The best places to buy handcrafted gifts for Valentine's day in Bristol
The best places to buy handcrafted gifts for Valentine's day in Bristol

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Unique gifts which support local creators

The best places to buy handcrafted gifts for Valentine's day in Bristol

Estimated reading time: 4 minutes

Many people abstain from Valentine's Day, seeing it as a sad commercial excuse for big brands to overcharge customers for standardised, meaningless gifts. To make matters worse, it simultaneously makes the romantically unattached feel self conscious.

The commercialization is certainly well established -the UK Valentine's spending reached £990 million in 2022, while across the pond in the USA, the NRF expects Valentine's Day 2023 spending to be just shy of an incredible $26 billion

But what if we could celebrate all kinds of love and affection in the dull February days? We could even use it as an excuse to shift away from the big commercial brands and discover unique, quality products made locally. 

If you are lacking inspiration, natifcreatif have hundreds of local creators, artisans and artists. You can read on for our gift guide!

The best Bristol shops for locally-made delights for your Valentine

For a unique gift he or she won't find in chain stores

If you are up Redland / Clifton way - head to The Bristol Artisan, just opposite the Tesco's on Blackboy Hill. They have a special collection of hand-picked Valentine's goodies which you can see here. There is something for everyone, from dried flower bouquets to beautiful hand-made mugs. They also have a Valentines gift box, a range of super sweet cards and Valentines wrapping paper - so you can do your whole shop in one place!

The city center is arguably the best place if you are looking for gifts. If you would prefer to support local artists, pop in to Saint Nicholas Market, where you will find Jewellery Lane and Paperjay, aptly named because they specialise in handcrafted jewellery and luxury paper creations (pictures, mobiles, necklaces, earrings, bracelets) - perfect for Valentine's day! They also sell plants, so odds are good you'll find something he or she will like.

On the other side of the water on the Christmas steps (still in the city center), the co-operative Blaze shop is run by 10 independent makers. They stock work from over 100 local artists so have a truly huge range of items - cards, art, jewellery etc.

East of Bristol, Eclectic Gift shop in Hanham also have their own Valentines gift guide (here) so you can easily pop in and get something original for your loved-one while supporting local creators. If you would like to shy away from the traditional jewellery, chocolates and cards, they stock work from over 100 local artists, creators and creative business so you can find something to your taste - including zerowaste household items and locally produced food.

Over in Easton, the wonderful non-profit BAM store also have a special Valentines collection (here) bursting with colour and originality. Cool, fun gifts and cards to make the day special.

Looking for shops nearer Bishopston / HorfieldFig, Room 212 and Paper Plane are all independent stores conveniently lined up on Gloucester rd.  Fig is a gallery and shop selling locally made art, jewellery, household decoration and homeware.  It's great because it's run by the artists creators so you can speak to someone who really knows their stuff.  

Paper Plane stocks work from over 50 local artists and prides itself on ethical and sustainable practices.  Clothing, soaps, candles, jewellery, the list goes on -this place is a real Aladdin's cave of treats.

Room 212 is one for all the art lovers - its an independent gallery and shop showcasing local artists.  It stocks art for all tastes, everywhere you look there are new colours and forms.

Lastly, We Make Bristol in Westbury proudly stock goodies from Bristol creatives.  Original jewellery, art, ceramics, clothes and soap figure among their lovely things.

If you have something special in mind and would like a customised piece, don't be shy to contact natifcreatif artisans. Many of the creators take commissions and would be happy to discuss your idea. If they can't help you, they may know someone who can...

A shift away from the traditional gifts and Valentine cards

Recent years have seen the trend move away from chocolates, red roses and heart cards toward shared experiences, such as restaurants, joint activities or week-ends away. Couples use the day as an excuse to spend time together making memories. 

Not just for lovers

For loved-ones

Many people offer cards or handmade gifts to parents, and it has been reported that 9 million people in France buy their pets Valentines gifts.

Galentine's Day

The popular series 'Parks and Recreation' introduced the idea of Galentine's Day as a day to celebrate female friendship. Since the episode aired in 2010, Galentines (the 13th of February) has become an increasingly popular way for 'ladies to celebrate ladies' and treat themselves and friends with a little pampering over a champagne brunch or lunch.

What is the history of Valentine's Day?

It has been suggested that Valentine's Day originates from the ancient Roman festival of Lupercalia -a mid-February festival which celebrated fertility rites and the coming of spring.

The Christian Church represented by Pope Gelasius I forbade the celebration of Lupercalia at the end of the 5th Century. He is said to have replaced it with the Feast of Purification (Candlemas), which took place on the 2nd of February; however the feast probably predated his pontificate.

The exact story behind the mysterious Saint Valentine is unknown

Indeed there are records of several martyrs named Valentine whose stories may have combined over the centuries. However, he is widely believed to have been a priest from Rome living in the 3rd Century.

At that time Emperor Claudius II had banned marriage for soldiers, believing it to have negative impacts on their fighting ability. One of the stories goes that Claudius found out that Valentine was continuing to perform marriages in secret and sentenced him to death.

During his imprisonment, Valentine fell in love with the jailer's daughter, who he is rumoured to have cured from blindness. Before being taken to be beheaded on 14 February he sent her a love letter which he signed "from your Valentine".

Valentine's martyrdom resulting from performing marriages combined with his enchanting love story earned him a reputation for compassion and romantic love. Formal Valentine's messages started to show up in the 14th Century and commercially printed cards often depicting Cupid (the Roman god of love), hearts and birds appeared at the end of the 18th Century.

The best places to buy handcrafted gifts for Valentine's day in Bristol

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