In the run up to Christmas, we are all be faced with the same questions that we ask ourselves year on year: What is the perfect gift for our loved ones? Do we really have to buy something for that one annoying relative who we see but once a year and who will inevitably make an unwelcome, overly personal comment?

It is often easy to turn to online retailers such as Amazon or buy presents in bulk from chain stores (but Granny always says how much she loves bubble bath…). We are all guilty of it; it’s convenient, often cheaper and much less hassle.

In recent years, however, I’ve tried to be a lot more thoughtful about what I buy and where I buy it. Instead of taking advantage of Superdrug’s 3 for 2 on gift boxes, I buy gift vouchers for an independent restaurant for my parents, a unique piece of jewellery for my cousin from the local itty-bitty shop or I promise to make dinner for the nan who has it all and really just wants to spend time with her family. Though that one annoying relative will probably still just be getting a box of chocolates…

Christmas is a time of giving, of thinking of others. For me, this doesn’t just mean your family and friends, but it means giving something back to the local community as well. One way to do this is to shop local.

The Queen’s Road Christmas Market encapsulated the true meaning of Christmas. The Clarendon Park community came together, not just to celebrate the countdown to Christmas and get a jump start on buying gifts, but also to support the business that serve us throughout the year.

Supporting local businesses is vital if we want to ensure their survival and prevent the homogenisation of our high streets. As the cliché goes, each time you buy from an independent, you’re helping families meet the rent, put food on the table for Christmas and you’re paying for that young girl to have ballet lessons. In every cliché, there is a truth.

One retailer explained that every time she makes a sale, she wants to do a ‘happy dance in celebration’ and that the only reason she does not hug each of her customers out of sheer gratitude is because she does not wish to scare them away.

Having quit her job as a teacher to pursue her passion in art and design, she described the amount of work and attention that goes into making her products. One Christmas decoration, a wooden Christmas tree-shaped rendering of the Twelve Days of Christmas, took her three days to design to perfection, not including the time required to actually turn her vision into reality.

From butcher to baker to candlestick seller, this pride in their work is unwavering and a sense of gratitude is at the forefront of it all, from the customers who delight in having these treasures directly on their doorsteps, to the vendors for whom every sale is cause for celebration. The Queen’s Road Christmas Market provided the perfect opportunity to showcase the array of talent we have locally available and to support those who work so hard all year round.

Hannah Richardson

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