2020 has been a tough year, particularly for small businesses and with the arrival of lockdown 2.0, it’s never been more important to shop independent and support the local community. Bristol is a proudly creative city with hundreds of independent retailers and makers and we need them to keep our corner of the South West special. It’s also much easier on your carbon footprint and you can’t beat that personal touch, so let’s give them our money instead of the huge multinationals…
I’ve rounded up some of my favourite artists, makers and places to shop independent gifts, art, toys, books and alcohol, as well as Bristol experiences that would make great Christmas gifts. All have websites where you can order online, so what are you waiting for!?
Independent Shops in Bristol
IOTA, on Gloucester Road, sells locally-made bits and pieces, gifts for the home and accessories. They’ve just fine-tuned their webshop in preparation for lockdown, so expect books, candles, ornaments, jewellery, bags and more available online shortly!
Possibly my favourite shop on Gloucester Road, Paper Plane is full of beautiful handmade gifts, jewellery, items for kids and teens, homewares and clothes made by local designer makers and artists. During lockdown they’re offering to wrap your gift, write your message in a card and send it straight to the recipient.
An old-fashioned sweet shop on Gloucester Road, I ordered cute pre-filled party bags from them for my daughter’s 4th birthday, and dropped them off on the doorstep of her friends during lockdown 1 – which needless to say, went down a storm! They also sell pre-filled pick and mix bags, baking and cake accessories, wool and yarn.
Kiln, just off Gloucester Road, offers pottery painting for kids and grown ups. Takeaway kits including paints and pottery are available to order online, collect from the shop and return for firing when you’re done.
Room 212 on Gloucester Road offers an amazing array of artwork by local Bristol artists and creatives including paintings, original prints and illustrations. During lockdown you can order prints to Click & Collect from the shop.
Run by nine Bristol-based artists, this lovely indie near Christmas Steps sells top quality products handmade within a few miles of the shop. Browse their website for a glimpse of the products on offer from various makers and click through to their individual sites to purchase – they stock work by one of my favourite illustrators, Rosie Webb.
Flux gallery (on Upper Maudlin Street near the BRI) represents makers of contemporary craft from across the UK. All their makers create handmade, often one-of-a-kind products – browse ceramics, paintings, wood, sculpture and more. Gift vouchers are also available if you’re stuck on gift hunting! They also run jewellery and silversmithing courses throughout the year in their purpose built studio.
This independent shop on Gloucester Road sells clothing, gifts (for under £20), art, jewellery, cards and books by innovative Bristol artists and makers. Browse online and buy directly through their site.
Stokes Croft China finances the community work of the People’s Republic of Stokes Croft, whose good deeds include tackling local food poverty and support for the homeless. The shop sells English fine bone china, T shirts, books, cards, original art and prints.
Another Stokes Croft store, this one houses festival fashion, street wear, vintage and customised clothing from independent designers as well as supporting local graffiti writers, music producers and artists of Bristol.
During lockdown they’ll be uploading as many products as possible onto their website, click & collect will still be available, but days and times will be restricted. If you’re after a card, they can write any message for you and send it out or gift wrap anything and send as a present!
Not only do I love the name of this place (obvs), the shop itself sits bright and boldly on Stokes Croft with colourful artwork emblazoned across its facade. Inside is equally beautiful art, art-based homeware and gifts which can also be found online.
Tucked away in Wapping Wharf, this little treasure trove of contemporary European design features eye-catching fair trade products, children’s toys and homeware, festive items, cards, outdoor essentials, cooking paraphernalia, jewellery and indulgent body care. Click and collect will be available from 5 November.
Brand new to Wapping Wharf, Frankly encourages a less wasteful, more conscious approach to gifting. Their brands are selected for their beautiful, unique products, but also for their ethical and sustainable ethos. Browse chocolate, candles, jewellery, bags, mugs and more in their online shop. Free local delivery BS1-BS14 during lockdown.
Independent Design Collective
Southville’s Independent Design Collective, run by Chitra Tarling, is a craft-based gift shop featuring designers and makers from the local area. You can buy a wide range of products, including artwork, bags, bodycare, coasters, candles and more on their WeAreBS3 website here.
Based in Bedminster, this gorgeous shop sells inspiring interiors and gifts for adults and children. Seek out everything from vases and pots, to kids’ wall decorations, books, stationary and toys.
North Street’s fabulous chocolate shop is run by chocoholic Zara, who is renowned for her delicious choccie and innovative flavour combos. Everything is made by hand in-store in an open kitchen. Gift hampers, truffles, hot chocolate, baking ingredients and lots more are all available to buy online. Keep an eye out for their Christmas range!
Oh I do like to delve into this colourful Clifton Village shop/gallery/picture framers, mainly because one of my favourite Bristol artists, Alison Black, sells her vibrant prints here. During lockdown the shop is planning on posting their exclusive print ranges, which include Alison Black’s Bristol limited editions and Cutitout’s Witty Women giclée prints. Payment, postage, and delivery can all be arranged over the phone.
Duck feet photo frames, ‘gold eye’ mirrors, this interiors shop on Gloucester Road is filled with quirky trinkets for your home, some of which are available to buy on their website.
The Bristol Artisan on Whiteladies Road is a stylish space for contemporary design and craft. Selling work from over 50 independent Bristol and UK-based designer makers with an emphasis on handmade sustainable practices. They stock a range of children’s gifts, ceramics, jewellery, homewares, lighting, clothing, cards, gifts, wrapping paper, prints, and beauty products, many of which are available to browse online.
BAM was set up as a non-profit lifestyle store and creative space in Easton and reinvests any profits into community projects. The shop – trading online during lockdown – is dedicated to supporting local artists and encouraging creativity and sells Christmas decorations, green living items, school products for kids, art, vinyl, gifts, beauty, toys, books and more. They offer local deliveries by hand, a card-writing service, gift wrapping and ship internationally too.
An independent co-op store and workshop space in Old Market, showcasing design-led, handcrafted work that is made responsibly and sustainably. I’m a huge fan of their bold, geometric contemporary lighting, plant pots and eco-conscious homewares.
During lockdown they will be offering FREE Bristol delivery BS1 – BS9 and click and collect. They also ship worldwide.
Visit Bristol’s online shop offers the opportunity to buy many of the gifts and souvenirs available in the Tourist Information Centre. Browse a selection of locally-made gifts, clothing and nibbles.
Shop a selection of Bristol-themed things – from Bristol Monopoly, Stokes Croft China and Bristol Blue Glass to street art books, homeware and jewellery. Every purchase you make helps to support Bristol Museums.
Shop independent book stores in Bristol
This contemporary Harbourside art gallery is home to a specialist bookshop, full of irresistible tomes on art, design and culture. With the gallery shut, you can browse the books, prints and gifts online, which include a selection of kids’ items.
An independent bookshop on North Street in Bedminster, all their stock is available to purchase from their website for in-store collection and delivery anywhere. They also offer a range of monthly book subscriptions – the perfect gift for your book-loving buddy, or curious little ones.
The UK’s leading specialist retailer of maps, travel books and other travel accessories, was established in 1853. The shop sells beautiful travel-themed books, toys, games and gifts for children, astronomical and illuminated globes, all available to buy online.
Have you ever heard the stories of the legendary Bristol Giants, Goram and Ghyston? Legend has it that they created some of the city’s most famous landmarks – including the Avon Gorge! Discover more about their adventures in three books (including a special Christmas one), created by Oliver Rigby and Tom Bonson.
Shop independent toy shops in Bristol
Selling children’s toys and games from across Europe, this gorgeous Gloucester Road shop specialises in wooden toys, games, crafts, books and puzzles.
Gloucester Road’s Totally Toys has been selling all kinds of child-friendly fun since 1988. The shop boasts one of the largest collections of Lego in Bristol, alongside wooden toys, books and science products to keep the kiddos happy.
Make use of their new ring and collect service during lockdown – take a look at the products on their site, then give them a call on 0117 9423833 to check their stock and make your order – payments can be taken over the phone and they’ll bring your order to the curbside so you don’t have to enter the shop.
A family-run independent toy shop based in Bedminster that is home to beautiful wooden animals, ethical brands and brilliant stocking fillers. Their website offers the opportunity to shop by age, toy type, special offers and new products.
Shop independent Bristol makers
An online Instagram marketplace featuring 30 hand-picked, mindful makers that runs every Friday on Instagram stories from 8pm until Sunday 8pm. Discover different local artists each week and snap up exclusive discount codes on beautiful products. Organised by my very clever and lovely friend Geraldine.
Shop from a collection of 23 independent Bristol-based retail businesses who have come together to bring you a one-stop place to find beautiful gifts and products. Many of the retailers offer local deliveries, click and collect service or postal delivery direct to your door.
Bristol INdie Weekend (20-22 November)
Get ready for a festive shopping weekend celebrating Bristol’s independents, featuring exclusive treats and offers from retailers. Visit their website and sign up to receive a pass and schedule for the weekend.
Discover an A-Z of the amazing talent that normally takes part in the Christmas gift fairs at Bristol Beacon. From contemporary jewellery makers to British knitwear designers, organic clothing and botanical crafts, you can find information on the makers here and click through to their individual sites to snap up their beautiful creations.
Helen Ward is a Bristol-based artist and designer who specialises in paper artwork. She accepts commission requests and I’m consistently awed by her intricate paper cuts of butterflies and people’s houses.
Mine and Emma’s daughters used to do ballet together! Since then she’s left her job as a primary teacher and followed her passion for macramé. Get in touch with her to order your own plant hanger kit, ready made plant hangers and wall hanging commissions.
Originally from Birmingham, Shelli now lives and works as an illustrator in Bristol. She creates colourful alphabet tea towels and wall art for kids (including a dedicated Bristol one) as well as greetings cards, gifts and homeware.
Bristol mama Jo up-cycles toy animals and transforms them into gorgeous gold and neon trinkets for your Christmas tree. Everything from dangling piggies to santa-hat clad kangaroos – your festive spruce never looked so delightful.
One of my favourite Bristol illustrators (some of her cheerful animal watercolours hang on my daughters’ wall), Rosie Webb also creates cards and prints and has published three childrens’ books.
Bristol-based screen printer and designer, whose kid design label POP POP includes bold graphical unisex designs for babygros as well as personalised prints and toddler t-shirts.
Rolfe & Wills
This independent Bristol-based surface design company is run by the multi-tlented Alice Rolfe (who also runs Paper Plane on Gloucester Road and creates contemporary illustrations on Bristol). Her products include bone china mugs, placemats and coasters with gorgeous designs ranging from ‘tropical’ to ‘animal’ to ‘dip’ (my favourite, along with the neon-printed bags) and more.
Technically not Bristol-based, but she’s not far away (Bath) and this seamstress/paediatric nurse makes such lovely kid’s togs, I’m adding her in. Dresses, rompers, shorts, t-shirts and tops are all available from newborn to age 10 and you can buy directly through her website.
If you have a neon-lover in your life, look no further than Kay Morgan’s colourful jewellery – I have to hold myself back every time she runs a sale on her Instagram stories and I’m sure I own far too much of it than is necessary! She also makes accessories and mobiles from reclaimed leather, and gift vouchers are available on her website.
For luxury Children’s clothing with bright, bold prints, baby goods and accessories handmade in Chepstow, have a gander at Freckles & Daisies. Get your hands on a super cute festive romper, adorable bloomers or some ickle baby shoes.
Oh how I wish my home was filled with the joyful porcelain tableware produced by Hanne Rysgaard. Her rainbow-coloured, polka dot milk jugs are particularly special.
If your in need of some ‘merfolk’ for your Christmas tree (my kids would go crazy for these) or other illustrated ceramics, Josephine Brimble has you covered. You’ll also find children’s books, prints and jewellery on her Etsy page.
A collection of fun and characterful gifts for kids, designed and created in Bristol by Lou Collis.
Jem’s watercolour illustrations are influenced by the natural world and feature animals (bears in particular!), landscapes, oceans, galaxies and constellations. You can buy her products online, including prints and cups) and she also accepts requests for private commissions.
For bright, neon statement jewellery and accessories combining colourful prints with vintage, new and recycled textiles, Dakota Rae Dust is a hub of joy! Look out for her fluorescent and glittery, waste vinyl filled, fun and festive baubles in time for Christmas tree decorating.
Located just outside Bristol, mama of two Samantha is behind Ophi Bo’s gorgeous children’s clothing and accessories for boys and girls.
If you’d like to pick up some Yuletide goodies and put pennies towards a good cause this Christmas, she’s also selling Christmas Tablescape Boxes in aid of Shelter.
Artist and silversmith Chloe (my sister-in-law), makes beautiful silver jewellery. Her brand new website is now live, so you can buy directly online!
This Bristol charity is dedicated to helping businesses divert reusable waste away from landfill/energy recovery to help improve art and play opportunities for children, young people and adults.
In non-covid times they run craft sessions with kids, but during lockdown they have a not-for-profit arts and crafts shop that supports the charity selling a wide range of art supplies and creative packs for all ages including scrap boxes, childrens’ creative packs and adult craft kits available online and deliverable to postcodes BS1-20, BS30-37. Click and collect is also available.
Handcrafted artisan homewares, designed and created mainly in Bristol. My favourites are their neon-fringed denim lampshades and pretty belted wooden candlesticks.
A distillery-cum-speak-easy bar producing craft distilled gin (I can certify its deliciousness) and other spirits in small batches and limited quantities. You can find all available spirits, from their two distilleries online as well as tickets to their virtual ‘Distiller’s Table’ events, bottled cocktails, 12-month subscription and gin experience vouchers for when we can return to bars again.
This female-owned spirits business run by Sam Espensen in Bristol makes naturally-infused vodkas, gins and whiskies. Their current range includes Gin Genie Blueberry Gin, Ruby Cuby Rhubarb and Custard Vodka and Pump Up The Jam Raspberry Gin. Bottles are available from their online shop, where you’ll also find tasting kits, ‘boozebuster boxes’ (which come in VHS tape holders) and a boozy baubles collection.
Firstly I’d like to thank 6 O’Clock Gin for helping get me through lockdown 1.0…
This family-run business based in Thornbury makes scrumptious gin. Their main London Dry gin comes encased in beautiful Bristol-blue bottles (which you can get personalised for its intended owner in time for Christmas), but they also do export strength ‘exquisitely engineered’ Brunel gin (geddit?), festive sloe and damson gin as well as perfect gin glasses, ready-mixed cans and a moreish mango, ginger and lime tipple, created with chef Romy Gill.
Normally a bustling shop on Gloucester Road, during lockdown Grape and Grind will be selling their range of delicious wines, craft beers and artisan spirits, not to mention some of coffee beans from one of the best roasters in the country, online. With a case discount and very reasonable delivery charge, you’ll be sorted for lockdown 2.0.
They also run a Wine Club, where each month they choose 12 interesting bottles, pack them up in a case complete with tasting notes and deliver them to you.
Corks, who sell high quality wine, spirits and beers, have branches in three locations and offer three types of cases to order. Choose from ‘The Party Case’, The Christmas Box’ and ‘The Supreme Treat Box’. You can also browse their products online and email them with your order. Minimum spend is £40 for BS1 – BS9 and £80 for BS10-16.
This Bristol-based craft brewery makes everything from light, refreshing Pale Ales to complex mixed fermentation and barrel-aged beers. Browse their beers to order online or pop on down to St Werburghs to pick up some takeaway ales.
Brewers Droop sells a dizzying variety of wine kits, beer kits, cider kits and all the equipment required for you to craft your own, delicious, cost effective brews at home (where we’ll all be spending a lot of time this winter). If that sounds like too much hard work, you can order a wide variety of ready-made beer online.
Serving up some of the prettiest beers and handsome glasses you’ve ever encountered, Lost and Grounded doesn’t just look good, it tastes darn good too! In my family they make the perfect gift for hard-to-buy-for fathers and other halves.
For the best cider and perry in the South West, tap Bristol Cider Shop into your browser. Great Christmas gift options for scrumpy-lovers include the ’12 ciders of Christmas’, a cider advent calendar (!), cider hampers, festive tipples and cider gift vouchers.
Family-run business Averys began in 1793 and has built its reputation as one of the UK’s most pioneering wine merchants. Make someone’s lockdown…or Christmas extra merry with a case of festive favourites or Pure Indulgence Hamper.
If you can’t get to the pub, bring the pub home! You can order cases of bottled beer and mini tins of cask beer for delivery by courier across mainland UK or for collection from Bristol Beet Factory’s Tap Room in Southville.
Bristol’s Moor Beer produces vegan-friendly, naturally-carbonated, live beer and will deliver it fresh to your door. Make it a ‘hoppy’ Christmas with a box of Moor Beer. Mini kegs and selection of merch is also available.
Parent pampering in Bristol
If there’s anything that lockdown 1.0 taught me, it’s that it’s incredibly important for parents to have some free time and space in order to stay sane! Treat yourself or someone equally deserving to some parent-pampering vouchers for something to look forward to in the New Year. Goodness knows we all deserve it.
Back in my pre-kid days, I used to be a member of the lido and I’m fully serious when I say an hour-long visit felt like going on holiday. After having kids, whenever I visit, I appreciate the serene atmosphere, muscle-blasting sauna and steam room and refreshing swimming pool all the more.
Gift vouchers can be put towards any services including massage and dining packages.
If ever I have time, money and am in need of an energising pick-me-up this beauty salon in Henleaze is where I tend to save a few pennies for. They offer a range of beauty and spa treatments including a delicious pregnancy massage.
I love going to Nail Shed on Gloucester Road to get my nails done – it feels like the ultimate treat. There are other pampering services available too and gift vouchers are available on their website.
Bristol gift experiences
Unsurprisingly, Bristol’s attractions have been struggling this year but it’s still possible to show your support for these brilliant places. Now our house is full to bursting with so much kiddy-crap, we love receiving subscription experiences to local venues as a Christmas present. Check these out:
A brand new venture that aims to help people discover exciting local experiences right on your doorstep. Gift someone a day walking with reindeers, a sloe gin masterclass or the chance to fly a drone over Clifton Suspension Bridge.
A ticket to Brunel’s SS Great Britain is the gift that keeps on giving all year round! Redeemable on a date of your recipients choice, and valid for 12 months, Gift Ticket holders will receive a whole year of free access to the SS Great Britain, Being Brunel museum and Brunel Institute. Add the ‘Make it a gift package’ option to your transaction and they’ll post out your order in a gift box with a gift certificate and special postcard.
You can also browse the SS GB gift shop online for Brunel and Bristol-inspired products, souvenirs, children’s toys, maritime prints by local artists, Isambard mini Gromit teddy or even an SSGB face mask. Allow up to two weeks for your orders to arrive.
Bristol Zoo and Wild Place
Sister attractions Wild Place Project and Bristol Zoo Gardens offer annual passes to their individual venues as well as joint membership to both attractions. Bristol Zoo in particular was a lifesaver to me with young kids to entertain (I have been known to frequent the place up to four times in one week!) and membership includes extra perks such as gift shop and cafe discounts.
Gift tickets are also available for:
Where the Wall offers gift certificates for their ‘Introducing stencil art’ spray sessions or Bristol street art walking tours. Take a look at their calendar here to see upcoming events.
Indoor tent sleepover parties Bristol
The thrill of camping (without the weather worries) mixed with magical styling, twinkly lights and midnight feasts – these luxury indoor festival-style tent sleepover parties make the perfect special occasion celebration, when big birthday parties aren’t an option. During the pandemic, many Bristol companies have adapted the way they work to offer DIY doorstep for the same household/bubbles.
Adoption Gift Packages
Adopt an animal for 12-months and receive a special adoption pack, cuddly toy, tickets to Noah’s Ark, certificate and pen. Visitors can support the zoo’s conservation efforts and help with the costs of keeping rare and wonderful animals. Choose from the animal species below and use the included day ticket to come and visit your animal.
Your adopters’ welcome pack will include a fascinating fact pack, a limited edition poster, an iconic sticker sheet and a personalised certificate. You’ll also receive a free ticket to any one of their wetland centres around the UK so you can learn more about these diverse birds.
Hot air balloon flight
If you’re happy to splash out on something incredibly special, treat someone to the most unforgettable experience of floating over the city in a hot air balloon. Bailey Balloons, Bristol Balloons and Elite Air (UK) Ltd all offer gift vouchers for flights.