When it comes to Christmas gift buying, I think it’s safe to say that we’re all firmly pitched in either one camp or the other: those who sensibly plan ahead, remembering to buy for all the extended family, neighbours and pets with plenty of time to spare; versus those panicked souls who can be found on Christmas Eve, desperately clutching an odd assortment of One Direction mugs, Minstrels and novelty torches grabbed from the depleted shelves of the nearest 24 hour petrol station.
Well, I’ve got good news for both camps. At Great Escapes Wales HQ, we’ve rounded up the best selection of independent shops in North Wales, where the most delightful festive treats can be found for your nearest and dearest. For those Meticulous Planners among you: we know you love a good list. And to the Panic Buyers, we say: Now you’ve got no excuse, so get on it! Here are our favourite five (in no particular order as they’re all too good):
1. Shop Cwtch, Menai Bridge www.shopcwtch.com
This quirky shop sells a tantalising mixture of gourmet food stuffs, luxury bathing products, handmade art and vintage furniture.
Expect to find: Local produce like Halen Mon Sea Salt, original art prints of Elbow song lyrics, vintage lanterns from India
To get there: Wander down Water Street towards the Menai Straight and Cwtch is next door to Dylan’s restaurant (you’ll soon spot the sky blue Morris Minor parked out front)
2. Petticoat Lane, Llandudno www.petticoatlaneshop.co.uk
If you’re a fan of all things perfectly pretty, delightfully dainty and painted in pastels, then this shop filled with beautiful homeware is the place for you.
Expect to find: adorable toys for children, wooden heart-shaped hanging decorations, lots of gorgeous fairy lights
To get there: Stroll up St. George’s Place from the promenade, past the eponymous hotel on the corner and the artistically arranged window display will draw you in
3. Vinomondo, Conwy www.vinomondo.co.uk
Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without someone’s Dad, sister or Great Uncle getting a bit too squiffy. This is where you go to buy the good stuff that’ll set them on their way.
Expect to find: Locally brewed beers, smokey Penderyn whiskies, wine handbags (you read correctly; now you can pour your wine straight out of your handbag, for those occasions when surreptitious boozing is required)
To get there: Dander up the high street past The Castle and you’ll spy the sparkling decanters and glittering glasses on your left
4. Beddgelert Woodcraft, Beddgelert www.beddgelertwoodcraft.com
From squirrel doorstops to Buddha sculptures, here you’ll meet a host of patiently-carved characters and lovingly-polished animals waiting to come home with you.
Expect to find: Beautifully grained wood polished like marble, hand-carved dragon windchimes, realistic bird ornaments
To get there: Walk down towards the river on your way to Gelert’s Grave; the wicker reindeer outside will be there to greet you
5. Eden With Pencils, Denbigh www.edenwithpencils.com
Have you got teeny, little children? Do you want them to have the most adorable bedroom imaginable, keeping visitors enviously cooing for hours on end? Then shop here.
Expect to find: Hand-drawn name plaques made to order, welcome to the world personalised baby paintings, hand-decorated wooden bunting
To get there: Head to Chester Town Hall, as they’ve currently popped up in the brightly coloured caravan next door
Also, don’t forget to visit our list of romantic weekend break in North Wales.
by Ben Griffin