1. Take home a treeAh yes, it’s that time when the the seasonal Kentish Town Road display is trussed up and strewn alongside every available bit of wall and canopy by Bean About Town. Alternatively, try haggling for a bargain on Queen’s Crescent (corner of Bassett Street, see above) or local garden centre Boma (53 Islip Street NW5), where they’re laid out prettily and will set you back a little more.
2. Flowers and wreathsJayne’s is a welcome splash of colour daily, and at Xmas, a veritable feast for the old mince pies. It must also get the highest footfall of almost anywhere in NW5, right next to the fruit and veg lady Sally Keable alongside the station. So deck that hall out in style (and the front door, if you do that kind of thing). 260 Kentish Town Road NW5
3. A big old turkey…What Christmas is complete without a gut-busting roast? Thankfully smart Fortess Road joint MeatNW5 (147 Fortess Road) and old fave Harry’s Fine Foods (258 Kentish Town Road NW5) have it covered, both offering an excellent selection of free range and organic meat to go with your taters and stuffing. Bring it on.
4. Fish and groceriesWho better than superior fishmonger Jonathan Norris (140 Fortess Road), with his enviable selection of seasonal catches, as well as upmarket condiments and piscine accessories? But don’t forget the fish counter over at Harry’s, either. And for groceries you’ll all know about Phoenicia, Natural Food Store, the Wine Cellar and Earth Foods. And the new Patron deli (16 Fortess Rd) is useful for wine, cheese and charcuterie, too. If you can, do support Queen’s Crescent market (Thurs & Sat) as it needs every local’s custom over Xmas – especially since Camden Council seem incapable of making any significant improvements.
5. Books and more booksWalden (38 Harmood Street NW1) is the area’s most beautiful second hand bookshop, tucked away two mins’ walk from Kentish Town West. And at Owl, you can find something for every generation, the first editions, hardbacks and tables of paperbacks and reissues. There are stacks of tomes on local history. It goes without saying that there are quality greetings cards and a cosy children’s section, too. 207-209 Kentish Town Road NW5
6. Vintage threads, jewellery & ladieswearNeed something for a female in your life? Saskia Lamche moved her very established Diverse boutique to Fortess Road earlier this year (148 Fortess Road, NW5). Meanwhile award-winning jeweller Jessica De Lotz opened her first workshop and store just back down towards Kentish Town (49 Fortess Rd NW5). And printmaker and textile guru Sarah Khan set up her SK Vintage brand back in 2014, sourcing accessories, bags, hats, scarves, flowing dresses and original pieces, as endorsed this year by Kate Moss (amongst others). 51 Fortess Road NW5
7. Cool lights for kids and kidultsSoho stalwart SKK Lighting has brought everything from neon dinosaurs to garbage chandeliers to Brecknock Road since moving to the area. It really makes a fascinating wander round. And anything you buy screams “thoughtful!” 39 Brecknock Road N7
8. Handmade toysSurely a contender for one of the most treasured shops in the capital, Kristin Baybars’ dolls’ house and miniature accessories emporium opposite Gospel Oak station is a perfect choice for a special gift. One of the few retail outlets where visitors step into another world, Kristin holds court after over 40 years in an almost unchanged shop. She specializes in making tiny jigsaws, but you’ll also find all kinds of work from the world’s most famous miniature experts, as well as traditional toys and stocking fillers un-buyable anywhere else. Magical. 7 Mansfield Road NW3
9. Two wheeled wondersCycling is booming in London, with our slice of the postcode pie identified as second only to fixie bike-obsessed Hackney in the two-wheeled popularity stakes. Yet traditional bike shops have been hit hard by online retailers so support this longstanding store known now as Giant Camden. 75 Kentish Town Road NW1
10. Quirky interiorsWe love Future & Found’s impressive warehouse space opposite Tufnell Park tube. Inevitably they are going Xmas gift crazy, with a selection of stocking fillers and bigger gifts at all prices. Very practical, and such a nice environment to swoosh about in (225a Brecknock Road N19). And don’t forget newcomer WCD’s Wow Studio just nearby. 2 Dartmouth Park Hill NW5
11. Unusual gifts, pottery and art booksHead west to the aspirational shop at Zabludowicz gallery (176 Prince Of Wales Road NW5) for one-off artworks, original prints, unique artist-designed mugs and coffee table tomes. Nearby is the petite Klay (18 Malden Road NW5), who sell original pottery designed by a collective of twelve artist-makers.
12. Gorgeous rugs, fittings and vintage carpetsBehold the Ottoman splendour of Highgate Road’s long-established carpet shops! And they’re not as expensive as you might think, either (prices are very hagglable too). Worth a snoop are both Kasra (99 Highgate Road) and Seneh Carpets (90 Highgate Road), but our favourite is renamed superstore Bazaar & Beyond, a three-room mini-empire which the owner claims is the largest handmade supplier in Europe, piled up with rugs and carpets of all sizes and ages. Most of the decorative kilims are Persian and Afghan, rather than Turkish. 74-80 Highgate Road NW5
Live in Archway? Check out our shopping and gift guide. Got a favourite shop you’d like to tell other readers about?