It’s beginning to look a lot like…

Christmas shopping time! But if the annual retail-fest fills you with dread, may we make a suggestion?

Ignore the big cities with their samey high streets, their soulless shopping centres and giant parking fees and head instead to the magical New Forest.

Not only will you be supporting independent traders, you’re sure to find the kind of individual gifts and items you just can’t get in town.

Couple this with our beautiful scenery and the chance to grab lunch in our cosy pubs and elegant restaurants, and shopping will turn from a chore to an occasion.

Our forest towns and villages are bursting with stores to cater for every member of the family. Lyndhurst, the Forest’s capital, is great for quality gift and interior stores, or try Lymington for a seaside vibe, stupendous independent shopping, plus a fabulous Saturday market that goes all-out for Christmas in the weeks running up to the Big Day.

Ringwood is perfect for indie stores too and they also have the wonderful Furlong Shopping Centre where you’ll find fab fashions at Phase Eight, Hobbs, Whistles, Oasis and Joules, shoes at Moshulu, plus Osprey and Toys of Ringwood and lots more.

And don’t forget New Milton, which boasts its own department store, Bradbeers. Then there’s Hythe, where you’ll find Posh Potions, selling beautiful bath and therapy products, and Fordingbridge, where you’ll find art galleries and plenty of lovely independent shops.

Don’t forget, too, our smaller villages because it’s there you’ll find all the best artisan food stores, such as Burley Fudge Shop in the Mall at Burley, selling sea salt and caramel fudge, or yummy Christmas Pudding fudge.

In Beaulieu village, there's a delightful Chocolate Studio where traditional chocolates and contemporary designed chocolates are handcrafted.  

The New Forest Hamper Company at Milford on Sea will see you right for a sumptuous  luxury hamper featuring 100% local goodies (you might want one for yourself after reading what they include!) and while you’re there, don’t forget to pop into the stylish No. 64 Biscuit House for all kinds of gorgeous interior items.

Hockey`s Farm Shop is an independent, family business which supports the local community and its producers. Here you’ll be able to buy local meat, which is all either from Hockey’s Farm, or produced by Andrew, in St. Ives, just outside Ringwood, freshly baked bread and pastries, local fruit and vegetables and a well-chosen selection of wines and local beers.

Also in Ringwood is Ringwood Brewery, where you can find the perfect present for the beer lover in your life! Head down to the Ringwood Brewery Store and choose from a fine array of gift ideas including draught and bottled beers, wines, hampers, an extensive clothing and merchandise range, stocking fillers and seasonal food offerings perfect for your Christmas meal. You can also pick up Tour Vouchers so that special someone can enjoy visiting the brewery and enjoy tasting their fine ales.

Not only is there a local produce shop at Setley Ridge, you can also take away with you Setley Ridge Vineyard wine, made from vines onsite. This makes a great gift, or of course, a lovely treat for you!

Don’t forget, too our beautiful garden centres where there are loads of inspirational gift ideas, and not just for the green-fingered.

In Beaulieu, Fairweather’s Garden Centre stocks high quality garden plants, plus giftware, accessories and furniture.

Take your piece of the New Forest home from Shallowmead Nurseries, trusted growers of shrubs, trees and grasses in the New Forest since 1947. In Alderholt, near Fordingbridge, Wolvercroft World of Plants Garden Centre is a two-acre nursery with large shop and Everton Nurseries Garden Centre, near Lymington is an independently-owned garden centre.

And on the outskirts of New Milton, you’ll find Redcliffe Garden Centre with the Potting Shed Tea Rooms and in Cadnam, Wyevale’s Cadnam Garden Centre is on offer with a variety of plants.

Another fab way to hack through your Christmas presents list is to shop at one of the Christmas Markets which are coming up over the next few weeks.

Crafts, hand-made food, one-off gifts and a wonderful Yuletide atmosphere await you at these events.

Don’t miss the fantastically festive New Forest Christmas Fair at Exbury Gardens on Saturday 7 and Sunday 8 December. You will be sure to find some unusual yet perfect gifts for friends and family! You also be able to purchase some delicious local produce too, to add to your spread on the big day.

You can also get into the Christmas spirit at Durlston Court on 22 November with an afternoon of mulled wine, festive food and shopping at their annual Christmas market. Just outside of the New Forest, you head to Bombay Sapphire Distillery's Christmas Market, from handmade jewellery to festive candles, sweet treats and clothes and beauty products, you'll be able to find the perfect present for even the hardest family member to buy for. For those gin-lovers, they will also be serving up hot gin cocktails alongside minced pies for you to enjoy while mooching around the stalls..

On 1 December, make your way to Christmas in Ringwood to browse through brilliant market stalls, visit Santa in his grotto, enjoy the live entertainment and make sure you stick around for the fantastic lights switch on! Lyndhurst are also holding a Christmas Market on Saturday 23 November at the Community Centre, kicking off the village's festive celebrations.

HytheLymingtonNew Milton & Ringwood all have great weekly markets throughout the year, where you can find an amazing range of stalls and some perfect and unique gifts, they also get very festive in the run up to Christmas.

Another smart way to spread some New Forest cheer is to give a loved-one a voucher – for either a family theme park such as Paulton’s Park or the National Motor Museum at Beaulieu or to another great local attraction, such as Longdown Activity Farm.

Talking of Longdown Activity Farm, Bryan Pass, known as Farmer Bryan to several generations of children, is a life-long farmer and runs Longdown. He has written a series of books about everyday life on the farm where the things that the creatures get up to can be just as fascinating as an imaginary tale and feature some of the well-known characters that live on the farm. For the first time, the books are available in a special Christmas presentation set including a book written by Bryan’s granddaughter, Charley. The set of six books including delivery is just £29.95. To pick up a set of these intrepid animal adventures, visit their website.

Give the gift of a real adventure and splash out on a voucher for New Forest Activities. You can purchase a monetary voucher or the full price of an activity of your choice. You can do likewise at Forest Leisure Cycling and at The New Forest Paddle Sport Company, too.

Or check out our spas. Where you can find lots more detail on our world-class spas, many of which do vouchers for some blissful treatments.

And don’t forget that you can buy vouchers for meals and stays at some of our wonderful hotels. Treat your loved one to an Afternoon Tea voucher from the Montagu Arms Hotel near Beaulieu. Gift vouchers for New Forest Hotels can be put towards an overnight stay, or dinner at some beautiful locations including Bartley Lodge Hotel.

PS If you fancy a bargain then make sure you get hold of one of our Go New Forest Cards for just £10. You can save lots of money at a variety of shops around the New Forest, as well as at restaurants, cafes and attractions around. It’s been proven you can get your money back in just one use.

The Go New Forest Card also makes for a fantastic present itself; 2020 Cards go on sale on Sunday 1 December. Sign up to their enewsletter to be the first to find out when and how you can buy this great gift.

Happy Christmas shopping!  

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