Wakefield 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 debt 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 Theatre Royal punches above its weight with some brilliant events & shows, so even if a ticket is not in price range, a voucher could be purchased.
Likewise - cinema tickets or an afternoon tea at Yorkshire Sculpture Park would be a welcome gift and something to look forward to in the New Year.
The Hepworth is a brilliant jewel in the brilliant Wakefield crown, and offers so much for art lovers, art newbies & famillies alike. Vouchers for their shop (LOVE THE HEPWORTH WAKEFIELD COASTER SET @ £19.95) or towards membership would be a great gift.
The Ridings has a brilliant mix of quirky independents alongside national retailers and when I’m in Wakefield I always make sure I visit Artworld Gallery and the Antiques Centre. My new favourite at The Ridings is the pop – up shop, which houses a stunning range of independents including Yorkshire Blankets, Olive Made, Frances Barkworth Jewellery and Cliffe House Organics to name but a few.
With an ever-changing offering there literally is something for everyone and a new find to be had on every visit and I love knowing that the gifts I give have been made right here in God’s Own Country.
My Top Gift Recommendations: A beautiful blanket from Yorkshire Blanket is a perfect gift for almost anyone. The brilliant Olive Made baby outfits with traditional Yorkshire phrases like ‘Yorkshire Pudding’ and ‘Ey Up Santa’ starting at just £12.
MARMALADE ON THE SQUARE
Independently owned cafe Marmalade on the Square is a hidden gem and great for lunch or a sweet treat.
They also have vegan and gluten free options - the hearty soup of the day is a great choice for the current climate!
After cup of Yorkshire Tea, I’ll head along to Trinity Walk
I always pop in for a body butter and a bath bomb & Kids seem to love their jelly soaps and since the products are handmade from natural ingredients they’re gentle on sensitive skins and ethical too. This year though, I discovered a magical product - and it may change your life too! The TWILIGHT collection has been such a revelation for me this year, as with time differences to contend with & young children - sleep can often be a real challenge. So for the new parents, shift workers and generally stressed people in your life, stock up on Twilight by the bucket load.
Products start from £6.95 - and I will race you to the Sleepy Body Lotion aisle!
After spending a couple of hours browsing Trinity Walk’s high street favourites Pandora, River Island & Topshop - take a look at their make up collection - I think the NAILS range in Ice Crush - just £6, is a steal, I’m usually all shopped out and ready for something tasty to eat.
My new favourite in town is Qubana on Wood Street.Their lively atmosphere and gorgeous cocktail menu was just what we needed in Wakefield. Make sure to book early - 01924 299 000.
BEST OF THE REST
YORKSHIRE SCULPTURE PARK
The Yorkshire Sculpture Park - not only do they have the most gorgeous shop full of crafted art & Jewellery from £10 upwards - they are often running events from Yoga retreats to Wreath making - and ticket to one of these would be an amazing experience.
Yummy Yorkshire at Denby Dale have gift vouchers from just £5, which will make a lovely treat for families to enjoy in better weather.
315 BAR & RESTAURANT
All good mums deserve a break - and now thanks to the 315 Bar & Restaurant expansion, you can have a spa day treat in between the school run!
School Run Spa Day, 9.30am to 2.30pm Monday to Friday, includes use of the Spa, Light Lunch or Afternoon Tea plus 30 minute Mini Treatment £70 per person
All our local charities need support, so if you are giving to the person ‘who seems to have everything’ why not make a donation to their local charity instead?
If you can’t get out & about this Christmas, all of these brands help the Yorkshire economy, but you can order online.
MYROO SKINCARE www.myroo.co.uk an organic brand formulated for sensitive and allergic skin. I recommend their Superfood Balm, a multi purpose product, lovely to use and makes a great present, RRP £25.
SWIZZLES.COM - www.swizzles.com an 89 year old, proud, family-owned, Northern sweet manufacturer - famous for making Love Hearts, Drumsticks, Parma Violets and Refreshers. Christmas Love Heart Place Name Settings – ideal for the Christmas table especially as they are just 99p each at their standard price.
CRAFTIOSITY - www.craftiosity.co.uk hot on the subscription box trend, this service based in Yorkshire offers all you need for modern craft kits. They send the tools, materials and instructions to make a complete project.
Cooper King Distillery http://www.cooperkingdistillery.co.uk - boutique Yorkshire-based gin and whisky distillery, which will produce authentic premium spirits.
TANCREAM: A luxury lotion with high sun protection combined with a superior gradual self tan which does not smell or streak. Great for going make up free - www.tancream.co.uk