In the countdown to Christmas 2016, new research from American Express® showed that two thirds of us were going to leave at least some of our shopping until the last minute*.

To help prevent panic buying, American Express teamed up with Gok Wan, one of the nation’s favourite shopping experts, and a team of bloggers from across the UK, to uncover the hidden gems you can find up and down the high street.

From the Edinburgh chocolatier that sells haggis spiced chocolate, to the florist in Birmingham who can make absolutely anything out of flowers – from cats to sewing machines – every small shop up and down the country has its “signature”: a defining product or service that makes the store memorable and keeps customers coming back.

Gok Wan explains; “There are so many amazing and unique things to be found in small shops right on your doorstep. There’s nothing quite like the feeling of finding a hidden gem in a small shop; not only do you experience the joy of buying something unique, there’s also the satisfaction that you’re supporting a local business.”

Gok gave four tips to help inspire gift shopping

1. Give the gift of time

Christmas is a time to say thank you to your loved ones, and a great way to show you care is with an experience you’ll know they love. Giving someone the gift of time is priceless.

2. Do it yourself

Giving loved ones something you made yourself makes it much more meaningful. Try out some workshops or classes – not only do you get the chance to make something yourself, but you also learn a new skill at the same time.

3. Revive an old favourite

For a gift that will really delight, find a professional repair and restoration service to bring once-loved items back to life. Or alternatively look for a small shop which offers restorations on their products – you’ll be buying a present which will last a lifetime.

4. Make it personal

Personalising a gift turns it into a memory which lasts forever. Find an independent, local jeweller where you can engrave existing, or new pieces of jewellery with a message, creating a beautiful keepsake.

To discover Gok’s high street gems, visit Gok’s London guide.

What’s more, to provide some further ideas and inspiration for your Christmas shopping, a team of Shop Small bloggers shared their favourite products and services from merchants across the UK.

Take a look at their picks below;

*About the research: Censuswide interviewed 1023 UK adults in November 2016

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