Our (even bigger) Christmas gift guide

We know it’s tempting to lounge on the sofa with a Toblerone and do all your Christmas shopping on Amazon while watching Gogglebox, but there really is nothing like actually going into shops, talking to the lovely shopkeepers and supporting local independent retailers.  We’ve spent a lot of time in Bedford’s shops whilst compiling the Clanger’s indie retail guide and we will certainly be sending Santa into Bedford town centre to find something special for our Christmas stockings…

Late night shopping

Town centre shops will be open late every Thursday until Christmas and every night from Monday 18th – Friday 22nd December. For more information visit the Love Bedford website.

Free festive parking


There’s no need to be put off by pricey parking. Council car parks and the Harpur Centre car park are free every Thursday from 6pm, so take advantage of late night shopping.  From Monday 18th – Friday 22nd December parking is free every day after 6pm and free all day on Sundays. The first two hours every Saturday are also free.  Click here for more parking info.

The Clanger’s Christmas wish list

épanoui’s new North Star necklace (£54) is inspired by the brightest star in the sky.  The Sterling silver coin has been engraved with the North Star illustration and sits beautifully on a delicate 14k filled gold chain. Hannah at épanoui offers gift vouchers and is also happy to compile a wish list that can be shared with husbands, partners and family members.

épanoui, 44 Mill St, Bedford MK40 3HD epanoui.co.uk

If you’re toy shopping, there’s plenty of choice in the town centre without hitting the out of town shopping centres, MK, Rushden Lakes or the internet.  Beales, Wilkos, Debenhams, WH Smith all sell a selection.

Jewellery designer, Rita Romano has launched a unique earring range specifically for Christmas.  Each earring is completely handmade in either sterling silver or 14K yellow or rose gold filled wire (a solid layer of 14K gold permanently bonded to a base metal).

With prices up to £20, these are perfect stocking filllers and Secret Santa gifts. Rita will be at a number of fairs this winter, so check her website www.ritaromanojewellery.com for more details or to buy online.

For a great selection (and match pricing to online retailers), Baby and Play on Castle Lane is brilliant.

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Baby & Play, 16 Castle Lane, Bedford, MK40 3US babyandplay.co.uk

Ready Steady Roll is our go-to for great boardgames (and amazing chocolate cake). Head over to their new shop in Sharnbrook to pick up unique and interesting games – and never have to endure an unending game of Monopoly again. Our two top Christmas picks:

Flex your creativity in the beautiful game Dixit. One player has to describe a card from their hand (which all feature strange artwork) with enough detail that at least one person can guess her card, but with not too much that everyone guesses it. Certainly a very different game compared to the usual Monopoly or Uno.

Rhino Hero: Super Battle is like Jenga on steroids. Players take turns adding walls and roofs to a building, while balancing monkeys and moving rhinos, elephants and penguins up and down. It’s bonkers and great fun until a player accidently knocks it down and the player who is at the top of the tower wins the game.

Ready Steady Roll, Studio 5, Ivy Lodge Farm, Rushden Road, Sharnbrook, Bedford MK44 1ND

07584 484101 ReadySteadyRoll.co.uk

If you haven’t manged to attend a wreath-making workshop this year (check out epanoui’s website for details of their sessions), then the next best thing is to buy a beautifully hand-made wreath from an expert florist. We love Maddy Gamble’s door decorations and prices are from £20 – £40.

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To order your bespoke wreath, contact Maddy direct either by email or phone: m_rose@hotmail.co.uk  07709033181

If Arcadia isn’t already on your Christmas shopping list, then you need to have a long hard look at yourself. The home of the best sweets in Bedford, Arcadia also offer gift wrapping services. We spotted these ‘Brussels sprouts’ (actually chocolate truffles) in the window and they also stock ‘mulled wine’ flavoured chocolates. If you were wondering what the Clanger would like to find under its Xmas tree, you can’t go wrong with fudge…

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Browse their entire stock at arcadiasweetshop.com or even better visit the shop at  11 The Arcade, Bedford MK40 1NS

We are coveting this Red Cacti Handbag (£120) by local artist Lisa Tilley/uoldbag.com. Lisa makes all her products in her studio in Bedford, from old and reclaimed materials. She has shown her work at Craft Council Fairs, Paul Smith Stores and even been in Vogue!  Every Uoldbag piece is unique, making every item that extra bit special and the ideal gift.

This one-of-a-kind bag is remade by hand in Bedford, using entirely reclaimed materials. Using the art of decoupage the imagery is hand cut from old books, applied by hand and has a waterproof coating to ensure durability. Commissioned bespoke items are available at request and can be personalised for that extra touch. For more details please email: info@uoldbag.com

If you’re looking for unique artwork, Talia Giles’ Great British Birds and Woodland Creatures collections are beautiful.  Inspired by British wildlife, the intricate geometric artworks mix modern design practice with the more traditional concept of the posed portrait. Every print is available in A3 and A2 with borders ready for framing. All prints are designed by Talia in her studio in Bedford and printed and packaged in the UK.

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You can buy Talia’s work at The Nest @ No.9, High Street, Olney; épanoui, Mill Street, Bedford; Made in Bedford, Bromham Mill Shop and Absolutely Shabbylass, Ampthill, 3-5 Church Street, MK45 2PJ.  To view the collections and to contact Talia: taliagiles.com

Crumbs that’s Tasty is a sandwich shop with a difference. Based on Castle Road, they stock a selection of gifts that are the perfect stocking fillers.  We love the cotton Tooth Fairies, presented in an illustrated matchbox style box, complete with a specially designed back pack, perfect for swapping a lost tooth for a new coin.  Also,
Jim Jamz are the cutest children’s pyjamas in a jar, made in 100% cotton and designed, manufactured and packaged in the UK.

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Crumbs That’s Tasty 127 Castle Rd, Bedford MK40 3RF

A family photograph is a wonderful keepsake – and a lasting reminder of any tragic hairstyles and fashion faux pas. Photo shoot gift vouchers for Harpur Studio (starting at just £25) can be purchased from the Picture Gallery shop on the High Street or online from harpurstudio.co.uk/gift-vouchers.  Their mini Christmas package includes a 20 minute shoot (with a Christmas backdrop for little people) and then your choice of five images supplied digitally for £95. To check availability and book online go to https://directory.bookedin.com/harpur-studio

Harpur Studio, 13 High St, Bedford MK40 1RN 01234 363914 harpurstudio.co.uk

For a truly unique gift, head to the Eagle Gallery on Castle Road.  The December exhibition is Christmas themed plus there are lots of mounted and wrapped artworks displayed in the browsers, including small drawings, prints and watercolours. The gallery also sells ceramic pieces, jewellery, Christmas cards and tree ornaments – all designed and made by local artists. We have tree in the gallery, covered in artisan decorations, all made by our member artists, and all for sale.  Gift vouches are also available.

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Eagle Gallery, 101 Castle Rd, Bedford MK40 3QP tel: 01234 346995 eaglegalleryartists.co.uk

If you’ve got a sci-fi, superhero or gaming fan in your household, then you definitely need to check out Close Encounters on Allhallows. With a huge selection of graphic novels, boardgames and gifts, you’re sure to find the perfect stocking filler. Who wouldn’t want to find a Yoda stocking under their tree on xmas morn?

Close Encounters, 20 Allhallows, Bedford, MK40 1LJ  tel: 01234 270777 closeencounters.co.uk

Boutique Planet is ‘stocking’ some great accessories and jewellery this Christmas. Hats, gloves and scarves are always a welcome present, and who doesn’t like jewellery? Gift vouchers are also available, plus leave your ‘wishlist’ with Jo and Nick and they’ll make sure your nearest and dearest know exactly what you want to find under the tree! Check out their new store in the Arcade, and don’t forget their fabulous Christmas prize draw in association with the Wardrobe Edit.

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