Photo by Dan Eden.

Christmas Shopping

Carmel Smickersgill, Tours & Activities Editor

It’s that time of year again, when the mission begins to find items that will fill your nearest and dearest with seasonal joy. Christmas shopping doesn’t need to be an arduous task, nor does it need to be one that lines the pockets of gargantuan retailers. To help you on your quest we’ve compiled an alternative, not-on-the-high-street guide of excellent places to check out. Scroll down to see where we find our best present inspiration. 

We recommend starting with options, so why not hang fire on individual shops for the time being, and head to the concentrated centres of independent retail joy. Afflecks is obviously high on this list, as a staple part of the Manchester retail scene and with sellers that carry everything from from vegan soap, CBD and jewellery to tattoos, vintage clothes and posters. There’s something for every interest.

For those wanting to remain away from the city centre, why not check out Levenshulme Market. This much loved Saturday (and sometimes Friday Night) gathering of artists and producers is packed with gift ideas. Or for something truly unique and special, head to the Manchester Craft and Design Centre and let yourself be captivated by the work of their in-house artists, Jewellers, potters and silversmiths.

For the music enthusiast in your life we heartily recommend spending some time among the Vinyl shops of Manchester. Whether that’s with the new releases at Piccadilly Records, the hidden gems within Vinyl Exchange or accompanied by a slow paced coffee at Wilderness in Withington, Manchester’s music scene serves up plenty of Christmas bops. 

The literarily inclined might appreciate you making a trip to the Northern Quarter gem, Anywhere Out of This World. As you climb the unassuming stairs you realise that this bookshop is worth a visit just for the experience. Round the corner you’ll also find LGBTQIA+ specialist bookshop Queer Lit, or if you don’t fancy the trip into town, Chorlton Bookshop is well worth a visit and just a 5 minute walk from Chorlton tram stop. 

For the best trinkets, gifts, stocking fillers and oddities Oklahoma is a must visit. The shop is an explosion of colour and has an infectiously distinctive personality. For something more subtle and elegant in design, be sure to check out Form and Moth, these beautifully minimal lifestyle shops pride themselves on their well considered curation. 

Finally, food and drink will always be appreciated and you can’t go far wrong with the specialist beverages of Beermoth, the tantalising teas of Bird and Blend and the artisanal cheeses of the Cheese Hamlet. 

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

Here are our picks

  • 1. 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. All their stock is currently available online for those who want to get organised.

  • 2. Moth, Didsbury

    Moth, independent shopping in Manchester

    Moth, Didsbury, 154 Burton Rd, Manchester, M20 1LH - Visit now

    Moth is a beacon of taste on Burton Road. With unique collections of homeware, body products and kitchen items, they make gift buying easy.

  • 3. Form Lifestyle Store

    Courtesy of Form Lifestyle Store

    Form Lifestyle Store, 6 Bradley Street, Manchester, M1 1EH - Visit now

    Beautifully curated collections drip from the walls in form, if your gift receiver isn’t a fan of “stuff” why not get them a place in one of Form’s workshops, where they’ll have the chance to learn a new skill.

  • 4. Manchester Craft & Design Centre

    Manchester Craft & Design Centre, 17 Oak St, Northern Quarter, Manchester, Greater Manchester, M4 5JD - Visit now

    Formerly a fish market, the craft and design centre is home to local ceramicists, jewellers and visuals artists. You can be sure to find beautiful, precious and useful objects that will make the perfect gift.

  • 5. Afflecks

    Image of Afflecks Palace in Manchester's Northern Quarter
    Ben Williams

    Afflecks, 52 Church Street, Manchester, Greater Manchester, M4 1PW - Visit now

    Afflecks in Manchester, formerly (and still affectionately) known as Affleck’s Palace, is a labyrinth-like hub for independent sellers whose stock is prime-picking for alternative Christmas gifts.

  • 6. Levenshulme Market

    Image courtesy of Levenshulme Market

    Levenshulme Market, Stockport Road (junction with Albert Rd), Levenshulme, Manchester, M19 3AB

    Levenshulme Market is a cornucopia of local makers, artists, food producers and entrepreneurs. You can find everything from jewellery and visual art, to speciality foods and one-off coffee blends.

  • 7. Piccadilly Records

    Image of Piccadilly Records on Manchester's Oldham Street
    Ben Williams

    Piccadilly Records, 53 Oldham Street, Manchester, Greater Manchester, M1 1JR - Visit now

    Embedded in the heart of the Northern Quarter, Piccadilly Records is at the forefront of new sounds. It’s the perfect place to pick up a new release for the music enthusiast in your life.

  • 8. Bookshops in Manchester

    UNITOM bookshop
    UNITOM bookshop

    You can’t go wrong with a book, and Manchester has a hell of a lot of bookshops to choose from. Hence we’ve created a whole guide for (mostly) independent bookshops in Manchester – featuring some newcomers you may not have heard of yet.

  • 9. Wilderness Records: shop and cafe

    wilderness records
    Wilderness Records

    Wilderness Records: shop and cafe, 9 Egerton Crescent, Withington, Manchester, M20 4PN - Visit now

    For the musically inclined people in your life, check out Wilderness Records. Their cross genre collection of heavy hitting vinyl, is sure to help you find the record your loved one needs in their collection. It’s also a great place to take a coffee break if you’ve got a full day of present hunting ahead.

  • 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. With collectors items sat side by side with second hand steals.

  • 11. Anywhere Out of The World

    Anywhere Out of This World

    Anywhere Out of The World, First Floor, 70 Tib St, Manchester, M4 1LG - Visit now

    Climb a staircase on Tib Street to discover the atmospheric and unexpected literary treasure that is, Anywhere Out of This World.

  • 12. 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.

  • 13. 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.

  • 14. Chapter 1 Books

    Photo of a new releases bookshelf

    Chapter 1 Books, 19 Lever Street, Manchester, Greater Manchester, M1 1BY - Visit now

    Chapter 1 Books is an independent bookshop and coffee shop on Lever Street. The coffee is good, the cakes are excellent, and the books are beautifully displayed – a great spot for a relaxed Christmas shopping experience.

  • 15. Cheese Hamlet

    Cheese and Win platter by Cheese Hamlet
    Image courtesy of Cheese Hamlet

    Cheese Hamlet, 706 Wilmslow Road, Didsbury, Greater Manchester, M20 2DW - Visit now

    Christmas is a time for decadence and the Cheese Hamlet does this better than most. Their selection of artisanal cheeses and endless shelves of speciality condiments will brighten up any foodies Christmas day.

  • 16. Chester Rows

    Courtesy of Visit Cheshire

    Chester Rows, Bridge St, Watergate St, Eastgate Street, Chester, Cheshire, CH1 1NG - Visit now

    Turn Christmas shopping into a historical experience and check out the artisanal chocolatiers, gift makers and jewellers in the 13th century facade of Chester Rows.

  • 17. Beermoth

    Beermoth shop in Manchester's Northern Quarter.
    Creative Tourist

    Beermoth, 70 Tib Street, Manchester, Greater Manchester, M4 1LG - Visit now

    Manchester is blessed with so many excellent independent breweries. You’ll find the best bottles from the local scene as well as excellent international imports at Beermoth, making it an excellent place to find presents for the drinkers in your life.

  • 18. Eat The City – Scranchester Tours

    Scranchester tours

    Eat The City - Scranchester Tours, Until 31 December 2023, from £60 - Book now

    Satisfy your hunger for knowledge as well as lunch with Scranchester’s food tours of the city centre. You may discover a new favourite hidden gem or learn a bit more about the cultural or historical significance of the food you eat all the time.

  • 19. Bird and Blend Tea Co.

    tours and activities
    Bluebird Tea

    Bird and Blend Tea Co., 57 Church St, Manchester, M4 1PD - Visit now

    For those who prefer a soft beverage, nothing can be more comforting than giving the gift of an excellent cup of tea. Check out the vast selection of seasonal blends and beverages in their Northern Quarter shop.

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