From curry hampers to festive outfits for your dog, here's some off-piste gift ideas...
We’ve created the perfect antithesis to the horrors of Christmas shopping on the high street, an Alternative Gift Guide where you can do all of your shopping in the friendly, independent stores of the Northern Quarter – and best of all you’ll find some truly interesting, quirky and unique gifts for everyone. Even your dad.
Dog Santa Outfit at Dog Shop
September saw the opening of a brand-new premium dog accessories and health conscious treat store on Tib Street – imaginatively named ‘Dog Shop Manchester’. There’s no better place to pick up treats for your four-legged friend, with a diverse range of responsibly sourced, premium products that ar sustainable as well as high quality.
75 Tib Street, Manchester. M4 5JJ
Jewellery and Homewares at Nordic Muse
Nordic Muse is an own-label jewellery and branded Nordic lifestyle collective ran by Jenny Maxwell. They recently moved onto their very own permanent bricks and mortar site on Tib Street in the NQ, offering up design-led products at the right price, with a curated range of wares from home, living, jewellery, accessories, cards, stationary and loads more.
106 Tib Street, Manchester. M4 1LR
Manchester Craft & Design Centre
For almost 40-years Manchester Craft & Design Centre has provided a home to some of the region’s most talented independent designers and makers. The stunning Victorian venue houses textiles, jewellery, accessories, ceramics, glass, prints, homeware and much more. Each maker offers a unique shopping experience where you can meet them at work, watch them create one-of-a-kind pieces by hand and hear their stories and inspiration.
Manchester Craft and Design Centre, 17 Oak St, Manchester M4 5JD
Christmas Hampers from Butcher’s Quarter
Satisfying all of your independent, locally-sourced butchery needs in the Northern Quarter, Butcher’s Quarter has transformed over the last couple of years into SO much more than a butchers. Alongside their best cuts of beef, lamb, chicken and pork, they also offer the highest quality charcuterie, cheese, natural wines and food and drink hampers which are perfect for the foodie in your life this Christmas.
Butcher’s Quarter, 66 Tib St, Manchester M4 1LG
Gender Swapped Fairy Tales at Queer Lit
Manchester’s first dedicated gay bookshop opened their doors on the eve of the Pride celebrations this year, the culmination of a year-long journey for owner Matthew Cornford who launched the bookshop online during lockdown in 2020. Helping to make LGBTQ+ titles more accessible, the new Northern Quarter store stocks over 1700 LGBTQ+ titles, from gay to lesbian, trans, non-binary, parenting, youth (10-14 years), graphic novels and even children’s books.
Queer Lit, 39 Tib St, Manchester M4 1LX
Make-Your-Own Terrarium at Nice Things
Another newcomer to the Northern Quarter in the last six months, Nice Things is the brainchild of the people behind the wildly successful Glass House over at Whitworth Locke. it’s a jungle-like space right in the centre of the city, with hundreds of plants available ranging from mini shelf toppers to Amazonian room fillers. They also offer up terrariums; artificial, self-sustaining eco-systems that are perfect for that person in your life who never seems to be able to look after plants.
Nice Things, 3 Central Hall, Manchester M1 1JQ
End of Year Review at Piccadilly Records
Reliably packed with an abundance of audio excellence Piccadilly Record’s End of Year Review is available from 10th December – a compilation LP, packed with tracks cherry picked from this year’s Top 20 albums.
Piccadilly Records, 53 Oldham St, Manchester M1 1JR
Fashion zines at Village Books
A bookshop and gallery that offers up an impressive selection of contemporary art, design, fashion and photography publications – as well as self-published and small-press issues from artists from all over the world. Village aims to promote work from talented, local, emerging artists and photographers within the city, as well as provide a platform to showcase their work.
Village Books, 131 Oldham Street, M4 1LN
Vin De Bodega Natural Wine Drop-off
Four lads who are passionate about natural wine, Vin de Bodega curate a weekly selection of small-batch wines from all over the world, and then deliver them directly to wherever you may be in the city. Since launching this year in the city, they’ve quickly gained a dedicated cult following, and this Christmas they’re offering a nice little Christmas treat – pop 3 bottles into your cart and get 15% OFF.
Salvi’s Italian Hampers & Panettone
Still family run, named after owner Maurizio’s father and inspired by his mother’s kitchen back home in Naples, Salvi’s is a firm Italian favourite in Manchester, and this year they’ve created a range of hampers packed with authentic Italian produce. There’s different sizes depending on your budget, plus a pretty special collaborative Milanese panettone, made with Dolce & Gabbana and confectionary artists Fiasconaro.
Salvi’s, 60-67A High St, Manchester M4 1FS
The Curry Hamper by This & That
There’s been a lot of talk of ‘institutions’ in this piece so far but it’s hard for anyone to argue that This & That is certainly up there at the top of the list of legendary Manchester establishments. This tiny little café opened up on a back street in the NQ in 1984 and is still massively popular today. During lockdown they created a series of ‘Curry Hampers’ that could be delivered or collected, and they’re still offering them – making this one of the greatest Christmas presents known to man.
This & That, 3 Soap St, Manchester M4 1EW
Caroline Dowsett Prints
Freelance artist Caroline works from her studio in Stevenson Square, with art that focuses on the bright and the colourful, inspired by movement, sounds and feelings. You can grab a range of products featuring Caroline’s evocative signature patterns until the 22nd December, from silk scarves to different sizes of prints. In some cases, she can even create special custom pieces (as long as you give her enough time).
1974 GMPTE Pin Badge at The Modernist
The Modernist on Port Street is the public face of The Modernist Society, founded by Eddy Rhead and Jack Hale as a group focused on post-war modernist architecture in Manchester, which they felt was being dismissed and destroyed. The store is the ‘public face and space’ – celebrating good design, holding talks and hosting exhibitions, and is a fantastic spot for presents and gifts. Their best seller? A 1974 Greater Manchester Passenger Transport Executive pin badge.
The Modernist, 58 Port St, Manchester M1 2EQ
Christmas Gifts at Fred Aldous
Manchester’s very own arts and crafts sanctuary that goes far beyond glitter gel pens and coloured paper. Fred’s advertise a range of ‘make your own’ craft kits that sees customers creating their own glass, ceramics, jewellery, basketry, lampshades, beads and cane seating. As well as stocking every art material you could imagine, including paint, spray paint, pens, ink, oil pants and canvases brushes, the Lever Street harbour even stocks equipment for metal work, candle making, mould making, scratch building, wood craft and clay work.
Fred Aldous, 37 Lever St, Manchester M1 1LW
Plants from Northern Flower
Bringing all things pretty and colourful to Tib Street for over a decade, Northern Flower offer up not just plants, but have, in recent years, re-imagined their original offering to open up downstairs – offering classes such as Christmas Wreath making, Flower Crown making and ‘Build Your Own Terrarium’. They’ve also expanded into offering nik naks and gifts which are perfect for Christmas time.
Northern Flower, 58 Tib St, Greater, Manchester M4 1LG
Natural Wine at Ad Hoc
The easiest present you can buy someone at Christmas, you don’t need to know much about a person when buying them a bottle of booze, and if you spend a fair bit of cash on them – even better. You can’t go wrong with the selection of bottles at Ad Hoc on Edge Street, with a range of wines from all over the Old and New World, plus some labels from obscure up-and-coming wineries in Eastern Europe, Georgia and Scandinavia. They also stock a great range of local craft beers and ciders, plus hard liquor from across the globe.
Ad Hoc, 28 Edge St, Manchester M4 1HN
Bespoke NYE Event at District
This New Wave Neo-Bangkok BBQ restaurant made a massive splash when they opened up on Oldham Street in the summer, and they’ve recently flipped their concept upside down with a new interpretative menu – ‘Episode II’. Even better, they’ve just launched a New Year’s Eve event – an exclusive bespoke menu available for one night only.
District, 60 Oldham St, Manchester M4 1LE
Sustainable Womenswear at Beaumont Organic
Still one of Manchester’s most sustainable women’s wear store, Beaumont Organic is luxury fashion with contemporary design, using responsibly sourced materials and fabrics. An oasis of all things minimal with a nod to the Mediterranean right in the centre of the Northern Quarter. Pay a visit for womenswear, accessories, homeware treats and in-house events.
Beaumont Organic, 49 Hilton St, Manchester M1 2EF
Coffee Table Book from UNITOM
A brand-new bookshop and visual arts store right in the heart of the Northern Quarter, UNITOM actually opens next week and will be offering up a wide array of publications on contemporary art, design, fashion, photography, and counterculture, alongside an extensive range of independent magazines and small press titles, all sourced from a variety of artists and publishers from around the globe. Alongside the publications, UNITOM will also stock a curated collection of lifestyle brands. Many of which will be the only destination you can purchase these products across the whole of the city.
UNITOM, 1A Stevenson Square, Manchester, M1 1DN
The Doors Cassette at Afflecks
Known for years as Affleck’s Palace, with an ethos of offering a safe environment for entrepreneurs to start out, offering affordable rent and no long-term contracts, it’s safe to say that the Afflecks of today still holds onto these values with both hands. There’s a wealth of diverse shops and spaces, from army surplus, fancy dress, galleries, Star Wars figurines, a Japanese maid bubble tea café and the Last Cassette Shop in the UK.
Afflecks, 52 Church St, Manchester M4 1PW
Sicilian Christmas Hamper at Sicilian NQ
Authentic Sicilian pantry essentials, with a range of homemade tomato sauces which are shipped over from owner Carmen’s small family ‘lab’ on the island, homemade Limoncello, pasta, purées and pesto’s, plus olive oil all the way from a Sicilian farm. You can also build your own – adding cocktail bottles, biscuits, and cannolo made in-house. You can even add a bottle of Prosecco and some wine to make the ultimate Christmas gift hamper.
Sicilian NQ, 14 Turner St, Manchester M4 1DZ