There’s a certain lure to shopping in big chains at Christmas time. They often have great Black Friday deals, they’re convenient (for the most part) and on some occasions, you can get most of what you need in one shop.

For us, though, there’s nothing better than giving a gift from an independent store. Not only are you supporting local businesses, but independent retailers tend to put more love and care into their products and the wrapping. It makes the gift more personal to the recipient, knowing it was picked out just for them.

If you do decide to opt for the independent route, we thought we’d offer up a few tips on how to make that process as stress-free as possible.

READ MORE: Preparing for Seasonal Affective Disorder

These websites are a good starting point

One of the things that put people off shopping independently is the searching required to select the perfect independent store. We appreciate it can be a bit overwhelming, but there are some great starting points.

We start by looking at the likes of Etsy and Trouva. If you type the sort of gifts you’re looking for into the search bar, you’ll start to see which companies do what you’re looking for, giving you a good base to start your search.

If you find shops you like on Etsy, always remember to ‘like’ them, that way you’ll be notified whenever anything new comes into their store.

Instagram is a great tool

Instagram is awash with independent retailers selling their wares. In fact, it’s probably the best social media tool for this type of searching. Look at hashtags like #buylocal and #shoplocal and begin to follow brands that align with your style.

For us (and it’s the same for plenty of independents), we put our best offers out on Instagram. You’ll be the first to know about any deals and you’ll get a feel for the brand on a more organic environment.

Message sellers

It’s unlikely that you’ll get a discount if you pop into John Lewis for a roll of wrapping paper (and hey, we’re not throwing shade here, we love John Lewis). Independent businesses are just able to be more flexible. If you’re bulk buying five candles for every member of your family, an independent seller might consider giving you a discount.

Equally, they’re more likely to personalise products for you. We can create bespoke orders for people and are happy to look into ways in which to add a touch of the gift receiver’s personality into our products. It’s always worth asking.

READ MORE: Are you suffering from burnout?

Start early

There’s no denying that going on Amazon and picking out things that your family may vaguely like is very easy. If you’re not doing your gift shopping until the week before Christmas, you’re probably not going to fancy trawling through independent stores.

By starting now, you can select a gift that the recipient will treasure. It’s a misconception that independently bought products cost more (they really don’t). We’ve shopped independently this year for the majority of our gifts and we’ve spent less than usual for a more high-quality and personal end result.

Go to local fairs

There’s no shortage of local fairs selling independent products. British people love a Christmas market and there’s always an abundance of Christmas presents on offer.

Meet people, speak to them and take their cards if you’re not ready to buy from them just yet but might in the future. Local fairs have been great at establishing a connection to local people, something we are so grateful for.

On the topic of being grateful, just remember that for many independent stores, the survival of their often handcrafted products depends on people taking a chance on them and buying something slightly different.

We’re infinitely grateful to every person who takes a chance on a brand they may not know too much about. We hope we live up to your expectations.