As a notoriously disorganised individual I leave my Christmas shopping to the very last minute (3pm Christmas Eve) and tearfully sprint up and down the high street, bulk buying useless items that will be left to languish unwanted in family members’ drawers for the rest of the year. I do this because I hate the High Street at Christmas. I hate the rush, the tackiness, and the commercial ‘panic buying’ atmosphere that enforces the weak and stricken shopper to want to curl up in the foetal position in front of the checkouts at John Lewis.
This is why I’ve decided to create a plan of action, an alternative list of shopping in Cardiff for others that feel that similar sense of doom when studying Christmas lists as long as the River Taff. This list is a little reminder that you don’t even have to leave the City Centre to discover (or rediscover) hidden gems that will turn present buying into a pleasurable experience this Christmas.
Your first stop should be tonight’s Buffalo Boutique, a monthly pop-up market in the Cardiff bar just off Queen Street. There’s been an influx of pop-up markets in Cardiff of late, and they really are a must visit for second-hand wares, vintage clothing and unusual crafts.
This is the Christmas version of the event, and no doubt the entrepreneurial stall-holders will no have rustled up some Xmas-inspired wares. There are usually free cupcakes on offer, which I imagine will be replaced with mince pies in a nod to the impending festive season. If not, I believe Buffalo itself offer a reasonable mince pie and homemade mulled wine deal. There’s something deliciously decadent about drinking while shopping and as we currently find ourselves in the midst of the most extravagant season of the year we might as well embrace this sentiment by getting sozzled on baby Jesus’ behalf while browsing through handbags.
Once you’ve overcome the hangover, exploring the labyrinthine Victorian arcades is an ideal way to spend a day Christmas shopping. Cardiff’s Royal, Morgan, Castle and High Street arcades have a plethora of independent shops that means that their Christmas displays are far more personalised than the glitzy-yet-generic windows on the High Street. There’s an understated glamour to the Christmas decorations in these places, making for a simpler and calmer atmosphere. This is also aided by the fact that the rest of South Wales is stressing out over in St. David’s 2 (clearly they didn’t read this article).
Looking for more vintage? Pop to the Oxfam Boutique in Morgan Arcade. Not only do they source the best second-hand and vintage from Oxfam shops all over the UK, but indulging your inner philanthropist at their boutique will give you that warm fuzzy feeling that Christmas is all about. You can then invest in the perfect dress for the Christmas party at Seren without feeling too guilty, and haggle with the guys at City Surf for gifts for the adrenaline junkie in your life you. Hobos is then an essential visit for this year’s tacky Christmas jumper at a reasonable price, especially if you don’t have a Nanna that knits.
Independent shops equal independent wares, meaning you can find that one-off item you’ve been searching for, for that special someone. Nice is excellent for this, specialising in quirky finds for the person who has everything, or for the person you’ve already bought everything for. Spillers Records is the place you need for music prezzies. It’s known as the oldest independent record shop in the World and has it has just moved from the Hayes due to a hike in rental prices, Cardiffians should visit the new premises to show their support for this fundamental part of the City’s shopping history.
Finish off your task by purchasing jewellery, handmade crafts, and Welsh-inspired gifts from the various stalls of Cardiff’s Christmas Market. With the newly pedestrianised St. Mary Street a large part of the market is now situated around the Castle Quarter. The market is also the best place for fast food, perfect for if you’re running out of shopping time.
Stumble home when finally done, and curl up on the sofa into that aforementioned foetal ball, safe in the knowledge that the stress is over, at least for another year!
Where are your picks for Christmas shopping? Let us know your tips in the comments below