DON’T hyperventilate, but there are just 14 days until Christmas.
Which means there are only 13 days left in which to shop. This could be unlucky for some perhaps, but not if you’re doing your festive trolley dash in Edinburgh.
So what if Edinburgh boasts the same shops you’re likely to find on every major high street – House of Fraser, John Lewis, Debenhams, to name just a few boring consumer behemoths? It is also host to a cornucopia of small, independent, boutique stores which means that you can actually shop local and still satisfy the most demanding of Santa wish lists.
And there’s the added bonus of missing out on the foot-crushing, mad-eyed, arm-grabbing crowds which descend in a desperate panic on the city’s large shopping malls while Slade is blasted out at increasing volume to drown out the cries of anguish as the last box set of Mad Men is sold.
It even beats the simplicity and warmth of online shopping, giving you a golden glow of contentment because you know just where your money is going – generally you’re handing it over to the person who owns the store, and in these recessionary times quite possibly making their Christmas wish come true, too.
From Morningside and Bruntsfield to Newington, Stockbridge to Corstorphine, Portobello to Barton, the Grassmarket to the West End village, smaller high streets of Edinburgh have got much to offer. What’s more, many of the smaller stores stock products which are made locally – if you’re after beautiful scented candles then look for those by the Rosslyn Candle Company. If it’s one-off designer clothing with a vintage twist, seek out Joanna at Lady Jo Jos in the West Port or Godiva just a few doors away.
Want to make your own Christmas cards? Then the White Blossom Paper Boutique in Bruntsfield Place has everything you could need. If not, then why not get something quirky at Paper Tiger in Lothian Road? Or for beautiful images of Edinburgh, search out hand-drawn cards by the Edinburgh Sketcher at Foodies in Holyrood Road or the Hula Juice Bar in the West Bow.
While you’re there, nip across to Demijohn on Victoria Street for a festive tipple or two.
Even the city centre can do independent – with the added attractions of Winter Wonderland and the reindeer in St Andrew Square. Harvey Nichols might not be everyone’s first port of call, but for something a little luxurious, especially when it comes to the foodhall, there is nowhere to match it – though Valvona and Crolla will give it a go over at Jenners.
Thistle Street boasts a host of independent designer stores from Jane Davidson to Helen Bateman. But if you’re really intent on injecting a little sparkle into the life of a special person, then George Street jewellers Hamilton & Inches is an Edinburgh landmark – given a close run for its diamond-encrusted money by Laing’s in Frederick Street.
However, it doesn’t just have to be shops which can offer something different, the National Library of Scotland, the National Museums and the many, many art galleries all have gift shops bursting with seasonal goodies. And if you really want to let your conscience guide you, then check out social enterprises such as The Ice Store (although admittedly it’s inside the St James Centre).
Edinburgh is your shopping oyster with added tinsel. But there are only 13 days left people. Go shop.
• Tomorrow: the independent way to buy your kids’ Christmas presents.