Edinburgh’s ultimate Christmas gift guide

Fancy swimming with the sharks? Deep Sea World does gift vouchers! Picture: Andrew O'Brien
Fancy swimming with the sharks? Deep Sea World does gift vouchers! Picture: Andrew O'Brien
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The first Christmas adverts appeared last month, the decorations have been up for ages – it’s hard to miss the giant Sky Flyer, the Continental market and the Royal Mile looks like climate change campaigner’s worst nightmare. And you’ve still not finished your Christmas shopping?

It might be you’ve been too busy debating the price of the mulled wine at the Gardens to get torn into actually buying any presents.

More likely, you’re just terribly disorganised.

You could just nip into the nearest big chain store and buy the first gift set you see.

Or you could follow our lead and support Edinburgh’s local traders, businesses and artisans.

So pour another gin and tonic – that’s Edinburgh Gin, of course – and get writing that list.


If keeping fit is their thing, perhaps an Edinburgh Leisure Christmas gift card will get their heart pumping?

The card entitles the users to ten swims, gym visits or fitness classes – whatever they fancy.

No ties or contracts, it’s a great way for them to try different venues or classes.

A Swim gift card costs £40, and a Gym & Fitness Class Gift Card £57.60.

Available from Edinburgh Leisure centres.

Outdoorsy types will appreciate Bawbags base layers. Born from an idea dreamed up in an Edinburgh pub, Bawbags started as boxers, now the name appears on hats, T-shirts, hoodies and, most recently, base layers. Every Bawbags purchase helps charity – the Livingston-­based firm supports male cancer charity Orchid and Medical Detection Dogs.

Get Bawbags base layers, £29.95, at Boardwise, Lady Lawson Street.

That’s also where you’ll find the coolest warm socks in town ­ – Star Wars socks by Stance, featuring Yoda, Chewbacca and assorted Jedi favourites, £15,95.

Tiso at Commercial Street, Leith, has been on the city scene since 1962, selling everything the outdoors adventurer could wish for. The experts there can guide you through which sleeping bag they might like to specialist climbing equipment, ski accessories and camping gear. Get them ski season-ready with a pair of Oakley o2 Xl googles, were £80, now £65.

For very daring types, send them to swim with the fishes – or sharks, to be precise. Deep Sea World in South Queensferry offers junior and adult shark dive sessions. Prices start at £95. Details from www.deepseaworld.com

Or they can mingle with the wildlife at Five Sisters Zoo in West Calder and be a zookeeper for a day. A half-day keeper experience for children (6­16) costs £70, £110 for adults for a full day. Contact www.fivesisterszoo.co.uk for details.


Cycle fans, head to independent boutique Present in St Mary’s Street for a stylish retro-style cycle bell priced £5, or a practical rain poncho with hood – perfect for when the heavens open – at £4.50.

For the more serious cyclist, Ronde in Hamilton Place is run by enthusiastic city cyclists who know the Edinburgh cycle scene like the back of their handlebars. Choose from clothes to a Brooks saddle – the Rolls Royce of saddles.

Likewise, the Edinburgh Bicycle Cooperative at Rodney Street, Canonmills and Alvanley Terrace, Bruntsfield has everything from energy drinks to helmets, clothes, gloves and panniers to maps.

Or head to Leith Cycle Co at 276 Leith Walk for kids’ quirky helmets and lights, winter jackets and stocking fillers like reflective strips, cycle tools and accessories.


Daisy Cheynes at 51 Raeburn Place stocks products with a “made in Scotland” stamp. Choose from bracelets, necklaces and earrings created by East Lothian jeweller Jenny Grace from £31.95, lambswool tartan scarves, and organic lotions and soaps handmade in Edinburgh by medical herbalist Miss Ballantyne. Her organic Lavender, Oatmeal and Olive Oil soap costs £4.95.

Treat them to a makeover with a gift voucher from their favourite hair salon. For extra brownie points head to top independent salons like Charlie Miller, Medusa or Edinburgh Evening News Salon of the Year 2014, Technik in Morningside Road.

If they love a bit of pampering, a spa treat will hit the spot. Pick a full spa day at Pure Spa and Beauty at Ocean Terminal, Apex Waterloo Place or Lothian Road and save money – a complete indulgence day package is currently £199, down from £233. If you’re on a tighter budget, a mini pedicure voucher costs just £19. Or visit award-winning Zen Lifestyle at Bruntsfield Place, Teviot Place and Hanover Street, where vouchers start from £25.


In­laws planning a trip abroad? Or perhaps your other half’s awful French requires a holiday brush-up. Speak Out at 13 Great King Street has courses in French, German, Italian and Spanish, available at lunchtimes, evenings and during the day. A ten-week class starts from £140 – gift vouchers are available. Go to www.speakoutwithconfidence.com for more details.

Award-winning and independent, The Edinburgh Book Shop at Brunstfield Place has expert staff to help you choose the perfect tome, whatever their literary interest. How about a signed copy of Nigella Lawson’s Simply Nigella for £25? Or the latest from Edinburgh author Alexander McCall Smith, Chance Developments (Polygon £9.99). And for the arty type, inspire them to create with a gift from Edinburgh Art Shop at 129 Lauriston Place, Tollcross. Choose from canvases to paints to brushes with expert guidance.

If they prefer their art ready-made, the Dovecote Studios shop at Infirmary Street has contemporary art pieces and pretty tapestries plus an unusual stainless steel contour map of Edinburgh at £23.47.

Visit The Red Door Gallery in Victoria Street for art prints and adult colouring books, and The Gallery on the Corner in Northumberland Street which specialises in artworks created by artists with a mental and physical health condition or a disadvantaged background.


They’ve got an ice-cream maker, a bread machine, a George Foreman grill. But do they have a mustard making kit?

Head to Dragonfly at Broughton Street which stocks Marvellous Mustard kits, all they need to make their own delicious mustard. The kits cost £20, come in different flavours and were devised in Edinburgh by head chef Belinda Roberts and Gill Eastgate. Find out more at www.marvelousmustard.com. Many Edinburgh restaurants will happily supply last-minute shoppers with a gift voucher. Michelin-starred The Kitchin offers vouchers from £50, The Timberyard vouchers start at £25 and at Wedgwood The Restaurant in Canongate, vouchers are available from £20.

Give them something to get their teeth into from veggie specialists Hendersons in Hanover Street – choose from a Hendersons gift box, Scottish, gluten free and vegan hampers.

And who could resist a hamper from Elm Row deli, Valvona & Crolla? The Verona hamper costs £75 and is packed with high-quality Italian treats.

Tempt them with a whopping smelly cheese from IJ Mellis at Stockbridge, Morningside or Victoria Street and wash it down with some Edinburgh Gin, straight from the distillery at Rutland Place or draught beer straight from the keg at the Beerhive at Rodney Street. The bottle shop supports small, independent Scottish breweries.

Sweet-toothed? Chocoholics will love treats from Harvest Garden in Morningside, which stock everything from sugar free “diet” chocolate to chocolate-smothered fruit, diabetic treats and even chocolate-shaped spanners, horses and a chocolate version of Trivial Pursuit (£8.99).


He’s the rocket man with the larger than life specs . . . who wouldn’t want to follow the Yellow Brick Road for an evening with Sir Elton John at Meadowbank on Saturday, June 25. Tickets on sale now.

If they prefer Elvis, then grab reduced-price early bird tickets for the one of the nation’s best tribute acts, Musselburgh-born Rob Kingsley. He’s bringing his A Vision of Elvis show to the Usher Hall on Saturday, October 1. Get £5 off the full £25 price (£2.50 off concessions). Go to www.usherhall.co.uk to book.

For musicals fans, the Playhouse 2016 programme is full of favourites, from Cats to Blood Brothers, the Rocky Horror Show to Annie.

Treat them to early-bird tickets for Midstock Festival, a fun day out for all the family with a host of great bands and singers at Dalkeith Country Park on September 3, 2016. Visit www.midstockfestival.com

Or if they like something glitzier, you could also gift tickets to Tonight From The West End, a musical theatre bonanza at The Usher Hall on April 23, 2016.

If they’ve searched since 1978 for that 7in vinyl must-have copy of some obscure punk band, end their misery at Elvis Shakespeare, a record shop and book store in Leith Walk with a huge collection of hard-to-find discs.