Make your festive fun fuss-free

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IF the prospect of Christmas shopping with the high street hordes is draining you of festive cheer faster than a plate of cold Brussels sprouts, maybe it’s time for a change of scenery.

Part consumer exhibition, part shoppers’ extravaganza, the inaugural Indulgence Christmas Show at Ingliston’s Royal Highland Centre will bring more than 100 independent and luxury retailers to the Capital’s verdant outskirts next weekend – all with the aim of helping you find the perfect Christmas present.

From world-famous luxury brands to the most innovative independent retailers, the show, sponsored by toy legend Hamleys and 5pm.co.uk, will make it easier than ever to indulge family and friends. Or yourself.

Expect to shove just a little to get your hands on this festive season’s must-have gifts. Despite the worsening economic climate, at least 20,000 shoppers are predicted to descend on Ingliston on November 26 and 27.

“It’s because we’re offering something that’s truly unique and different,” says Danaka Grindle, one half of the husband and wife team behind the event.

“We’ll be encouraging people to try products they just wouldn’t find on the high street – from the Royal Mile Music Experience offering 20 per cent discounts on all its packages, to £10 reductions on My Handbag Heaven bags worth over £45.

“These are exclusive savings people won’t get anywhere else.”

There will be a range of well- established brands on display. The Capital’s five-star Norton House Hotel and Spa will offer free nutritional advice and health checks, as well as complimentary tasters including neck and shoulder treatments, and head massages.

And, in a world exclusive, Aurum and Argentium will be offering Chillchaser’s eco-friendly outdoor heaters to green-minded gift-buyers looking to save energy.

But the event’s emphasis will be as much on the independent sector as on higher-profile luxury names.

“We identified a gap in the market for an event aimed at independents,” adds Danaka. “We’re offering those companies a platform in the crucial run-up to Christmas that just hasn’t been available in Scotland before now.”

Nicola Bald, whose Edinburgh-based studio The Makeover Experience will be offering 50 per cent reductions on its styling and photography vouchers, agrees.

“Running a small business is a risk in itself, particularly at the moment,” says the mother-of-one and Napier University photography graduate.

“I just don’t have the money to spend on marketing and promotion and that sort of thing. So if I can get 20 customers through the door at this event – 20 people buying our services, buying the vouchers, picking up the leaflets, I can cover the cost of being there and it means awareness of my business is that bit higher.

“People are interested in experiencing a feel-good factor at the moment,” she adds. “I see myself as operating in the gift experience industry. That’s what I’m carving my niche in.”

Many of Scotland’s most dynamic independent suppliers of fine food and drink will come to the Indulgence show – from the Arran Cheese Shop and Miss Coco’s handmade chocolates to Galloway Fudge and A Taste of Bute.

“Clients at Ingliston will be able to sample our whiskies, and we’ll have our newest bottling – the 1995 Clynelish single malt – available to try,” says Andy Mott, general manager at Robert Graham Ltd, an Edinburgh-based supplier of whisky, cigars and tobacco.

“It’s a big event for us and it really gives us an opportunity to get our brands out to people we wouldn’t normally target in the run-up to Christmas.”

Amid the shopping frenzy, there will be chances for all the family to have fun, with a Santa’s grotto and cookery workshops with TV chef Eadie Manson.

“This isn’t just an exhibition or a shopping event,” says Danaka. “We wanted to ensure this is a great day out for all the family.

“That’s why there’ll be loads to do in addition to shopping!”

Tickets for the Indulgence Christmas Show are on sale now at www.theticketfactory.com or by calling 0844-338 7770. Tickets are £10 per day; £15 for the weekend. Entry is free for children, with senior citizens paying £5 per day and £7.50 for the weekend.