At this time of year, it pays to gird yourself with a written list, a full stomach, lots of easily removable layers, a bottle of water and some deep breaths, before engaging in that most festive of full-contact sports: Christmas shopping. It’s not for the faint-hearted; but if you shop smarter, not harder, it can be a rewarding experience – especially if you drop in one or two treats for yourself along the way!
I have often been described as a woman who ‘shops like a man’. If I don’t see something at least akin to what I’m looking for on my first cursory circuit of the shop, I’m back out the door and on to the next one before you can say “Does my bum look big in this?”. Not for me the endless browsing, rummaging or buying twice as much as I need because “I can’t decide which one she’d like best; I’ll just get both and choose later…”. Oh no. That way lies madness, and besides: who has the time these days?
As budgets got tighter and time got shorter, I decided long ago to embrace my nature and get tactical. If I don’t know what I’m looking for, I don’t go shopping. Forward planning is key. Sometimes the universe makes life immeasurably easier by presenting the ideal gift before you even start planning the campaign, in which case, snap it up like a shot – who needs to know you bought it in Tesco two months ago when all you went in for was a loaf of bread? But sadly, life is not always so kind, and that’s where the planning bit comes in handy.
Whenever inspiration strikes, write it down. Chances are if you’re anything like me, you’ll end up with about a dozen ideas for one person and only one or two for everyone else; but even one is better than that frantic Christmas Eve panic-purchase (hands up; we’ve all been there…).
Once you have an idea of who you’re shopping for and what you want to get for them, the next step is considering where best to find something unique and memorable for each of those special people in your life. Finding the ‘wow factor’ isn’t always easy, but that’s why so many people come to Bath to shop. Aside from all our lovely independent shops and boutiques, we have the magical Bath Christmas Market.
With a full eight days remaining before the market ends, there’s still plenty of time to pick up the perfect gift. But don’t delay; one stallholder advises: “Don’t assume that if you wait til the end of the market, you’ll get a bargain. It’s always busy and everything will sell, so grab what you want when you see it!”
The Bath Christmas Market website has the full list of stalls indexed and categorised according to what they sell: Catering (make way for the mulled wine!), Ceramics and Glassware, Charity, Childrens, Clothing and Accessories, Decorations, Food and Drink, Gifts, Home and Garden, Jewellery; and there’s even a ‘Pop Up’ chalet selling a little bit of everything. All around the market you will find signposts listing the name and location of every chalet, so you can put a bit more tactical planning to use and make sure that however busy it is, the crowds don’t get the better of you.
The market is also a great way to buy local. Here are some picks to help you do just that…
Bath Aqua Glass Ltd. (chalet 14) The iconic aqua-coloured Bath glass in all manner of lovely items, including Chirstmas baubles and icicles – it feels like stepping into a scene from Disney’s Frozen!
Charity: Chalet 69 plays host to a different charity each day of the market, so make sure you drop by and show your support!
Up to Seven (chalet 43) a well-known and loved Bath boutique selling handmade childrens and baby clothes, made in Bath. Keep a little one warm with one of their iconic strawberry hats – so cute!
Mild West Heroes (chalet 68) sell an eclectic range of hand printed organic cotton and bamboo t-shirts, designed by west country artists.
Wiltshire Beekeeper (chalet 153) selling a unique natural range of honey-based products including skin care and craft gifts as well as edibles – all honey sourced from Wiltshire bees.
K.A.T (chalet 129) A Gloucestershire based aromatherapy company selling bath melts, essences, soaps and creams of bespoke quality at affordable prices.
Rostra Gallery (chalet 92) specialises in limited edition prints and original paintings, sculpture, ceramics, craft, papercut and jewellery. Affordable, contemporary artwork to suit all budgets.
Silver Shed (chalet 159) locally made jewellery and whimsical works of wearable art inspired by folklore and fairytales.
I guarantee you will be spoilt for choice, so don’t waste anymore time! And if you’ve already been, send us a picture of your favourite purchase and we”l share it on Twitter @3AbbeyGreen!