Why you should be shopping local this Christmas
PUBLISHED: 11:27 29 November 2016 | UPDATED: 11:27 29 November 2016
The russets and reds of autumn, Halloween and bonfire night have fizzled out along with the Catherine wheels to make way for an abundance of sparkle, vibrant jewel colours, and lots of festive loveliness to entice us back onto the high streets of West Essex
Huge shopping malls packed with bodies and the same old chain-store gift-sets are so last season! Make it your quest this Christmas to break free from the norm and take a casual stroll in the frosty fresh air along your local high street; you may just find yourself surprised at the quality of the independent little shops offering some wonderful, original gifts that are sure to earn you some brownie points.
The art of shopping
Start at one end of West Essex in Wanstead where beautiful art takes centre stage. Images in Frames is a must for any art enthusiast, or drop by Room 22 for some gorgeous gifts for the home along with a shot of creative inspiration.
But if art really is your thing don’t miss the Wanstead Makers Market on December 5 at Christchurch Hall where artists, makers, painters and crafters all come together to showcase their creations. You’ll have the opportunity to pick out something truly unique for a loved one, and indulge your inner Dali in the process.
The art of window dressing is all set to take centre stage on Loughton High Street this year where businesses have been invited to ramp-up their Christmas displays for automatic entry into a town council competition.
Who needs to endure the sardine can of the Central Line to Selfridges when you can get your festive window fix just around the corner? If anyone can create an enchanting atmosphere we know our local shops can, and we’re particularly interested in seeing the winter floral displays in the windows of the Loughton Florist…the fragrance alone will be worth the visit.
Make your market
It goes without saying fresh farmers market produce will make your Christmas dinner the one to beat. Start early by getting to know stall holders and find out what they plan to have on offer, order times, and delivery options.
We have wonderful monthly (Sunday) farmers markets in Epping, Loughton and Chingford offering everything from fresh fish and seafood, organic meat and game, and very moreish artisan breads and cheeses through to those finishing touches such as preserves and chutneys, sweet treats, and even enormous duck eggs for a special Christmas breakfast.
Not only do you get quality and taste, it’s a sheer joy to wander around the holly-clad stalls where the patrons are passionate about their fayre. They really do get into the spirit to make your food shopping an experience in itself.
Then of course you’ll need the accompanying wine so we suggest heading over to Queens Road in Buckhurst Hill where they really know how to do Christmas. This pretty little street is the home of Liquorice where you are encouraged to indulge in a tasting (take along a group of friends and make a night of it!) and take advantage of their complimentary gift wrapping service…it would be rude not to.
For a market with a difference head up to The Owl in High Beach on December 2 (5-9pm) and shop the Christmas stalls, then relax to the sound of carol singing while enjoying the wonderful hog roast and barbeque. This is the perfect little one-stop-shop for your festive fix, and you can keep little ones entertained over breakfast with Santa followed by a spot of face painting.
The fluffy stuff
Well it wouldn’t be Christmas without a little grotto or two now would it? While browsing the shops of North Chingford you may just want to wander into the Village Arcade, which boasts a Dickensian vibe with its little cobbled path ways and quaint shops.
At one end you’ll find Santa’s workshop complete with elves where beautiful nostalgic wooden toys are made (there’s no primary coloured plastic here!) and children can meet the man himself. The workshop (courtesy of The Balon Party Shop) will run for three weeks in the run up to Christmas so be sure to call in and book your place among the most impressive balloon display you’re likely to see this season.
But for some really good old-fashioned fun we highly recommend heading to Queens Road in Buckhurst Hill on December 2 (3pm-7pm) for their fourth Christmas community event. You’ll find everything to make your little ones eyes light up such as: donkey rides, puppet shows, and lots of fun games, as well as a visit from Santa of course (he really is making some effort in West Essex this year).
The icing on the Christmas cake for this one is that the money raised from the event (funded by the Parish Council) is given to charitable causes and this year’s beneficiary is the much deserved Carers UK…we hope you’ll support them and dig deep!
Last Minute Grabs…
•Don’t forget your pet! Another reason to visit Chingford’s Village Arcade is Classy Canines. Get your pooch spruced up with a pampering groom and pick up a few treats for their stocking…and perhaps some doggy antler?
•Grab yourself some much deserved free time and order a fabulous turkey, goose, and all your Christmas meats from Shaw’s Butchers in Chingford…it has to beat those crazy supermarket queues on Christmas Eve.
•Pre-empt the Prosecco overload and get some last minute good vibrations from Repose Power Plate on Queen’s Road. These high octane classes are perfect if you’re time poor but still want a toned silhouette. Christmas tunes on full volume!
•If your fail-safe event dress has lost its sparkle there is always time for a visit to Coco in Wanstead where this little oasis of calm is sure to hold something perfect for you without the crowds and unforgiving changing rooms….you’ll almost always find a few treats for your taste-buds too as their hospitality is legendary.