Christmas Gift Guide 2022

At this point, we all know the deal with Christmas gift guides, there are all kinds out there - luxury, small business, shopping local, and the chain stores too - over the years I've read and written about the things I've bought from chains, and local businesses. This year in particular though I know that money is tight, a cost-of-living crisis and Winter of high bills - even choosing between heating and eating is a reality for many. I'm not going to pretend that doesn't exist, I'm more than aware and that's why I'm here encouraging shopping small if you are able - money is tight, and for small businesses they're really feeling the pinch like many of us - they often don't get the passing trade like the high street chains, and without custom I fear we may lose some wonderful businesses both local to Birmingham and beyond - that's not to say that everyone can afford to shop small, but if you can, here are some ideas, from Businesses I'm aware of, have shopped with and many from Birmingham and the surrounding areas.

Most of the brands in this post I have no affiliation with, but those marked AD next to the brand, I have been gifted a product or worked with the brand. This however has no bearing on my opinions stated throughout the post. 

So, in no particular order, here we go:

  • RinkyDink Candles
    Rinkydink is a UK based alternative small business. The candles and wax melts from this company are all on theme with the business and have a great alternative, funky style. I found them online last year and have bought some fantastic candles from them, they've all smelled wonderful and made great gifts for friends and family. It's a business I will return to buying from time and time again. The brand sells candles and wax melts, doing some great bundles which you could split for friends and family, or gift a whole box to the candle lover in your life. 

    Photograph of one of Rinkydink candles, with a Christmas themed Gizmo from The Gremlins.
    Image from @rinkydinkartist on Instagram

  • Manor and Breeze
    Manor and Breeze is the online shop for stationery lovers everywhere, selling bullet journals, desk pads, glassware, keyrings, planners, totes, some fabulous tumblers and more - it's your one stop shop for the person in your life who likes to be organised, or maybe who needs a bullet journal to be more mindful, spending more time on being creative with their pages or tracking things that are important to them. The tumblers are super cute, and you'll currently find some on theme Christmas designs on site along with other designs, including personalisation options. For the whole package you can also build your own boxes with the brand to get exactly what you want for that special person for any occasion.

    flatlay of a bullet journal, pens etc
    Image from @ManorandBreeze on Instagram

  • Whistlers Storm
    Whistlers Storm are a Birmingham based business making tea based alcohol - I recently discovered the brand at a craft fair and was really impressed with their branding, the flavours and the nature of the business. I had the opportunity to sample their three current flavours, including the new Masala Chai flavour and to say I was imporessed was an understatement. After trying all three, the masala chai was most definitely my favourite, I honestly thought it was perfection, the brand really understands flavours and know what they are doing, they have got it so right. I'm impressed and will be purchasing more from them before Christmas. Currently you can buy via their website, or their online shop. They also have stock in Stirchley Wines & Beers (but I'm not sure if the masala chai is availabe there just yet).

    Image taken at the Christmas Gift Fair 2022

  • Honey Bee Home
    Honey Bee Home is an independent online boutique, with classy, timeless pieces for your home and gifting. The brand has an ever rotating and evolving shop, with items on theme for the seasons as well as staple pieces to make your home cosy. Currently on site there is some beautiful Christmas lighting, perfect gifting items such as stemless flutes, beautiful glass jewellery boxes, gifts for wine and cheese lovers such as cheese knife sets and an agate stone and gold colour bottle opener and stopper. You can also find jewellery pieces, and lots of other high quality beautiful items on site for great prices. If you're local to Birmingham, you can also pick up your orders in the Jewellery Quarter to save on postage. 

    Image from @Honeybeehomeuk on Instagram

  • How Novel
    How Novel is a book subscription service where you receive one of two mystery books (cost dependent) a month that arrive in a gift box, with a letter from your pen pal and a bookmark. It's a novel idea for the readers in your life to receive something a bit different for them to enjoy and get stuck into. As well as the subscription service they offer mystery books, which you choose based on the illustration and words on the front of the brown paper which the books are wrapped in - you don't choose the book by its cover, you choose by its themes - which makes it a surprise for the person you're buying for as well as for you, but you can choose based on themes you know they like. I think it's a really thoughtful way to gift the bookworms in your life. 
    How Novel also supports two charities with every subscription they sell - One Tree Planted and Book Aid International - every subscription plants a tree and donates a book, allowing them to support climate change action and education across the world - so it's also a feel-good gift for the giver and receiver in more ways than one. 

    Image taken at the Christmas Gift Fair 2022

  • Teapro (AD)
    Teapro - for the tea lovers in your life who like to try something a little different - Teapro is here with a subscription box service, where each month the person will receive a loose-leaf tea subscription and 'experience tea like never before'.  In my house we are tea drinkers, especially my Mom - so this is the perfect kind of gift for a tea drinker in my book, especially if people like their tea but also a little flavour adventure. The subscription can be bought for a month, three months or six months so it can fit different budgets - with your free infuser glass in box 1 (which is sold on site for £16.99) along with 4 premium loose-leaf tea's in each box, an educational tea booklet and the tea tasting flavour wheel - if you want to introduce a loved one to the service, a one month box could be the way to go, if you know they're going to love it, maybe head for three months - you know your loved ones best after all. They also sell a 'magic love potion' tea that is colour changing and I love the whimsy of that, it would be a win for me as a gift for a tea lover. They also sell flowering tea bulbs which could make great stocking fillers.
    I received December's 'Black and Yellow' box from Teapro along with their tea infuser glass, the black and yellow box features four loose-leaf tea's - Gold Dian Hong Pagoda Black Tea, OP1 Rukeri Rwanda Black Tea, Supreme Meng Ding Yellow Buds Tea, and High Mountain Wuyi Wild Black Tea - all of which you can find out a bit more about here

    To get a 10% discount with Teapro you can use my code nici10teapro - this is not an affiliate code and I do not finanically gain from you using it, you can just get a bit of money off by using this. 

    Image from @teaprouk on Instagram

    Having a lovely cup of tea in my 'Christmassy' jumper

  • Norcotts Cider
    Norcotts Cider is a little further afield than some of the other brands in this post, but after meeting the owner recently at a Christmas gift fair, trying their cider out and really enjoying the product I had to include this small business. Norcotts is a family run, independent business based in Devon - now if you know me, my go to is a pint most of the time if I'm out with friends (and usually its a pint of cider as I don't like beer), so when I tried this out recently, I was intrigued to see they have a cherry still cider - I tried a sample and was impressed. I love anything cherry flavour so that was an instant hit with me and at the fair there were some deals on, so we picked up a pouch of the still cherry and three bottles of other flavours we liked when testing too. I can safely say the pouch of cider is basically gone now, we have been saving the bottles for Christmas though. For the cider lover in your life, this is a great small business to buy from where you can order a case, a gift pack, or their still pouches. I'll be ordering myself another cherry pouch very soon!

    Image of the customised gift pack case on the Norcotts cider website

  • Dorkface 
    Dorkface is a small business that sells pins, t-shirts, stationery, one-of-a-kind paintings, keyrings and jewellery along with other items. Run by Jemma, the business is incredibly active online, where she regularly listens to her customer base on what they would like to see next, along with giving exclusives to Patreon members too. Over the years I've been a regular customer, buying pins, stationery and jewellery, I also own a couple of very cute t-shirts that I often wear. When you buy from Dorkface, you're buying from Jemma, a very creative woman who puts her all into the business, helping fund her family while her partner is training for an NHS job. If you love colourful, Disney, nostalgia, cute and quirky and TV/film related items - you will love Dorkface. There is such a wide range of items on site, all designed in house - in the brand's style - you can even get portraits for a limited time. I've picked up some bits and pieces for this Christmas, but that's all to be revealed once my loved ones have received their items. 
    Christmas postage has passed now for the brand - but if you find something you love, drop a message over on Instagram to arrange special delivery for your items.

    Image from @Dorkfacecreates on Instagram 

  • Miss Macaroon
    Miss Macaroon is a Birmingham based social enterprise that make premium, handmade gluten-free (but you'd never know) French macaroons. Every penny of profit from Miss Macaroon is invested in helping young people who need a helping hand to gain skills that will change their lives - so when you buy from this business you are not only getting high quality goods that make the perfect gift at Christmas - you're also doing good. Miss Macaroon train small groups of individuals from the age of 18 to 35, tailoring the ten-week courses to address their barriers to employment, utilising Miss Macaroon's production kitchen or the macaroon and prosecco bar to practice skills for success in the workplace.  We all know that the world of work can be a tough place and breaking into it can be daunting - I know from my experience that the working world has not always been the friendliest place (I'm glad I joined and became active in a union), but companies that are doing good for young people like Miss Macaroon and making a world of difference, I am proud to give my custom to.  
    Not only are their ethics on point, but the macaroons are also fantastic, the range of flavours is wonderful, the taste and texture are on point, and I've never had a macaroon from them that I've not enjoyed yet. They are a little more on the pricy side, but the quality and what they do with their profits are why they are on this list. I'll always be on board with people doing good for our community. 

    Image from @iammissmacaroon on Instagram

  • Topsy Curvy Plus Size Fashion (AD (kind of, I'm a Brand Ambassador)
    If you've been here a while, you'll know I've been championing Topsy Curvy for a few years now, and this is a company that have gone from strength to strength - opening their own shop again this year, I've even had the opportunity in recent months to model for them which was a fun and exciting experience. Jo and Nat run Topsy Curvy from Hyde in Manchester along with running Team Topsy on Facebook - a community that has grown by the day, where diet talk is not the norm and embracing who you are, how you look and being yourself is at the forefront. I've been part of that group for some time now, and worked with the brand over the years, but they're listed here because they're a great business to buy from this Christmas. Topsy Curvy is a small business with a big impact, they have some great pieces, from their slogan t-shirts to the dresses you'll find me and lots of other familiar faces modelling - including their customers. The brand's ethos, even as it has grown has never changed, they want you to see yourself when you look on their site, its why they use a wide range of models.
    If you have someone in your life who is a little quirky - the Curvy Cult collection might be for them (it's a personal favourite) with some great alternative designs - but you can find all kinds of styles on their site and in store, while shying away from the typical plus size tropes - they have been bringing their A game. The brand has a gift section on site right now, but you may certainly find clothing that is perfect for a plus size person in your life with them. There are always discount codes on site so you will always find a great deal too.

    Me modelling for Topsy Curvy - showing off their NBC dress

  • Topple and Burn
    Topple and Burn are a political jewellery company - so perfect for the activist in your life, or just those fed up with the world we're in right now. I first bought from Topple and Burn last year, picking up some 'Fuck the Tories' earrings, which I love, and wear regularly. You know by now I'm not shy on my political opinion, especially as a trade unionist. I've been trying to help make change, and help working class people wherever I can the last few years - so it's no surprise I'm recommending this brand. With high quality jewellery made from surgical steel and sometimes plated with 18k gold or rose gold (where stated), The brand doesn't shy away from charity either, donating a portion of their profits to causes they care about, with some items having 100% of the profits donated to specific causes. The brand does good, while making a stand and I love that. You can find pieces that say things like 'refugees welcome' (given we've all seen that discourse), 'Fuck the Daily Fail*', 'Fuck the Tories' and a lovely new 'fucking snowflake' enamel pin. 
    Protest takes many forms and showing your loved ones you're with them can also take many forms - so I'm with Topple and Burn on this one. A great brand who are doing good behind the scenes too. They also have a Christmas jumper out right now which is fantastic, 10/10.
    I do recognise this brand is a little sweary and not appropriate for everyone - I've got another jewellery brand coming, don't you worry.
    *Amended as I really don't want to come up on their hits anywhere. 

    Image from @Toppleandburn on Instagram

  • Radioactive Unicorn
    Radioactive Unicorn (Instagram) is a Vegan and cruelty free alternative small business, selling some of the best nail varnishes, liquid lipsticks, eyeshadow palettes, liquid shadow's and highlighters - with fantastic pigment, creepy colour names and great quality products. You can pick up Radioactive Unicorn products over on Kate's Clothing and the nail varnishes would make amazing stocking fillers this Christmas, along with a to die for lipstick trio to wrap up for a main pressie and maybe even some lashes - if you're feeling fancy, for me I love a good lash.  This brand is a one woman business, run by someone who really knows what they are talking about in the beauty world - well worth a look this Christmas. 

    Makeup done using Radioactive Unicorn Eye and lip products

  • Olive N Grey
    Olive N Grey is a small business for dog lovers, with human apparel such as sweatshirts, t-shirts, fleeces, loungewear etc and dog themed accessories - such as dog walking bags, treato pouches, and barrel bags, perfect for a night away with your favourite pooch. They have some very cute mugs and bottles which would also be perfect for the dog lover in your life too - one in particular is a bit of me 'Sorry I'm late, I saw a dog', which perfectly sums up my life. If I'm not with Batman and Robin, I'm still out spotting dogs and being far more excited by them than I am by any human in life. There's no love like a dog's love in my opinion, show your loved one that you get their Dog Mom or Dog Dad lifestyle by picking up something cute from this brand. 
    Also - currently you can use OLIVE10 for a discount on your first order (found on site).

    Image from @Olivngrey on Instagram

  • Printed Weird 
    Printed Weird is the ultimate in fun decor - with mirrors, home accessories, wall prints, vinyl stickers, and mini mirror frames - there are all kinds of mirrors, the cocktail themed mirrors would make perfect gifts for a friend - picking out their favourite drink for their wall and showing your thoughtful side, remembering something about them - especially their favourite drink. There are also mirrors with other sayings on, disco balls, cowboy boots and you can even personalise a mirror with whatever you'd like it to say. This business offers some great, fun gift ideas and I can't wait to pick up some bits for Christmas. 

    Image from @Printed_Weird on Instagram

  • The Chocolate Quarter
    Based in Birmingham's Jewellery Quarter, the on-brand Chocolate Quarter is a small business selling as you've guessed, chocolate - but not just any chocolate, luxury chocolate gifts from their small Chocolaterie. With all items developed and made on their premises - it's a chocolate lovers dream. They currently have some Christmas truffle boxes at affordable prices, Santa hot chocolate spoons, along with Christmas gift boxes and free from truffle boxes for those who are vegan and/or gluten free. They also offer chocolate truffle masterclasses, Bean to Bar experiences and plenty of other chocolate items to purchase too. I found The Chocolate Quarter based on recomendations from friends, and I had to include a bit of Birmingham's sweet nature in this gift guide, since we have so many fabulous small businesses - not just the famed Cadbury's. If you can shop small for your chocolate, why not add a little festive sparkle to this Jewellery Quarter based brand's order list?

    Image from @Thechocolatequarter on Instagram

  • Punks and Chancers
    Punks and Chancers is a Birmingham owned and themed brand - with some of Brum's best t-shirts and hoodies for adults, bibs, baby grows and tops for the young ones, accessories like hats, totes, coffee cups (we all need a hot beverage sometimes eh, bab?) and the odd pin. With many 'Bab' themed items in particular, because us Brummie's can often be differentiated from others by our colloquialisms (and the accent, let's be serious) - so you'll find lots of 'yes bab' and a few cheeky 'Tories Lie Bab' items too. You can regularly find them on Brum's local markets and anything from them would make the perfect gift for the proud Brummie in your life - especially the proud anti Tory Brummie. 

    Image from @punksandchancers on Instagram

  • Working Clasp
    Working Clasp is a handcrafted jewellery business, created by Birmingham designer Rebecca Cowley, taking inspiration from her travels and Birmingham heritage. Working Clasp's jewellery is definitely for those seeking something a little different than the norm you will find on the high street, with different collections to suit different tastes. On the site you will find necklaces, brooches, earrings, headbands, cufflinks, jewellery making kits and more. There are items to suit different budgets as well as different styles, with lots of very pretty items to pick from. Notably there is a 'Brum Pride and Quirky Colloquialisms' collection, with items that would make any Brummie proud and a 'Geekery' collection which takes inspiration from pop culture (which as a proud nerd, I think is very cool), along with a number of other collections to choose from.

    When browsing I also noticed that you could get a free gift with your first purchase on site, so something for your loved one and maybe a little something for you too! 

    Image from @workingclasp on Instagram

  • Loki Wine
    Loki Wine has a number of locations across Birmingham and the surrounding area - in Edgbaston, Knowle and Birmingham City Centre. The brand began with a unit in Birmingham City Centre, founded by Phil Innes, who was determined to put taste and quality at the centre of his choices for sale, rather than outdated notions about labels, regions or sales targets. After over ten years in Birmingham, with some very well attended online tastings, and a ton of awards - lots has changed since the brand was founded. Something that hasn't is that Loki do not compromise on their quality and love of wine., every bottle of wine you will find with Loki has been tried and tested, you will always find something perfect for a loved one. 
    As well as Wine, Loki also sell quality gin, whisky, brandy and rum, and a number of other things which you can purchase online as well as over 600 wines from 20 countries and there is something to suit every budget - with wine starting at £9 a bottle. Loki boast a selection of fine and rare wines as well as a selection of Champagnes, beers ales and ciders, featuring some of Brum's best local craft breweries - including Attic Brew, Glasshouse and Dig Brew. So if you want to shop local, find the perfect drink for a loved one, what better way to do it than visit Loki at one of its locations - if you're not sure what a loved one would like, maybe you could take them to wine tasting at one of their venues - there are plenty of events to choose from, along with their online cheese and wine tastings, which became very popular during Covid and continue to take place regularly. For the online tasting you will receive three full bottles of wine as well as the optional cheese pairing with each, these can be collected in store or delivered to your home.  
    With all these options available to you in Birmingham - Loki could be a great option this Christmas (and beyond!). 

    Currently on Loki's website, if you purchase Ukrainian wine, £5 from each bottle will be donated to the Ukrainian charity United24 who are raising funds for the most critical needs in Ukraine.

    Image from @lokiwine on Instagram (featuring @atticbrewco)

  • Dapper Dogs of Bearwood
    Dapper Dogs of Bearwood is as you'll have guessed, a Bearwood based business selling dog collars, harnesses, bandanas, bow ties and scrunchies for the dog parents. A small business selling through Etsy, with affordable prices to make those dogs of yours look hella snazzy this Christmas and beyond. The brand have the perfect gift items to make the dog in your life look smart, along with a scrunchie or other accessories for the dog lover too. Whether it's for you, or for a loved one who is a dog lover - you'd be barking to not check out this small business.

    Image from @Dapperdogsofbearwood on Instagram

So, there we go, a list of local (and some not so local) small or not so well-known businesses you could purchase from this Christmas (or any other holiday) and into the new year. I hope this post has given you some ideas, or at least lead you to discover something new about the brands.  If you have any questions or want to chat more - my Instagram inbox is always open!

Have a great festive season! 

Nici x

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