes.
Gift idea: Know someone who has all the gear but is clueless about how to look after their bike? Book them onto a Bespoke Biking bike maintenance class for just £15.
7. Singing experience (Abi Singing)
Abi is a professional singer who also offers one-on-one singing lessons. She’s based in the Portsmouth area and has more than 10 years of experience as a singing teacher.
Gift idea: If anyone you know wants to nurture their talents as a singer or improve their self-confidence, Abi is offering gift vouchers for singing experiences. A one-hour beginner lesson is £30. Get in touch with her to find out more.
8. Monsters notebook (Angela Chick Illustration)
Hampshire, it seems, is brimming with talented illustrators. Angela Chick turns her artwork into posters, greetings cards, t-shirts, bags, wrapping paper and more, and sells these in her online shop.
Gift idea: This monsters notebook (£4.00/£5.50 including P&P) is a great inexpensive present for kids or an adult that has a kids inside them.
9. Meat rubs (Yarty Cordials)
Yarty makes refreshing fruit cordials, vinegars flavoured with ingredients like garlic, raspberry and elderflower, and meat rubs.
The passionate people behind Yarty’s use natural ingredients and no artificial colourings, additives or preservatives.
Gift idea: Yarty’s meat rubs (£5.00 a jar) will delight the meat fiend in your life. Flavours include Lemon and Pepper, BBQ, “Raj” and “Hong Kong”.
10. Cocktail Week wristband (Winchester Cocktail Week)
The event features cocktail-making master classes, a “Comedy drinking show”, free cocktail tastings and lots more at various venues around the city.
Gift idea: Winchester Cocktail Week Wristbands are currently just £10 (plus booking fee). Buy one for a friend or relative and they’ll be able to get signature cocktails for just £4 each at selected bars, restaurants and pubs in the city throughout the week.
Over to you
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Cocktails image credit: Flickr/southernfoodalliance