The season has officially begun, it’s CHRISTMAS time! If you aren’t ready for it then go elsewhere for a few blog posts because that is all I can think about after my first visit to the Spirit of Christmas fair. This is my first time attending this particular fair but this year I took the plunge and got myself an unlimited ticket ready to be blown away by the selection that Spirit has prepared. After a quick look at the exhibitors list before hand I recognised some old friends: wonderful companies that I have meet on my travels or at other fairs: La de Dah Living H39, Blue Dot Pottery Ltd D62, Cocorose London C102, Heidi Rhodes Textiles B55, Heck Sausages FD60, Atlas & I B5, Potting Up Ltd A28; to name just as few who are very worthy of a visit. However, I was after something I haven’t seen before, maybe a few new comers to the event scene and I wasn’t disappointed with my choices, such diverse products with plenty of Christmas cheer but also strong quality products.
So have a read and check out my top picks and favourite displays, I’ll be back at the fair at the end of the week to do some serious shopping now I have made my choices and listed who’s getting what under the tree this year.
MAIN FRONT HALL
For something a little shiny you don’t wear check out Culinary Concepts J9 & J29, from silver lanterns & candle holders and every bit of barware you can think of, really a great choice for the older gentleman who has everything. My choice was a silver cork case to preserve and keep a treasured boozy memory and their top seller is a set of 2 muscle eaters worthy of your seafood dinner parties.
The rest of row J offered up a great selection from the wonderful china of Sophie Allport J14 with repeating designs across almost every piece of kitchen ware you could want. One for my shopping bag was a Classic Pouch from Will Bees Bespoke J19 a unique British brand that offers an initial embossing service, being able to personalise any gift you buy is a must this christmas after all. Forever England J41 caught the eye of my companion (my mother, because who else do you take to an event like that, no one enjoys it more than mothers) for their cute folding bread baskets, which I think could really be used for all sort of purpose. Archie Foal’s J47 stand offered up the first rolled picnic blanket of the fair, with a branded leather strap to allow for easy carrying when out and about. Keep an eye out for these, they are going to be one of my #giftrends this year. Next door to them were Bill Brown Bags J49 with some great bold patterns and some handy roll up mattresses for adult sleepovers. I have seen some of Lollipop Designs J68 wonderful stationary at one of my favourite shops The Hambledon before so was excited when I saw their stand including their fun origami products.
The Journal Shop H80 offered up a stationers dream with pieces from all over the world and all perfect stocking stuffers. Alex Pole Contemporary Ironwork H70 creates Forge Kitchenware some mean looking meat skewers and useful fire tools that are expertly made and would make great gifts. My first winter scarves to be mentioned are lovely 100% lambs wool from Cashmeres of Scotland H43, happy stripes & perfect for all the family.
Promised not to mention people I know but couldn’t resist a couple of pictures of La de Dah Living H39 spoons as they really are the perfect gift, I gave a Christmas spoon to my boss and the cheese markers to my aunt & uncle last year, both gave rave reviews. Something a little more traditional: from Bombki H29 wonderful glass tree decorations in both staple christmas designs and some fun modern biscuit & sweety designs as well. Julie Bell Stationary H19 had a wonderful display of die stamped stationary so no excuse for not sending some Christmas correspondence this year. Now you are going to see a fair few pairs of socks on my Christmas lists this year, they are no longer the no go boring gifts you used to get from your Gran, these knee high beauties from Catherine Tough Textiles J21 are just divine! I am after the bunny design just FYI.
My second must have scarf of the fair were these soft beauties made from baby alpaca wool (we were promised no cute baby alpacas were harmed in the process) Simple Things G19 combines irish design with the finest Peruvian alpaca wool to treat your neck to 100% comfort. The braided Rug Company G23 are one of those practical brands which make you something not just beautiful by useful a couple of their utility baskets go in every room of the house and never go un-used. Indigo and Rose G40 had robins, robins and more with a flash of Liberty print and some cute critter recycled wool door stops they are a must of Spirit for me.
My next #gifttrend from Spirit has to be The Tassel they were EVERYWHERE! the pom pom has got some competition, so there where a lot of tassel jewellery on offer but my favourite had to be from Atelier de Famille G42. A french brand with such inventive ideas, from rings with pop out changeable stones, to tightening notches on solid bracelets, you really need to fiddle with every piece on show. Another jewellery exhibitor Just Trade G74 hits the ethical note, as part of The British Association for Fair Trade Shops and Suppliers they support the designers and give them a platform, I chose a super cute textured brass bangle handmade by the Flowering Desert Project in Tamil Nadu, India.
Now every fair I go to have one particular exhibitor whose bag you see everyone carrying, whether it be just because they have wonderful free shoppers or they are the must visit of the fair. Either way this time it was the floral offering of dotcomgiftshop E11 offering illustrated vintage inspired gift items. Rusty the fox really sold it for me & I managed to pick up some naval themed plasters for my friend who was a pirate in another life. I took a quick break on a bench opposite Enchanted Trees E26 and just watched them glow, the grapes made a particularly beautiful display. Get a forest’s worth and make your garden in to your own winter wonderland!
Milly Green C6 had patterns a plenty, all made from long-lasting laminated cotton lots of gift options for all the women in the family. I am such a difficult person to fit when it comes to gloves but Cornelia James C47 had the solution in a simple pair of merino wool gloves, the animal printed inner velvet sold it. By Royal appointment since 1979 they have made luxury British products that don’t just finish the look, they create the moment. On to another item of fashion, Ruby Rufus B71 makes the most fashion conscious doggy jumpers I have ever seen I almost bought one and I don’t own a dog! I was pleasantly surprised to see Kabloom B54 with their Seedboms, having been shown one of their grenades before in context with Gurilla gardening in the city and have thought they were such a clever idea. Amazing gift for the seasoned garden or even the reluctant green thumb they are just that easy to use; soak, plant and away you go, I bought a few for mum to help her wild garden at the end of the lawn along come spring.
Slap my hand again because I buy a stock of soap from Caurnie Soaperie B46 twice a year but they deserve a mention, completely allergy safe with divine smells and soft enough to cute to size. Their nettle soap is a life saver for the picky grandmother and wouldn’t dream of going anywhere else. Jardins Animes A51 make these floral beauties, little metal blooms to stick in to an arrangment for that pop of colour or in my case the raised borders outside, finally a flower the rabbits can’t eat. Check out their fillable metal wreaths for a DIY door decoration this year. Now hats…. I have a passionate affair with hats, they suit me so well but I can’t be trusted as I leave them all over the place! But if I was more trustworthy my hat of choice would have to be one of these from Penmayne B30. They truly are luxury on your head and its all in the detail, from their material to the craftsmanship I can’t find a fault in them, except maybe the price for me…. maybe if I am good santa will bring me one.
At the Cornish Bright B31 stand you can almost smell the sea, their wonderful glass really are unique treasures, their tumblers have the perfect weight to add to durability but aren’t to heavy to hold. I think a new set of those with a jug will make a perfect summer service; just add some tonic, a few ice cubes oh and don’t forget the gin. More pet essentials from the person who doesn’t have any animals but I think I’d even wear one of these Liberty print collars from Hugo & Hennie B19. More socks, this time for the men from the perfectly named Sock & Trotter A13 great designs that can’t be mistakenly worn not in pairs, preventing my peeving brother and his poor laundry habits. Ark Cambridge A25 leather goods was new to the event this year and caught my attention with some wonderfully simple triangular clutches. Really all they are is one piece of colourful leather and a popper but what else do you need? Apart from maybe a classy pouch for your pencils with a witty phrase embossed on top, ‘Stay Sharp’ indeed.
GALLERY & FOOD HALL
Now after knackering myself out and climbing the stairs up to the upper level I was more than ready for some cheeky free samples in the food hall but I didn’t get two steps in before I was moaning my way through a warm turkey & cranberry on wholeweat bun from the Traditional Meat Carvery Co. FD72. Nothing simpler and better to keep me going for the rest of the day! Now no pictures to visualise as I am afraid I had my hand full with some raspberry gin from Pinkster FD77 & a dark and stormy from Goslings Rum FD46 …. and maybe a few more so I pick the pictures up again when I get back to the Gallery Gift Hall. I still left the event with some sausage, cheese, chocolate and chutney which is really unavoidable, so don’t worry.
Another bit of hat envy from Mu Du London GH7, lots of autumn/winter colours on offer and so easy to add a little bit of confidence to your step. My mother congratulated Emma Cornes GH17 on her ad spot on Sky News, very worthy praise for this British handbag craftswomen. Even while on her stand she was demonstrating the process on a portable loom of all things to carry around. Two cleverly named brands My Little Wish GH41 & Not Before Tea GH72 caught my eye for two completely different displays but both worth a visit.
To the back of the main hall not under the prominent glass roof the talent continues, I took another pit stop at the Louis Roederer Champagne bar, well deserved if you ask me. Parma Violet’s B95 Christmas shop must have a link to my own mind, with lots of products I have gifted before all in one wonderful place. Their products are constantly changing and an eclectic mix of widely sourced products including hand crafted and vintage items, heaven if you ask me. New to Spirit and very worthy of the place. Now here it is my product of the day, and its a hat accessory I should have know! Mackenzie & George B104 make contemporary leather accessories inspired by the British countryside and an equestrian lifestyle. They are beautiful what I was drawn to was their small range of exquisite feather hat pins made by Wendy a friend of theirs. Made with natural and up cycled materials they are unique and stunning.
Another must have for my mother was a decorative light tree with some delicate fairy decorations, that shall take pride of place on our table this christmas. My last #gifttrend for this fair is the bag-inside-a-bag, now that everyone has to pay extra for a carrier bag more people than ever are going to come prepared with their own (I have a box full already) so that is my prediction for the number one stocking stuffer. Check these ones out from Re-Uz C97. I have made a few ribbon memo boards in the past but for those who want one in hand today, find these little bold magnetic ones from Little Plum C87.
Something a little cheeky for that traveller friend, from Globee C85 these suitcase straps are sassy and a nice little extra. Bantam Knits C82 offer hand dyed and hand knitted pieces with a colour range that looks like a watercolour pallet they are so subtle and beautiful, cashmere & made in London say no more I am sold. Tara Honeywill Vintage China E100 puts her heart in to selecting her china literally if you count her heart soap dish gift set. Have you got an event coming up in the new year, wedding? big birthday? Maybe you just fancy making your garden all that more glamorous I have the answer Raj Tent Club E82 they are stunning and look like they belong on a film set, with patterned insides and plenty of furniture and homewards to fill them with. Check out their completely unique stand at Spirit and bask under the canopy. Even a few cute reindeers under there!
This is probably the longest fair blog I have ever written it was impossible to be selective because there was so much on offer, more wonderful pottery, quality strings of jewellery, tailored coats & jackets, lots of interior lights and fo-flowers etc. I haven’t even mentioned House & Gardens or the workshops on offer, so I hope I have convinced you Spirit is well worth the ticket and a lengthy visit. My only bit of advice, take a granny trolly and wear flats, hydrate ladies! hydrate! The Christmas season has just begun, and what a way to kick it off! #7daysofChristmas