You've made a list, you've checked it twice and you still don't know what to buy your friends and family this Christmas. You'd like to find them each something special, something meaningful, something that doesn't scream, ‘Hey, I ran out of ideas so I got you this Tattslotto gift pack,’ but you don't know where to start. Well, start here, with The Urban List's guide to super funky places to wrap up your Christmas shopping in Melbourne – for yourself or for others. It's our gift to you this silly season. You're welcome.
Produce Markets – various locations
Melbourne's fresh produce markets – Queen Victoria, South Melbourne, Prahran, Dandenong, Footscray and Preston among them – might seem like an odd place to go Christmas shopping in Melbourne. But don't forget these markets also have stalls selling everything from belts and wallets to toys, plants and clothing; South Melbourne Market even has a dedicated space packed with treasures from emerging fashion, homewares and accessories designers. The markets are also the ideal place to buy gifts for foodies – grab a voucher for a cooking class, or put together a hamper that includes luxurious cheeses, preserves, wine and chocolates, and hope the recipient invites you on a picnic. Best of all, you can do your Christmas shopping while you're doing your regular grocery shop.
Design & craft markets – various locations
Speaking of markets, there are loads of regular and pop-up markets in the lead-up to Christmas. Queen Victoria's Night Market, held every Wednesday, is packed with food stalls and traders selling everything from skincare to puppets to clocks made out of upcycled bike parts. Soak up the lively, festival-like atmosphere while you have an alfresco dinner, then start a serious Christmas shopping spree.
Keep shopping around the corner at Blender Lane Artists Market, also held on Wednesday nights and featuring offbeat treasures such as earrings made of doll parts, trendy terrariums and live music, plus art exhibitions.
December 5th – 7th is a huge weekend for pop-up markets. Each one features items from up-and-coming designers that you most likely won't find elsewhere. Time it right and you can see them all, but if you must cherry-pick here are our tips.
The Big Design Market can get packed tighter than the Chadstone car park on Christmas Eve, so go early and be prepared to wait to examine the goods on offer. Pick up cute clothes and toys for kids and babies, non-IKEA homewares (think quirky framed prints, handmade lamps, gorgeous ceramics and contemporary bed linen), accessories galore, and pretty much everything in between.
10am to 9pm Friday, December 5th
10am-7pm Saturday, December 6th
10am-9pm Saturday, December 7th
Royal Exhibition Building, Carlton
This is the place to go if you want original, one-off gifts such as drinking glasses made from old beer bottles, hand-printed silk scarves, customisable badges, and retro cake stands. Everything's handmade and all goods are eco-friendly – have a chat to the stallholders and you'll learn that the cake stands are made from upcycled crockery, the geometric jewellery is made from hand-beaten recycled silver, and the wooden pendants and rings are made from sustainable timber.
11am to 4pm, Saturday 6th December
Northcote Social Club, Northcote
Live music and art installations form the backdrop of this fun Melbourne market, which features unique handmade toys (don't miss the two-headed elephants), artworks, photographs, cards, baby goods, jewellery, clothing and skincare – all made by local artists and craftspeople.
4pm-9pm, Saturday 6th December
Kingston City Hall, Moorabbin
Sisters aren't just doing it for themselves – the stallholders at this market have been busily creating goods to make your Christmas shopping easier. Think beautiful clothing for women and kids, funky accessories, leather and fabric wallets and bags, artwork, stationery, toys and more.
10am-4pm Saturday 6th December
Malvern Town Hall
What do you do with last year's Christmas cards? Turn them into this year's Christmas decorations. That's just one of the clever Chrissy-themed crafts available at this market, which also features kids’ clothes, jewellery and accessories, cuddly toys and retro homewares such as crocheted coasters. It's a one-stop shop for Christmas gifts and decorations – genius.
10am-4pm Saturday 13th December
99 Leinster Grove, Thornbury
Editor’s note: Want to know about all of Melbourne’s best markets? Check out our December Market Calendar!
Can't make it to a market? Don't worry – these shops have your Christmas shopping covered.
Kiozwi Handmade in Preston
If you've copped the hard-to-buy-for person in the workplace Kris Kringle, head to Kiozwi. You can find almost any kind of gift in this fun shop, from origami earrings to bacon-scented soy wax candles (the perfect gag gift for vegans). There's also loads of locally handmade items you're unlikely to find in other shops, including Lego-shaped soap, eco-friendly toys, jewellery made from postage stamps and even a giant zombie octopus.
Little Shop of... in Carnegie
The bright, cheerful Little Shop of… has lots of indie design stuff at reasonable prices, such as mini terrariums in re-purposed wine bottles, DIY macrame plant hangers, badges, handbags made from upcycled ties, tote bags, clutch purses, and Melbourne-themed homewares such as cushions with trams printed on them.
Clementine's in Melbourne CBD
Clementine's carefully curated selection of Victorian-made foodstuffs includes preserves, spice mixes, olive oils and chocolates. It's a bit like shopping at a farm gate without having to leave the city, making it a great place to find a gift for the foodie who has everything. There's also kangaroo-leather handbags, kitchen utensils and ceramics, including locally made plates that will look as good displayed on a wall as they will on a table.
After Store in Melbourne CBD
With an eclectic mix of homewares, accessories and textiles sourced from around the world, After Store is a fascinating place to shop. The range changes constantly and might include African furniture, bowls made from recycled magazines, handwoven scarves, brightly coloured Mexican candles or a barrowload of vegetables made from felt.
Sunday Morning Designs in Fitzroy
This pop-up shop features goodies from up-and-coming designers – gorgeous earrings, cool sunnies, ink-splattered coffee cups, classic and contemporary clothes – and books that have a focus on design and illustration. The eponymous range of bedlinen, printed with intricately detailed illustrations, is also available; if you want to sleep under a work of art, put a Sunday Morning Designs doona cover on your wishlist.
Melbournalia in Melbourne CBD
If you need to send an overseas friend a gift that says ‘Melbourne’ without saying ‘tacky', head to this classy shop that's full of Melbourne-themed stuff. Actually, your Melburnian pals will love something from here, too, such as rooftop honey (collected from hives on our fair city's roofs), books about Melbourne, and retro prints and teatowels featuring iconic places (annoy your northside friends by giving them an Elwood print, or get your southside friends on side with an Astor print). Melbournalia also stocks items designed and made here that aren't emblazoned with images of Melbourne, such as eye-catching geometric plywood bowls, bold necklaces and bicycle-patterned socks. It's a great way to support a local or three!
Oxfam Shop in Melbourne CBD
What do you get the person who has everything? How about a goat? Or a heap of shit? These are just some of the charitable options available through the Oxfam Unwrapped program, in which you purchase a greeting card with the details of the gift printed on it, but a family living in poverty receives the actual gift. A goat, for example, can provide milk for a family; a pile of poo can fertilise a crop. (Sometimes shit gifts are the best ones of all).
While you're there, pick up Fair Trade and eco-friendly gifts such as coffee and tea (Oxfam even stocks Nespresso-compatible Fair Trade coffee pods), crockery, cushion covers, coin wallets, jewellery and toys; items are well-priced and the feel-good factor is free.