Columnist Jeni Harvey: Christmas shopping made easy at markets

The Christmas Lights are switched on in Sheffield
The Christmas Lights are switched on in Sheffield
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Maybe I’m just friends with particularly irksome group of people on Facebook, but I had to log straight back out again last week when several of them posted links to the new John Lewis Christmas advert.

No, I haven’t watched it yet. I have no inclination at all to voluntarily stare at advertising on my phone and, until I’m unfortunate enough to be watching a television programme when it crops up, I won’t be seeing what I presume is a cutesy animal – or a wide-eyed child - doing something heart-rending to the strains of Sam Smith.

This, you understand, doesn’t mean that I’m some sort of Grinch. I like Christmas as much as anyone. Christmas jumpers (though it’s apparently skater dresses this year?), eating a shedload of Stilton, hanging around my mum’s house in my pyjamas and arguing with my siblings like it’s 1993 again – all sound good to me.

But what I don’t like is being told by advertisers what I’m supposed to be buying, and what is supposed to tug at my heartstrings.

As much as I enjoy mooching around John Lewis/ Cole Brothers, it won’t be their penguin or polar bear or whatever it is for 2015 that gets me through those big glass doors. It’ll be the annual panic that I haven’t bought anything for my notoriously difficult-to-buy-for brother, and have just a matter of hours to find something perfect - or whatever the cheapest Le Creuset thing is in the shop.

What I am really looking forward to, though is the return of the Christmas markets to Fargate this Friday, 13 November.

Not only are the markets a perfect excuse to go home laden with cheeses and breads for an easy tea, but they provide the ideal opportunity to pick up an original and creative gift that won’t be replicated by anyone else.

Over the years I’ve bought countless presents from the Sheffield Christmas markets and it’s turned into something of a tradition - the pre-pregnant me would then take the edge off the shopping trip with a couple of glasses of mulled wine.

The city centre looks beautiful at Christmas and will be even more so after the lights switch-on.

So this is a prior warning to my friends and family - if you don’t want a tagine, handmade jewellery, or a selection of French cheeses, speak now and instead accept you’ll be getting a last-minute Cole Brothers panic-purchase.

The Christmas lights switch on is on Sunday, November 22.