Planning a winter break in Scotland? Spend some of your time shopping for uniquely Scottish stocking fillers and gifts for your friends and family. Scotland’s Christmas markets are a splendid showcase of classic Christmas gifts including handmade crafts and local produce. But with Edinburgh and Glasgow quickly becoming two of the UK’s foremost shopping capitals – not to mention an array of independent boutiques, galleries and artisan workshops across the country – there is an almost unlimited choice of year-round shopping destinations. Whatever your taste or budget you are sure to find somewhere where you can stock up on festive gifts.
Here are some ideas to inspire you to start saving for your seasonal spree.
Famously Hawick: The Cashmere, Tweed and Whisky Town
Location: Roxburghshire, Scottish Borders
Known as the ‘Home of Tweed’, the Borders town of Hawick is internationally recognised as one of the finest knitwear and cashmere producers in the world today, supplying the world’s most prestigious fashion houses including Chanel. Home to four heritage textile mills, the choice and quality of luxury wool, cashmere and tweed products made and sold here is simply unparalleled. The whisky and gin produced at the town’s Borders Distillery is equally world-class. Using water from an on-site borehole, barley and raw ingredients harvested from the surrounding hillsides, its single malt Scotch whisky and William Kerr’s Borders Gin capture the spirit of the Borders. Take the guided tour to discover more.
Top tip: Johnstons of Elgin offers free guided tours of its mill. After browsing in the bright and airy retail space, stop by the coffee shop where all the ingredients in the home baking and lunches are sourced from local suppliers.
Harvey Nichols department store is the epitome of chic. The colourful avant-garde window displays which fill the floor-to-ceiling windows of its gleaming frontage are a must-see during the festive period. The first three floors house a treasure trove of luxury beauty, perfumery and designer fashion; the top floor is where you’ll find the food court which includes a gourmet delicatessen, alongside the Chocolate Lounge with its conveyor belt of sweet treats, and the Fourth Floor Restaurant which boasts dramatic views across the New Town to the Firth of Forth beyond.
Top tip: Browse a curated selection of extravagantly quirky Christmas decorations and ornaments on display during the festive season. From kitsch to traditional, you’re sure to find something you’ll want for your Christmas tree. Take a break from shopping at Fizz Feast, Scotland’s only sparkling wine festival on 16 November at the Edinburgh Academy on 42 Henderson Row.
No shopping expedition in Glasgow is complete without a visit to this glamorous shopping mall. Its striking façade, adorned with an immense iron peacock sculpture, ranks Princes Square among the city’s most recognisable buildings. Inside you can peruse an excellent selection of premium British and international brands spanning everything from beauty and jewellery to fashion and artwork, plus legendary fashion house Vivienne Westwood.
Top tip: Take a break to enjoy a film at the boutique Everyman Cinema. Enjoy a glass a wine and freshly made pizza in the adjoining café-bar.
A tartan scarf or bottle of whisky are the standard Scottish souvenirs visitors bring home to family and friends. But why not go that extra mile and invest in a beautiful piece of Celtic-inspired jewellery for that special someone? Head to the historic Parisian-style Argyll Arcade which hosts over 30 jewellers under its glass roof and see if you can find a beautiful silver piece inspired by these ancient knot-work motifs woven into spirals, Celtic crosses and sometimes mythical beasts. Ask if it is possible to see a selection of luckenbooths. A luckenbooth is usually a brooch which features a crown above heart or two intertwined hearts. This symbol is a traditional love token which is traditionally given a sign of betrothal, much like a wedding ring.
Top tip: Charles Rennie Mackintosh – architect, designer and artist – is is one of Scotland’s most influential creative figures. A native Glaswegian, you can find pieces inspired by his iconic designs in local jewellers all over the city.
Craft Town Scotland
Location: West Kilbride, Ayrshire
Surrounded by the beauty of the North Ayrshire countryside, the village of West Kilbride boasts one of Scotland’s most unique – and thriving – high streets. As Scotland’s first designated Craft Town, West Kilbride is home to an active community of local craft makers and artisans who create and sell their wares in nine converted studio spaces spread along the Main Street. Here you find a wonderful selection of hand-blown glass creations, paintings and prints, silver jewellery, sculptures, toys and even custom-made laser designed etchings.
Top tip: The Barony Centre forms the heart of West Kilbride’s artisan community. Housed inside a former church, the centre hosts a year-round programme of talks, exhibitions and hands-on workshops while the gallery shop is brimming with locally made, one-of-a-kind products. There’s even a café.
The Highland Chocolatier
Location: Grandtully near Pitlochry, Perthshire
There are many fine independent chocolatiers in Scotland, but Iain Burnett, aka The Highland Chocolatier, is in a league of his own. Renowned for the subtle but delicious flavourings and stylish finishes of his chocolates – especially his award-winning truffles – Ian handcrafts his confections in his specially designed kitchen on the banks of the River Tay in Highland Perthshire. You can browse chocolates created from complex single-origin cocoa, exotic spices, fresh fruits and rich Scottish cream in the chocolate shop. Afterwards stop by the adjoining Chocolate Lounge and enjoy a cup of hot chocolate.
Top tip: Don’t leave without trying Ian’s salted raspberry and capsicum velvet truffle. It won him first place at the Great British Savour Chocolate Challenge in 2014.
Sheila Fleet Workshop
Location: Tankerness, Orkney
Sheila Fleet’s jewellery designs are inspired by the natural elements, colours and mythology of her native Orkney. You can watch the designer at work in her workshop as she enamels each piece by hand, using coloured pulverised glass before it’s fired in a kiln, finished and polished. At the new visitor centre and café next door you can browse the various collections alongside a beautiful range of gifts, textiles and clothing. Tours can also be arranged in advance.
Top tip: You can browse more of Sheila’s jewellery alongside designer crafts from around Scotland at the Kirkwall Gallery which is located in the oldest part of Orkney’s capital.
Find out more about the shops of other Orcadian jewellery designer and independent craft makers.
The Perfume Studio
Location: Mellon Charles near Aultbea, Highlands
Whisky isn’t the only way to distil the essence of Scotland in a bottle. Set on the shores of Loch Ewe, Scotland’s only working perfume studio in Wester Ross designs and hand produces a range of original scents, soaps, skincare products and aromatherapy sets using organic local ingredients which evoke the wild beauty and atmosphere of the Highlands. In addition to a well-stocked gift shop, the studio also offers a series of outdoor photography excursions and workshops throughout the summer period.
Top tip: Take in gorgeous views across Loch Ewe toward the Torridon mountains in the Aroma Café which offers a selection of coffees and teas as fragrant as the scents on display.
This is just a handful of the places where you can purchase high-quality authentic Scottish gifts. Find out more about Scotland’s thriving arts and crafts scene and browse our huge directory of shop listings using our search engine.