7 Best Alternative Online Shopping Sites For Gifts

My Tripod Planter From Atelier Stella (complete with oversized succulent)
My Tripod Planter From Atelier Stella (complete with oversized succulent)

No matter how hard you try to make every aspect of your life efficient, there are always certain activities which are immune to such efforts. These are the activities which you tell yourself you will sort in a morning, but which end up consuming the entire day, leaving you no further forward in your endeavour well into the evening as you stare at your laptop screen, demoralised, hopeless and dejected. That’s right, I speak of the never ending obligation of gift shopping.

I truly find it a nightmare. At this point, I have spent such an inordinate amount of time researching gifts over the years that I feel confident that I could write a PhD thesis on the subject.

Perhaps some of you also experience the same annual cycle of spending inordinate amounts of time looking for gifts which are sufficiently novel and thoughtful to ensure you do not suffer from poor-gift-buyer’s-guilt.

Perhaps others have given up; so battered and broken by birthdays and holidays of years gone by that they have resorted to buying the recipient a gift card at a neutral megastore such as Amazon. Understandable. But this article goes out to those of you who pick up the gauntlet each year and set sail in search of a special gift for each family member, friend or significant other.

Once this path is chosen, we all know that there is no turning back and there be no gift cards where we’re headed; oh no. For us, we have made a tacit annual commitment to all recipients that we will invariably drag the depths of the internet for a unique gift, no matter the time-cost.

Just go on Amazon I hear someone at the back say.

Just go on Amazon; those famous last words. I’ve known folks who logged on to Amazon looking for a birthday gift who haven’t been seen since. Some say they’re still browsing to this day, combing through page after page of vacuum cleaners, smart watches and stew pots, never to find that elusive item they were after and cursed to browse for eternity.

Jokes aside, I have nothing against Amazon; it’s just way too big to efficiently find the more alternative, quirky gifts that I’m after most of the time. So after far too many occasions of spending far too much time looking for interesting gifts on major online websites such as Amazon, I have compiled a list of the 7 best alternative online shopping sites for gifts in an effort to help others who have faced similar adversity in their gift-buying efforts.

Just to note, this post isn’t sponsored; I just found these stores after a lot of gift-related surfing over the years and hope they might be of use to you too.

1. Studio Arhoj

Studio Arhoj is a neat ceramic shop based in Copenhagen, Denmark. They make all kinds of interesting ceramic knick-knacks, some which can be used (such as plates and mugs) and others which are purely ornamental (check out their ghost lights).

If you do a bit of browsing, you’ll see a lot of cool designs, with the signature style apparently being the running-ceramic-glaze look. Some of the items are colourful while others are more rustic and subdued, so there will probably be something that will fit your intended recipient’s style.

In terms of affordability, some of the larger items are pricey, but if you’re just after one nice piece the items are definitely within budget. Just watch the shipping costs to your/your recipient’s location from Denmark.

You can check out their website here.

2. Atelier Stella

Atelier Stella is another ceramic shop based in Brighton, UK. This little shop makes a whole range of cute anthropomorphic plant pots, candle stick holders and various other ornaments.

Their range is a little more subdued than the vibrant offerings from Studio Arhoj, with a focus on more natural stone and pastel hues. Their selection is certainly of interest for a recipient who is into minimalism (and house plants).

As you’ll see, what really stands out about the Atelier Stella plant pots is the resulting spiky-hair look when their plant pots are combined with a succulent.

You can check out their website here.

3. Crate and Barrel

Crate and Barrel is a houseware store based in Illinois, USA. They offer a large range of nicely designed and (largely) affordable items which don’t appear to be listed on the mega-stores like Amazon, so you should find a lot of inspiration for possible gift ideas.

My particular favourite is their selection of kitchen utensils. The minimalist designs look amazing and are likely to be a gift that your intended recipient will actually use.

Although they are US based, Crate and Barrel appear to offer shipping to a lot of international locations if you live outside the US, just watch your shipping and customs costs.

You can check out their website here.

4. End

End is a mens clothing store based in Newcastle, UK. They offer a wide range of products from lesser known brands, both in the mid and high-end of fashion.

Although you’ll find the usual menswear staples, End also tends to offer a lot of interesting collaborations between brands and limited release products. If you’re looking for a menswear gift which is a little more unique, End is a great shop to find inspiration.

As they stock a lot of high-end brands, there are a lot of very expensive items available, but if you flick through a few of the product pages there should be items for any budget.

You can check out their website here.

5. Lazy Oaf

Lazy Oaf is a womens and mens clothing store based in London, UK. The clothing style is generally very colourful, goofy and comedic. This brand is perhaps more aimed at the maximalist rather than the minimalist, with loud designs often featuring vocal statements with a certain type of humour.

The brand appears to release small batches of clothes periodically with a different theme each time, so it’s best to keep an eye on their webstore for updates as popular items tend to sell out swiftly. If you’re struggling to find a gift for a recipient who appreciates silly humour, Lazy Oaf is a great call.

You can check out their website here.

6. Aēsop

Aēsop is a luxury skincare brand based in Melbourne, Australia. They offer a concise selection of soaps, shampoos and skincare products in old-school-apothecary reminiscent, rustic packaging which make excellent gifts.

Being at the high end of the soap spectrum, Aēsop’s products are a little on the pricey side. However, perhaps for that reason and because of their high-end reputation, they can serve as ideal standalone gifts.

If you’re unsure about your recipient’s taste in clothing or housewares, a nice bottle of luxury soap is great alternative (and something that everybody would use).

You can check out their website here.

7. Tala

Tala is an LED lighting company based in London, UK and Brooklyn, New York. They make very cool lightbulbs which combine gorgeous design with improved sustainability.

In addition to the standard sized lightbulbs, Tala offer some amazing mega bulbs with stunning tree-like filaments which definitely serve as a wow-factor feature for any home.

If your intended recipient is in the process of improving their home with a sophisticated, modern style, a gift of one or two of these bulbs will go down a treat.

You can check out their website here.

I hope my list of the best alternative online shopping sites for gifts provides some assistance to those of you who have reached a dead end in your gift search!

Let me know about your go-to alternative online stores for gifts in the comments!

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