Christmas shopping is like Marmite – you either love it or hate it.
On the one hand, you have the bargains, the bundles and the 2-for-1 bath bombs, the toiletry sets and perfume boxes, all wrapped up in the most delightful colours.
On the other hand, there’s the skilful manoeuvring through high street crowds required to find a nice gift for your mum, even though she insists she just wants a nice day with the family (when, in reality, you know she’ll be devastated if you don’t get her a nice present).
For anyone eager to find a gift that’s just a little bit different from the usual Christmas biscuit box and pair of slipper socks, indie is the way to go.
Let’s get the hardest person out the way with first. Because we all know Dads are the worst to buy for.
Oi Polloi have been serving the best contemporary looks in men’s fashion since 2002, and they don’t seem to be stopping any time soon.
Offering brands ranging from Berghaus and Birkenstock to Ralph Lauren and Reebok, this independent menswear shop is the perfect pitstop to pick out your pop something trendy. And with their Christmas sale approaching, maybe even pick up something for your own stocking too.
Thomas Street, open 10am-6pm Monday to Saturday, and 12pm-5pm on Sundays.
One of Manchester’s most iconic music stores, Piccadilly Records celebrated its 40th birthday last year. This record store has every vinyl you’re looking for, whether it’s new, old, antique or Madonna (will she ever retire?).
Why not gift your loved one with their their favourite record growing up, or perhaps something new to listen to? Piccadilly Records has it all, offering tunes from over 56 different genres and at an affordable price too.
53 Oldham Street, open Monday to Saturday 10-6pm, and 12-5pm on Sundays.
Lanigan and Hulme
For something a little bit more upmarket, Lanigan and Hulme offers some real treats for you to splash out on this Christmas.
If he’s been a good dad this year, treat him to some posh socks, a brand new luxury wallet, or maybe an indulgent Murdock London grooming kit. No one likes a scruffy Santa, right?
If he’s been an extra good papa this year, why not go all out and buy him a crisp new shirt to wear for Christmas dinner? Lanigan and Hulme have over 40 years of experience of fine menswear knowledge and retail experience between them, so not only will you get a wonderful gift, but the service you’ll receive while buying it will feel like your very own Christmas present.
Royal Exchange Arcade
Next up is mama bear. Say goodbye to boring perfume box sets and get her something really unique this Christmas.
Form lifestyle shop is the most aesthetically pleasing homeware shop to grace the Northern Quarter, showcasing some of the finest jewellery, dinnerware, home furnishings and stationery, all sourced from independent designers and makers.
Whether it’s bath salts, kitchen tupperware, fleecy throws or teensy tiny diamond earrings, you can be sure that whatever you pick up from Form, your mum won’t find it anywhere else.
And if materials aren’t her thing, Form also put on workshops such as ring-making, pottery and flower arrangement so your mum can get practical with her Xmas present.
6 Bradley St, Manchester M1 1EH, open 11am-5pm Monday to Saturday
For the fun mums out there who love a family game with a glass of wine, Oklahoma is the biggest independent gift shop in Manchester and has some of the quirkiest presents you’ll find anywhere in town.
The store is full to the brim of novelty gifts, plush homewares and artsy decor, as well as handmade jewellery and original artwork. There is just so much choice that it wouldn’t all fit on this page, so you’ll have to go and take a look for yourself.
74-76 High St, Manchester M4 1ES, open 10-6pm Monday to Sunday
Another pitstop to add to your list is Shmyls, a small store in the first unit on the right at independent trader market Hatch on Oxford Road.
Owner Sarah hand picks every product to make sure it is ethically sourced and sustainably made, including her hand-woven throws, vegan wax candles and delicately-crafted, gold and silver jewellery and fits in perfectly with the beautiful aesthetic of the store.
And if you are as indecisive as us, and can never pick the right gift for mum, why not pick up one of Sarah’s pick and mix hampers? Each including a candle, a throw and mug of your choice.
103 Oxford Rd, Manchester M1 7ED
For the more sophisticated mama, novelty gifts just won’t cut it. Opt for something a little more classic instead and head on over to Søstrene Grene on Cross Street.
Offering Christmas gifts ranging from delicate table crockery, festive cookie cutters, and dainty decorations for the family tree, Søstrene Grene is ideal for stocking fillers and traditional festive homewares that can be passed on for generations.
And now’s the best time to get acquainted with this fine little store, for they are offering you and a friend the chance to fill up a basket in their shop and walk away, all expenses paid. Talk about a Christmas miracle, right? Check their social media pages for updates on the competition.
12-14 Cross St, Manchester M2 7AE
For those pesky siblings
And finally, all the rest. But don’t just give them a packet of sweets and hope for the best. Instead, get them something quirky, something colourful, and maybe something that all of your aunties aren’t going to get them as well? After all, there’s only so much bodywash you can use in a year.
Book lovers‘ hotspot Magma is a Santa’s grotto for the brainiac of the family. They have books for art lovers, anime watchers and fashion enthusiasts, as well as independent magazines, autobiographies, and even a selection of arty gifts for pals with nimble fingers.
24 Oldham St, Manchester M1 1JN, open 10-6.30pm Monday to Saturday
Stepping into Thunder Egg is like walking inside a rainbow. And if the shop front isn’t enough to convince you that this store is unlike any other, take a peak at their clothing line. From 1950s frocks to dinosaur decorated dungarees, Thunder Egg sell a range of contemporary alternative brands, so you can pick up some threads that are super quirky.
But it doesn’t stop there, because Thunder Egg also have a huge range of gifts, bits and bobs that are ideal for stocking fillers for the fam. Choose from a collection trinkets, home decor and funky plant pots, as well as stylish accessories to accompany your coolest outfits.
And it’s right next door to Magma! Two birds, one stone.
22 Oldham St, Manchester, M1 1JN and Affleck’s, 52 Church St, Manchester M4 1PW
Sour Cherry is a magpie’s nest for accessory lovers, offering a huge collection of handmade jewellery for people of all ages and interests including colourful acrylic pendants, silver and gold plated bracelets, and the most creative arty earrings known to man.
Bet you’ve never seen handcrafted jewellery like this before. And what’s more, Affleck’s stays open until 8pm, so you have plenty of time to dash across after work to pick up some goodies.
2nd floor Affleck’s, 52 Church St, Manchester M4 1PW