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RE-Found Objects Northumberland
Photograph: RE-Found Objects

The 10 best places for Christmas shopping in the UK

Tick Christmas shopping off your to-do list joyfully and thoughtfully with the help of these magical shops

Ellie Walker-Arnott
Written by
Ellie Walker-Arnott

You know it as well as us: the festive season ain’t cheap. ‘Tis the season to spend, on everything from tickets to twinkling festive lights trails to steaming cups of extortionately-priced lukewarm wine. But when it comes to stuffing your Christmas stockings, there's no reason to panic buy tat online, splurge on overpriced festive fare that no one really wants or do a last-minute sweep of gift sets at your local supermarket (soz, Lynx). 

Instead, you can source thoughtful gifts for all of your loved ones, your office secret santa, and even one or two treats for yourself by visiting this collection of brilliant shops. Here we've got the best of the best from all over the UK, from a second-hand superstore to an iconic London food hall, via charming book shops and intriguing gift stores. Happy present hunting! 

🎄 The most magical Christmas markets in the UK
💡 The most dazzling Christmas light trails in the UK
❄️ The most beautiful winter walks in the UK
🏘️ The cosiest winter cottages to stay in the UK

Ellie Walker-Arnott is a writer and author based in London. She was previously Time Out's Travel Editor. For more about how we curate, see our editorial guidelines

The best Christmas shops in the UK

Oxfam Superstore, Oxford, Oxfordshire
Photograph: Doherty Photography Ltd

1. Oxfam Superstore, Oxford, Oxfordshire

Best for: A clear conscience this Christmas

Charity shopping on an epic scale, this is the place to head if you hate waste, but still love piles of presents under the tree. Oxfam Superstore is a warehouse stuffed full of preloved treasures. You’ll find gifts big and small in this bumper Oxfam branch, which stocks everything from second-hand sofas to scrunchies. It’s an ace place to stock up on brightly-coloured plastic crap for the little kids in your life. You might even find a retro number for your work xmas party while you’re at it.

Rare Birds Books, Edinburgh, Scotland
Photograph: Michael Wood

2. Rare Birds Books, Edinburgh, Scotland

Best for: Your mate who has read everything 

Shelves of bold and brightly coloured book covers greet you at Rare Birds Books in Edinburgh’s Stockbridge. Every corner of the charming store is full of, in their words, ‘great books by great women’ – from easy escapism to serious literary prose – giving shoppers the space to discover women’s writing they might otherwise miss or overlook. If you can’t make it in person to browse, Rare Birds also run a subscription book club (members receive a surprise read at the beginning of each month in the post) which would make an ace gift for book nerds, as well as a personal shopping service to create a personalised reading list for your pal.  

  • Shopping
  • Department stores
  • Piccadilly

Best for: Window displays that could warm the scrougiest of hearts  

Hear Christmas, think food? You’re far from alone, my friend. Fortnum and Mason’s foodhall is a year-round celebration of all things edible, but it’s never more appealing than at Christmastime when the ground floor of 181 Piccadilly is a sea of iconic Eau de Nil blue under twinkling lights. Fortnum's tea blends, chocolates, biscuit tins and jars of piccalilli make cracking presents, and the pre-mixed cocktails, personalised bottles of Champagne or a taste of the gin crafted on Fortnum’s third floor won’t go amiss either. To really treat someone on your shopping list, opt for a hamper, where you can hand-pick to fill your own or let Fortnums do the hard work for you (prices range from seventy quid to an eye-watering £6k. you heard us). 

📍 Check out more of the best Christmas shops in London

RE, Corbridge, Northumberland
Photograph: RE-Found Objects

4. RE, Corbridge, Northumberland

Best for: Actually unexpected gifts 

A treasure trove of exciting things you never knew you wanted or needed, RE is stocked with an ever-changing array of unusual items that are either ‘rare, remarkable, recycled, rescued or restored’. You can find anything from enamel teapots, old keys and 19th century vintage glassware to tissue paper snowflakes, heritage seeds and Peruvian recycled tin cans painted with religious imagery. Visit to turn your own home into a surreal festive wonderland or to really surprise that person in your life who refuses to make a Christmas wish list.

Papersmiths, Brighton, East Sussex
Photograph: Izzy Melhuish

5. Papersmiths, Brighton, East Sussex

Best for: The pal who had the best primary school gel pen collection

Love the smell of a brand new notebook? You’ll bloody love Papersmiths. It’s a joyful place to browse for design-led stationery, neat pens and journals in a satisfying spectrum of shades at any time of year, but it’s especially lovely in the run up to Christmas, where you can find thoughtful gifts, bold wrapping paper and cool cards all under one roof. Call us old fashioned, but an emoji-filled mass Whatsapp doesn’t quite hit the same as a hand-written Christmas card. Who's with us?

📍 Check out more of the best shops in Brighton

Frome Hardware, Frome, Somerset
Photograph: Ed Schofield

6. Frome Hardware, Frome, Somerset

Best for: Functional (and beautiful) prezzies

If the thought of presents going untouched or even straight to landfill makes you want to swerve the festive season all together, buying useful gifts is key. Bonus: Frome Hardware stocks neat, practical items that are lovely to look at too. Honestly, who knew you could seriously covet a scrubbing brush? On these shelves you’ll find the likes of a glass mister for your mate’s houseplant collection, an enamel mug for your mum’s morning coffee and a chic dustpan and brush as a nudge for your messy housemate. You can even get some items engraved or printed with the recipient’s name. 

Acorn and Pip, Slaithwaite, West Yorkshire
Photograph: Acorn and Pip

7. Acorn and Pip, Slaithwaite, West Yorkshire

Best for: Chilled toy shopping

Forget the overwhelm of trying to shop for little ones in bright, loud stores full of over-packaged plastic. A trip to Acorn and Pip promises to make toy shopping enjoyable, in part thanks to its on-site veggie cafe, play space, pram parking and baby change facilities. Here you'll find cute Fabalab baby blankets, Little Dutch’s wooden toys in pleasing pastel shades (just try and resist the coffee machine) and the sweetest little doll mice from Maileg. So that’s the kids’ stockings sorted. Santa will thank you later. 

The Botanical Candle Co, Shaftesbury, Dorset
Photograph: The Botanical Candle Co

8. The Botanical Candle Co, Shaftesbury, Dorset

Best for: Bringing the festive vibes 

Not feeling Christmassy yet? The Botanical Candle Co's scented handmade soy wax candles will create the vibes for you. They come in comforting, gentle winter scents like First Light (eucalyptus and myrtle), Half Light (clementine and clove) and Last Light (cinnamon and rosemary). Quiescent is intended to bring calm and aid sleep – ideal for boxing day hibernation. They also sell advent calendars, Christmas crackers and dreamy gift sets, if you’re big into candles, or know someone who is. 

The Bristol Cheesemonger, Bristol
Photograph: The Bristol Cheesemonger

9. The Bristol Cheesemonger, Bristol

Best for: Oozy edible gifts for the cheese lovers in your life

We can pass on the Christmas pudding, but for most of us a true festive feast isn’t complete without a cheeseboard. The Bristol Cheesemonger is found in a shipping container in Wapping Wharf, and stocks an array of artisan cheeses from the west country and the rest of the UK. From doorstops of local Westcombe cheddar to gooey triangles of Bath Soft brie and big wheels of Beenleigh Blue, a visit here will guarantee your Christmas table has a beautiful cheesy centrepiece. Luckily, nationwide delivery is available if you can’t make it IRL. 

📍 Check out our list of the best vintage shops in Bristol

Haeckels, Margate, Kent
Photograph: Haeckels

10. Haeckels, Margate, Kent

Best for: Sustainable salts, soaps and skincare

If Christmas isn’t Christmas without unwrapping a bottle of bubble bath or a fancy soap, give Haeckels a try this year. The coastal brand hand-harvests seaweed and turns it into ethical, sustainable skincare that is lovely to look at, lush to use AND comes in recyclable or compostable packaging. Stock up on under eye masks, plumping serums and exfoliating soap blocks, all created out of local seaweed. Their Margate flagship store is steps from the surf, and is also home to treatment rooms if you’d like a little nourishment on the side of your Christmas shopping, plus this year they're doing special little recycled Christmas gift sets made from waste found at nearby Walpole Bay. 

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