With the festive season approaching, we invited local savvy shophound, Lily Oliver to The Old Cinema to hunt out some desirable gifts.

Ok, I give in; illuminated Santas twinkle above crowded streets, trees, baubles and tinsel are everywhere and the heavy scent of cloves, cinnamon and roasting chestnuts hangs in the air. Christmas is definitely coming. But this year, instead of sticking my head in a box of Heston’s mince-pies and leaving everything to the last minute, I’m determined to be more organised, and I’ve also got a new present-buying strategy.

This year I intend to eschew the Serengeti-like stampede into the West End; all that pushing through crowds in hot department stores; hastily grabbing random items which I later find myself trying desperately to match to names on a list; ‘hat for her, socks for him’ etc. These are my nearest and dearest; surely they deserve a little more care and goodwill than this?

My Christmas shopping experience this year, will be altogether more enjoyable and rewarding. To start with, I’m staying local. As well as an enviable selection of restaurants - including the odd Michelin star - we Chiswickians, also have a fair smattering of interesting and unusual shops, so buying needn’t become a chore but can actually be a pleasure.

My plan is to buy gifts that are special, and unique; that speak of another world or a bygone era; something different to the usual high-street offering. So, after a fortifying cappuccino at High Road House; favoured hangout of cool media types, I wander next door to The Old Cinema; a West London bastion of freer thinking spirits (and the occasional celeb), who come in search of something unusual, interesting or fun. It’s all here; retro, vintage, antique, up-cycled, contemporary chic, or plain eccentric and hard to narrow it down to just a few suggestions - but here are some of my favourites.

For hard-to-please men in your life, who maybe aspire towards a little Bond-like glamour, (or who could do with a little shaking and stirring) a cocktail shaker is a handsome and practical gift - and will also help the party go with a swing! There are lots to choose from here, in all styles and to please all pockets. Cocktail shakers from £45.
Scarves, spreads and throws make gorgeous gifts; these, from a sumptuous selection are all from northern India and are perfect for perking up a winter wardrobe, or bringing a splash of colour to a tired sofa. Choose from pure cashmere shawls in rich, soft shades, or vibrantly patterned scarves woven from a mixture of silk and fine wool in Rajasthan. You’ll also find piles of glorious hand-blocked, quilted cotton bedspreads - to bring a little exoticism to the boudoir! Indian scarves and throws, a selection from £45.

Here’s one to bring a smile. Anyone would be charmed by these wonderful farmyard animals, cleverly made from old tin oil barrels. They come in an assortment of colours and sizes and make delightful and unusual house gifts - or maybe an amusingly appropriate one for a couch-potato brother-in-law who never offers to do the washing-up! Selection of tin animals from £45.


The Old Cinema has a trove of delightful brocante pieces which are always welcome and unusual presents. Photo frames are perennially popular and almost impossible to go wrong with and you’ll find many to choose from here. These, in gloriously decadent Art Deco-style are a dream for starlets and divas, or in fact anyone with memories to cherish. Even Great Uncle Rodney will look grand in one of these. Art Deco-style frames from £45.

There is no better way to add warmth and atmosphere to a room than a glorious array of beautiful brass candlesticks. And use them to maximum effect by distributing as many as you can in different shapes and sizes, wherever you have a dark corner. The effect is magical - and somehow everyone looks so much better in candlelight. Edwardian brass candlesticks from £10.

This stunning agate pendant, suspended from a simple silver choker is a real statement-with-style piece. Fabulous worn with an evening dress and bare shoulders; it would also look great with a simple shirt and jeans Part of an intriguing collection of 1970’s Scandinavian silverware - now becoming highly collectible - this has an understated Nordic cool. 1970‘s Silver pendant £180.
For those who like a mix of contemporary, up-cycled and delightfully non-shabby, chic - Ines Cole offers a deeply desirable collection of stylish homeware. These bowls make a beautiful rustic centrepiece are individually carved from solid marble. You’ll also find chunky re-cycled glass rummers in different colours, quirky wooden candlesticks, upholstered stools and ottomans; colourful vintage storage tins, woven rugs and an array of unusual lights and lamps. Marble bowls in various sizes, from £45.
Ines also has some fabulous hand-blowntree decorations for the smartest trees in town - but get them quick; they are going fast! Glass tree decorations from £8.

And something rather special. Domed Coromandel Writing Box edged with radial brass, and with a double line of brass stringing. The box opens in two stages. Raising the lid reveals the vertical leather lined and gold tooled stationery rack, the front of which holds the ivory page turner. The horizontal section consists of a pen tilt and compartment underneath, two small lidded compartments, a pair of engraved brass screw-top ink bottles, and three white writing slates, framed with gold tooled leather, on which can be written notes memoranda etc. in pencil, which can then be removed with a rubber eraser or a damp cloth. The box is then unfolded again, and the original gold tooled deep blue velvet writing surface is revealed. The compartments beneath the writing surfaces are both lined with glorious satinwood.. Wooden Desk Set £3,300.


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