Christmas shopping in Manchester
Faye Wei Wei Print at CFCCA. Photo by Joe Smith

Christmas Shopping

Sara Jaspan, Exhibitions Editor

Christmas may have come around once again, but there’s no need for despair. We’ve engaged in some outside-the-box thinking and compiled a fail-safe list of alternative gift-buying suggestions – including what to get the person who has everything – that will keep you as far from the hellish throngs of Market Street as possible. Christmas shopping sorted.

Still in need of further inspiration? Check out our guide to independent shops in Manchester, Liverpool and Leeds.

Here are our picks

  • 1. Oi Polloi

    Oi Polloi

    Oi Polloi, 63 Thomas Street, Manchester, Greater Manchester, M4 1LQ - Visit now

    Voted Manchester’s finest independent boutique by GQ Magazine and named style pioneer by the Guardian, Oi Polloi has one of the most covetable selections of classic and contemporary designer menswear around. Hoping to use Christmas as an opportune excuse to upgrade a male-friend’s wardrobe? Regard this as your one-stop-shop.

  • 2. HOME Manchester

    Paul Karalius

    HOME Manchester, 2 Tony Wilson Place, Manchester, Greater Manchester, M15 4FN - Visit now

    What do you get the person who has everything? For just £30, HOME Membership grants an art, film or theatre-loving friend a year’s worth of exclusive benefits, including reduced-price cinema tickets, priority booking access and discounted dining.

  • 3. Manchester International Festival

    MIF19 David Lynch at HOME Manchester International Festival
    Photo: Josh Telles

    Manchester International Festival 2019 at Albert Square, City Centre, 1–18 July 2021, from £12.00 - Book now

    Along similar lines, Manchester’s biennial celebration of art, music, performance, dance and theatre recently announced the first artists for its 2019 programme, including major names such as Yoko Ono, Idris Elba and Skepta. Treat someone special to MIF Membership and they’ll gain access to priority ticket booking, receive advance information about MIF events, and benefit from a range of selected discounts and other exclusive benefits.

  • 4. Centre for Chinese Contemporary Art

    Centre for Chinese Contemporary Art CFCCA by Michael Pollard
    Photo by Michael Pollard

    Centre for Chinese Contemporary Art, Market buildings, Thomas Street, Manchester, Greater Manchester, M4 1EU - Visit now

    From ‘sushi socks’ for salmon lovers and panda-themed eco-friendly tableware sets to jewellery, artist books and limited-edition prints, CFCCA’s shop has plenty to offer by way of left field gift buying inspiration.

  • 5. The Life Centre North

    The Life Centre North

    The Life Centre North, 293A Deansgate, Manchester, M3 4EW - Visit now

    Christmas may (in theory) be a time to unwind, but after all the food, booze, presents and family, who isn’t in need of some relief? Set a health-inclined friend up for 2019 greatness by booking them on to one of The Life Centre North’s many one-day yoga workshops or mini-retreats and watch the zen energy unfold. (Also check out our guide to getting stretchy in Manchester for other tried-and-tested recommendations.)

  • 6. Clay Studio Manchester

    Clay Studio Manchester
    CLay Studio Manchester

    Clay Studio Manchester, 61 Old Birley Street, Manchester, M15 5RF - Visit now

    If the gift of downward-dog isn’t quite what you had in mind, how about calmness through creativity? Starting from £35, a Clay Studio Manchester voucher can be redeemed against any of the studio’s popular ceramic courses, half-day pot-throwing workshops or private tuition sessions.

  • 7. The Whitworth

    The Whitworth, Photo: Alan Williams

    The Whitworth, The University of Manchester, Oxford Road, Manchester, Greater Manchester, M15 6ER - Visit now

    Art gallery shops are a lifesaver when it comes to buying more traditional, object-based presents, and the Whitworth of course comes up trumps. Selling a tastefully curated selection of artwork, ceramics, jewellery, stationary, homeware and more to complement the spirit of one of Manchester’s most loved cultural destinations, you’re unlikely to leave empty-handed.

  • 8. Rapha Clubhouse Manchester

    Rapha Clubhouse Manchester
    Courtesy of Rapha

    Rapha Clubhouse Manchester, 5 St Ann’s Passage, Manchester, M2 6AD - Visit now

    For cycling-fans, head straight to Rapha. African sheep leather mits, vintage merino woollen jerseys, bike-friendly city guides and all the ingenious gadgets you’ve never even dreamed of.

  • 9. Oklahoma

    Image of Oklahoma shop in Manchester's Northern Quarter
    Ben Williams

    Oklahoma, 74-76 High Street, Manchester, Greater Manchester, M4 1ES - Visit now

    As Manchester’s biggest independent gift shop, selling everything from fish-shaped plastic pens and vintage dominoes to two-metre folding wood rulers and hand-crafted jewellery, Oklahoma is the place to find those more eclectic stocking-fillers.

  • 10. Vinyl Exchange

    Vinyl Exchange

    Vinyl Exchange, 18 Oldham Street, Manchester, Greater Manchester, M1 1JN - Visit now

    Any music geeks on your gift list? Satisfy even the most obscure taste for vintage vinyl and rare CDs in one fell swoop at Manchester’s legendary Vinyl Exchange. And if you’re strapped for cash this year, the store’s buy-or-trade service may come in handy.

  • 11. Magma Books

    Image of Magma bookshop in Manchester

    Magma Books, 22 Oldham Street, Manchester, Manchester, M1 1JN - Visit now

    A treasure trove of beautiful art, culture and design publications, plus limited-edition t-shirts, hipster-friendly temporary tattoos, upside down plant pots and more.

  • 12. Altrincham Market

    Image courtesy of Altrincham Market

    Altrincham Market, Market Street / Greenwood Street, Altrincham, Greater Manchester, WA14 1SA - Visit now

    Escape the crush of the city centre and head out to the ‘burbs. ‘Passionately regional. Fiercely independent’ – as well as being a food-lover’s paradise, Altrincham Market’s themed weekends are also ideal for picking up unique handmade jewellery, vintage clothing, homeware and design-craft from leading North West traders. Plus, it’s never too early to enjoy a warm mug of mulled-wine at the same time…

  • 13. Chorlton Bookshop

    Chorlton Bookshop

    Chorlton Bookshop, 506 Wilbraham Road, Manchester, M21 9AW - Visit now

    A cosy, independent bookshop in Chorlton with a wide range of fiction, non-fiction and children’s books. Anything they don’t have in, they’ll try and order for the next day – very helpful for last minute Christmas panic! Also stocks a great selection of cards and wrapping.

  • 14. OBJECT, Chorlton

    Courtesy of OBJECT

    OBJECT, Chorlton, 117 Beech Road, Chorlton , Manchester, M21 9EQ - Visit now

    Whilst in Chorlton, also check out OBJECT – a tiny, carefully-curated independent store with an unwavering devotion to quality, craftsmanship and simplicity. Well worth the tram ride.

  • 15. 49 Hilton Street

    Courtesy of Beaumont Organic

    49 Hilton Street, 49 Hilton Street, Manchester, M1 2EF - Visit now

    49 Hilton Street is as much about ethically sourced, conscious consumerism as exemplary craft and style. Offering a wide selection of luxury artisan homeware and accessories, as well as lifestyle workshops and clothing by Beaumont Organic.

  • 16. Fred Aldous

    © Fred Aldous

    Fred Aldous, 37 Lever Street, Manchester, Greater Manchester, M1 1LW - Visit now

    Nearly 130 years old and still going strong thanks to its unbeatable reputation for high-quality art, craft and design supplies; a visit to Fred Aldous is guaranteed to make creative friends and family members happy.

Things to do right now

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Writer Henry Normal.
Literature Until 24 September 2020, FREE

Word Central online

Dance 24–26 September 2020, from £10.00

Rambert: Draw From Within with The Lowry

Activity Until 27 September 2020, from £9

Skyliner: Alternative Tours of Manchester

Puffin Box
Music Until 27 September 2020, from £110

Puffin Box at Hilton House

gassing with the galdem
Activity Until 28 September 2020, FREE

Girl Gang: Gassing with the Galdem

Science Learning at Home with Jodrell Bank
Activity Until 30 September 2020, FREE

Science Learning at Home with Jodrell Bank

HOME Reopening Programme
Cinema Until 30 September 2020, from £5.5

HOME Reopening Film Programme

Visual Arts Until 30 September 2020, FREE

Manchester Art Gallery Highlights Tour

eat the archive
Activity Until 30 September 2020, FREE

Eat The Archive at Manchester Jewish Museum

MAD walkers
Activity Until 30 September 2020, £36.60 for annual membership

Manchester and District Walkers (MAD Walkers)