For many, Christmas shopping is in full swing, be it online from a sofa or at the kitchen table while still locked.
It might be tempting to click on the obvious, but there are plenty of alternatives to billionaire Jeff Bezos’ Amazon for people who want to devote time and attention to their festive spending.
While supermarkets provide an essential service, they don’t have to be a one-stop shop for everything we buy for Christmas.
Cash Stack: Online behemoth Amazon has made its founder Jeff Bezos, above with partner Lauren Sanchez, a billionaire
A GOOD READING … FROM A LOCAL BOOKSTORE
An antidote to Amazon could be the recent launch of uk.bookshop.org. It’s an online marketplace that brings together independent bookstores from around the country – and supports them financially – while delivering the books customers want.
You can buy directly from a local bookstore or order through the general website where much of the profit is pooled and distributed back to bookstores. Andy Hunter, CEO and founder of Bookshop.org, says: “Books are great gifts – they carry meaning, fun, and personal connection. Bookstores also offer these things in shopping streets and in communities. We cannot allow them to fall victim to the pandemic. ‘
There are more than 200 bookstores on the 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 purchased as gifts for three, six, or 12 months.
Better World Books sells new and second-hand books, with the goal of keeping old books out of the 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 purchased for £ 30 at ethicalconsumer.org/subscriptions.
Tim Hunt, co-editor of Ethical Consumer, says, “The great thing about the Internet is that you can access ethically independent stores from all over the country. Whether it’s brilliant second-hand bargains from Better World Books and Oxfam, or handmade crafts from Ethical Shop, you’re just one click away from a wealth of ethical retailers. ‘
FESTIVE FOOD FROM THE CORNER
Fresh cuts of meat – and the Christmas turkey – can be purchased online from local butchers. Many have opened or expanded their online stores since the first lockdown. For contact information for a butcher in your area, search the National Craft Butchers website at nationalcraftbutchers. co.uk/local-butchers.
Discounted seafood can be purchased online with next-day delivery from Cornwall by Fish for Thought and The Cornish Fishmonger. Both also sell gift certificates. Visit fishforthought.co.uk or thecornishfishmonger.co.uk.
Meanwhile, chocolate lovers can be served with a wide variety of treats at hotelchocolat.com/uk.
Sip high-quality cocktails at home with a cocktail-in-a-box delivery from niococktails.co.uk. They are shipped in thin, flat containers that fit through a letterbox.
If you can’t go to a pub, send a bar in a box gift set to microbarbox.com. The Christmas box costs £ 35 and includes a mini Prosecco, Baileys Irish Cream, raspberry gin and vodka. Christmas food and drink packages can be selected at Hampers.com in Oxfordshire. There are variations to suit every taste – catering for wine, beer, cheese or cream tea lovers – and prices start from £ 22. Patrick Gore, the Managing Director, says: “Now is the time to take action. Shop now, shop early and avoid disappointment. ‘
GIFTS WITH THE PERSONAL TOUCH
Unique gifts – including jewelry, arts, and crafts made by independent sellers – can be purchased on Etsy and off the main street. com. Shoppers can also find Advent calendars, decorations, and Christmas stocking to get the family in the Christmas spirit.
Personalize conventional gifts with the Personalized Gifts Shop – featuring wine bottles, candy jars and mugs with the recipient’s name.
Get a 10 percent discount with the code 10-OFF at checkout online at Personalized Giftsshop.co.uk. Organic and sustainable gifts, food and clothing can be bought from Traidcraft – ‘the home of fair trade’. It is a co-founder of the Fairtrade Foundation charity, which supports fair trade conditions for farmers and workers in developing countries. Buy gifts at traidcraftshop.co.uk/gifts.
For personalized art and custom photos, try littleflorence.co.uk. It is a company started by Katie Randall and inspired by her daughter Florence, who has Down syndrome and is described as ‘strong, fearless and outgoing’. Randall’s prints celebrate all individual personalities within a family.
COSMETICS THAT ARE FOR EVERYONE
Cruelty-free cosmetics, hand creams, lip balms, and bath bombs can be purchased online from well-known favorites Lush and The Body Shop.
Both have ready-to-use Christmas gift sets and stocking fillers. Buy a haul over £ 45 from Lush and get free shipping. The Body Shop is offering bargain deals ahead of this week’s Black Friday – the American-inspired shopping frenzy that takes place on the last Friday of November. Get a 15 percent discount with the code 14672 and free shipping on orders over £ 25 value.
YOU CAN EVEN CLICK TO A CHARITY STORE
Buy cards and brand new gifts, but support good causes with online charity stores.
The British Heart Foundation is asking people to take the Charity Shop Challenge this year and buy at least one ‘preloved’ item – something donated to charity – for Christmas.
Allison Swaine-Hughes, the charity’s retail director, says: “Our online store carries a wide range of Christmas cards, gift items and winter accessories, and all proceeds will go towards our lifesaving cardiovascular disease research at a time when we need it. support more than ever. ‘
She adds, “There’s a wealth of much-loved items to discover in our eBay store or in the Depop shopping app, with vintage pieces and retro sportswear affordable every day.” Visit bhf.org.uk/ shop. Oxfam also sells a wide variety of gifts, clothing, books and music on the online shop. oxfam.org.uk.
Cancer Research UK sells across multiple platforms – with an online store, a marketplace on ASOS, a store on eBay, a Depop store and a designer selection on Vestiaire Collective. Read more on cancerresearchuk. org / get involved / ways-to shop.
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