Welcome to another Sal’s Top Five! Since Christmas is looming threateningly on the horizon, cracking its knuckles and giving us all a long hard stare, I figured it was about time for a Christmas shopping special. There’s nowhere quite like Bath for Christmas shopping – it is, of course, gorgeously festive in the depths of winter, with its picturesque squares and narrow winding streets lit by the warm glow of cosy pubs and twinkling fairy lights, but it’s also absolutely stuffed with brilliant independent shops, which frankly are the best places to buy a gift that your loved ones a) won’t have already and b) won’t get from anyone else. Without further ado, here are five of my personal favourites for top-notch present purchasing…
Rossiter’s of Bath
Every year without exception, this is where I start my Christmas shopping. An independent department store tucked away inside a beautiful old Georgian building, with narrow staircases and unexpected little rooms, Rossiter’s is like a labyrinth full of treasure, from stunning jewellery and clothes, to fabulous kitchen gadgets, to toys and stocking fillers. I can easily lose an hour in here and always come out with a good portion of my list ticked off – all that, and they always have the best Christmas windows in the city.
My Small World
I’m lucky to have plenty of small people in my family to buy gifts for at Christmas – frankly, it’s the most enjoyable kind of Christmas shopping to do – and My Small World has never yet failed me. It’s only a little shop but it overflows with the most incredible, creative and unusual toys, and the staff know their stock inside out so can always make excellent recommendations. Don’t tell the kids, but this shop is the secret to my success as Cool Aunty Sal.
Once the children are taken care of, French Grey is my go-to for grown-ups – I always end up with at least a couple of gifts from this shop and visit it throughout the year for birthdays too. French Grey always has the most beautiful accessories, from gloves and scarves to handbags and jewellery, and you’ll find lots of great little grown-up stocking fillers here too.
The Italian Food Hall
Food is one of my favourite things to buy people for Christmas – it’s basically impossible to get wrong, because everyone loves a few treats, plus it’s the ideal gift for the person who already has everything. Bath is blessed with lots of brilliant food shops, but I think the selection at the Italian Food Hall is particularly excellent, whether you want a few bits and bobs to accompany another present, hostess gifts to take along to Christmas parties, or even a full-blown festive hamper. Check out my blog post about the Italian Food Hall from last Christmas for a few of my favourite treats, but do also pop in to see what new goodies they have for this year, as they’re always refreshing the selection.
Mr B’s Emporium of Reading Delights
Books are another of my favourite things to buy at Christmas – possibly because they’re hands down my favourite present to receive for myself. There’s a certain magic to picking exactly the right book for someone, and if you need a little help with that then the staff at Mr B’s are second to none. I can also personally recommend their creative gifts for bookworms, including their Reading Spa (a session of sitting by the fire upstairs, having tea and cake while one of their experts recommends new books for you – vouchers to buy your favourites are included) which my lovely husband bought for me last year (earning himself a whole year’s worth of brownie points).
As always, it’s been a real challenge to choose my favourites, so a special mentions also go to the Guildhall Market (packed with brilliant little shops, including Gillards, for incredible coffee and coffee beans, and Nibbles Cheese for festive feasting supplies), Spotty Herberts (another wonderful pocket-sized shop for children, with an especially good line in little stocking fillers) and Homefront Interiors (a shop full of lovely things for the home, up on Margaret Buildings, which is well worth a visit for several good indie shops).
Where are your Christmas shopping go-tos? Have I missed anything crucial? Leave me a comment and let me know!