Calderdale business woman and TV retail guru, Kate Hardcastle, gives us her expert festive gift guidance buying advice...
This year has seen me once again roaming the globe to bring the best advice and support to retailers across the world - but there is no place like home for Christmas.
We have a beautiful balance of national chains with independent stores - and when you spend £10 locally, a higher percentage of it stays locally.
If you, like me, have some Christmas shopping still to do, then let me share with you some top tips - and then some of my favourite stores and services - plus some general advice.
Looking after your family budget:
1. Finances: decide on a budget of what you can afford, not what you can borrow. No Christmas merriment will last if you are worrying about debit in the New Year.
2. Make a list: but don’t do it when you’re under the influence of Christmas (another Gingerbread Latte anyone?) Even online retail has many ‘traps’ to make you buy more/at a higher price/something you didn’t plan to. So stay really calm and focussed and take breaks away from your phone/computer. Use online tracking sites to watch the price of larger items to make sure you get the best price.
3. Don’t be the person to give the ‘panic gift’ - we all know that random toiletries or humorous socks often mean you didn’t show much thought. There is so much choice now, there is no excuse - and if in doubt (if you’re buying for an adult/teen) just ask them!
4. Experiences are outselling goods - because people want to do more than have more. It’s easy to buy a voucher from anything from gin making to African drum lessons. Couple of quick tips - check the expiration date of the voucher - and also any set course date - your recipient will want as much choice as possible.
5. It’s the thought that counts: one of the gifts I still get the most compliments about was my family cinema date. This was a cinema voucher, packed in a small popcorn bowl with lots of sweets and popcorn. It combined a families gifts (so I had to buy only one instead of four) and gave them a perfect excuse to spend some quality time together.
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.
The Square Chapel is a brilliant facility with film/theatre and a wonderful cafe and bar - so tickets. vouchers or even a membership would be a wonderful gift.
My retail round-up has to start with our jewel in the crown - the magnificent Piece Hall. Shopping is improving by the day there, and all of these wonderful retailers are on site right now for your Christmas goodies:
Harvey’s of Halifax
Rarely can perfection be replicated, but Tracy Harvey and her team have done just that with this more compact offer in The Piece Hall. Focussed on homewares, there are some perfect gifts for the house proud people of Calderdale.
I love Orla Kiely, and you will find a great selection of pick up gifts in that collection - and my absolute favourite (and Yorkshire based) is Neom. Neom candles just make me swoon - yes they are a little pricey, but their trial sizes make the smaller products a great gift. If you know any new parents/stressed out workers or especially those who like me, might be on night shifts or time differences, my top recommendation is the NEOM tranquility collection (from £16) I was honestly ‘scent to sleep’ with these products.
The Yorkshire Soap Company
Mark my words, world domination is not far away for this brilliant Yorkshire business. I love all of their products - their Christmas scent collection is beautiful. This year, however, I shall be stocking up in large buckets with their Unicorn products. Try as I might to have raised all three of my children to be open to all toys, characters and colours - my youngest daughter is absolutely infatuated with mythical unicorns. The Yorkshire Soap Co have Unicorn Tears shower gel, bath foam, body lotion and much more - but the most coveted item (aside of the Unicorn Tears Hamper - £49.95) is the Unicorn Poo bath bombs. So sorry if you feel that is a bit coarse for a shopping guide - but the multicolour bath bombs are just a delight and so much fun. At just under £10 they are amongst my top recommendation for a gift, but I fear they may sell out soon!
Gorgeous jewellery at affordable prices, Jewella has a beautiful range of products - and is well worth stopping by for a special gift. The Penny Levi range is classic and beautiful and I really would love a pair of the Multi Circle Earrings (£99) - but their Yoshi BookWorm leather purses are a really original gift, and are a reasonable £13.50.
I make no secret of my love of Hebden Bridge - what a courageous and brilliant community - I love how supportive it is to its retail trade.
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. My favourite - look out for the Adele Taylor jewellery collection - love the look of the metal colour working together, and the Charlotte Meek apron collection. These aprons are just brilliant - called The Stitch Society, the artisan apron will delight the chef in your life!
The Willow Garden
Helen, the owner, is a brilliant and talented florist and I always try to get to her for my Christmas wreaths. But I find that Christmas bouquets can often be a florists excuse to sell bad flowers with glitter. In my experience, The Willow Garden offer the exact opposite and this enchanted woodland of a florist gets it just right.
I have loved Brighouse since being tiny - it 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.
Rye corn Wholefoods offers a great range of whole foods - brilliant for your more health and well-being conscious friends and also stockists of the brilliant Yorkshire Crisps.
Brief Encounter is under new ownership but promising to be just as friendly as ever. The team here have always promised to help anyone wanting to buy a gift of lingerie.
Harrison Lord offers brilliant art, crafts and gifts combined but with a sensible prices for smaller present budgets.
The RSPCA shop offers lots of nearly new goods with all the money raised supporting our local brach of the charity. Lovely gifts for our special pet friends.
Lister Horsfall jewellery is celebrating their 115th anniversary and offers service with such care, attention and diligence.
VJW Holistics is just a few minutes from Elland and offers the service and expertise that you would get from the finest spas world wide. The spa has just expanded and 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 a voucher and give them a gift that will help their health and mind.
Tancream offers a luxury lotion with high sun protection combined with a superior gradual self tan which doesn’t smell or streak. The tan develops into a natural colour and is suitable for face and body with built in moisturisers, therefore reducing the need for other products and enabling you to go make-up free - www.tancream.co.uk
If all else fails, say it with balloons. The brilliant Cardelium will always offer the best and most fun balloon arrangements to delight anyone of any age.