Shopping with a conscience at it possible?

Follow us on Instagram for our 12 Days of Christmas small business gift guide, launching tomorrow.

Oh god, is it Christmas again? Seriously?! I know, I know, it's the most wonderful time of the year...and there is a lot to love. Cheese boards, normalising chocolate at every meal, day drinking, the anticipation and then the magic of the morning itself...did I mention day drinking?

But let's be real here, Christmas can also be a source of immense pressure on parents who are already living on the edge of a breakdown. What will be the last straw that pushes us over the edge this year? Ther are just so many contenders.

Will it be the relentess and inevitably last minute school events that leave you desperately searching the bottom of the dress up box for anything resembling a nativity character because you've missed the cut-off for Prime next day delivery?


Then maybe the 57 Christmas cards you have to write for every child in the year group on behalf of your own lazy little sod who's sat on the sofa in the next room stuffing his face with cheese strings and pretending he's not watching the expressly forbidden Squid Game?

Actually that one might just be me...

Well if it's not kid-related, then it will definitely be the lists upon lists of gifts that need buying and wrapping, seemingly for anyone you've ever exchanged a passing nod with in the street. And their kids. 

Add to this cacophony of Christmas To Do's our very real and genuine desire to do good: to buy responsibly from brands who are hard-working, tax-paying, real life people; to support brands who care about our planet and make choices to protect and support our environment, or who give back to charity, or who eschew  pink & blue gender stereotyping - and you've got a recipe for a full-blown cracker of a panic attack, with bells and tinsel on.

But as tempting as it might be to simply go along to get along, bow to the Wish Lists and click through the endless Amazon catalogue, ticking off the requested items as you go - in my case, 1 million Robux and a truckload of plastic tat - I do believe there is a better way.

There are so many amazing small brands out there working hard on their gorgeous products, managing everything from design through execution to marketing and after sales. They really are the masters of Getting Sh!t Done, and they're the ones I'd rather give my money to this Christmas. Small footprint, big hearted brands, doing it for themselves and usually with a toddler on one hip.

It's easier than you might think to find these brands, by harnessing the power of social media. Trust me: start following hashtags like #campaignshopindependent or #shopsmalluk or #smallbusinessuk and it will open up a whole new world of incredible brands with amazing quality products and even more fascinating origin stories. Their creativity and passion for what they do will shine off the screen, and you'll be inspired and uplifted by your shopping experience.

Of course, we understand - you're never going to completely eradicate plastic tat from your Christmas arsenal, there'll always be that must-have toy that lights up  their imagination (often literally, along with some obnoxious sound effects) and creates a smile that fills the room. But doing a little good is better than doing no good at all.

And as the inimitable Holly Tucker of Not On The High Street and #colourfriday fame proclaims: if we each buy even one more present from an independent retailer this Christmas, we'll generate over £2.7 BILLION in sales going straight into a small business' pocket, instead of topping up a certain billionaire's already bulging coffers.

That's enough to keep those businesses going, breathe life into their hopes and dreams and get them through to a new year of opportunity. Every purchase you made from a small independent business, you know somebody somewhere is doing a little happy dance. And couldn't we all use more happiness - and more silly dances?

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