(Last Updated On: January 22, 2018)
Is it just me or do you too find yourself a ‘victim’ of increasingly out of control holiday gift buying obligations? Never mind the time, money and carry on space that eats up, are you also then greeted with a less than appreciative gift receiver on the other end? Well, if you’re coming to Edinburgh, I have two way you can solve this conundrum; stop talking to all your friends and relatives a couple months before you leave or, perhaps the slightly easier option, have a read of this post. Not only does this tell you the best places to get a gift in Edinburgh, but it will also point you in the right direction to come home with a quality, funky, tasty, and quite possibly one of a kind souvenir all for yourself.
Cranachan and Crowdie
The Royal Mile is full of identikit souvenir shops crammed with cheap, tacky and (probably) made in China gifts. But at Cranachan and Crowdie everything is guaranteed to be made in Scotland. They’ve got high quality souvenir homewares, handmade wooden items from local artisans and gourmet food and drink that’s perfect for packing up into a picnic hamper (which they can make up for you) or just a very luxurious nibble session. It’s also run by a team of friendly, enthusiastic and knowledgeable staff who are so genuine it’ll remind you what customer service is supposed to be like. To top it all off there’s also guest appearances by Caley the Labradoodle.
The Cat’s Miaou
I used to walk past this shop, and apart from thinking “Aww, cute name”, a cursory glance in the window had me dismissing it as a run of the mill ‘dust collector’ type of shop. But oh no, it’s not that at all. The Cat’s Miaou is a treasure trove (a bit of digging is indeed needed in certain corners) of original, designer and ethically made high quality trinkets, jewellery, baby-clothes, scarves, hates, gloves, cards, bags, cushions and… oh I think I’ll stop there. Don’t be like me, just go in and start hunting.
Dead Head Comics
Dead Head has been running for more than 25 years and is rumoured to be the inspiration for the hugely popular British comedy Black Books, about a stroppy, misanthrope London bookshop owner. If that’s true, maybe it will give you a clue about what you’re likely to find there, but whatever the levels of service, comics fans will have an absolute field day here. If you’ve got a comics lover on your gift buying list, you’ll be able to impress them by picking up comics and graphic novels by independent local Edinburgh and Scottish artists.
You might find something you like for yourself in their Victoria Street clothing boutique, but for gifts, head to Swish’s Cockburn Street outlet to pick up some of their printed t-shirts. Choose from cool, funky or, depending on your sense of humour, silly designs, or bring in your own ideas to have one made up in store for you.
The Fudge House
The Fudge House has been operating on The Royal Mile since 1949. They are still today very much a family business, making all their fudge by hand using their original secret family recipe. Fudge is quite common in Scotland, but it was actually invented in the US. There is however a Scottish version of fudge, called Tablet, which, instead of butter, sugar and milk, uses butter, sugar and condensed milk – trust the Scots to go just that one step further when it comes to indulgent food – and you can try some tablet here too. Prepare yourself, with flavours like lemon meringue pie, pistachio and white chocolate and praline and Drambuie, this is top quality, gourmet fudge. Mmm mmm.
Pinnies and Poppy Seeds
Simply the best shortbread in town. Pinnies and Poppyseeds made everything by hand in their little shop on St Mary’s Street. As well as traditional, you’ll find other varieties like cardamom and white chocolate, toasted coconut, dark chocolate and orange, butter pecan and… oh cripes, writing this post is seriously making me hungry now…
The Tron Kirk and Royal Mile Market
Housed inside a 17th century church (or kirk), The Tron Market has handmade, crafty gifts designed by local artisans. Think jewellery, t-shirts, skincare, textiles, knitwear and prints, most with a Scottish/Celtic flavour to them.
Cadenhead’s Whisky Shop
Got a friend or relative who really knows their whisky? Slightly hard to please, perhaps? Well, this’ll impress em. Head to Cadenhead’s, Edinburgh’s oldest independent bottler, to find them a bottle of Scotch that’s sure to be unique.
And If You Feel Like A Real Splurge…
Local designer Joey D makes upcycled handbags, jackets, kilts and more (much more than I could list here), from scraps of tweed and leather and army disposals. These are truly one offs and are priced accordingly, so maybe save this place for yourself. Downstairs there’s similarly upcycled armchairs, but that’s only if you’re a supremely generous gift giver.
Soon ( well in 2019) to have its own swanky new headquarters by the Union Canal, Edinburgh Printmakers is a working printing studio that supports local artists by giving them space, tuition and opportunities to show their work. And for us, they have a gift shop with limited edition prints, jewellery and books for sale. If you think you might like a print, just a word to the wise – this is serious stuff, bring your cheque book.
21st Century Kilts
With a mission to bring kilts into the future and onto the fashion pages, 21st Century Kilts have kilts made from leather, denim and camouflage, as well as the more traditional tartan wool, of course. Some of their famous fans include Lenny Kravitz and Vin Diesel and, because these kilts are not just for men, Princess Charlene of Monaco.
Stuff to Know:
A lot of these kinds of shops in Edinburgh close for a month or so around Christmas and New Year, so make sure to check their websites for opening times if you’ll be here then.