Just because November sees us in another lockdown, it doesn’t mean we need to give up on our good intentions to support local businesses in the run-up to Christmas. Happily, most are well-prepared this time around and have made it easy for us to continue to use their services.
These days most shops have an online presence to enable us to support our favourites even while the doors are closed. And of course there are many micro-businesses run from home that are more reliant than ever on online marketplaces now that the usual seasonal events are not going ahead.
Following on from our Six ways to support local businesses, here are some shopping ideas aimed at residents in our area of Berkshire interested in discovering thoughtful, locally-sourced gifts and treats this Christmas.
Please send in your feedback – very happy to add more ideas over the coming weeks. In the meantime, happy browsing – and thank you! #SupportLocal
Cards and gifts
H F Newberry
This third-generation family business in Twyford offers a fantastic range of high quality greetings cards, wrapping paper, books and other gift ideas for both adults and children.
Follow the Facebook page to see the latest product ranges such as Christmas card singles, packets or boxes, the new 100% recycled Christmas gift wrap, a good choice of Christmas crackers, and festive face masks to help get everyone into the Christmas spirit!
Send a message via the H F Newberry Facebook page to place an order for collection. Local delivery is also available.
Berkshire Dolls House and Model Co.
Another Twyford institution, the Berkshire Dolls House and Model Co., specialises in the supply, repair and build of train sets, model kits, dolls houses and other traditional toys.
The website gives access to an excellent online store where you can order from hundreds of dolls’ house accessories, model railway parts, figures or woodland to set the scene, glues and paints for the finishing touches, and toys and kits to suit a range of ages from toddler to centenarian!
Follow the Berkshire Dolls’ House Facebook page for the latest news.
Homes With Nomes
Homes With Nomes is a small business launched in 2018 by Naomi Cardy. She creates gorgeous hand-poured scented candles, diffusers and wax melts. There is a choice of tins, jars or textured metal containers for the candles, and the product line includes decorative electric aroma lamps to accompany the wax melts.
The Christmas range offers table decorations as well as scented delights such as Festive Spice, Orange & Cinnamon, Winter Fireside and Gingerbread. As a fabulous gift for someone special, consider a Homes With Nomes subscription box.
Keep up to date by following @homeswithnomes on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter.
Yuniku London is a small business set up by Berkshire resident Aparna Jain during the first coronavirus lockdown, together with her sisters in India who wished to support local artisans who had lost their jobs in the fashion industry due to the pandemic. They have brought out a range of loungewear, kaftans, quilts and face coverings made in India from natural fabrics using ethical and sustainable practices such as hand printing.
Yuniku gift hampers provide an affordable way to give a unique gift in the UK whilst supporting artisan sewers in India and, closer to home, Cricketers Gin – a small family run distillery in Pinkneys Green.
For the kids
Father Christmas encounters
Follow the antics of The Original Mr & Mrs Christmas, who feature on the front cover of the Nov/Dec issue of RG10 Magazine. This brilliantly authentic pair are bringing festive joy and entertainment to front doors across our area throughout December.
Visit this website to book a personalised Christmas visit for your family or arrange a virtual experience for loved ones further afield.
Another brilliant idea being offered by a local performer is to create A Video From Santa tailored to a particular child. You can also opt to have a reassuring message from Santa explaining that Christmas will be all right if a bit different, or have him read a bedtime story. Follow A Video From Santa on Instagram.
Hare Hatch Sheeplands are hosting a Covid-safe Santa’s Grotto on ten dates in December, with advice and support from the council’s Public Protection Partnership. The booking page gives families the option of booking breakfast before seeing the big jolly fellow himself.
Check out the wide range of pottery items available, including loads of cute Christmas decorations and great ideas for gifts.
You can follow @haahoosceramics on Facebook or Instagram.
Books by local authors
Two children’s books have recently been published by local residents, both offering beautiful writing in rhyme and gorgeous illustrations. The links below take you to their Amazon pages to enable you to preview them but both will also be available from H F Newberry.
The Terrible Duckodile by Darren Blunden grew from fun stories about fantastical animal creations imagined with his two little girls.
Doobie and the Rainbow Dummies by Rachel Hall is a magical, empowering story aimed at aiding little ones to let their dummy go for good.
For dog lovers
Thinking of getting a puppy? It’s really important to do your research to avoid any heartache, for family or pet. Local author and journalist Vanessa Holburn, writer of The Amritsar Massacre and How To Be An Activist, has now published an ethical guide to finding the forever dog for your lifestyle.
How To Pick A Puppy answers all the questions prospective dog owners may have to help them get the right one, from the right place, at the right time. The book follows on from the author’s work with the successful #LucysLaw campaign against puppy farming.
Online selling events
Wokingham Virtual Christmas Market
This initiative has really taken off since it was launched in early November by the Arts & Culture team at Wokingham Borough Council. They have created Wokingham Virtual Christmas Market as a public Facebook group, open to anyone with a local business wishing to showcase their products in the style of a Christmas market.
The market runs from from 13 November to 21 December and is a great place to browse loads of wonderful gift ideas, from foods to crafts, homewares to beauty products and everything in between. There is a small fee to pay if you wish to apply as a stallholder yourself.
Foodie fans and festive tipplers
Hare Hatch Sheeplands
Hare Hatch Sheeplands has an extremely well stocked farm shop, which remains open during lockdown (as is the garden centre). As well as all the seasonal fresh fruit and vegetables you might expect – including some varieties you won’t find in the supermarket – you’ll find just about everything else you need for the store cupboard, fridge, freezer, wine rack and beer and spirit stores.
There are plenty of loose frozen fruit and vegetables and pastries, plus the excellent quality Cook frozen meals in various portion sizes. Now in stock are festive treats and gifts galore, all displayed attractively in the shop.
Hare Hatch Sheeplands is also home to the traditional Millard & Lowe Butchers, who are now busy taking orders for Christmas.
Follow Hare Hatch Sheeplands on Facebook for news and posts showcasing the various product ranges.
Made For Drink
This company was born a few years ago from experiments in a home kitchen in Twyford, moving first to the village hall in Waltham St Lawrence before taking on a commercial production facility elsewhere in Berkshire. It produces a range of premium bar snacks designed to satisfy connoisseurs of good food and drink (no surprise that the products were snapped up early on by the likes of Heston Blumenthal, Rick Stein and Fortnum & Mason).
Choose from Chorizo Thins (ridiculously good with Rioja), Duck Fritons (ideal with an IPA), and Salami Chips (perfect with pilsener). If Waitrose can’t keep up with demand, stock up for Christmas by ordering from the Made For Drink website and follow @MadeForDrink on your preferred social platform.
Stanlake Park Wine Estate
Good news that even a winery is considered an essential supplier! The cellar shop at Twyford’s own Stanlake Park Wine Estate remains open during the November lockdown, 10am to 6pm from Wednesday to Sunday (card payments only).
Alternatively you can order online for collection or delivery. As well as the many delicious and sometimes award-winning English wines on offer, you can stock up on wine-friendly nibbles such as cheese, crackers, olives and preserves as well as selected beers, cider and gin.
Keep an eye on…
Twyford Together business showcases
As a way to give local businesses increased visibility during lockdown and in the weeks running up to Christmas, community organisation Twyford Together is interviewing business owners to give customers a proper insight into what they are all about. The videos are available to view on the Twyford Together Facebook page.
Don’t forget the pets!
Diana Brimblecombe Animal Rescue Centre
The DBARC is a long-standing rescue centre based just south of Hurst that looks after dogs, cats, rabbits and guinea pigs needing new homes.
To help with much-needed fundraising, the charity has created an online shop selling lots of new and preloved accessories. There’s also a great range of Christmas items including festive toys and ‘jumpers’, the popular pet hampers for dogs or cats, and currently 25% off the last few 2021 calendars featuring entries to this year’s DBARC online pet show.
100% of sales profits go directly to DBARC, enabling them to continue to rescue unwanted and often poorly treated animals and find them new, loving homes.