The countdown to Christmas has officially begun and here, retail guru Kate Hardcastle shares her top tips for festive shopping and her favourite stores to visit in Calderdale.
Another year travelling the country - and indeed the world - to help businesses I work with to ‘keep the customer satisfied’. In 2016, I have celebrated 21 years crafting my knowledge and expertise.
But this is the most wonderful time of the year for me, not least that there is only a few more 4am starts, travel tickets to collect and caffeine fixes before I can nestle back into beautiful West Yorkshire for the holidays.
And where does a well informed retail expert do her Christmas shopping? Right here in Calderdale.
It is not some last minute blind panic, or that I’m so fatigued with retail that I leave it to the very last minute before I have to shop.
Simply, we have a beautiful balance of national chains with independent stores - and I want to support the area I live in. When you spend £10 locally, a higher percentage of it stays locally and that feeds the economy in my favourite place - home.
If, like me, you still have some Christmas shopping still to do then let me share with you some top tips and some of my favourite stores and services.
Places I love to shop in Calderdale
I make no secret of my love of Hebden Bridge - what a courageous and brilliant community. I can’t change the terrible ordeal they have been through with the floods, but I can do my bit to spend some money in that community and help the businesses that have had to rebuild themselves
Heart Gallery is a top favourite - beautifully sourced products, with a mix of local and national talent. Alison and her team advise, guide and nurture customers and usually at this time of year, there is a lovely festive feel in the shop
Element Jewellery is a gorgeous collection of unique and crafted jewellery pieces - and again the team will offer the best in service
The Old Treehouse is a favourite for our family - lots of toys, creative play and a great selection of pocket money presents to make great stocking fillers
Yorkshire Soap - if you haven’t been to this icon of theatre in retail - treat yourself to present heaven at every price point.
I know this might seem
an odd one, but the only thing I want at Christmas, aside of peace and love to all, is a decent night’s sleep and I am in love with the new JunaMoon - they have the most exquisite designs.
I have loved Brighouse since being tiny - that was the place for the weekly shop with my much-loved and missed grandparents. The food shopping and specialists still reign in this market town.
Ryecorn offers a great range of whole foods - brilliant for your more health and well being conscious friends.
Czerwiks have fine wines, port, cheeses and pickles - but are always happy to make up a hamper
I love to give my mum some flowers at Christmas to thank her for the year - and Simply Flowers are happy to help
The RSPCA shop offers lots of nearly new goods with all the money raised supporting our local branch of the charity - I have just donated a lot of good as new baby wear there if you know any new parents.
Who knew that Elland would be the home to such a successful lingerie shop - Anon - proudly celebrating the very best in service. The team offer polite and considerate advice and stock great brands like Panache.
It’s a little bit out of Elland - but I have to mention my favourite spa and beauty destination. VJW Holistics offer the service and expertise that you would get from the finest spas world wide. I can not recommend their treatments highly enough - especially the massage therapies. Ask for Vicky and please tell them Kate sent you. Buy any stressed adult voucher and give them a gift that will help their health and mind.
Halifax: Of course I will mention the much cherished Harveys. I don’t know if Roger Harvey and Tracey - his daughter and manager know this - but aside of knowing them as part of the business community, I have such respect for them and the business because as a young girl it was often a treat to go with my grandparents and mum, and get a coffee there (orange squash for me!)
It always felt more magical at Christmas and they are offering special events to see Santa this year too.
With brands including SuperDry, Gant, Joules & Cath Kidston, there is something for the ‘glamazons’ in your life.
For me - the two presents that I will buy in bulk for friends and family are The Lottie Shaw festive tin - I love everything about the brilliant rise to success of this local brand - and Moorland Pottery mugs - especially the Yorkshire Born and Bred ones! Here’s to another year of being a brilliant Halifax icon.
And if all else fails, say it with...balloons. The brilliant Cardelium, Ovenden Road, will always offer the best and most fun balloon arrangements to delight anyone of any age.
TOP CHRISTMAS SHOPPING TIPS
Our emotions are heightened in the build up to Christmas - both the good and bad - but we are certainly more likely to overspend. We are enticed with the promotions, the excitement of the event and the drive to want to treat the ones we love. Brilliant if this is all within your budget - not great if this creates debt and headaches in the new year and beyond. So let’s not start the new year with a debt hangover from Christmas! The first thing we need to do is work out our budget and make sure we stick to it. Think less about the ‘saving’ you might make, and more about the spending you are committing to.
2. Lists, Lists, Lists
I know that half of you may be close to turning the page when I mention the less exciting side of shopping - but if you fail to prepare, you must be prepared to fail. I do commit to saving for 11 months of the year, helping me to ease the burden of the Christmas shopping. Truly, it is the thought that counts, so the more time you can dedicate to thinking about something special and personal to that person the better. It should not be about the amount you spend. The best gifts I have ever received - photos from special times that have been framed, vouchers of time from friends offering to help with my three children and hand drawn pictures from the kids. Take the time to understand who you really need to buy for and who might be just as happy with a considerate card.
3. Avoid the busy shopping times
Very few of us enjoy crowds, stress and road rage! Believe it or not, shopping at this time of the year can be enjoyable, but choosing the right time is essential. The obvious peak times still apply - so an early start or later evening might be a time to enjoy a coffee and hit the shops in relative peace.
4. Don’t panic buy the bland stuff!
If grown-ups did write a letter to Santa, I doubt it would feature a toiletry and soap set so in honest truth, I am not sure this go-to item is a dream gift for many. There are so many options even if you draw a blank with the shops.
To start - we have some amazing culture around us -
In Calderdale, The Victoria Theatre punches above its weight with some brilliant events and shows, so even if a ticket is not in price range, a voucher could be purchased.
Likewise - cinema tickets or an afternoon tea at Holdsworth House would be a welcome gift and something to look forward to in the new year.
What is the worst that could happen?
If you are buying for an adult there should be some way of having a reasonable chat before the main event about what they might want or if there is no gift to be found, write a funny IOU to get something in the new year.