Christmas Shopping

Carmel Smickersgill, Tours & Activities Editor

Some of us relish the thought of spending more than the minimum possible time required in a shopping centre, fights over sale items drowning out the irony of Mariah’s “I don’t want a lot for Christmas…”.

However, there are many who dread the yearly high street battle, and who take a different path. They say no to big capitalism and yes to independent makers, second hand couture and escaping Market Street.

To those of you who resonate with these less mainstream pursuits, we say look no further. Below is your quintessential guide to making Christmas shopping a pleasure, not a chore.

We’ve rounded up a selection of sustainable and alternative Christmas shopping picks to help you truly enjoy the process.

Our top picks

Factory International Gift Membership

Factory International Gift Membership at Aviva Studios, Manchester and online, Until 24 December 2024, from £45.00 - Book now

If you’re still hunting for the perfect Christmas present – a Factory International Gift Membership could be just the ticket.

Factory International Gift Membership
Image courtesy of Daniel Devlin (2023).

Manchester Wine Tours

Manchester Wine Tours, Various locations in Manchester city centre, Manchester , M1 - 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: wine tour gift vouchers for the wonderful Manchester Wine Tours. Let’s make this festive season as Keith Floyd as possible. Hic.

Manchester Wine Tours

Bookshops in Manchester

More than set-dressing for your brand-new vintage-look shelves, books are there to learn from and lose yourself in — and are the perfect gift for just about anybody. And we’ve just updated our Bookshops in Manchester guide with some new faves!

UNITOM bookshop
UNITOM bookshop

Leeds Corn Exchange

Leeds Corn Exchange, Call Ln, Leeds, LS1 7BR - Visit now

The Christmas Market at Leeds Corn Exchange has arrived, for seven weeks of fun. With additional food outlets, markets, tasting rooms and a bar plus free entry this is looking to be even better than last year.

Leeds Corn Exchange
Leeds Corn Exchange

Food Sorcery Manchester Deansgate Square

Food Sorcery Manchester Deansgate Square, Deansgate Square, Manchester, M15 4UA - Visit now

Struggling to come up with Christmas present ideas for the foodie in your life? How about 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.

Food Sorcery

Moth, Didsbury

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.

Moth, independent shopping in Manchester

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.

Manchester Craft and Design Centre by Joel C Fildes.
Manchester Craft and Design Centre by Joel C Fildes.


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.

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

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.

Vinyl Exchange

Anywhere Out of The 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.

Anywhere Out of This World

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.

Chorlton Bookshop

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.

© Fred Aldous

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.

Cheese and Win platter by Cheese Hamlet
Image courtesy of Cheese Hamlet
Pillock at Contact
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