Five Christmas gift ideas in Hackney’s hidden shops

pic: Olive Loves Alfie

Stuck for Christmas present ideas? Are those two-for-one Sainsbury’s selection boxes looking appealing? Before you resign yourself to giving everyone gift vouchers, EastLondonLines has picked the five best places in Hackney for unusual presents.

Lifestyle Bazaar
, Kingsland Road

Grow your own edamame kit, anyone? This shop is a treasure trove of totally unnecessary but highly entertaining stocking fillers. ELL particularly liked the ‘southern softie’ and ‘it’s grim up north’ slogan mugs. Their range of kitchen gadgets will brighten up the most slovenly of student digs, though how thrilled a trendy young thing would be to open a foldable cheese-grater on Christmas morning is debatable. The pick-up sticks game (remember that?) is the ideal post-Christmas dinner amusement, especially for adults with a red wine handicap.

The website is here, and you can order online.

Niko B’s Santa Baby Pop-up Chocolate Shop, Dalston

If you must buy chocolates for people, for goodness sake get good ones. For the cocoaphiles on your Christmas list, visit Niko B’s pop-up shop. You can see the chocolatier himself at work, try the chocolate soup (a blend of liquid dark chocolate, port, coconut milk and winter spices), and pick up some freshly made gifts. The boxes are beautifully packaged, and even delivered on your behalf if you so choose. Why not confuse and delight people with an edible chocolate box full of truffles; or for those worried about their five-a-day, invest in Amaretto soaked figs, filled with ganache and dipped in dark chocolate.

Drool over Niko’s creations here.

Hackney Homemade Christmas Markets, St John at Hackney Church Gardens

If you’re still not sorted by the last weekend before Christmas, fear not! Hackney Homemade is holding markets on both December 17 and 18. Shop for handmade presents (we won’t tell anyone if you pass them off as your own) whilst the kids enjoy the free pop-up ice rink. Expect knitted goodies, beautiful jewellery and traditional toys. Homemade Christmas tree decorations could be the perfect solution for a picky relative. After all that shopping, sneaking a few homemade mince pies before dinner is a sensible way to keep up energy levels.

More information can be found here.

Olive Loves Alfie, Stoke Newington Church Street

Stuck for what to get the kids? If Argos has sold out of the latest craze, why not go traditional? Olive Loves Alfie call themselves a family lifestyle store, but the real joy of this shop is in their brilliant array of children’s toys. From customizable birdhouses to the traditional doctor’s kit, there is not a DVD in sight. The toys on offer encourage hours of lets-pretend games, re-defining the concept of ‘playing’ in a way far removed from sitting on the sofa, clutching a game controller.

Check out the ‘love to play’ section of the website here.

Viktor Wynd’s Little Shop of Horrors, Mare Street

Relatives and children are now sorted, but what about the achingly cool twenty-somethings that haunt the coffee houses of Dalston and Shacklewell? If Christmas is an originality contest in your flat, then you need to visit Viktor Wynd’s shop of curios. From winged taxidermy dogs to floral teacups baring rather rude phrases, this store has it all. ELL particularly liked the book entitled ‘The Art of Faking Exhibition Poultry’. Don’t bring the children, and prepare to spend at least an hour staring with your mouth open.

Click here for an idea of what you can expect.

Breathe a sigh of relief, and cancel that dreaded trip to Oxford Street.

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