Forget the ho-ho-horror show of constant queuing to crying kids and carols on loop. Instead, follow our guide to a more chilled approach to seasonal shopping, from present-buying to planning the big day itself. Happy Christmas, y’all!
Here are our picks
Following a month-long refurb, the shop at the main art gallery has reopened with a sparkling new look and dazzling product ranges just in time for the festive season. Think arts and crafts: from postcards of paintings in the collection to hand-made jewellery and contemporary ceramics. It’s also a good place for original wrapping paper, while down the road at the Whitworth Art Gallery you’ll find Christmas decorations to die for, including beautiful baubles by fairtrade artisan suppliers Nkuku.
From Brazennose Street to The Corn Exchange, one of the biggest and busiest Christmas markets in Europe ignores Brexit and sets out its stalls in November until Tuesday 20 December 2016 (Albert Square site open 10am-9pm daily). Off cute wooden sheds across the city centre, pick up stocking-fillers such as Belgian kitchenware, Dutch bulbs and French soaps, and stuff yourself with German sausage, Hungarian goulash or Spanish paella washed down with lashings of glühwein. Chalet, or shan’t I?
With well over 20 studios all under one roof (handy for shopping in the deep mid-winter, especially as there’s also a café with vegan and gluten-free options), you can watch the independent makers hard at work on their creations while you peruse the pieces for sale. Think bespoke bags and scarves, paintings and pottery, glassware and quirky gifts. It’s also a go-to for unique jewellery – I’m partial to the earrings from Divinity and, for the gents, cufflinks by This Is Pewter.
Since I’m the Literature Editor, it would be remiss of me to not mention at least one place you can buy books and bookworm-related offerings. So I’m going to suggest two. First up, relative newcomer, independent bookstore Chapter One, decked out with shabby chic soft furnishings (and a fountain!) and a must-visit for recommendations on great local authors. From here, bob down to The John Rylands Library for word games, flycover giftwrap and poet-ready items such as bicycle-print umbrellas and cute tassled parasols.
Nothing says Christmas Day like a well-thought-out cheeseboard and there’s no better place to stock up on Stilton and chow down on Cheddar than the Cheese Hamlet in Didsbury Village. The staff will help you pick, and there’s a spread of crackers, condiments and cured and cooked meats to serve on the side. Pop over to West Didsbury to pick up the accompanying beverages: try Reserve Wines for port and The Epicurean for an eye-watering (and mouth-watering) selection of craft beers.