I hope I’m not naive in feeling that following the pandemic, there is fresh determination to support and buy local, especially at Christmas. And as I gallivant around the county, I come across all sorts of small businesses, skilled craftsmen and women, and artisans who are producing and creating some amazing products. So, although I’ve been in denial about the fact Christmas is only just around the corner, it seems only right to share a few ideas to help inspire you to keep it local and buy from Sussex businesses this year.
This delightful little shop in Ticehurst was born just before Covid and sells an eclectic mix of locally made pieces spanning a wide price range. There is something for everyone here, including artwork, sculpture, ceramics, jewellery, garden items, homeware, cards, books, natural candles and bath and body products and a range of clothing and accessories. All from artists, makers and small independent companies across Sussex and Kent.
Original Sussex Prints
Amanda Cardoso is a printmaker based in Sussex working in linocut relief printmaking. Her work is all inspired by the Sussex landscape and in particular, the South Downs. Prints come in a range of sizes and her latest collection is inspired by the birds and places of Sussex.
An Arm Chair Tasting Tour
I love this idea and it’s another business born out of Covid! Combining a food and drink hamper with a virtual tour, you receive a box of carefully selected and packed food and drink delights. Then your guides take you through the tasting via Zoom. Flavourful and interesting, again, there is something for everyone. The team are experienced Sussex foodies and are also doing a Christmas hamper full of Sussex seasonal treats, selected for their quality and deliciousness, along with tasting notes.
A Sussex Writing Retreat
If you know someone who dreams of writing that book but never seems to be able to find the time, or perhaps lacks the confidence or the know-how, what about a writing retreat? Based in the gorgeous West Sussex countryside, Sussex Writing Retreats are hosting four different writing retreats next year and each one is suitable for writers at any stage of their journey. Co-hosted by Daisy and Lisa, both novelists at different stages of their own writing journeys, they promise to be completely honest about their own experiences – as will all their guest speakers. The retreats also include locally-sourced lunches, a full English cream tea, and lots of daily treats as well as exceptional guest speakers, including bestselling crime writer Casey Kelleher, assistant to agent (and the first person to see submissions) Saskia Leach, TV and film writer Hayley November, TV producer Steve November and BBC correspondent Alastair Fee.
Sussex Artists is a great resource that, as the name suggests, showcases local artists. It’s here that I came across Sheila Martin, and if you’re looking to buy some art as a Christmas gift, you are spoilt for choice here. Sheila lives in St Leonards, near Hastings, and has exhibited all over the south, including at the Star Brewery Gallery in Lewes and in Arundel. She describes her work as being all about “emotion, feeling and giving to others”. Flowers and forests are her main works.
If you want to try and be a bit “greener” this Christmas, then a good place to start is Vera-Bee. Run by two lovely sisters, they have a whole range of sustainable Christmas ideas, including advent calendars, Christmas stockings and crackers, stocking fillers and ideas. I particularly love their Beebombs – which are a seedball containing native wildflower seeds.
Horsham Pop Up
Pop Up Horsham does what it says on the tin – it pops up now and then and allows new and small local businesses to have a high street presence. It’s currently open in West Street, Horsham, and there’s all sorts of businesses in there, including clothes, candles, plants, art, pottery, bakes, children’s toys, and more. A great way to support local and meet some of the makers.
Sussex Art Prints
Uckfield based, Sussex Art Prints produce stunning prints of local landscapes in a minimalist style. This print features the famous Coastguard Cottages at Seven Sisters on the south coast.
Julian Warrender Precious Metal Jewellery
Jewellery always goes down well (in my world) and Julian Warrender’s pieces are “individually made using traditional techniques, unusual textures and hammered effects. A number of pieces feature exquisitely detailed intricate cast elements.”. The Quaking Grass Pendants below are inspired by this South Downs grass!
Enchanted Glade’s Wild Spa
What about a cleansing and relaxing Wild Spa experience? Think wood-fired hot tub and sauna, massage in a heated area but all in the great outdoors and underneath a canopy of trees. This ticks all the boxes if you want to do your bit to reduce your carbon footprint and they also have bell tents and the most amazing converted horseboxes. It’s off-grid, it’s wholesome and it’s something very different!
Christmas Family Photo Gifts
My children are of an age at which they refuse to be photographed but personalized Christmas cards or framed print image gifts of your children always go down well with grandparents. Chrissie Brooks is offering a fun photography session in her Horsham studio from which you get three of your favourite high-resolution digital images ready for you to print, share or simply keep.
I hope the above has provided some Sussex inspiration and got you started on your Christmas shopping. After all, from now on in, it’s full steam ahead to the big day!