In a time of deadline-dashing and exam-stressing, there’s no reason to add stressful ‘gift-getting’ to your long list of to-dos. For those on the hunt for the perfect present this holiday season, there is no need to go far: St Andrews is packed with Christmas spirit.
Scottish cashmere may be the perfect choice for international students travelling back home over the holidays, especially given that it can often be found at a much lower price here than abroad. This delicate, soft material can be given to just about anyone who enjoys the texture of happiness and supreme comfort. A warm scarf can serve as a perfect gift for a family member or close friend. Get one with a colourful plaid pattern on it to add an extra Caledonian flare.
If you are in the market for something a little more unique, then Taste of Scotland might be the store for you. The shelves of the new liquor shop at the intersection of Market and Bell Streets are laden with a huge range of locally-brewed spirits to fit the taste of almost anyone.
The store stocks Eden Mill products, which are made right here in St Andrews. A sales associate specifically noted that drinks from Eden Mill’s Mixology Line are one of the store’s most popular sellers. In addition to gin, the store offers an assortment of aged Scottish whisky. As scotch accounts for a quarter of the UK’s food and drink exports, the drink’s popularity is clear and is sure to be a welcome addition to any liquor cabinet.
If alcohol isn’t quite the right gift, then Taste of Scotland also offers something a bit more unusual: drinking cups made from the horns of Highland cows. These are not only beautiful and unique, but are also made by a Scottish company with the singular distinction of being honoured to make set decorations for the popular television show Game of Thrones. So for the closeted Westerosi in your life, these cups are a great gift to break-out over the holidays.
The Gift Gallery, a quaint gift shop, can be found next door. As its name suggests, the store is packed with artsy gifts, from fine handcrafted jewellery to striking paintings of this very town. Nina, the shop’s assistant manager, identified Heathergems, a jewellery line, as being their most popular. She explained that “the jewellery is beautiful and small, which means it’s easy to travel with.”
She added that over the summer, tourists from around the world take pieces home. The company collects heather from around Scotland, dyes it, and uses it to make creative and beautiful jewellery.
A little farther down Market Street is Bonkers. The store’s walls are lined with beautiful candles, pillows, scarves, and more. The store carries one-of-a-kind, handmade items to suit the taste of many. The shop owner pointed out the popular ceramics collection made by Pottery St. Andrews as a great choice for presents. The collection includes visually-appealing mugs and bowls that are made by a designer in town.
While these pieces would serve as a beautiful addition to a home in California, I would be reluctant to lug delicate enamelware across the Atlantic. The aforementioned gifts are probably best left to those who are travelling locally and whose recipients will appreciate their small-town, St Andrean charm.
For any readers in the family, I suggest heading to Toppings & Company on Greyfriars Garden for a present. This small, independent bookstore is a perennial host to writers both local and from afar. The range of visitors is immense and authors usually leave a few signed copies of their work behind for shoppers to enjoy. From cookbooks to mystery novels and historical fiction, there is a signed copy of a great book in there for everyone in the family.
Should you still find yourself wanting for gifts, not to worry: the Edinburgh Christmas Market, open from 19 November to the 7 December, is a cornucopia of all things Christmas. If you can find a free day, make your way down to Edinburgh to enjoy the lights, the people, and the lively market. It is an enjoyable way to get a unique gift and support European craftsmen. The sheer number of vendors basically ensures that you’ll find something right for everyone on your list.
While finding the perfect gift can enjoyable if done well, the task can also become quite stressful. It is important to remember that the holidays are a time to relax and have fun with the ones you love and care about. Don’t let the mania of holiday shopping detract from a carefree, well-deserved break.