It may or may not surprise you that once upon a time I used to be a raging shopaholic. Oh dear me, how clichéd; a woman who likes to shop… stop rolling your eyes! (No really, it leads to divorce. Apparently.)
My story (sad to tell, a teenage ne’er do well) begins with the first memorable shopping experience of a girl child’s life; that of procuring a school uniform and stationery before the beginning of Autumn term. Thus my initial impression of shopping was being carted around BHS and WH Smiths with my mother and brother. Without a doubt the most stressful experience of my life, every year, because my mother’s shopping style, bless her darling heart, involve a compulsion to point out every item in the shop and wave it in my face asking “what about this?” until I eventually approve of something. And teenagers never approve of anything on principle.
My initial hatred of shopping changed dramatically once I got a Saturday job and had my own actual money with which to shop. Suddenly I could buy magazines (the single worst influence on an otherwise confident and intelligent female) and chewing gum (because snogging!) and make-up and irreverent postcards to stick onto the outside of my door, thus asserting my individuality against the bourgeois decor of our house. I could carve the initials of my crush and David Bowie lyrics into my pencil tin because I had bought it and therefore it was mine to deface and needed replacing two weeks later when the aforementioned spotty boy had fallen from favour.
Shopping for myself, though admittedly fabulous, was never the problem. No, the sudden responsibly for buying birthday and Christmas gifts for my friends and family was. You see I love giving gifts. No really, I mean I LOVE giving gifts. Those of you who have received a birthday gift from me or just random acts of tea, cake or jam will recognise that I just cannot cannot say no when I am inspired to make someone smile. I love to shop and my husband despairs of me for being lavish. I get into trouble every birthday, Christmas, anniversary… Tuesday… but to his credit he has straightened me out. I’m debt free and have finally learned to respect my pathetically small bank balance and buy gifts that I can at least afford. (Stupid maternity pay)
This year, I turn 30 and my many siblings and siblings-in-law and I decided that as Grown Ups, some of us with our own children, we are no longer buying each other Christmas presents. This left me my husband and I with just our son’s Grandparents to buy gifts for and that was taken care of in one fell swoop by Blue Lights Photography as we bought everyone prints from a photoshoot of The Starchild smashing his way through a large purple cake.
And now, I need something to fill the void. I keep impotently thinking of things that would be perfect for the various people that I love. So if you’re looking for Christmas gift ideas, you’ve come to the right place. Of course me being me I’m not sending you into Boots to earn Advantage Card Points or HMV to buy DVDs. No, these suggestions are all in support of Leeds businesses and outrageously brilliant they are too.
The gift of film: Membership for Hyde Park Picture House film club, £15 per year for singles or £20 for joint subscriptions. @HydeParkPH
The gift of music: don’t worry, I’m not going to predictably insist that you buy Bowie (though you should), instead did you know that Leeds has its own independent record shop if you want to buy someone a CD or some Vinyl? And yes they do gift vouchers! Check out @JumboRecords
The gift of entertainment: we’re not short of culture in Leeds with @northernballet, @GrandTheatreLS, @WYPlayhouse and @fdarena to name but a few. An “experience” as a Christmas gift is an excuse to spend extra time with someone, and what could be better than that?
The gift of jewellery: there are some fabulous independent designers in Leeds (see Fabrication below) but my favourite has to be @urban_magpie. Zoe’s creations are made from a boggling aray of antiques and scrap items so you’re guaranteed to find something unique for someone to treasure.
The gift of cheese: for less than £10 you get access to the monthly cheese orgy that is the Homage 2 Fromage club and 10% discount at fabulous cheese retailers such as @georgeandjoseph, @milliesleeds and @haley_clifford
The gift of cake: Lisa’s incredible baked goods would be perfect for any hamper, but she’s even got your little Secret Santa gifts covered with everything from cake bars in mugs to beautiful wicker heart ornaments for your fussy Mother-In-Law. And she does gift vouchers if you want to help out someone planning a wedding or some other occasion requiring cake. Like a Tuesday… @TheYummyYank
The gift of books: if someone got me membership to @TheLeedsLibrary I would be a very very happy woman, but if you prefer to give something that you can wrap, a book is always a wonderful gift. Try a book by a Leeds based author like @MickMcCann01 who wrote the outrageously brilliant How Leeds Changed The World, or if you’re looking for a cookbook for your mum, don’t let her end up with 7 copies of Nigella or Great British Bake Off. Go for the fabulous @clandestinecake book instead, at least you know your next birthday cake will be outstanding. Also worth mentioning is the amazing @OKComics of course!
The gift of craftiness: check out Fabrication where you can not only buy wonderful gifts made by local people, but you can book an amazing workshop for a budding crafter (children’s classes and evening classes available). @FabricationLS2
The gift of booze: Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without spirit and we’re fortunate to have Leigh’s amazing booze blog for ideas. For Christmas he suggests Rooster’s Londinium Porter (with Taylor’s of Harrogate coffee) or Leeds Brewery’s Midnight Bell for beer lovers. Mosey on down to @BeerRitzLeeds @GerrysSpirits or @latitude_wine to buy something a bit more special than boring old supermarket plonk.
The gift of charity: what do you get for the person who has everything? A contribution in their name to someone who is not so fortunate. I can’t think of anyone who wouldn’t appreciate this and even if they wouldn’t appreciate it, the person whose life you just made a difference to absolutely would. @CryptLeeds @StreetwiseLeeds @MultipleC_Leeds @AgeUKLeeds @simonotstreets