Budget Tight? Try Chiswick for Cheap but Chic Gifts

Local shops have variety and cut-price deals this year


Have Yourself a Very Chiswick Christmas

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With budgets tight over Christmas, shopping for gifts has become an endurance test for many people this year. The good news is that you don't have to cancel Christmas if you live in Chiswick. Local shops have a selection of not just cheap, but chic, presents for everyone.

ChiswickW4.com did a random shopping trip around local retailers and found a wide variety of very acceptable presents for both grown-ups and children. No need to brave the crowds in town, save your money and your temper by staying local.

Even with a fairly basic budget of £10 or under per gift, it's possible to find something acceptable, particularly when almost every shop has cut-price deals in the run up to Christmas. Many of the shop assistants were delighted to point out what their biggest selling items were - it seems that people are veering towards the practical this year which is a real sign of the Age of Austerity.

Scarves and gloves, handwarmers, holders for phones, i-Pods and other gadgets, toiletries and make-up bags, and even filter water-bottles are the 'must have' gifts this year. Even some of the more upmarket boutiques were offering reductions in jewellery -the fair trade items from India and Africa were particularly keenly priced and great value.

Mugs are always popular gifts, and this year the 'Keep Calm' range is in demand and this is available at several shops at around £7 per item.

Starting at the end of the High Road, I discovered that the Futon Shop had lots of seasonal items on sale displayed in the window. There was a lovely Puppet Theatre for £9.95 while Desk-top toys such as mini baseball or basketball (£4.95), Noughts and Crosses, or old-fashioned Yoyos for the same price were proving popular. I was told that spinning tops at £1.45 were ideal as stocking fillers.

I also spotted nice leather-look notebooks and sketch pads for £5.95 and upwards, while wooden Pen-Stands for £3.95 were also good value.

Cath Kidson had a very sweet pink ballet range with drawstring bags for £12, (£2 above budget) and retro toys such as the £5 ‘Pik a stick’, and kids aprons for £8. A flowery china piggy- bank was £8, slippersox for £6 (striped or stars). An elephant theme paintbox and brush set was £9, a plastic toddler food tray with little compartments for different foods looked original at £6 and adult bedsocks were £8.00. Gadget cases for £9, make-up cases for £10, a 2010 Diary for £10, a pocket-mirror for £2, scrap-book for £3 and retro flower pencil case for £10 were other good ideas.

The cheapest Christmas cards I saw were at £1 for 20 in the market stalls outside Sainsbury, although the charity shops also have good prices for cards and wrapping paper.The market-stalls on the High Road were selling wrapping paper for £1 a roll.

I ventured into Abode on Devonshire Road, which I had thought would be very expensive but was pleased to find that it did have items for under £10. These included Brass chime earrings for £5, Sea or Rose Temple bead earrings, also for £5, a felt green mobile phone case at £10.50 and Hedvig ceramic tea-light holders for £3.50. Nearby Poloma gift shop also had some jewellery items, and soaps in beautiful wrappings within that £10 budget.

On the High Road I noticed that Gap had a 30% off sale, while East had 50% off jewellery. Whistles, Fenn Wright Manson and Phase Eight had reductions in jewellery, too, though the selection is not extensive.

Waterstones is reducing books although it has dropped its '3 for the 2' offer -the latest Jamie Oliver cookery book is a bestseller in both Waterstones and WH Smith. The latter also has good deals on books, particularly cookery books. As everyone in Chiswick knows, Bookwise on the High Road has amazing value for books and music CDs and Oxfam in Turnham Green Terrace has Christmas cards and a huge variety of books on sale at well under £10 ranging from biographies to thrillers,

Blockbusters at the other end of the High Road has really cheap used DVDs for sale, for as little as £5.

For toiletries, the Body Shop had £8 sets of four fruity shower gels, and I thought there was a good selection there for teenagers who love the citrus ranges. Superdrug has plenty of choice in the £10 bracket, for example Colourworks Complete Beauty Set for £9.99 which includes nail varnish, eyeshadow, mascara and lip gloss . Foldable bags were £5.99, a Thai Spa coconut candle was £3.99, a pink Heat Pillow for £4.99 ,Green Wellington boot soaps for £2.99 and Lynx sets for men were priced under £10; a Stif bodywash was £5.99, Stress Balls for £1.99 as well as Disney and Princess Pink ranges for children and for little boys, a car squeezy bath toy was £3.99.

Paperchase was also offering reductions, while Snappy Snaps was offering 20% off personalised photo calendars.

Organic soaps were also good value in the organic shops on the High Road and Turnham Green.

For food items, Marks and Spencer had a3 for 2 offer on chocolates, while Carluccio's had Italian cookies from £3.95 to £9.99. Fechi Ricoberti, chocolate covered figs stuffed with walnuts, at £9.99 for 185g looked delicious, as did the Genovese cake pandolce at just under £10. The colourful wrapping on the food items was also cheering and would look great in any kitchen. Many people don't think Christmas has started until they have a Plum Duff mince pie and half a dozen of these boxed up would make a very welcome present for a busy cook. And the ever popular Grove Park Deli

Robert Dyas had children's lap trays, ideal for drawing on or placing snacks on while watching TV- retailing at £4,99, while the adult versions were £9.99. A 'paint your own bird house' was £3.99 while windowsill herb pots were £4.99 and narcissi bulbs in pots, £4.99.

On Turnham Green Terrace, I loved the Pilates socks in Sweaty Betty,a great present for a girlfriend and just a little over the £10 budget, while in Oliver Bonas, the plastic water bottles with filter are apparently selling like hot cakes. They come in three sizes and you get about 200 uses refilling with tap water before you have to change the filter. The range starts at around £6 and up. And Melbury's has beautifully scented Trilogy Rose Hand Cream for £9.50 to sooth any hands that might have large amounts of washing in store. Other good offers include the Armstrong Cuthbert giving free home fragrance kit when you buy any two Pureology products. So that would be three presents bought for the price of two.

The supermarkets have a huge variety of special offers on Christmas gifts.

If you're looking for party wear, the charity shops have some amazing deals. I spotted a Bruce Oldfield Dress in Cancer Research for £40 and on Turnham Green Terrace Bernardos had a purple silk skirt from Monsoon (size 14) and other Monsoon dresses for under £20. Also in the window was a union jack shopping bag for £6.

A potted plant from any of the local garden centres or flowers shops would also be very acceptable. Art supply shops also sell special gift boxes for children, or an unusual idea might be a gift voucher from any of the local antique shops, or the auction houses.

Chiswick also has several delicatessens with special Christmas gift items and the wine shops and off licences are also offering special deals - Prosecco is particularly popular this year as a cheaper alterative to Champagne.

So if you are cash-strapped this year, don't despair. Just a few hours wandering around Chiswick will be enough to sort all your present dilemmas, and you can feel virtuous for shopping local as well, with enough change for a well-deserved lunch or drink.

Anne Flaherty

December 14, 2011