As the end of term rolls around and students are ready to head home for Christmas, the time to start buying gifts for our nearest and dearest is edging closer and closer. But each year it’s the same worries of what to buy for whom, and where to buy it.
One of the real advantages of living in Edinburgh however has to the number of fanciful gift shops that decorate the city, meaning that there are more than enough opportunities to bring back some bona fide Scottish products to impress your friends and family with your thoughtful and unique Christmas presents.
But with all the choices this city brings, figuring out what shops to choose is a tedious task. So to save you the trouble, this week I set off on a mission to discover the best places to buy your gifts in Edinburgh.
Hamilton & Young
If you’re looking to buy jewellery for gifts, then this is the place to go. Whilst there is a plethora of jewellery shops scattered about Edinburgh, this one stuck in my mind simply for the vast range and student-friendly prices.
Located on the superbly Scottish Royal Mile, Hamilton & Young is a family run jewellery company. They design, create and sell Celtic themed pieces, ranging from charms to leather wristbands, to earrings and even incorporating Swarovski crystals into some of their more upmarket items. The prices at this shop can really range depending on what you’re after, so it’s somewhere to go if you want full control over your spending budget; whether you’re looking to buy a Celtic silver plated ring for £9.99 or spend £49.99 on a Celtic cladagh silver locket, there’s numerous options here for presents for both men & women.
The Fudge Kitchen
Sweet treats are always a good option if you’re running out of personal ideas for presents, but whilst a Thornton chocolate snowman or a Cadbury’s selection box screams ‘I had no idea what to get you’, an exclusive gift set from The Fudge Kitchen (30 High Street, Old Town) is much more memorable.
On visiting the Edinburgh-born fudge shop, my favourite finds for presents were undoubtedly the Devilishly Different Fudge Frappes & Milkshakes and the Devilishly Different Drinking Fudge gift sets. Each one comes with a drinking glass plus six sachets of scrumptious sounding flavours such as Tangy Orange and Sea Salted Caramel; just stir into either hot or cold milk and voilà, a perfect drink and a perfect gift.
What’s more, I recommend visiting the shop to have a browse round nonetheless, even if it’s just to breathe in the scent of freshly made fudge and to sample a few of the many flavours of fudge they sell for yourself.
Cranachan & Crowde
Cranachan & Crowde is yet another shop on the Royal Mile. This fantastic shop sells all kinds of products from over 200 producers and businesses based solely in Scotland.
This place grabbed and held my attention immediately, particularly as some of the producers they sold from were so small scale and it would feel wonderful to be supporting such humble businesses, while purchasing a high quality and truly unique product. There’s none of that ‘mass produced’ vibe in this shop, just a lot of home-crafted goods and curious products.
Mojito Marmalade really stood out to me as one that be a different gift, but if you’re not after food then there was also a number of products by the Scottish Soap Company, candles made from pure Scottish Beeswax, Scottish woollen gifts and of course some tweed as well. But it would be impossible to list all the possibilities this shop has to offer, so I sincerely recommend taking a short walk along the Royal Mile to have a peer in for yourself.
It’s all too easy, almost expected, to bring whisky back from Edinburgh. True, it’s a classic, but whisky is a serious drink, good whisky is expensive and it’s one you’ll most likely be thanked for greatly, and stored away at the back of the cupboard, never to be seen again.
Beer on the other hand is a good gift. Beer will be drunk, and if it’s a particularly interesting beer, it’s one that will capture both the interest and surprise of your receiver. And if it is interesting beer you’re after then the place to head to is The Beerhive.
An independent off license with over 700 different beers at your disposal, The Beerhive offers bottles of beer from all over the globe, but also sells numerous bottles from microbreweries in Scotland. Its home is 24, Rodney Street, not too much of a walk from Princes Street, and is certainly somewhere you should be considering before you buy from anywhere else, even if it’s just to pop in and gape at the floor to ceiling shelves of bottles.
The Red Door Gallery
Grassmarket itself is a bustling hub of trinket shops and gift idea inspiration, and one place that is a must-visit is The Red Door Gallery. The ‘gallery’ in the title doesn’t quite sell it in the same way walking into the shop does, for this isn’t all canvases and extravagant artwork. The Red Door Gallery is just as appropriate for buying homeware, jewellery, stationery, accessories, meaning it’s an ideal place to go Christmas shopping.
Most of the designs are by local artists and there’s a discernable theme of all things Scottish and Edinburgh in many of the pieces, whether it’s sketches of Edinburgh skylines or a simple ‘I love Irn Bru’ brooch.
Image: Flickr: Moyan Brenn