The season of Christmas retail warfare is upon us. Children, take up your weapons!
Every year it seems as though December is really the only month that counts; mangoes are in season, the remnants of fallen jacaranda blooms carpet our footpaths, the air smells sweeter, and buying bulk mince pies is once again socially acceptable.
Go figure that when the first fleet arrived laden with convicts and scurvy, the only thing the Brits wouldn’t bring with them was a cold December. Those of us in the sub-tropics have had to deal with the horrific irony of belting out ‘Frosty the Snowman’ in 40-degree heat. But there is one time-honoured Yuletide custom in which us tropicos have got the Northerners beat, the grand tradition of Christmas shopping. Now is a good time to note than no one has ever frozen to death Christmas shopping in Brisbane. Take that, snow.
So making the most of our cosy climate, and the whimsical freedom it gives us to prance hither and thither in pursuit of the perfect presents, here is our guide to the best local Brisbane areas to have a gander this Brisbane Christmas shopping season…
The illustrious James Street precinct is known for having some of the best shopping and dining in Brisbane, so where better to begin our Christmas collation than on this thumping strip? Let’s begin our progressive shopping spree at the very heart of what really matters most at Christmastime: food.
Kicking off at James St Market, where seasonal yumstuff abounds, start by ordering your turkey and ham for Christmas Day from Prime Specialty Meats, and pick up some dip and cheeses for Christmas Eve carols (as well as some gelati for the little ones). Make sure you nab some artisan jams, oils, and truffle salt stocking stuffers too. Before checkout, grab a Panettone for Boxing Day breakfast and a tray or two of golden mangoes.
Mosey across to the Nut Market for some wicked hot chocolate, then swing by Cru Bar + Cellar for a few cases of festive vino. Don’t forget a visit to Jocelyn’s Provisions for some mince pies and gingerbread before a final stop at Taste for a schmancy new table runner.
For all things nifty and gifty James Street has really got you covered. Notable mentions include:
St Barts—for the beachy and bohemian; Mecca Cosmetica—for the beauty queen; Scrumptious Reads—for the literate cook; Greenhouse—for quirky, miscellaneous family; camargue—for the dauntingly fashionable; Libertine Perfumerie—for your significant other; Blonde Venus—for your teenaged niece; Overwhelmed by choice? Purchase one of James Street’s covetable gift cards and let the object of your good tidings run rampant down the strip.
Laneway culture has migrated to Brisbane and squared itself away amid the Fortitude Valley jungle, where you'll find some the best shopping in Brisbane. Don’t be fooled by the floor area, this unassuming little precinct is simply bursting with all kinds of purchasables that are well worth a wander in the lead-up to Christmas.
Duck into Sunday Social for a sweet vintage find, or some adorable totes from House of Cards. Kunstler is a longtime cool-kid favourite for off-beat magazines and books, and there’s always the hip-as Outpost for some unconventional giftspo.
Just around the corner is a tidy collection of snappy boutiques if you’re in need of a new party dress. And don’t forget up on Brunswick St there are some killer espresso bars to help revive your achin’ bones.
In the past few years the Gabba has experienced a retail boom similar in global impact to the invention of toaster strudel. So it should come as no surprise that we recommend carving out some time this December to take the plastic for a walk, starting with that trendy cul-de-sac…
Christmas decorations, beach towels, cosmic lunchboxes, hand-carved comb handles from Germany, holographic Tarot cards, and probably everything else your warped imagination could conjure resides in Absolutely Fabulous. One of our favourite spots for any last-second ‘what-am-I-going-to-get-Aunt-Pam!’ moments.
Trundle a little further along the cul-de-sac to 1889 Enoteca and pick up the most vital component to surviving Christmas: wine from their award-winning wine list. Their amorous bottles of nectar make the perfect gifts for everyone on your nice list.
Any leftover food gathering, whether for the big meal itself or as gifts, can also be done in the trusty Gabba. Pennisi Deli, just a few blocks from the famed cul-de-sac, is floor to ceiling with quality deli fare in bulk, and Samios Fine Foods down the road has an exceptional array of cheeses, olives, oils, and sweets.
But wait on—we’re forgetting one of the oldest traditions! With the impersonality of email growing ever prevalent, Christmas carding is all the more important this holiday season. That’s why Little Peach Co. is your one-stop destination for all your Christmas cards this year as you send out the annual update every ottoman your trio of Maltipoos has gnawed through in 2014.
No Brisbane shopping list would be complete without mentioning the buzzing area of Latrobe Tce in Paddington. With free parking, myriad coffee shops, and a refreshing, cool ambience, you could do all of your Christmas shopping and never leave the area.
If you were just wandering past the iconic Paddington Antique Centre, I’d implore you to wander inside. The time-warping cavernous grotto is positively stuffed with killer gift ideas. Vintage silk ties, old LPs, art deco jewellery, even a wingback chair, you never know what could take your fancy.
On the other end of the retail spectrum, make sure you check out the brand new retail revolution that is Showroom. Featuring the works of local designers and craftsmen, Showroom is brimming with sickeningly cool gift ideas, jewellery, and homewares so spruce up your loved one’s space.
Some more notable mentions include:
Boudoir Chic—for intimates Victoria’s Secret can’t touch; Small Brown Bird—for the well-dressed miniature; Trinkit Hunter—for some of that nomadic, spiritual flavour; Blake & Taylor—for assorted homewares and interior ideas for the big day; Atelier—for a lovingly, locally handmade piece of swagger, and; Francesca’s Flowers—for the most badass blooms around.
Oh such a necessary evil. In the weeks either side of Christmas and New Year’s Eve, the Brisbane CBD becomes a melting pot of retail anguish. But if you’ve organised yourself around the peak traffic periods, a cheeky amble through the metropolitan drags can lead you to some prime Christmas shopping spots that’ll make you everyone’s favourite Christmas guest.
If you want to go all out this year, don’t amble past the luxurious houses of Hermes, Chanel, and Canturi. They’re our faves for something, or someone, special.
The Wintergarden is another hotspot of pecuniary damage with Mecca Maxima, Dinosaur Designs, and the idiosyncratic Pigeonhole boasting all kinds of covetable paraphernalia.
But the best of the CBD does not sit atop the surface. Venture a little way from the main clumps and find yourself an intensely hip trinket at Violent Green’s new digs, a seriously cool companion for your coffee table in Folio Books, or lose yourself in Archive Books and nab a bargain from way at the back of their labyrinthine shelves.
Image credits: Daniel Maddock