Do Good in Brentwood: ‘Here’s why you should shop local this Christmas’

PUBLISHED: 11:00 06 December 2018

Picture: Do Good in Brentwood

Picture: Do Good in Brentwood

Do Good in Brentwood

With Christmas just around the corner, our monthly writer and Do Good in Brentwood campaigner Villene Hyam speaks of the importance of making the most of the independent businesses.

Retro From Scratch. Picture: Do Good in BrentwoodRetro From Scratch. Picture: Do Good in Brentwood

It’s December…how has that happened?!

Every year I say that I am going to be organised and get all my Christmas presents early - preferably in November.

But so far I’ve bought just three, and that was only because we were shopping somewhere that we won’t return to before Christmas.

But the failure to stick with the plan has given me the opportunity to come up with a few things that I’d like to achieve this year, and I’m hoping it will give you some inspiration too.

The Little Black Cat. Picture: Do Good in BrentwoodThe Little Black Cat. Picture: Do Good in Brentwood

Although it’s so tempting to get everything online (especially if you’ve run out of time or motivation for spending a couple of hours finding a parking space), I am going to try to visit more local shops and purchase from independent businesses this year.

The local shops might be chains, but if we don’t use them we could lose them.

And you’ve heard the saying that every time you buy from a small business, an actual person does a little happy dance?

Well, I think we could all get a lot of people dancing if we invested in our community rather than travelling miles for a retail fix.

Lablistas. Picture: Do Good in BrentwoodLablistas. Picture: Do Good in Brentwood


For the boys’ gifts, I very much doubt I am going to manage to avoid Amazon totally (sorry), but I’ll be heading to Chicken & Frog for their books and the boys do love their stationary so I may treat them to a Retro From Scratch notebook this year. Becky has made notebooks as gifts for me before and they are such lovely personal presents - plus she upcycles pre-loved books, so it’s good for the environment too! I’ll also definitely be visiting Piccola as the boys are still into their Schleich figures (you can never have too many dinosaurs) and they always have such a good selection in there.

We’ll be encouraging friends and family to make a few eco swaps this Christmas, so we might treat everyone to a bamboo toothbrush.

We have ones from Humble Brush which you can buy online, but they also sell them in Superdrug.

I’m hoping someone treats me to some more beeswax wraps too. Hint hint.

They have a range of them in Steamer Trading Cookshop, but you can also buy directly via independent businesses like Good To Bee and Beeswax Wraps UK who do some amazing patterns - turtles, pineapples, stars, spots, skulls and of course bees!

If you want to diplomatically get the plastic pollution message across to someone special, buy them a reusable bottle.

Again, Steamer Trading do a good selection, but you can also buy some lovely ones online, with Chilly’s being the ultimate in bottle indulgence.

For those who keep on using the waxed paper cups for their hot drinks, you could treat them to a reusable Love Essex cup from Brew, which are being sold at Weald Country Park at the moment.

They also have Essex Wildlife Trust cups and bottles at Thorndon Park.

Then you can buy them a personalised name band from two local Mums who run Labelistas. (For the chance to win a set, check out my Facebook and Instagram competition running until Sunday, December 9).

I’ve been looking for an excuse to buy something from Kirsty at The Little Black Cat for ages, and I’ve had my eye on one of her personalised keyrings for hubby. She also does lovely jewellery too, so check her out - she’s online and only based up the road.

And if you would rather have a browse in the comfort of your own High Street, we have French Quarter and The Olive Branch in Brentwood.

I recently spotted that The Olive Branch are doing personalised Christmas decorations while you wait - the perfect excuse to grab a hot chocolate from The Brentwood Kitchen (and you get a discount if you take your own cup!)

Don’t forget to use recyclable wrapping paper and paper tape if you can get some, and then you can put it all in the recycling bin when everyone has made a mess of your lovely wrapping!

The general rule is that if it goes back to its own shape when scrunched, unfortunately it’s not recyclable.

Think about glitter too. The stuff on Christmas cards is unlikely to be biodegradable, but do check.


When it comes to hosting, it is possible to avoid the same old chains and go independent too.

It might end up being more expensive, but if you have the time and money to spend, why not order your turkey from French’s Farm this year?

We’ve had a few turkeys from there and they are honestly the best we’ve ever eaten. French’s Farm is on Wigley Bush Lane, you can go and visit or you can order on the phone. All their meat is organic and the butchers there have more than 200 years of experience between them!

If you’re after some cupcakes for dessert, we have loads of amazing bakers in the area.

The chatter pages are full of recommendations.

Sisterly Bakes always do some lovely designs, and they are yummy too! And if you want the house to look lovely, we have the Bloomin’ Jacks florist on our doorstep who are doing some wreath and table centre workshops this month to make your home look (and smell) amazing at Christmas.


And, finally, if you think you might be feeling a little guilty after spending so much money, how about taking part in a reverse advent calendar this year?

I am going to give it a try with the boys (although we may have to run this alongside some chocolate treats for them!) - basically, every day, you put something IN to a box for those in need and then donate it prior to Christmas.

I saw on Instagram that Hartbeeps were doing this in their classes this month, which is a lovely way of introducing the kindness concept to the little ones.

We’re going to collect for the Brentwood Foodbank this year - they are generally looking for non-perishable items.

Details of location and opening times are available via here(please note, they are only open for a couple of hours on selected weekdays).

I’ve also been invited on to BBC Essex Radio tonight, Thursday, December 6, to talk about Brentwood and what makes our town so great!

I’ll be discussing both Do Good In Brentwood and Refill Brentwood so if you’ve got any good news stories before then which you think we should all know about then please get in touch. The show starts at 7pm - give us a listen!

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