December is around the corner, which means that the run up to panic buying last minute bubble bath sets is upon us.
However, our well-loved festive tradition of Christmas shopping will be slightly different this year. Swarming sardines trekking through Oxford Street is off the cards. We will be ‘adding to cart’ and ‘continuing to checkout’ instead.
As well as a surge in online shopping, Covid-19 restrictions have increased our reliance on the local high street too. We have understood the importance of community by striving to look after each other. Shout out to all the local shops who pivoted their business by offering takeaway services.
We thought that we would create a guide for how you can do both this Christmas. You can push beyond the boundaries of Amazon and Asos by making a local shop-owner do a happy dance.
From sustainable hand-crafted candles to crates of East London distilled booze, the gifty treasures of our small businesses are only a click away.
To tick those boxes of originality, thoughtfulness, beauty and meaning, here’s how you can #shoplocal from your sofa and make a loved one smile. There is something for everyone right here on our doorstep.
Roman Road’s hot pink hub of happiness is currently operating as an online store. It’s the perfect spot for gifts, summed up by Helen the owner as ‘nice things by nice people’. Do you know a baby that was made in E3? There’s a babygrow for them. Do you know someone who is proudly East London? There’s a sweater for them. Does your crazy cat friend need a ‘cool cats’ puzzle’ in their life? Well, they have that too. Have a browse here.
You may know ánimo yoga as the beautiful wellbeing studio nestled in the heart of Roman Road. If you have peeped through the pastel green window frame, you might have noticed their delightful gift shop. They stock unique, vibrant and ethical yoga outfits, by brand ‘Puka Wear’, that will make your yogi friend stand out through any vinyasa flow. From jewellery and candles, to locally made ceramics, everything in this shop will make a gorgeous gift. Check out their online store.
Urban Makers Pop-up
Urban Makers is the ultimate online Christmas market. With a rooted belief in nurturing creative people with unique dreams and ideas, it is a colourful platform that showcases original products and inspiring designers. You may have seen their monthly stall at Spitalfields Market, or attended one of their workshops in East London. From recycled cashmere gloves and vegan diffusers to ethical statement jewelry, they have an eclectic range of sustainable gifts. Have a wander around the virtual market place here.
There’s one word for this gifty Vicky Park Village store: sublime. Fittingly, that’s what the shop is called too. Whether you’re looking to buy a mate a mug with a funny caption (a trusty classic), or treat someone special to a luxuriously organic cotton garment, this is the place for you. Despite having to shut shop during this second lockdown, they will still be operating via local delivery (within a mile radius) and click & collect. Simply choose delivery or pick up at checkout. Have a scroll through here. If you have any questions, feel free message the team on Instagram.
Branch on the Park
Branch on the Park is a local jewellery shop. You’ve probably been mesmerised by the diamonds that gleam from their Victoria Park Village windows. Julia is the talented owner, and she undertakes all of the shop’s private commissions. By skillfully matching precious metals with unusual gems, her creations have an exotic feel. From sparkling birthstone bracelets, to glistening pendants, a present from here would make an extra special gift. Make your loved one sparkle this Christmas. For more information, visit their online shop.
Don’t you love popping to an art gallery and having a browse in their shop? Picking up a pretty postcard, or perhaps a funky pencil, is a novelty we have missed whilst their doors have been closed. But, did you know that Whitechapel Gallery’s items are available to look at online? Their chunky portfolios of contemporary art and exhibition catalogues will have any coffee table looking adequately bougie. You can pre-order by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org to collect your gift, or have it delivered, when it reopens after lockdown. Visit their online shop here.
This designer store on Roman Road brims with all kinds of big-name labels. Originally a menswear retailer, they have since expanded to fully incorporate women’s and children’s clothing, shoes and accessories. Brands such as Ralph Lauren, Hugo Boss and Alexander McQueen have attracted a celebrity clientele (including some of the biggest names of grime) to this spot on the Roman for decades. You can order via their online store.
Food and drink
Mr Bull’s Butchers
Mr Bull’s Butchers has been trading on the Roman for over 30 years, under the village-style allure of a red and white striped awning. Family run and rich in history, it is an emblem of ‘shopping local’ in our area. This year, they’ll be selling hampers of meat that range from £39.99 to £49.99, with an added bonus of free home delivery. Like the sound of this? Check out their Facebook page for more information.
East London Liquor
If you can’t get down to their brand home in Bow Wharf, East London Liquor are bringing their bar to you this Christmas with the option of nationwide delivery – any orders over £35 are eligible for free shipping. Maybe this is the way you say ‘I love you’ to family afar this year. The company prides itself on a motto of ‘decent booze for decent prices from decent people’. Well, we think they’re more than decent; we think they’re pretty awesome. They even have a cool new branding, with unconventional bottle shapes and luminous colours. Check out their website for more info.
How about 12 cans of beer for the 12 days of Christmas? We’ve all missed evenings at The White Building this November haven’t we? Sipping on a pint, under the warm glow of fairy lights, overlooking the River Lea. If you have a friend that is particularly a fan of Crate Brewery’s creations, then why not buy them a dozen of their favourite cans? From their classic lagers and IPAs, to a limited edition Sticky Toffee Stout, their online shop is offering collection and delivery options.
Avoid the pressure of choosing the wrong wine this Christmas. Opt for a swanky gift voucher from Victoria Park’s Bottle Apostle, which comes lovingly sealed in a black and gold envelope. Alternatively, have a gander on their online store where you can see a range of gift options like cool mixed cases. From a £20 alcohol free package of craft beers to a luxury selection of effortless Italian wines, there’s something for everyone. Order online here.
Taxi Spirit Company
This one is for the rum and gin lovers out there. Taxi Spirit Company is a family run business based in Mile End, and is the home of London’s first ever rum distillery – pretty cool right? Their spiced rum is infused with sweet cane, delicious black treacle, a hint of oak and refreshing coconut and citrus. From their boldly branded bottles, to their Taxi Experience Tours, they offer a range of great gifts for friends and family, available to order online.
Can you really beat a bunch of flowers? Denningtons, the family run florist on Roman Road, deliver and supply fresh, seasonal, scented bundles of beauty from the heart of London’s east end for all occasions and to suit all budgets. Whether you want to treat someone to a Christmas wreath, or have a hand tied bouquet of the finest flowers delivered to someone’s door, the friendly team will be happy to help. They deliver to a wide range of East London postcodes and worldwide via the Interflora relay service. See their website for more information.
If one one your nearest and dearest has moved into a new gaff recently, why don’t you jazz up their walls? Local artist Julie (‘joolieart’) uses expressive colours and a playful style inspired by her experiences of nature in the East London neighbourhood. Her prints feature familiar places like Roman Road market, Vicky Park and our iconic tower blocks. East Enders, near or far, are bound to love these. Find out more via her website.
Local artist, Bex, sells her work online. From pretty greeting cards and prints to the occasional handmade ceramic ware, her creations make lovely gifts. One of her latest works is a vibrant drawing of Khan’s Grocers on Roman Road; if this store is a local fave of somebody you know, then it’ll make a really thoughtful gift – the bright colours will beam from their walls with love. You can get in contact with Bex via her Facebook page, where she welcomes direct messaging for commissions and more information.
Why not treat a friend or loved one to the gift of film? Our local independent cinema, Genesis, has a whole host of gift options for the film buffs in your life. From gift vouchers to personal memberships, a cinematic experience at Genesis will be a winner. 50% off screenings? Discounts at the bar? Free entry to public events? If you know someone that would lap up these benefits (and, let’s be honest, who wouldn’t?) then check out all of their options via their website.
Shoreditch’s Rich Mix is an emblem of our love affair with the arts here in East London. The venue’s exciting and ambitious programme of contemporary culture attracts audiences from around the world. From live music and spoken word, to theatre, dance and visual art, there is an event for everyone here. What about wrapping up a ticket to one of these events for a legendary pal? Or, take a look through their membership options (which includes a fab deal for 16-25s). Check out their website for more information.
The gift of art! Whitechapel Gallery’s membership options allow you to buy a ‘gift membership’ for £50. With this shiny membership card, you’ll be giving the art lover in your life exclusive access to events, various discounts and free entry for them and a friend (cough cough) for all exhibitions. By buying this gift, you will also support the gallery to provide a place for free thinking, creativity and learning for all. Invest in someone you love, and invest in your community. To read more, see their membership page.
Who deserves ‘the power of touch’ this Christmas? MASAJ is an East London bodywork studio, designed to combat the negative effects of city living. Aside from elegantly presented massage vouchers, they offer a range of festive bundles which include their very own crafted candles and oils. Gift boxes can be delivered wrapped in natural festive string with a handwritten message. If this piques your interest, visit their website.
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