I've made no secret of the fact that I love the North East and all that it has to offer. As well as the brilliant coastline, quayside, restaurants, days out and family bloggers (haha), I love that we have so many amazing independent businesses that sell unique, quirky and cool stuff, with lots of it being made right here in the North East. For day 3 of my Merry Sprogmas advent calendar and to coincide with Small Business Saturday, I've pulled together this Christmas gift guide where I've picked out some of the best presents and Christmas treats for everyone in the family, all from local brands.
Cards and Decorations
Wot Ma Like - The original Geordie card company is stocked in Fenwick, Waterstones, YumLush in Gosforth, and online. Wot Ma Like have a huge selection of North East cards. as well as home decor I can't tell you how pleased I was with myself when I nabbed myself a 'Merry Christmas from Blaydon' card. My ex pat friends will be shocked to hear from me this year, after a somewhat 'on off' relationship with actually getting around to sending Chrimbo cards, but I can't wait to post the ones I've got. As well as every Christmas card design you can think of, Wot Ma Like make some gorgeous home decor, like the Santie countdown chalkboard as pictured above. It's not all for kids though. Eh it's my Christmas too! They have a brilliant 'Prosecco loving' collection of baubles, tea towels and signs perfect for any mams who reach for the bubbles after a particularly tough day at a soft play. Check them out for any friend's from other parts of the UK too, as the website has loads of Scouse, Yorkshire and Cumbrian gifts too.
North East Gifts - This online shop have got a great selection of local brand's goods with gift ideas for everyone in the family. Including items from Wot Ma Like and Geordie Genes, as well as some exclusive items. They have a gorgeous pack of 5 vintage cards for £8.99, but my absolute favourite on their site is their collection of Christmas children's books. 'Santa's Sleigh is on its way to Newcastle/Northumberland/Sunderland/Teesside' are a cute illustrated books, telling the story of Santa delivering his presents to your local area, and are a bargain stocking filler at only £4.99.
Geordie Genes - I have loved this brand since I first saw them. Initially just stocking baby clothes, they now offer T Shirts for kids up until the age of 12. I've built up quite the collection, with two baby vests, and now a T Shirt for my toddler - hello photoshoots - everyone knows twinning is winning. They also have a festive collection, including a geordie Santa Sack, which is an absolute bargain at £6.95. Everything is printed right here in the North East, so you can wear your slogan T's with pride knowing that you're supporting the local economy. You can order online using the link above, or pop into one of their stockists like Jesmond Dene Visitors Centre, The Emporium, Alnwick or YumLush in Gosforth, all of which sell loads of other lush stuff for you to peruse whilst you are there.
Pop Up Studios in Low Fell - I've followed this shop for a while on facebook, and they do brilliant personalised items. Choose from babygrows, PJs or these amazing Christmas Jumpers.
Pregnant Mamas and New Babies
Clothes are always a safe option, but we've got a couple of really great baby companies in the North East.
The Tiny Baby Studio - The photographer who shot our wedding does the most gorgeous new baby photo shoots. It's quite a luxury at £200 for the session including finished images, but the photos are priceless, and I think anyone who bought a photoshoot for a pregnant mam would instantly be their favourite person. This gift might even be able to console her about being sober, and probably the designated driver ferrying around drunken family members, over Christmas. (Bitter me? No you must be mistaken those two pregnant Christmas' were bliss - as a side note though I do plan on being unfit to drive from 20th December until New Years day this year!)
Tumbles and Grumbles - More of a serious present than the others, but perhaps the most important one that you can give to a new mum. Tumbles and Grumbles offer child and baby first aid course, taught by a trained paramedic in a relaxed and informal setting. I recently went along to their classes and it was brilliant. For £29 for the three hour course I think it's excellent value. Full review is here.
Love and Hygge - This local company is only available online at the moment, but you can order through the Folksy store or through their instagram. I want everything that they sell, and the mobiles and bunting make the most adorable gifts for a new baby. I obviously think so, as I've bought both for friends of mine. Images below are courtesy of Love and Hygge Instagram. The bunting as shown is £15 (price dependant on the numbers of letters) and this divine puffin mobile is £30.
For the Grown Ups
French Grey Tales - Another shop that I follow on instagram, but I'm yet to walk through their door. Everything about this shop looks incredible from the photos I've seen, so I'm determined to call in before Christmas. I particularly love the Mother Jumpers starting at £34.50 which are very reminiscent of the incredibly popular Selfish Mother versions, but these are printed right here in the North East.
Pop Up Studios in Low Fell - They don't only do kids clothing. Pop Up Studios, seem to produce everything you can think of, whether that be some adult sized personalised pajamas, customised T shirts or some loosely football themed home decor. Image below courtesy of Pop Up Studios facebook page.
For the Family who has everything
Clare Bowes Photography: If you are struggling to think of a great gift for a family, then what about a voucher for a family photoshoot with North East photographer Clare? Her work is gorgeous, she tends to shoot unposed images in natural light and they really are stunning. She has an amazing offer on this Christmas, details of which are here where an hour long shoot, including 10 polished images is only £50, or for £100 you can have a 2 hour shoot, with 30 processed photographs for you to print out. Check out here work, courtesy of her website below.
If you are looking for a gift for a family then we have some great options in the North East for subscriptions for family days out. I think these are a great option, we've had a couple of these annual passes this year, and it's so good to know that there is somewhere we can go for 'free' if we find ourselves at a loose end one weekend.
Beamish Museum - is brilliant to visit, whatever the season. With trains, trams and animals little kids love it, and there are plenty of events on throughout the year to make the very reasonable annual pass worthwhile, at £18.50 for adults, and £10.50 for children. We visited during their 50s festival and you can read about visiting with a baby or toddler here.
National Trust Membership - We are spoiled in the North East with having so many National Trust properties close by. They are perfect for families, as there is always plenty of room for kids to run about and they often hold activities on weekend and during school holidays. The play areas at Gibside, Wallington and Cragside are brilliant too. Because they are so huge I've never got around to writing a blog post about any of the National Trust places around here, but you can read North East Family Fun's blog on Cragside here. Top tip from me here, is that if you buy your membership from National Trust Scotland (which I've linked to above) then annual family membership is cheaper, at £95 for the year, than the English membership, but you can use the Scottish one in any National Trust property in the UK.
For families with young children then membership to Seven Stories or Centre for Life is a brilliant choice, as they can return time and time again, whatever the weather and make use of the brilliant facilities for pre-schoolers. Seven Stories annual membership costs £65 for a family, and this post from Babyfoote's shows how great it is for toddlers. Centre for Life is slightly more expensive, but in my mind the better choice for families with older children, as there is so much to do. Annual family pass costs £85 and loads of photos and details about our visit can be found here.
Phew i think i'm done
Wowza, that was a long one. Even by my rambling standards. I hope it's given you some ideas about the brilliant shops on our doorstep, and might prompt you to buy something from one of our fantastic brands.
For a details of festive treats or events around the North East, every day this advent then make sure you follow me on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter so you don't miss out on my Merry Sprogmas Advent series.
Disclosure Policy - After getting in touch with the companies to let them know they were going to be in this gift guide, we were given one or two items to test, photograph and provide an honest review on. Unsurprising all of the random blabber and chuntering on in this post is my own. See the about us section of this website for the full corporate speak disclosure policy.