The Chic Shopper’s Guide to Christmas

Every which way you turn, exciting new retail possibilities are popping up in the UK. Much of it is in the hands of ‘the people’ – by that I mean, artisans, antique and vintage enthusiasts, independent shop owners, charities, artists and people just simply having ‘yard sales’ or posh ‘car boots’. With this new diverse (and sometimes hidden) retail landscape, the blog gives you an inside guide to where all the chic shoppers are heading this Christmas…

New retail landscape

Many new small businesses, some run exclusively through Instagram, are championing the values of craft, sustainability, creative presentation and innovative buying. Not to mention the essential good old-fashioned ingredient of customer service. Whilst some of this is online shopping, people still like to go out to shop (and locally if poss) especially if they think the experience is going to be different and fun in some way. It is just knowing where all of these retail haunts are…

Smart sustainable shopping

For me, antique/vintage shops and brocantes are always a winning formula as there is the excitement of finding something with great design integrity. A piece with history is often the essential key to a successful interior decorating scheme. With charity shops and sales there’s the added benefit that your purchase is helping to support someone in need.

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Selection of vintage and antique engraved/cut glass decanters make the perfect present with a bottle of wine. White Door Antiques Christmas Brocante, 28 – 30 November, 9.30 – 3 pm, Pangbourne, Berkshire.

Gifts that give twice

‘Gifts that give twice’ make everyone feel good. If you are looking for inspiration, you may like to look out for a Christmas gift guide I have compiled in the January 2020 issue of The English Home magazine (published on 4 December). It shows where to find stylish (new) gifts from charities, galleries and museums.

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Woven seagrass medium basket, £19.99, Oxfam as seen in The English Home magazine January 2020 issue – published 4 December 2019.

The New High Street

In addition to the remaining high street giants such as John Lewis (quality, great customer service) and Marks & Spencer (itching to write a whole post dedicated to how I never fail to find great quality classics – at fab prices – interiors, fashun – especially trousers, merino and cashmere knitwear, men’s Harris tweed, footwear etc …!), there are some incredibly vibrant independent shops and high streets bucking the trend.

In our neck of the woods you need look no further for examples than the high streets of Watlington (interiors, gifts, antiques, artisan bakery) in Oxfordshire, Hungerford (for its interiors and antique shops) and Bucklebury Trading’s The Corner Shop in Woolhampton, Berkshire.

Bucklebury Trading’s The Corner Shop is a one-stop shop (not online) for gifts, fashion and interiors accessories – you may remember I wrote about it on the blog about three years ago but you can read more about it in a piece I have just written for the December 2019 issue of Berkshire Life magazine (who are also currently running a rather fab subscription offer of 12 issues for £25 squid).

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Suede embroidered and sequinned evening bag, £115, fine wool, silver embroidered shawl, £86, The Corner Shop
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For oficianados of The Crown, corgi tree decoration, £7.25, The Corner Shop
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Print framed by professional framer/part-time member of The Corner Shop staff, Victoria Fullerton (victoria.fullerton21@gmail.com). Blue and White ceramics hand painted in Oxfordshire, from £16.25. Fabulous giant glass baubles from £20, The Corner Shop.
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Limited edition handmade heirloom tree decorations. Mrs Elf: £32, The Corner Shop.
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From a selection of v affordable ‘tomfoolery’ from £25 for a pair of earrings, fine wool silver embroidered shawl, £86, The Corner Shop.

Hunter gatherers

For interior stylists, designers and antique dealers, there are no no-go areas when it comes to propping/shopping. There are ‘jewels’ to be found pretty much everywhere. We fearlessly travel from car boots to charity shops, pound shops, auctions, antique and junk shops to the accounts of Instagrammers and the showrooms of luxury interior ateliers! All in aid of not only making budgets stretch but also in order to achieve interiors with character and personality.

Vintage 007

‘Joyce Grove’, once home to 007 author Ian Fleming, is a Jacobean style country house built in 1908 for his father Robert, a merchant banker. With extensive grounds in Nettlebed, Oxfordshire, the house is now run as a hospice by the charity Sue Ryder and is occasionally used as a film and TV location.

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Sue Ryder charity sales, Nettlebed.

It is though, a not so closely guarded secret (!) that every three weeks they run furniture, accessories and clothing sales from from Oxfordshire donations. The sale is organised from various outhouses and stable blocks attached to the house. Great for propping and for just about everything else from Persian rugs to sports gear, men’s dress wear, toys and lighting. The next sale is on 14 December. Say no more.

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More Penguin paperbacks than you can shake a stick at. Always good for propping. From 70p, Sue Ryder sale, Nettlebed.
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These photo frames and pictures probably took pride of place in 1980s Oxfordshire drawing rooms. From £4, Sue Ryder sales, Nettlebed.

1920s Vintage Bazaar

Chantal Stear is a Reading based florist/stylist who worked on several photographic shoots with me from M&S Home catalogue to several interior and front cover shoots for BBC Homes & Antiques magazine.

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Chantal Stear of Twiggy Thistle. Photographer: Clare West.

Chantal would always bring magic to a set with her floral arrangements. She would add to the flowers we already had by going out for a few minutes to then come back with a few ‘foraged’ bits and pieces that would turn an arrangement into something very special indeed.

Chantal now runs Twiggy Thistle for her vintage styling, wedding and event floristry work. This Christmas Chantal will be collaborating with @elysiumexperineces in the staging of a 1920s New Year’s Eve party on 31 December at the newly opened Market House restaurant, bar and hotel in Reading (a rather stunning 19th Century Lloyds Bank building complete with vault and indoor secret garden which has an electric glass roof).

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Styling and Photo for Vintage Bazaar by Chantal Stear of Twiggy Thistle on Charis White Interiors blog
Photo and styling by Chantal Stear @TwiggyThistle for a 1920s Vintage Bazaar.

As a forerunner to the New Year’s Eve party, Chantal is organising a 1920s Vintage Bazaar Christmas gift shopping day in Reading on 1 December (11 am – 3 pm) at Market House. Whilst you shop, there will be 1920s hair and make up tips, Charleston dancing as well as vintage music and film.

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Chantal Stear’s kit to make a natural Christmas wreath is for sale on Etsy under her vintage home business ‘Hedgerow Home’ from £12.50 and arrives in a box complete with instructions and everything you need to construct your own creation.

White Door Antiques

Elise McGreevy-Harris was inspired to make a career change from Chartered Accountancy to start her vintage furniture and accessories business when her son Charlie was 5. “We had spent quite a lot of holidays in France and I liked the markets there and started to bring things home.”

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Candle pots against a foxed vintage mirror. White Door Antiques.

Fifteen years later, White Door Antiques in Pangbourne, Berkshire is going strong and will be opening 28 – 30 November at home from 9.30 – 3 pm for its Christmas Brocante. Please message Elise @white_door_antiques for the address. We can all look forward too to a three times bigger White Door Brocante (with other stall holders) on 4 June 2020 at Douai Park, Woolhampton, Berkshire RG7 5TG.

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Light reflecting mercury glass and vintage baubles at White Door Antiques. Berkshire.

The Interiors Boot Sale

The Interiors Boot Sale is taking place at Cecil Sharp House Camden, London NW1 on Saturday 14 December 10.30 – 4.30 pm. Interiors journalists, interior designer, stylist, PR friends of The Bible of British Taste are selling off personal effects to ‘de-accessorise’ their homes. It is an event not to be missed I think!

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Photo from The Interior Car Boot. Image is of painter and tromp L’oeil artist Alan Dodd who will be selling a few items at The Interior Boot Sale. NB Bobbin furniture alert but I can’t promise these will be in the sale … !

Styling Box by Charis White gift voucher

Finally, you might like to consider sending friends or loved ones a Styling Box gift voucher (sent in its own little box) this Christmas! In the New Year, the recipient will receive an online consultation for my affordable interior design service.

This will be followed up by post with a larger beautiful – and useful – Styling Box filled with their bespoke plans, samples, colour advice and ideas for a room of the room of their choice. To buy a gift voucher and information on other interior design packages are available via my interiors Styling Box service.

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Interior Styling box Gift Voucher by Charis White.

Thank you

Thank you so much for reading. I hope this has given you some inspiration and that the ‘Chic Shopper’s Guide’ goes some way to helping you map out your 2019 Christmas shopping route!

With many thanks, Charis x

Charis White, Interior stylist/writer. Photography: www.FionaMcLean.co.uk
Charis White, interior stylist/writer. Photographer: Fiona McLean