We love the festive season as much as anyone, however the yearly mission to find ever new and exciting present ideas can quickly become an arduous task. In a time where funds might be tight and more of us are increasingly keen to be more conscientious consumers, it might take a little more effort, but Manchester is full of independent retailers, markets, makers and pop ups that are brimming with gift ideas to make Christmas shopping a joyful task.
At a time where supporting individual sellers is more important than ever, why not check out one of the many markets or pop ups. Levenshulme Market is going strong as ever and with their late Friday night openings you can make an evening of it; shopping, eating and drinking, content in the knowledge that you’re money is going directly into the community. For something more relaxed check out GRUB’s sustainable Christmas market. Over a slow Sunday you can find responsibly sourced art, clothes, craft and cake to mention just a few of the stalls.
Further into the suburbs the Makers Markets are going strong right into December. These hubs of independent stall holders always have a good community feel about them and can be found in locations ranging from Chorlton to Cheadle, Chester and beyond.
A good book is a present that never disappoints. We heartily recommend supporting your local bookshops rather than throwing your money into Jeff Bezos’ empire of doom. You’ll have a much nicer time exploring the shelves of Anywhere Out of This World, especially as they’ve recently opened a tea room in the shop. For children’s books, Chorlton bookshop never disappoints and they’re always happy to order titles in if you can’t find them in the shop.
For home and lifestyle shops there is something for everyone between the two extremes of Moth on Burton Road and Oklahoma in the Northern Quarter. The former prioritises sleek design and minimal aesthetics combined with comfort and homeliness. Whereas Oklahoma is an explosion of colour and imagination that spreads joy through the use of soft furnishings and unusual gifts for all tastes.
Here are our picks
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.
Food Sorcery Manchester, Deansgate Square, Manchester, M15 4UA - Visit now
Struggling to come up with ideas for a next-level Christmas present this year? Take a seat because we’ve got the ultimate gift: cookery class gift vouchers at the wonderful Food Sorcery Manchester. It doesn’t matter if the recipient is a budding Heston or can’t even slice a sprout, there’s something here for all skill levels.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Sea Change Wine, The Lodge, Guildford Rd, Effingham, Great Bookham, Leatherhead, KT24 5PE - Visit now
Sold in several on-trade places in Manchester and the North, including The Botanist, you might have sampled Sea Change’s wines before. If you have, you’ll know they hit a little bit different – think big, fresh, memorable flavours. What’s more, for every bottle sold, the company donates to marine conservation charities. Enter Christmas, and the perfect gift for the eco-conscious wine lover in your life.