Tips for Shopping for Christmas in Lockdown

busy image with images of books, christmas bows, lights, bawlballs, tips for shopping online, lockdown 2, christmas on the way

Hey pals,

It’s a lot harder going secondhand shopping with a lot of restrictions that keep varying depending on where you go or are located. It’s not as easy as rummaging through piles of clothes or racks, we can’t try things on (very often) anymore to make sure items fit before we buy, and with the limited shoppers many places are bumping up their prices even though they’ve all been getting mass donations throughout Lockdown 1. We are entering a second official Lockdown and it’s looking like nowhere will be allowed open. How are we shopping now?

Christmas is coming up upon us and many businesses are struggling. It might be tempting to just quickly grab some things from Amazon, but please think again before doing so. I have been and will be doing a mixture of buying directly from shops, buying from independent sellers, and shopping secondhand for presents this year. I hope to help keep some local shops alive by doing so and encouraging my family to do the same. We’ve seen a lot of shops disappearing from the local high streets and if things keep going this way… I’m not sure we will have many shops left full stop. But we have less control over the products by shopping digitally, so I wanted to bring you some tips for thrifting online and a few for buying new too.

A while back, a friend of mine gave me great advice I had never thought to do before. Make a List of all my Thrifted wants! Sometimes the list changes a little but for the most part it’s basically the same for months because I struggle to find ‘the one’ that really matches my dream items. I know that buying online, I’ll probably have to spend a bit more on the items, so I want to make sure I buy something I actually want!

This is my list at current:

  • Buffy T-shirt L/XL
  • Charmed T-shirt L/XL
  • Sports jersey style top L/XL
  • Ties/bowties
  • Black fedora (a la AHS Coven)
  • Wolf t-shirts L/XL
  • Collarless shirt in white
  • Patterned pillowcases for present sacks
  • Paranormal T-shirts (ouija/zodiac/tarot etc)
  • striped tops (long for layering, also short sleeve)
  • Tube socks (vans/cute colours like mustard)
  • Vans low top classics (with or without platform)
  • Exercise leggings/bike shorts
  • Nike Air Force 1s Black
  • Doc Marten Sandals/Platform Boots Black

There were other items on this list I have found and am really happy with. My favourite is a pair of vintage, high waisted black jeans as I really loved my light blue-ish Levi’s I picked up in Brighton on the outside racks in the Laines for a tenner, this pair was £15 but I was able to try them all on to see if I was better suited to a 38″ waist or stick with my usual 36″. I did nearly die trying on jeans that day though with a mask on! I would say it’s worth it.

I know this list is specific to me and my wants, but you can give your personal list to friends and family for ideas of what they could get you. Plus, I also make lists of present ideas for my friends and family and cross them off when I’ve picked up that item. This tip also works for books whether you’re looking for certain series or genres, it’s helpful to have a list you can refer to.

I’ve found some of my best pieces from thrifting and made videos such as this one about clothes, or this one about books! I mostly post this kind of content to my instagram now, like trying on my thrifted shirts.

My next big tip is MEASURING! It’s so important to get your measurements right, and if they aren’t on the listing, ask the seller to provide them or at least more details of the fit etc. For me, the three main measurements I worry about are arm length (I have very long arms), waist (i have a very wide waist), and across the chest to get an idea of how loose or tight the item is. I also throw in head measurements if you are looking at hats, I have a big head and always struggled to get hats that weren’t stretchy beanies so if I see a black fedora I like, I’ll be asking for measurements so I don’t waste my money!

If you’re looking for books and want to buy brand new, check out this blog post from a while back where I list some UK based Black Bookshops and talk about Hive.co.uk as some good beginning options!

If you’re mainly looking for books (or possibly DVDs, who knows, some people still use DVDs) or even video games, besides local charity shops here are some places you can use online. CEX is the number one place for tech based items, you can find all kinds of things there and everything can be delivered to you. You can definitely grab some really good deals on DVDs and old video games. GameStop used to be a thing, but I think they may have died out. If you know of one locally though, send them an email! Some indie shops have secondhand books available to buy so it’s worth checking out some of your favourite or local places, maybe shoot them an email and ask! Otherwise, Oxfam are a pretty great source for books and DVDs online, though their prices are a bit high. If you’re looking for specific titles, you might be better off looking on selling sites like eBay, Depop, or Vinted, maybe Facebook Marketplace. Ethical Revolution is a great site to use for a selection of stores for books, DVDs, etc. but also other products. There’s also a lot of useful information that comes up if you Google “second hand books uk not amazon.

A new Amazon alternative launched in the UK this week where bookshops can set up a digital storefront, check them out and support local bookshops! This includes an affiliate link.

Obviously, we don’t buy beauty or bathroom products secondhand. But here are some things to think about when looking for these items for friends and family. LUSH has this facade of being ethical, but they have been exposed time and again for being racist and ableist towards their staff, so rather than giving your money to a large chain, find some indie creators and small businesses that make similar products for similar (if not better) prices. There are also many people making reusable or recyclable items like cotton pads, loofahs, toothbrushes, etc. it really does go on. These are items almost everyone uses and can be a good idea for stocking fillers instead of that pair of socks.

If you’re looking for some indie artists and small businesses to support and buy from, check out my Christmas Gift guide from last year. I have updated it a few times this year and will continue to do so! There’s a broad selection of products there.

This one is a bit of a random idea, but how about buying a tree? The Woodland Trust sell trees online that can be delivered to you (please check the site about delivery etc. as things may change with Covid restrictions) but for many people, we don’t necessarily want anything physical for gifts or would rather do something that makes an impact to the world. This can be a great idea for that, or if there’s a loved one you want to dedicate it to, it can be a nice group activity to plant the tree somewhere. There are some trees as cheap at £9 and if you don’t have somewhere you can plant it, take to Google and see where allows trees being planted. You can also do this and support a local Garden Centre! Something that goes along with this is donating to a charity that means something to someone in their name, or adopting an animal (not literally but where you get updates, like with dolphins for example or guide dogs) so, for example, a great idea for me would be donating to an animal charity, an LGBT+ charity, or Crohn’s and Colitis UK, maybe even Vasculitis UK. Tell your friends this is your idea for the year and get them to come up with which charity they would like you to donate to.

For anyone looking for LGBT+ specific bookshops, I have included a few in this post mostly UK based ones that you can support!

Another general tip (which I hope this post would be helping you to do anyway) is to try somewhere new. There are so many local businesses wherever you live, it might be worth using Facebook Marketplace to search if Google is only showing you big companies or put up posts on social media explaining what you are looking for. Many small businesses are struggling at this time and need the business of online orders to stay afloat, you might find a new brand you really enjoy.

For anyone wanting to use an online wishlist, check out Things To Get Me, totally separate from Amazon and works with pretty much every online shop. Use my Referral Link when you sign up!

I hope this post was helpful and shed some light on other options for buying your christmas gifts (or even just some holiday treats), let me know of your favourite small business, I’ll allow some self promo just this once too. I hope we can all make some good choices this year and enjoy ourselves as much as we can during all of this.

Wear a mask, sanitise your hands, don’t make unnecessary trips out.

~Artie

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Winter Watching for The Gays This Holiday Season

let it snow

Hey pals,

I wanted to give you a little viewing suggestion in that weird moment between ChristmasLove Simon Launch One Sheet (1) and New Year for my fellow gays. It’s a short little list, but hey who cares!

Love, Simon: Not a Christmas film but has a very important section during Christmas. We love a Christmas coming out! This is generally a cute, warm film so felt it appropriate to include.

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Let It Snow: The new Netflix film based on the book written by three authors from three different perspectives. The added more P.O.V’s including a queer relationship and actually casted queer people to play them too! Another soft film with Love, Simon vibes, just totally in a blizzard!

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Merry, Happy, Whatever… : A Netflix show I stumbled upon about a very dysfunctional family and all their other-halves and how they all learn to accept each other and be more themselves. It also includes a coming out from someone who was initially married to the ‘opposite’ sex. It’s fun and frustrating but has a really great ending.

I hope you enjoy watching these in your free time before the New Year, and I wish you all a splendid end to 2019.

~ Artie

Still open for new year’s tarot readings! hmu on twitter, £2 per card, up to 8 cards, all done via email or twitter messenger. Payment via paypal.

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What Are My Family Buying Each Other For Christmas?

Hey pals,

 

With Christmas swiftly coming, as usual, I thought I’d talk to you about my family’s present buying habits now that I am an adult. Christmas isn’t the same when you either aren’t a child or don’t have a child to celebrate with, it’s almost like any other day except we all exchange some gifts. Christmas can be extremely wasteful and I’m sure I’m not the only person who used to constantly get useless tat made of cheap plastic. So, this is what we do now.

  1. Buying Useful Presents: For the most part, my family don’t ever ‘want’ anything most of the time, but we all need certain things. For example, my Gran likes taking lutingold supplements for her eyes from Holland & Barrett. Supplements and vitamins can be pretty expensive, but Holland & Barrett often do sales where you basically get a pot for free. Last year, my mum bought my Gran almost a year’s worth of these and that’s the plan again this time around! I’ve also added this to my list as I always take a multi-vitamin to keep on top of my Crohn’s and occasionally other vitamins too.
  2. Buying Second Hand: My family often want certain clothing items, either for events or due to the time of year or maybe we had the item but wore it out. My mum and I picked up some pieces for my Granddad at a big second hand sale where you can fill a bag for £3! We got him a nice shirt, a jumper, and a sleeveless pullover along with a bunch of other stuff for myself. His bits probably didn’t even equal £1 but they were great condition. We also picked up a pair of jeans for him in another £3 a bag sale, and I found a great tacky t-shirt for my best friend Meghann.
  3. Buying an Experience: My mother and I often struggle with asking for specific items to unwrap for birthdays and Christmas and would rather go see a show or go on holiday. My mum took me to Milan for a long weekend for my birthday this year, and my family are planning on buying some decent tickets to see the show Sister Act with Whoopi Goldberg and Jennifer Saunders as a kind of combo christmas and birthday present (her birthday is 25th November) because they’ll probably be somewhat expensive but worth going to. Or, for a cheaper option, we will designate a day out together either to go do something or just for a meal and a wander.
  4. Going for a Meal with the Extended family: For parts of the family you don’t see very often, it’s a nice idea to go for a meal or do something altogether so you can catch up and spend some quality time rather than buying something and continuing not being able to see them. This also work for friends as well, whether they’re just busy working or live a little further away. I plan on doing a little last minute Christmas shopping with Meghann as I’ve not been able to see her in person since my birthday because of my health and also her busy schedule!
  5. Making something: You don’t have to be a supreme artiste to make something for family. I found a great little tutorial that turned an old t-shirt into a dog toy! Great for your dog and also for your friends who have dogs! There are also tonnes of things you could make by hand with a little help from a YouTube tutorial, but try to make sure it’s something they would want or use to try and avoid more stuff cluttering houses or ending up in landfill.

 

This was a short, probably incomplete, list of what my family are doing this year for Christmas! I hope this helps anyone and gives other ideas for alternatives or a new perspective on what we should be buying for Christmas. Sometimes the best presents are useful ones!

 

Happy Holidays

~ Artie