Hw to put the happy in Christmas shopping

We haven't got Halloween and bonfire night out of the way yet but Christmas stock is already on the shelves of many stores.

We haven't got Halloween and bonfire night out of the way yet but Christmas stock is already on the shelves of many stores.

While September is way too early to think about the festive season, the end of October seems about right to those of us who like to be organised. After all, www.xmasclock.co.uk tells me there are just over eight weeks until the big day.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Starting early means you can plan and enjoy the shopping and even see it as a treat rather than a chore.

Leeds, York, Sheffield and Harrogate are full of good shops but look at smaller towns that offer something different and try and support shopkeepers in your own area.

Malton, the food capital of Yorkshire, is famous for its great, independent shops, as is Hebden Bridge. The new Piece Hall in Halifax is a mecca for interesting independents and includes the Yorkshire Gallery, which only sells work by artists and makers from this region.

There is also a host of festive shopping events that begin in November.

The Artists of Bar Lane Studios, Micklegate, York, are hosting an Open Studios and fundraising Christmas Fair on the of weekend of November 3 and 4.

Painters, jewellers, printmakers and batik artists will be there selling their artwork and there's a charity raffle, with all proceeds going to MIND. Entry is free and it should be a fantastic way to find up some original Christmas gifts.

The wonderful Crafted by Hand event is on the same weekend at Masham Town Hall and is a treasure trove full of designer makers.

The Christmas Fair at Newburgh Priory is a chance to visit this splendid but little known stately home home.

It's near Coxwold, which is close to Ampleforth so a trip here also includes a drive through some of Yorkshire's most beautiful countryside.

The fair, which has over 20 exhibitors, is on Friday, November 30, and Saturday, December 1, between 10am and 5pm, tickets are £5.

You can also buy tickets for a talk by artist Ed Kluz and there are wreath making and gingerbread house workshops. All money raised goes to the Juvenile Arthritis charity.

If you're planning to buy homeware as a Christmas gift, then proceed with caution.

Good quality candles are always a good bet, along with gorgeous cushions, throws, handmade textiles, mugs and plates. Plant pots are ideal thanks to the fashion for houseplants.

Festive homeware is perfect as the trend for dressing your home for Christmas is catching on.

* The Yorkshire Post is spearheading a Love Your High Street campaign to support high street shops and businesses.

The rise of online shopping has led to the closure of more than 8,000 shops in the the last 18 months and tens of thousands of jobs have been lost.

So we are urging our readers to support their local stores and to campaign for measures such as better parking to help our towns, cities and villages to survive and thrive.