The Internet is full of interesting shops selling weird, wonderful and downright useful things - so why do we keep staring at the same online shopfronts?
As our digital history will no doubt attest, we’re all guilty of beating a well-trodden path to our favourite websites over and over again, but if you feel like its all becoming a bit same-y, it’s time to shake things up with shiny new entrants. And what better time than in the run-up to Christmas when you’ve probably got a long list of people to buy gifts for?
Take your mouse (and wallet) elsewhere and you could just discover an online shop bursting with cool, new things that will deem you the best gift-giver ever.
Apart from helping to support small, independent brands, you’re also more likely to find treasures that your pals won’t have but would undoubtedly love. Add to the mix Covid’s devastating toll on the retail industry - sole traders and small businesses in particular - and its never been more vital to support cottage industries.
It’s no secret that businesses at every level are struggling to keep their heads above water, but while the bigger shops and established department stores may be able to stave off total annihilation, it’s the little shops and businesses that are most at risk of being wiped off the map.
That would be a huge blow, not just economically and for the livelihoods of small owners and their staff, but for the sheer diversity of goods and products. The richness of retail is what keeps innovation alive, promotes healthy competition and lets us fill our homes with wonderful things so we don’t end up looking like carbon copies of each other.
At ES Best, we see hundreds of ingenious ideas filtering into our inbox every week. We’ve selected our favourites to shop below, and will be adding to the list all the way up to Christmas so you can tick off gifts for every member of your crew, from your eccentric great uncle, to old uni pals and newly-made neighbour friends.
It’s time to get out of your online shopping rut. Use your festive shopping to spread cheer and help bolster small businesses this Christmas!
Appreciation Project dry florist
Best for: your bloom-addicted BFF
We’re all for fresh flowers, but if you’re after something with a bit more longevity, look to dried flower company, Appreciation Project. They make and preserve beautiful bunches that with the right care, can last a whole year. They’ll arrive at your door (or your loved one’s address) in a bespoke cardboard box and packaged nicely enough that you needn’t worry about gift wrap. Display them all in one vase for maximum impact, or split across several receptacles to brighten up every room.
Moanna & Co Lola Cushion
Best for: your houseproud pals
From artisan made homewares and ethical sleepwear, to the sweetest accessories for your little ones, this online boutique shop is a haven of gorgeous products for your house and wardrobe. In terms of gifting, we’ve fallen for Moanna’s line of handmade cushions; scattered on the bed or sofa, they could almost trick you into thinking you’re in a boho beach retreat somewhere far, far away.
Ferm Living Ripple Champagne Saucers - set of 2
Best for: decadent duos
Old school coupes that'll do Christmas lunch champagne justice - especially if they're planning to spend it in their bubble. This set is hand-blown and dishwasher safe.
Available at Goodhood, the indy home of edgy homewares and fashion for men and women.
Okiki Nana Yaa Serwah Candle
Best for: pampering mums and aunts
Winter may be a time for cosying up by a log fire, but if you don’t have a fireplace, this could be the next best thing. Inspired by West African skincare, Okiki offers a host of self-care products, including a lovely line of candles. The wax surrounds, somewhat unusually, a wooden wick (it should be trimmed slightly before each burn to keep it going), which gently crackles once lit, giving you those fireside vibes without any of the smoke or fumes. All you’ll get is the sweet, relaxing scent of white musk, caramelised amber and patchouli - and a gentle glow.
Lambswool Oversized Scarf in Macleod of Harris Antique Tartan
Best for: your hibernating housemate
Promoting slow shopping and buying better, Tartan Blanket Company’s selection of cosy products are made to last - a refreshing change in a throwaway culture. Shop everything from blankets, to scarves and their brand new line of gift boxes that are made for Christmas giving.
Available in a selection of colours, this oversized scarf is made from the nicest, softest lambswool, designed to keep the cold out - so perfect for bracing Boxing Day walks. There’s an embroidery service available so you can even have their name stitched on to make your gift extra special.
Best for: your scent-loving sibling
With darker days and longer nights here, what the world needs is a bit of brightening up. And what better way than with Good Candles, a lockdown business that offers fun and playful candles with names like School Dinners, Forest Fires and Reading Books (all £35) i.e, all the stuff that brings good vibes.
Crafted from sustainably sourced soy wax, all candles are made in the UK and 10 per cent of every single sale supports a good cause, like The Trussell Trust and CALM.
The world needs some good right now, not to mention light. This company offers both.
Fanclub Poets & Punks Art Print
Best for: your misunderstood, multi-facted mate
Wolf & Badger is all about championing the little guy; the independent, ethical designers that bring unique and interesting products to the table. From jewellery and accessories, to homeware and fashion, there’s so much to explore across its digital shelves. A well chosen framed print never goes amiss, and this one from Fanclub offers universal appeal. From your edgy uni pal to your S.O, it’ll go down a treat.
Think Rugs Inaluxe Neon Rug, Multi
Best for: the bouji interiors lover
With so much time spent indoors this year, there are few among us who haven’t become amateur interior design experts.
A good rug can help divide a space and add character to a room, especially for renters who daren’t makeover their walls and endanger their deposit. It may be tricky to gift wrap, but for the right person, a statement design from Think Rugs would make an epic gift and earn you thousands of brownie points.
Stocky & Dee Ice Blue & Dove - Harris Design Bundle
Best for: pooch owners old and new
More people than ever adopted pets during lockdown, so if you’ve got a new pup owner on your Christmas shopping list, deck their furry friend out in style with handmade accessories from canine fashion company Stocky & Dee. Everything is made by hand in their Scottish studio and sizes range from dinky toy breeds like Chihuahuas and puppies, all the way up to huge hounds like a St Bernard with a neck size of 20-inches.
There are a few designs to choose from, but we like this style the most. Made with a Merino lambswool and cotton mix, the knitted fabric is backed with velvet to keep it comfy against the dog’s neck. This bundle includes a lead and matching bow tie, making it perfect for Christmas Day family photos.
Clod & Pebble Espresso Cup and Saucer
Best for: the coffee aficionado
Stay caffeinated in style with this hand thrown cup and saucer set from Scottish wood and ceramics artists Clod & Pebble. The handle-free cup comes in plain elegant white or a splattered speckled glaze that means no two pieces are ever exactly the same. A great gift on its own, pair with a packet of their favourite coffee to make it extra special.
Philip Normal Xmas Hun Sweatshirt - Pink
Best for: Silly seasonal naughtiness - done nicely
What’s a Christmas gift list without at least one novelty item to make you smile? From the digital clothes rack of Philip Normal comes a minimalist Christmas jumper emblazoned with a short but sweet festive statement, sure to delight the hun in your life.
Don’t be fooled into thinking all the stuff at this shop is as sober as the candy pink jumper either. There are vibrant colours, gay icons and pop culture references on tees and jumpers, from Brexit to Pat Butcher.
Available in sizes S to XL.