As someone who isn't very organised about the Big Day, a potter around Logie Steading in the run-up to Christmas is a fantastic way to glean some inspiration, some actual presents and a much-needed dose of good old-fashioned festive cheer. If, like me, you didn't put away presents for friends and relations as you saw them throughout the year and you have a scarily large number of people unaccounted for on your present-buying list, Logie Steading is open every day until Christmas Eve and - for me - it's the antidote to Christmas Shopping Stress
A 5 Point Guide to Surviving Christmas Shopping
So here's my guide, admittedly a little tongue-in-cheek, from one generally disorganised, well meaning advice-disher-not-taker, to you. Well, probably not to you if you had 'just one more' present to find in mid-October, but possibly to you if you've ever found yourself cooking Christmas dinner for 12 and discover you have forgotten to organise a turkey on Christmas Eve (a possibly unverified story from someone's family archives)..
1. Don't Panic!
Sometimes I have to remind myself, this is Meant to Be Fun. Sleepless nights worrying about whether Aunty-X-who-shall-not-be-named will want the hand-knitted gloves or the local history guide or whether the Big Man will satisfy the kids' list-wishes are just no good. It really is the thought that counts and if you can have a little fun along the way, that's a win.
Pottering around a courtyard of independent shops, decorated with foliage from the surrounding woods and twinkly lights with a stop-off for a homemade mince pie and a chat with a friend in the comfy cafe is infinitely more relaxing than fighting your way through the number system at Argos or running to put another coin in the parking meter.
2. Stick to Your List
Yes, you have a list. You're checking it twice. Or thrice. But if you're anything like me, you're also going a bit off-menu here and there in a mild state of panic (see point 1) about Getting It All Done. But ending up with 5 extra boxes of Heroes is no good for any family come January. Even one containing as many dedicated chocolate-eaters as ours.
3. Ask For Help
Having just said, quite strictly, 'stick to your list', I'd like to turn that a little on its head and say, 'don't be afraid to ask for help'. It's really a combination of the two.
Example 1: I had a teenage goddaughter in need of a gift (on list), and a vague idea of a suitable present (not quite on list). In comes advice from Jude of Hellygog and out I walk, stress-free minutes later, with a lovely box of lights in muted tones which should go with her room, and both a USB and 3 point plug fitting to cover all bases. Jude has 5 kids of varying ages. I felt in safe hands. And, tick, phew, another one off the list. Thank You Jude. The lights in the window below are the same ones I chose, just in more vibrant (and Christmassy) colours).
Example 2: What to take to a family Christmas with the grandparents who say 'they really don't need anything' at their stage of life. In come the helpful and friendly people at the Farm Shop. They can make up a hamper for you in varying sizes and fill it with anything - absolutely anything - from the shop. They'll wrap it beautifully and if you can't make it in they can even do a walk around over the phone for you (or you can just give them a theme, such as 'gardner' or 'sweet tooth') and they'll make up something brilliant. And if you're sending it to someone you're not going to see in person, they can even arrange delivery (more info here).
4. Not sure what they'll like? Consider Gifting an Experience, or Give a Gift They Can Choose for Themselves
Some people are tricky to buy for. They just are. Either they already have want they want and don't really appreciate more 'stuff' or you just don't know their tastes well enough. In comes the experience or gift voucher to the rescue! Here are Logie there are a whole host of courses and workshops throughout the year, from photography walks with Gary Murison to furniture-making with Aaron Sterritt, book-binding with Laura West.. and if you're not sure if an experience will take their fancy, the Logie Steading Shops offer gift vouchers (with the advantage that these are easily postable) so if they're into books but you don't know if it's biography, feminist novels or ancient history, or fashion but you're not sure of their taste or size, or whisky but you're not sure if they'd prefer a peaty west coast type or a speyside single malt they can choose their heart's delight. The gift of choice!
5. It Really Doesn't Matter: What Will Be Will Be
It. Really. Doesn't. Christmas will be what it will be whether or not you got that handmade reindeer-shaped centre-piece for the table. Your family will still argue, or not. They will still eat Brussels sprouts, or not. They will hopefully be mostly all together. Who cares if yet again you couldn't get a picture with all the children looking in the same direction, let alone smiling together. Or if they ingrained toasted marshmallows (*insert relevant sticky foodstuff here) into your carpet. And if you missed the odd present, or trinket or decoration or food item (possibly excepting the Turkey, or nut roast or whatever it is you have on the table in your house), no-one will actually notice amongst the general Christmas-ness of it all. I hope when it comes to Christmas Day you find time to enjoy the little things and forget the even littler things.
And Finally, There's a Type of Christmas Shopping to Suit You Out There
I imagine like most people, I do my Christmas shopping in a variety of places; chain stores, the high street, online and independent shops. There's a place for them all.
If you're looking for something a bit unusual, a bit different, and a shopping experience that doesn't leave you more stressed than when you started, there's always the lovely people at Logie Steading to help you out. I know I'm biased, but having bought 5 presents with individual budgets ranging from £3 to £50 in 3 shops in 30 minutes, and having found unusual things that I really believe they'll actually like, and still had time for that all-important cup of coffee and mince pie at the cafe, I don't feel at all disingenuous in telling you it's the most peaceful and successful Christmas shopping experience I've had. Why not come on down and meet these unique shopkeepers and craftspeople for yourself. You never know, you might make some satisfying crossings-out and tickings-off on your list too..
Thank you to Gary Murison, Geoff Matthews, Alec Laing and Steve Simms for the photographs in this post.