The Independent Christmas Gift Guide

Good morning! Make yourself a cup of something hot and take 20 minutes of quiet for yourself. Firstly, has anyone been soundtracking their life with Self Esteem lately? What an absolute banger of a Glasto set she gave in the summer. My pick of the festival for sure. Not that I went. I enjoyed it from the comfort of my sofa. Praise be for the BBC coverage. If you haven’t watched it, check out her Glasto track I Do This All the Time here.

Anyway. I’ve been busy since we last hung out figuratively speaking. Prepare yourselves, this ones a bit of an overshare so feel free to scroll on down to the actual shopping content if you’re that way inclined. I’ve been busy raising, or at least attempting to, a baby. Our son is now almost a year old and each week brings new challenges. When he was a newborn the battle was figuring out who I am post-baby, but now its a fight to keep hold of what I have discovered. I find myself facing deep psychological peaks and troughs between wanting to be the best “mother” that I can be, whilst also experiencing a resentment against this new life. The amount of “woe is me” type thoughts I have is almost comical, and the hardest thing to accept is that this is not a pity party and that I simply have to GET ON WITH IT. It is a fucking hard realisation as someone who had a baby relatively late if you go by NHS text. But the truth is, we did have a baby late, in that Martin and I have led a pretty sweet existence together for the last decade doing what we wanted, when we wanted.

Seeing another new mum on social media in a bikini recently, and others in “pre-baby” outfits have literally brought me to tears. My body still doesn’t look or feel like mine. It’s something that I’m not sure I’ll ever come to terms with. My pelvic floor is still how you say…fucked. I should be considered as a brand ambassador for Tenor Lady put it that way. The NHS has offered support – after a visit to my GP I was presented with a faded print-out of a Bladder Diary which I need complete for 3 days before a referral can be considered. So not only do I carry the shame of having a leaky bladder, I now have to document all the mishaps on paper. Fabulous. Pelvic floor failures are usually seen as a funny topic and it is funny really. However the amount of women that are affected by it isn’t a laughing matter.

I’ll caveat the above by saying that we wouldn’t have it any other way. We wanted a baby and were lucky enough to be blessed with one. Our son is the bestest kid ever and he is a joy in our lives, and each week brings new wonder. I’m under no illusion that conception comes easy for a lot of people. I share the above as an honest account of my feelings in an attempt to offer comfort for anyone else feeling the same way. Because as much as I like to think I’m special (only narcissists write blogs! Wink wink) – I’d put money on other people feeling the same. Each day is a learning curve and a chance to grow.

Amongst all the pee-talk, I have also been trying to come off of my anti-depressants. Yes I take them and I’m quite open about it with those that know me. I have never been someone that is comfortable taking “pills” every day and I find myself wondering what my personality is like not taking them. With the exception of pregnancy I have taken Sertraline on and off for around 3 years and I can confidently say that they have saved me, and perhaps my relationship. They gave me the clarity to face all the stresses that Covid and lockdown brought on, as well as working in a job that made me deeply unhappy. Something that again I’m sure is more common than you’d think. The last few weeks have been quite fraught whilst I battle a myriad of withdrawal symptoms… which I would like to take a moment here to say sorry to my husband, and thank you for supporting me through it and frankly, putting up with a lot of shit from yours truly. It’s left me feeling quite antisocial with lots of mood swings thrown in for good measure. It’s something I’m working through by talking to close friends and family, and taking it one day at a time.

Gosh ark at me bringing the festive vibe down! This is supposed to be a bloody gift guide. Christmas is coming. Yes, it is. I know it seems like just yesterday that we were dusting off our baubles and packing away the mistletoe but it is most definitely here and with three weeks to go, it’s time to get our acts together and get ready. The pre internet days are full of memories of buying a giant Toblerone at Woolworths and a packet of Hugo Boss from Boots for boyfriends at school. Not that I had that many I must add! BUT there is also much to be said for having access to a huge selection of gift options at our fingertips online. The changes over the last decade have seen smaller businesses rise up and be seen and at the same time, widened the scope for finding niche items. And as we move towards a more sustainable way of living, online shopping means that we have the privilege of being able to connect with artisan makers & sellers who create beautiful things that will last.

Shopping for Christmas gifts can be a little overwhelming, it’s true. And not only overwhelming but also outrageously expensive if you’ve got a big family. Luckily for Martin and I, last year my family decided that we would give Secret Santa a go and the results were hilarious and heartfelt, so we’re doing it again this year! It’s something we’re seeing more and more of, as a way for families and friends to be mindful about spending, whilst having a bit of fun in the process. Although I have far less presents to buy this year, I am as ever always keen to buy things that are well considered and personal to the recipient.

Last year, I presented you with my favourite buys for the Christmas gifting period, all from independent stores and makers – click the link here to shop. This year, I’ve curated a wide mix of independents who can provide you with a glorious offering to fit any budget. It is something I thoroughly enjoy compiling and by checking out smaller sellers and independent stores, you are supporting these businesses and their products which is so important to the continuation of these individual brands. And if you find a small business on these guides that you love, then PLEASE SHARE them on your social media platforms. Every website click for these brands is a potential sale.

Happy shopping. Lauren x

ZODIAC PRINT, Sophie Ward Studio £20

NYLA HANGING PLANT SLING, CARV from £18.50

STARBURST HOOP EARRINGS, Scream Pretty £40

CHRISTMAS TREE DECORATIONS SET OF 4, Clovelly Wood Turning £16.50

NICK CAVE CERAMIC POT, Alex Sickling £35

PALM MOUNTAIN BEANIE, athli £12

LOVE IS POWER RISOGRAPH PRINT, Jacqueline Colley £35

A5 BULLET JOURNAL, Avocado & Spice £14.95

TRAVEL JEWELLERY BOX, Etsy £11.89

CUSTOM PAINTING OF YOUR HOME, Esty seller £58

FINCHLEY A EMERALD BACKPACK, ROKA £44.96

CONFETTI GLASS CANDLE HOLDER, Anna + Nina £39.95

ESCAPISM RECYCLED SHERPA LINED CHANGING ROBE, Passenger £99.95

PERSONALISED LETTER PRINT, Max Made Me Do It £30

PERSONALISED HANDWRITING CHOPPING BOARD, Etsy seller £42

RECYCLED PLASTIC COASTERS SET OF 4, Glassette £39

LEIGH ON SEA POSTER (other locations available), Neil Fendell £7+

BETSY STAR TANA LAWN™ COTTON EYE MASK, Liberty £45.00

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