20 exciting and unusual Christmas presents from West Hampstead

Andy Williams might have sung ‘It’s the most wonderful time of the year’, but for most of us it’s the rack-our-brains-for-a-present time of the year. If that describes you here are some present ideas from just down the road.

First stop, Seasons the Cookshop, it’s a small independent kitchen store with a really nice range of stock. Popular this Christmas is a very chic set of cheese knives (£17.99), a set of Peugeot salt and pepper grinders (£39.99 normally £31 each) and the ever-stylish Le Creuset mugs (£15). They are also good for stocking fillers for the foodie in your life.

Chic cheese knives (£17.99 with stand, £13.99 without), salt n’ pepper (£39.99) and Le Creuset mug (£15)

Sticking with the food, why not order your whole Christmas dinner?! Crocker’s Folly (the pub in Lisson Grove), which we grant you is a bit outside West Hampstead, is offering Christmas in a hamper – they will cook and deliver a £8kg turkey (enough for 16) a choice of sides, plus mince pies all for £120.

Another local food options is some homemade jams and chutneys from The Well Preserved jam company. They are offering special Christmas packaging and will be at the farmer’s market on Saturday 23rd. Particular favourites of mine include the orange and whiskey, lemon, gin and tonic, and chilli jam but they have a wide selection to suit all tastes.

Crochet your own tie (£11), or toy (£25), mini cross stitch kits (around £10)

New on the block (well new and expanded) is the Village Haberdashery. If you haven’t been up yet (it’s above M&S) do pop up and take a look.

For present ideas, I liked the crochet your own tie kit (£11) – it requires no previous experience and only takes 5 hours (full disclosure, not only did I end up buying one for myself but when I showed it to my most stylish friend, she promptly put it on the list for her son). Other ideas included mini-cross stitch kits (around £10), a crochet your own toy (£25) and an all-the-rage-on Instagram mini wall-hanging set (£14.95 for the kit and £14.95 for the wool).

They also offer a variety of classes and workshops (£45 to £95, more for multi-day courses). And not just sewing (although they do have those too – including with Charlotte Newland (winner of the Great British Sewing Bee)). Other workshops include modern calligraphy and lino printing. How about offering a workshop place as a present?

If you would rather try something different then how about a pottery taster course with Freya Bramble-Carter? She was a contestant on this year’s Great Pottery Throw Down and has a studio (actually she shares it with her father) in the Kingsgate Workshops. They offer Saturday afternoon taster courses (£45), Sunday morning taster courses for teens (£30), and adult four-week pottery courses (£150).

Or what about a luxury sleeping bag from West Hampstead based Sleeping Beauties? They come in a range of boho – but tasteful- patterns and each one (singles £64.99) includes not only a matching pillowcase but also (matching) eyeshade. How chic! And for Christmas, they are introducing a double sleeping bag (£139.99). Orders can be collected from the Village Haberdashery to make life simple. How did you survive at Latitude without one?

Persons Unknown, How Not To Be A Boy, The Art of Failing, & Cats of West Hampstead. (Not shown Little Me).

Being a literary crowd, books are always a popular choice and so what’s on the shelves at West End Lane Books? Of course, any book is available – with a smile, but we thought of these four West Hampstead options; Robert Webb’s ‘How Not To Be A Boy’ (signed copies in again this week), Susie Steiner’s ‘Person’s Unknown’, Anthony McGowan’s ‘The Art of Failing’ and for cat-lovers (or dogs) ‘The Cats of West Hampstead’ and if I could squeeze in another one, ‘Little Me’ by Matt Lucas.

Another popular local choice for presents is Achillea on Mill Lane, which is offering some stunning door wreaths at the moment (£35 to £65) and table ornaments. However, from time to time they also offer workshops (£100) – they next one is in March, just before Mother’s day, on ‘dressing the Spring table’ and includes making a Spring centrepiece. Christmas and Mother’s Day present in one. Result!

Finally, not to forget the Sheriff Centre which has a good selection of kids presents and stocking fillers.  So there you are, plenty of present ideas all in West Hampstead, both objects and also ‘experiences’. Merry Christmas!

Twelve things to do in West Hampstead in December

There’s always a (snow) flurry of things to do in December, the challenge is fitting them all in between the socialising and recovering from socialising that seems to define the final few weeks of the year.

We don’t have to credit Tim Mossholder for the image, but we would like to. Seasons greetings Tim!

On Saturday 9th, from 7.30-9.30 pm is the Hampstead Chorus Autumn concert with Gabriel Faure’s Requiem, Francis Poulenc’s Gloria and The Heavens and the Heart by James Francis Brown. They sing at UCS and you can get tickets here.

For something a little lighter, on Thursday 14th at 7.30 pm in Emmanuel Church – and with some audience participation – the Fortune Green choir is holding its concert with a guest appearance from Cantereas (a vocal ensemble based in West Hampstead). It should be a really nice concert, and it is raising money for the Mayor of Camden’s chosen charity – C4WS, the homeless charity that operates out of Emmanuel Church. The Mayor will be attending. The suggested donation is £5 (with mulled wine and mince pies afterwards).

If you’re after something a bit more serious, then on Saturday 16th, the Hampstead Chamber Choir is celebrating a European Christmas, also in Emmanuel Church. Audience participation in the carols here too. Tickets are £12.

Something for the younger residents?

On Saturday 9th at the Community Centre is a holiday gifts workshop. Make a present for granny, she will love it! And who knows your kid might even make it into the John Lewis ad next year…

Then on Wedensday 14th, the ever-popular Sherriff Centre Panto is back. Oh, no it isn’t. Oh, yes it… save me from this please. But it is already fully booked – oh no it isn… yes, yes it is. This year it is Sleeping Beauty.

For the even younger residents, there is a not-very-Christmassy-but-who-cares Baby Broadway concert on Saturday 16th at 11 am in Emmanuel Church. You can get tickets here.

Something a bit more entertaining?

On Monday 11th at West End Lane Books, Nina Stibbe will read from “An Almost Perfect Christmas”. It’s at 7.30 pm and free, but is also a chance to pick up a copy of the book (and pay for it too, obvs). Looks like quite a nice stocking filler/Christmassy present. (Please reserve a place).

The JW3 Icerink opened again on the 3rd and will be open until Sunday, January 7th. It’s closed on Sabbaths but will be open on the 25th and 26th December so something to do on Christmas day or Boxing day to work off the calories. And oddly, it’s sponsored by a … firm of accountants!

On Monday 18th at the Alliance, it’s the Christmas offering from Locally Sourced with actress Annette Badland and an anthology of seasonal delights. She’s a familiar face on TV (and voice on radio – she’s  Hazel on the Archers!) Also appearing will be pianist Kat Gillham and baritone Phil Wilcox, so expect some Christmas melodies. This could be a lot of fun.

With the closure of the Good Ship, things comedic do seem a little thin on the ground in the ‘hood, however, something new(ish) on the radar is the London Improv theatre. They have what looks like some really good events coming up. Starting with… “God, the Untold Story” , on December 5th, 6th and 7th.

I liked the look of the Glenda J collective on Friday 15th, but it’s… you guessed it, sold out.

Also on the bill is Slattery Night Fever on Saturdays December 16th and 23rd. Booking recommended to see one of the original Whose Line is it Anyway greats.

Indeed, there is a whole host of other events including Improv Friday with a double bill of the Inflatables/Music Box. Last time I went, a group of mates sitting next to me had been to celebrate a friend’s birthday and these seem like go-with-a-couple-of-mates kind of things to do.

Finally, it’s not very Christmassy but the current Camden Arts Centre exhibitions are worth seeing both Natalie du Pasquier and Christian Nyampeta. A nice destination for an afternoon walk, and there is a rather good café too!

So there you are good dozen suggestions of things to do this month. We’ll cover the Christmas services separately.

West Hampstead Christmas survival guide

With just over two weeks to go, it’s beginning to look a LOT like Christmas in West Hampstead. Here’s our seasonal guide to what’s going on around the neighbourhood in the next couple of weeks, including December 25th, and information about practical stuff too.

It's beginning to look, well a bit, like Christmas

It’s beginning to look, well a bit, like Christmas

Still need to get a Christmas tree? They’re on sale outside The Sherriff Centre, on the corner of Sherriff Road and West End Lane, and if you’re at the other end of town, you can find a good selection of trees at The Mill Lane Garden Centre.

This Saturday it’s the West Hampstead Christmas market with a good selection of stalls with gift ideas as well as food and drink.  There are also a range of activities to keep the kids amused and as if that wasn’t enough there will be carol singers at 2pm.

There are of course a number of local shopping options for the perfect Christmas present – see our gift guide for ideas.

Ho, ho, ho - it's the Christmas market

Ho, ho, ho – it’s the Christmas market (image: WH Christmas market)

If your party schedule isn’t busy enough already, here are a few local invites. Top of the list – obvs – the West Hampstead Life Christmas drinks will be on December 14th at the Gallery, details in separate email. Or if you fancy a bit of a bop, there will be a festive Mod & Soul party at the Railway on the 17th (live music and DJ), a Christmas party at The Black Lion on the 23rd (DJ from 9pm) and an ‘Old Year’s Party’ on Friday 30th also at The Black Lion.

If it’s comedy you are after as well regular Monday nights at The Good Ship, there is a new comedy evening on Sunday 18th organised by local resident Abigail Burdess, at the North London Tavern (normally last Sunday of the month). Promising a Christmas cracker of comedy cabaret (click to book tickets).

Santa is taking time out of his busy schedule to make a visit to West Hampstead. He is finding time to drop in to The Village Haberdashery on Friday 16th. There are a few spots left and it’s free, but please book ahead.  They are also organising a couple of kids activities; on Monday 19th it’s making Christmas ornaments and on Tuesday 20th it’s a gift wrapping workshop (both cost £5).

Got your turkey yet?  If not, you can get it at the Hampstead Butcher and Providore on West End Lane, last orders by Tuesday 20th, but if you want a posh bronze turkey the earlier the better (i.e. early next week).  Or you could order it from the Fosse Meadows Farm at the farmers market, they have geese too if you want to go traditional English, again advice is to order early.

As for Christmas Day itself, is anywhere going to be open? There will of course be church services: Emmanuel, St Luke’s, St. James and St. Mary’s  are all holding Midnight Mass on Christmas Eve as well as services on the 25th.

What are the eating out options?  There has been a bit of change on the Christmas day options as Guglee and Toomai, which have been open in the past are closed. However, for a more traditional offering The Black Lion , The Alice House and The Railway are all open with Christmas day lunches on offer, but must be pre-booked. 

The Black Lion dressed up for Christmas

The Black Lion dressed up for Christmas

Likewise the Christmas Day drinking scene has more options than in the past as the The Railway, The Alice House and The Black Lion will all be open from midday to late afternoon.

Or if you are looking for something more active – apart from a walk on the Heath – there is the outdoor icerink at JW3 which is open on Christmas day.

Onto more prosaic, but just as essential things. Rubbish collections will, if I understand Camden’s site correctly be one day later than normal – see Camden’s revised collection schedule here.

What about parking? Christmas falls on Sunday, so there is substitute holiday on Tuesday 27th, plus Boxing day on Monday 26th. New Year’s Eve also falls on a Sunday and New Year’s day on a Monday, which is a public holiday. Parking restrictions don’t apply on public holidays.

The main supermarkets – Tesco, Sainsbury’s and Waitrose – are all closed on Christmas Day, and both Waitrose branches (West End Lane and Finchley Road) are also closed on Boxing Day.

If you need an emergency item on the 25th, Nisa Local (on the corner of West End Lane and Broadhurst Gardens) will be open, as will Western Food & Wine opposite. Or up on Mill Lane Londis will be open in the morning, closed for lunch and then open again late afternoon.  None of these convenience stores stock whole turkeys though.

For medical matters if it’s a pharmacy you need, IPSA the newish pharmacy on the Finchley Road has late opening hours and is open on Boxing day and New Years day, 11:30 to 20:00.  It also has a private doctor’s service.  Local GP practices are closed on the 25th and 26th, but if you need urgent medical help you can dial the NHS 111 service, or of course 999 in an emergency.

If you need to travel during the festive period, be aware that tube and train services tend to wind down earlier than normal on Christmas Eve. There is no public transport on Christmas Day, and there will be a limited service and engineering works to contend with during the rest of the period – see here for TfL’s festive travel updates from December 21st to January 4th.  Thameslink services will also not run on the 25th or 26th, but otherwise over holiday period are running services, albeit somewhat reduced.

The Twelve Christmas gifts of West Hampstead

Our Christmas gift guide is back! If you’re looking for gift ideas this year then don’t just head straight to Amazon, check out the shops on your doorstep. It’s likely you’ll get more inspiration and it’s definitely a more relaxing experience than Westfield or Regent Street. We went shopping to see what’s on offer. Don’t forget there’s also the West Hampstead Christmas Market on Saturday, and when you’re tired of shopping, there’s loads else to do in the neighbourhood this Christmas.

1. Copper and Slate Serving Plate, £34.99
Season Cookshop, 166 West End Lane
This hand-beaten copper bowl is made in Scotland and provides an on-trend variation to the classic slate tray. You’ll also find Orla Kiely oven mitts, coloured kilner jars, glassware and everything else you’d expect in a kitchen shop.

2. Faux Fur Collar, £18
La Boutique Secret, 132 West End Lane
You can clip this glamorous collar to a coat, jacket or accessorise a dress and it comes in a range of colours. Chokers (from £9) are also a popular gift this year. This little shop by the tube is bigger than it looks, with more clothes and jewellery downstairs.

3. Dolfin Chocolate Squares, £8
Cocoa Bijoux, Broadhurst Gardens
Twenty-four individually-wrapped chocolates with flavours like Noir Poivre Rose and Noir Cardamome. Cocoa Bijoux has an enormous range of sugary treats that will make great stocking fillers or larger presents. The Chocolate & Fig Pannetone baked at the Padua Prison Bakery is delicious!

4. Dinosaur Sandwich Box, £5
Sherriff Centre, St James Church
Dinosaurs, unicorns or fairies? Take your pick of these eco-friendly sandwich boxes and flasks; perfect for little ones with environmentally conscious parents. The Sheriff Centre has all sorts of other present ideas including candles, evening bags and puzzles.

5. A History of Pictures, David Hockney & Martin Gayford, £29.95
West End Lane Books, 277 West End Lane
In this beautifully produced hardback, the authors examine why humans have made and enjoyed art throughout history. Not the right gift? Ask the bookshop staff for present ideas for the tricky people in your life. You might consider Zadie Frost’s new book, a screenplay of Fantastic Beasts, the Private Eye Annual or a signed copy of Alan Bennett’s new diaries.

6. Bottle of Tridentum Sparkling Wine, £22
Vini Vivi, 35 Mill Lane
This full-bodied, very dry and clear sparkling wine is made from 100% Pinot Noir grapes in the Trentino region of Italy using the champagne method. A bottle usually costs £28 but is on offer for Christmas. Vini Vivi has a wide selection of fine and everyday wines. It also imports Italian and Spanish delicacies such as high-quality pasta, pane carasau and sun-dried tomatoes.

7. Solid Silver Bracelet, £60
North West 6, 122 West End Lane
If you’re looking for special, wearable jewellery then take a look at North West 6’s wide selection of bracelets, necklaces and earrings. Did you know that many of North West 6’s customers come in for crystals and tarot cards?

8. Minions Framed Print, £50
Monsters of Art, 112 Mill Lane
Know a Minions fan? These popular prints feature minions in all sorts of characters. Pop into the shop to find your favourite or have a look at the other street-art inspired prints on offer.

9. Cohiba Cigar, from £14.99
Robert Graham Whisky and Cigars, 4 Broadhurst Parade
Think of Fidel and visit our local humidor. Cigar prices vary substantially by brand and age. Did you know that cigars are purchased as investments? A limited edition cigar bought by the shop in 2011 for £34 is today worth £105. The shop stocks gift sets and, true to its name, an interesting variety of whiskys.

10. Chocolate Cherry Figs, £10.20
The Hampstead Butcher & Providore, 244 West End Lane
The butcher offers plenty of christmas treats beyond turkeys, like these delicious chocolate cherry figs. Dig around and you’ll also find chestnut panettone, Prestat chocolates and unusual wines.

11. Antipodes Aura Manuka Honey Face Mask, £23.29
Peppercorns, 260 West End Lane
Who wouldn’t want a cleansing facemask with manuka honey, avocado oil, pohutukawa [Ed: what?!] bloom and vanilla pod from New Zealand? It ticks the fair trade, organic and recyclable boxes, as does the rest of the beauty range available in Peppercorns.

12. Christmas wreath, £55
Achillea Flowers, 92 Mill Lane
The Achillea team create stunning Christmas wreaths that would please that impossible person who has already bought themselves everything they’d ever need. If that’s a step of luxury too far you’ll also find Christmassy candles in decked-out pots for £25.

Twelve things to do in West Hampstead before Christmas

With Christmas less than a month away (eeek!),  time to let you know about twelve events in West Hampstead in the first half of December, to get you into that Christmas mood. To be followed by a Christmas survival guide as we get closer to the day.

1. Kingsgate Studio’s Winter Show 2016 (Thu, 1st Dec to Sun 4th – see below for times)

If you like artists or designer-makers and you haven’t been to Kingsgate, you’re in for a treat. Even if you have been it’s worth a return visit.

The Winter Show is a chance to pick up some interesting artwork or ceramics which will make a very special Christmas present. Where is it, you ask? Down on Kingsgate Road.

Image: Kingsgate centre

Image: Kingsgate centre

2.  Christmas Art Workshop @ the Sherriff  Centre – Fri 2nd Dec 3.30pm

Sherriff Centre will be holding a kid’s Christmas Art workshop (4 years and up). Tickets £4.50 in advance from Hullabaloo.

3. West Hampstead Fire Station open day – Sat 3rd Dec 12-6pm

OK, not that Christmassy (except it is red like Father Christmas). The open day is a must for all those kids who want to follow in Fireman Sam footsteps, plus an appearance from a life-sized playmobil fireman.  Celebrating 150 years of the London Fire Brigade, don’t you know.

4. Beckford School Christmas Fair Sat 3rd 2-4pm

On the same afternoon along Mill Lane it’s the Beckford School Christmas fair. Come and support your local school.

Three floors of fun for all the family, including lots of games, Santa’s storytelling, live auction, food and drink stalls. Plus Street Dance Stars, the junior and senior choirs and the Beckford African Drummers.

The school has been tweeting furiously about all the donations from local business for its raffle (think we will need to win a prize from Insight Opticians to read the tiny print on this flyer). Basically, it says lots of great prizes from local businesses.


5. JW3 open air skating rink (opening on Sat 3rd Dec )


Almost the Rockefeller Centre…   Image: JW3

West Hampstead has its own ice rink! And as an added bonus it’s also open on Christmas day. A novel way to work off the Christmas lunch calories.

It’s also a good opportunity to explore JW3 if you haven’t been. It has a great café, Zest, and a cinema too.

The ice rink is even recommended by Londonist as the best value peak time (i.e. evening and weekends) skating rink in London.


6. West End Lane Books – One day Winter Sale Thu 8th Dec (9am-9pm)

Harrods? Forget it? Hamleys? Meh! The real harbinger of the festive season is the advent of West End Lane Books’ one-day Winter Sale. The shop will be offering its customary exemplary range of books, new and classic, plus seasonal stationery, diaries, calendars etc at 20% off…and this includes an extensive selection of signed books! There will be seasonal nibbles throughout the day and the hard stuff will be coming out after 6pm. All free. Gratis gift wrap available on all purchases over £30 and tonnes of Whamp bonhomie and literary banter to boot.

7. The West Hampstead Christmas market – Sat, 10th Dec 10am-4pm

Ho ho ho - it's nearly that time of year again. Image: Xmas Market

Ho ho ho – it’s nearly that time of year again. Image: Xmas Market

It’s the 7th Annual Christmas market, held on West End Green. There will be a range of stalls selling Christmas gifts and decorations, including local businesses such as Monsters of Art, Achillea Flowers and the Camden Society. The organisers have upped the craft element; we are intrigued by leather goods from the Friday club and Japanese knitwear from Fukushima knit. Edible treats will also be available – The Kitchen Table and Welsh teacakes are among the cake stalls.

It’s not all about shopping however – there are fun, free activities for kids in the neighbouring Emmanuel Church. There will be music, dance and storytelling as well as plenty of Christmas crafts including flower making and ‘up-cycled’ Christmas baubles.

Not forgetting carol singing on the Green at 2pm!

8. Emmanuel School Christmas fair – Sat, 10th Dec 2-5pm

Come and support another local school. On the afternoon of the West Hampstead Christmas fair on West End Green, and practically next door, Emmanuel School is holding its own fair (inside the warm school)!

As if there is isn’t enough sweet stuff at this time of year, Emmanuel is having a bake-off. As well as the usual tombola, raffles and mulled wine.

Top draw looks like Santa’s grotto – kids you can let him know what you want for Christmas (but you better have been good).


9. Fortune Green Choir Christmas charity concert – Mon, 12th Dec 7.30-9pm

A relaxed concert with a Christmas touch held in the newly refurbished Emmanuel Church. The choir is singing Broadway tunes, traditional choral pieces and of course carols. Cantereas, the choir within the choir, will be singing a couple of pieces and there will also be carols for the audience too.

Mince pies and mulled wine after the concert.  Festive spirit guaranteed.

Suggested donation £4, as they are raising money for the De Capo foundation, a local charity that encourages music education from toddlers to teens.

Hark! the herald angels sing ...

Hark! the herald angels sing …

10. Wishing you a FoWHL Christmas – Monday, 12th Dec 7.30-9pm

It’s the Friends of West Hampstead Library (FoWHL) AGM, but to lighten the doom and gloom of staff and budget cuts there will be some festive readings by the FoWHL players – how many other libraries friends group have their own acting troupe?



11. Panto at the Sherriff Centre – 16th Dec.

A first this year – panto in West Hampstead, but a travelling not local production – so no chance to see the Linda Snell or Eddie Grundy of West Hampstead. Alas, it has proved extremely popular and it sold out already.  Bah humbug!

12.  Festive Mod and Soul Party at the Railway– 17th Dec 8pm-midnight

Live band Serious Chord Squad playing The Who, The Jam, The Small Faces plus classic Mod & Soul tunes. Soul DJ set to party til late. Free entry.

And finally, looking for a Christmas tree?

They’re on sale outside the Sherriff Centre on the corner of Sherriff Road and West End Lane, and if you’re at the other end of town, you can find a good selection of trees at the Mill Lane Garden Centre.

Give local foster kids a gift this Christmas

The O2 centre and Camden council are collaborating again to encourage shoppers to give a small present for one of 129 children who are in foster care in the local area this year. Last year, the scheme distributed more than 100 presents.

Homebase has donated a “Gift Tree”, whichi is standing proudly on the upper level of the O2 centre. The tree is decorated with gift tags that have the name and age of a local foster child. Choose a gift tag and then buy a present – pretty simple, and with Tiger and Waterstones both on hand, there’s really no excuse. Gifts can be dropped off at the centre management offices (easy to find) and will be distributed in time for Christmas Day.

Jason King, who runs the O2 Centre said, “We hope the ‘Gift Tree’ will help bring some Christmas magic to more children and young people within our local community, many of whom will have had a tough year. As shoppers are picking up gifts and stocking fillers for their friends and families, we hope that many of them will also be inspired to pick up one extra gift that will make a big difference to a child in foster care.”

129 children and young people are currently in foster care within Camden for a wide variety of reasons. Some may have been affected by an illness in the family, others have suffered abuse or neglect, or a breakdown in family relations, while others have come to the UK unaccompanied from abroad.

West Hampstead O2 Centre gift tree

West Hampstead Christmas survival guide

With just two weeks to go, it’s beginning to look a LOT like Christmas in West Hampstead. Here’s our seasonal guide to what’s going on around the neighbourhood in the next couple of weeks, including December 25th.


Christmas trees and wreaths outside St James’ Church

Still need to get a Christmas tree? They’re on sale outside The Sherriff Centre, on the corner of Sherriff Road and West End Lane, and if you’re at the other end of town, you can find a good selection of trees at The Mill Lane Garden Centre.

In other shopping news, there are many places locally to buy last-minute presents – see our gift guide for ideas. If you’re sad you missed last weekend’s Christmas Market, put a date in your diary to go to The Sherriff Centre this Saturday, December 13th – there will be several stalls selling crafts, scarves, bags, jewellery, and other ideal gifts. West Hampstead Food & Flea market is also open from 4pm-8pm Wednesday-Friday with craft stalls and edible treats.

The West Hampstead Life Christmas drinks will be on December 18th – we’ll be getting some dinner from the Christmas Food & Flea market before heading to The Gallery for drinks. More details coming up soon.

If you can’t imagine Christmas without a seasonal sing-song, check out our guide to local carol services and concerts.

Santa is taking time out of his busy schedule to make a couple of visits to West Hampstead. He’ll be putting in an appearance at Paramount’s grotto from December 16th-18th. He’s also finding time to drop in to The Village Haberdashery on the 22nd. Both of these events are free, but please book ahead.

Another fun activity for kids is The Village Haberdashery’s Christmas ornament making workshop on December 23rd. There is a materials fee of £5 per person.

The Community Association for West Hampstead (CAWH) is putting on some free activities for children at West Hampstead Library. There’s a storytelling session on Saturday 13th, a Christmas decoration making workshop on Friday 19th, and a gift-wrapping session on Saturday 20th. Check the calendar on CAWH’s website for details and times.

There’s no panto on in the area, but The Tricycle as usual has a family show, which this year is Lionboy. There’s more seasonal family entertainment at JW3 as part of their Chanukah programme, with Lemony Snicket’s The Latke Who Couldn’t Stop Screaming.

As for Christmas Day itself, is anywhere going to be open? There will of course be church services: St James’ and St Mary’s are both holding a Midnight Mass as well as services on the 25th. Emmanuel Church also has a guide to its Christmas services online. St Luke’s, on the Fortune Green side of West Hampstead, is holding a Midnight Communion from 11pm on Christmas Eve, and an 11am Christmas Day service for all the family.

What are the eating out options? Mill Lane Bistro and The Alice House are both open with special Christmas menus. Guglee and Toomai will also be open from 4pm to 10.30pm for dine-in, home delivery and collection.

The Christmas Day drinking scene is going to be pretty quiet I’m afraid – The Alliance, The Black Lion, The Gallery and La Brocca are all closed, so The Alice House looks like your only option.

Onto more prosaic, but just as essential things. Rubbish collections will be rescheduled if your normal collection day is Thursday or Friday – see Camden’s revised schedule here.

What about parking? Camden has confirmed that bank holiday enforcement will apply on the 25th and 26th – here’s a reminder of the parking restrictions that do not apply on public holidays.

The main supermarkets – Tesco, Sainsbury’s and Waitrose – are all closed on Christmas Day, and both Waitrose branches (West End Lane and Finchley Road) are also closed on Boxing Day. If you need an emergency item on the 25th, Nisa Local (on the corner of West End Lane and Broadhurst Gardens) will be open, as will Western Food & Wine opposite. Neither of these convenience stores stock whole turkeys though.

If it’s a pharmacy you need, the Christmas opening times rota for the area has not been fixed yet. Contact details for local pharmacies can be found here.

Local GP practices are closed on the 25th and 26th, but if you need urgent medical help you can dial the NHS 111 service, or of course 999 in an emergency.

If you need to travel during the festive period, be aware that tube and train services tend to wind down earlier than normal on Christmas Eve. There is no public transport on Christmas Day, and there will be a limited service and engineering works to contend with during the rest of the period – see here for TfL’s festive travel updates from December 21st to January 4th.

Thameslink services will also not run on the 25th or 26th, and engineering works will affect services between December 27th and January 2nd.

Shop local: Twelve West Hampstead Christmas presents

Finished your Christmas shopping yet? If panic is starting to set in, fear not. West Hampstead Life has scoured the shops in the area to bring you these twelve hand-picked local presents. Instead of getting into fist-fights at Westfield, why not have a leisurely shopping trip without leaving the neighbourhood. And if you’re out and about on Saturday, there’ll be more gifts – and mulled wine – available at the West Hampstead Christmas Market.

1. Build A Robot kit, £14.99
West End Lane Books, 277 West End Lane


For inquisitive children – or adults for that matter – this cool kit contains all you need to build your own wind-up robots and learn about them in the process. It’s unclear whether the robots can cook or clean up after the Christmas lunch though.

2. Craft beer selection, £14.99
Brooksby Wines, 278 West End Lane


This selection of craft beers is great value and includes two chalice glasses in case you’re feeling fancy. While you’re there, Brooksby also sells a good range of champagne, wine and spirits for all your Christmas drinking requirements.

3. Gourmet hamper, prices vary
Sherriff Centre, St James Church, Sherriff Road


The Sherriff Centre has plenty of delicious treats for your foodie friends and relatives. Either pick a custom-made selection or create your own hamper of artisan goods – post boxes and bubble wrap are available at the attached post office if you need to post your gift. Also look out for Moleskine notebooks and other covetable stationery, as well as a good range of children’s gifts including pencil sets, friendship bracelet making kits, notebooks, bookends and cute cushions.

4. Vintage brooch, £95
Passionate About Vintage, 66 Mill Lane


Passionate About Vintage is a treasure trove of beautiful and unique gifts. This quirky gold-plated peas-in-a-pod brooch caught my eye. It’s a genuine Trifari piece from the 1960s and is bound to be a talking point. And on Small Business Saturday, the shop is offering a 10% discount.

5. Venison marrowbone cracker, £6.99
Nutts 4 Mutts, 108 Fortune Green Road


This cracker “for paws only” contains a satisfyingly chewy venison treat, as well as a silver hat and a joke (which your dog may or may not get). Nutts 4 Mutts, despite the name, also stocks a good range of treats for cats.

6. Silver strand bracelet, £79.95
North West 6, 122 West End Lane


Delicate strands of silver beads catch the light in this pretty and fluid bracelet, made by Navajo craftspeople. North West 6, next to the tube station, has a big range of silver and amber jewellery and is well worth a browse.

7. Ms Marmite Lover’s Secret Tea Party book, £20
Order from West End Lane Books, or buy online from the publisher


Ms Marmite Lover‘s, (aka Kerstin Rodgers) legendary supperclubs at her house just down the road in Kilburn, have made her a star of the food world not just locally, but far beyond NW6. Who better to pick up tips from on hosting your own tea party? This would be a good gift for a baking or tea fan, with the bonus that you might get invited round in the new year…

8. Beanie hat, £16
Social, 184 West End Lane


If there’s a hard to buy for, but fashion conscious man in your life, Social has some good ideas. There are wallets, scarves, shirts and jumpers, and these hats from Danish denim label Revolution.

9. Wine tasting vouchers, from £25
North London Wine School, Cotleigh Road


The North London Wine School is opening in West Hampstead in the new year, at the old library on Cotleigh Road. It will offer wine tasting courses for beginners or just for fun, as well as the more serious industry-recognised WSET qualifications. You can buy vouchers (with no expiry date) on the website.

10. Frog slipper socks, £10
JoJo Maman Bébé, 258 West End Lane


These slipper socks are perfect for keeping tiny feet warm and cosy – and with their anti-slip suede soles are perfect for first walkers. Available in sizes up to age 4-5 (Sadly, adult versions not available.)

11. Chocolate covered walnuts, £20
Cocoa Bijoux, Broadwell Parade, Broadhurst Gardens


You can find all sorts of delights at Cocoa Bijoux, including these sophisticated French walnuts coated in chocolate. There are many less expensive items too. The shop carries a great range of chocolate, conserves and other gourmet products you won’t find in the supermarket.

12. Nutcracker, £27.99
James Nicholas, 166 West End Lane


According to the shelf sticker, this is “the world’s best nutcracker”, and at that price you’d hope so. The shop staff kindly let me try it out, so I can vouch for its effectiveness at cracking an almond shell. It’s very solid and stylish, too.

Happy shopping! Let us know in the comments if you have any more local present-shopping tips.

Ho Ho Ho – Aldred Road’s festive spirit

by Simon Inglis

Whampers on the Fortune Green side of town will be aware that the coming of Christmas means only one thing.

Lighting up time in Aldred Road.

Children coo. Taxi drivers make detours. Cholmley Gardens bathes in reflected glory.

But how has this happened?

‘The short answer’, writes an Aldred Road resident, ‘is that about fifteen years ago one of the residents, an actress with the voice and command of Miss Jean Brodie and a brilliant sense of fun suggested some of us put up lights – white only, nothing showy (blinking Santas verboten) – and none of us dared say no. Especially as it was a good excuse for a street party.

As the years went by more people in the street signed up, and so here we are, nearly a full strip, some curly, some straight, some even slightly coloured (we became more relaxed about that sort of thing once B&Q started doing special offers).

Some of the newer residents have said that the Christmas lights were one reason why they chose to move here.

Estate Agents please note.

We’re on until January 6th.

Coach trips welcome.

The Twelve Best Christmas Presents You Never Knew You Could Buy In West Hampstead

It’s the most wonderful time of the year. Mulled wine. Chestnuts roasting by an open fire. And of course, the annual ritual of present-shopping. Trying to seek inspiration in the same old chain stores on Oxford Street, or waiting anxiously for Amazon deliveries, can really put a dampener on the festivities, don’t you find?

But wait! What if you could shop for your nearest and dearest without even leaving the ‘hood? Your wish has been answered, for here is a small selection of the most desirable gifts in West Hampstead. I truly am dreaming of a #whamp Christmas…

1. Box of 24 house truffles, £36
Cocoa Bijoux, Broadwell Parade, Broadhurst Gardens

You won’t find any dull selection boxes here – Cocoa Bijoux is a treasure trove of unusual and delicious gifts. There’s something for every budget too, starting at chocolate snowmen for 65p.

2. Bodum travel coffee press, £16
James Nicholas, 166 West End Lane

The coffee-loving commuter will be thrilled to receive this stylish cafetière that doubles as a portable cup.

3. Massage voucher, £40 (usually £50, 20% off)
Yi Dao Clinic, 61 Mill Lane

This great-value voucher for an hour’s deep tissue massage or reflexology is a lovely present for anyone in need of a relaxing treat to kick off the New Year.

4. F. Scott Fitzgerald special editions, £14.99 each
West End Lane Books, 277 West End Lane

Fitzgerald fans will love these special edition hardbacks of seven books, each with a different gorgeous art deco jacket.

5. Vintage silk scarf, £10
Marie Curie Cancer Care, 216 West End Lane

With five charity shops on West End Lane, you’re sure to find some gems. This Pierre Cardin scarf is a bargain at just £10.

6. Potted cyclamen, £4
Mill Lane Garden Centre, The Open Space, 160 Mill Lane

While you’re at the garden centre picking up your Christmas tree (hurry, because they’re selling out fast), pick up a pot plant decorated with festive ribbon. It’ll flower year after year, making it the gift that keeps on giving.

7. Revolution jumper, £59
Social, 184 West End Lane

For the fashionable man in your life (or woman – I was quite tempted to buy this for myself), this cool graphic-design sweater is expertly modelled here by boutique owner Jake.

8. Independently bottled single malt whisky, £85.99
Robert Graham Whisky & Cigars, Broadwell Parade, Broadhurst Gardens

As its name suggests, this is a shop that takes whisky and cigars seriously. There’s even a walk-in humidor filled with a huge selection of Cuba’s finest. This bottle of Highland malt would make a special gift.

9. Mini canvas, £29 each
Monsters of Art, 112 Mill Lane

The Monsters of Art gallery has a fantastic selection of urban and street art, including limited-edition prints by resident tattooist Dan Gold. These mini canvases are quirky and fun.

10. Penguin sewing kit, £10.95
The Village Haberdashery, 47 Mill Lane

Ideal for crafty kids, this cute kit contains everything you need to sew a family of three penguins. The Village Haberdashery also runs sewing classes for adults and children: gift cards are available.

11. White furry hat, £16
La Secret Boutique, 132 West End Lane

Big, furry and glamorous, this snuggly hat is the perfect gift for the snow-bunny in your life. It’s really warm, too.

12. Selection of ales, £9
Oddbins, 229 West End Lane

As well as a great selection of festive wine and champagne, Oddbins also has something for the ale-lover. This gift box from the East London Brewing Company should hit the spot.

That’s my selection – what wonderful locally-sourced gifts will you be leaving under the tree this Christmas?

Ding-dong merrily in whamp

Quick round-up for you of local Christmas carols:

Saturday 14th
Friends of Kilburn Grange 2-4pm, in Kilburn Grange Park by the Adventure Playground

Sunday 15th
St James’ Church, Sherriff Road, 4.30pm
St Luke’s Church, Kidderpore Avenue, 6pm

Tuesday 17th
Emmanuel Church, West End Green, 7.30pm

Wednesday 18th
Hampstead Cemetery, Carols by Candlelight 5pm and 6.30pm

Sunday 22nd
La Brocca, brass band and carols for charity

If anyone knows of other services, or has links for these ones, please let me know in the comments and I’ll add them.

Kilburn gets festive

This Saturday, it’s Kilburn’s turn for Christmas fun. The Kilburn Square festivities run from 3.30pm-5pm, and there’ll be carol singing and the switching on of the Christmas lights. It’s all happening outside WH Smiths on Kilburn High Road.

According to the organisers, this year there’ll be a special tree where everyone can place their own wish for Kilburn.

Go Gaga over Emmanuel’s Christmas Fair

After this weekend’s excitement of the West Hampstead Christmas market and the Beckford School winter fair, next weekend it’s the turn of Mill Lane’s Emmanuel School.

The school’s Christmas fair runs from 2-5pm on Saturday December 7th. Alongside the usual primary school Christmas fair excitement, everyone gets a raffle ticket on entry and prizes include “a celebrity sold-out music event with Lady Gaga”.

I’m not entirely sure what that means, or whether it’s the sort of thing impressionable young minds ought to be over-exposed to. Still, better than Miley Cyrus I guess.

Do go along if you can and support the school – the Beckford event was a huge success, and I’m sure Emmanuel’s will be too.

November 30th: Beckford’s Winter Fair

Next Saturday, Beckford School in Dornfell Street holds its Winter Fair from 2-4pm.

I’m told that this year’s promises to be bigger and better than ever. There’s a Santa’s grotto, craft stalls, football skills workshops, face painting, loads of games, great prizes to be won in the raffle and silent auction, and plenty of festive food and drink. Sounds like lots for everyone! The school choir will also be singing carols, so along with the Christmas Market on the same day, West Hampstead is sure to be full of festive cheer. Entry is free and everyone is welcome!