With Christmas just around the corner, I expect a lot of you are buying last-minute presents and festive goodies at the moment. And I don’t know about you, but I’ve been doing a lot more of my shopping online this year. I usually like to have a nosey round the Christmas market, grab a fancy festive coffee and then hide in a nice warm bookshop for a while – but this year, that hasn’t really been on.
But a lot of people still want to do their bit to support small independent businesses, or donate to charity in the run-up to Christmas.
If you can’t get out to the little shops yourself, you’re not just stuck with giants like Amazon (not that there’s anything wrong with shopping with Amazon, and I’ll come back to them in a minute). But if you’re looking for something a bit more off the beaten track, here are a couple of suggestions for you:
Not on the High Street (notonthehighstreet.com)
This website works with 1000s of small independent manufacturers of gifts, novelties and personalised things. You order through their website, and the independent trader sends it directly to you. (It’s worth bearing in mind that some of the personalised items won’t reach you in time for Christmas presents now, unfortunately.)
If you’re looking for something hand-crafted or vintage, then Etsy is a great place to try. Most of the things for sale on there are hand-made arts and crafts (and craft materials). Although you can buy vintage clothes, jewellery and homewares as well. There are a real mix of sellers – from big art dealers to a hobbyist selling hand-made Christmas cards.
Both Etsy and Not on the High Street both offer gift cards as well, if you’re not sure what to get for your friends or family this year.
Charity donations while you shop
As I said earlier, there’s nothing wrong with shopping through Amazon – and you might find that you’re actually buying from an independent anyway! When you search for something on Amazon, some of the results that come up will be sold by Amazon themselves (particularly books, CDs and DVDs). But the majority of things are actually coming from independent shops via “Amazon Marketplace”.
Amazon also give you a way to raise a little bit of money for charity by doing hardly anything.
It’s called “Smile” and the way it works is that rather than going to the ordinary Amazon website, you go to the Smile version of the website instead (smile.amazon.co.uk).
You can then log in to your Amazon account as normal (or it might do it automatically if it recognises you) and choose a charity. From then on, when you buy something on Amazon, they’ll give half a percent of the price to that charity.
OK, it’s not a fortune, but it adds up – and it costs you nothing. They don’t charge you anything extra and it doesn’t affect what you order in any way – they just donate a small amount to the charity you choose.
Right – I’m off in search of mince pies…