Deck the Smalls: Lighting up small businesses this Christmas

Virgin StartUp
Virgin StartUp
Natalie Clarkson
by Natalie Clarkson
14 December 2021

The majority of people who celebrate Christmas in the UK have shopped small this year, according to new research from Virgin StartUp.

Nearly a quarter of the British public’s Christmas budget has been spent on festive gifts and food from start-ups and small businesses. In fact, 10% of people say that the majority of their Christmas shopping has been done with small shops and sellers this year.


The main reason people are choosing to shop small this year is to give back to the local community, with nearly half of British shoppers saying that they feel responsible for the success of start-ups around Christmastime. Shoppers also said that they feel small and local businesses offer more originality, choice and variety – and they want to help keep British high streets alive.

Unsurprisingly, millennials are the biggest supporters of shopping small, with people aged 25-34 spending an average of 30% of their Christmas budget with start-ups.

If you’re not sure where to find the best gifts or food and drinks, check out our guides highlighting some of the businesses that Virgin StartUp has supported.

Decking the Smalls

To celebrate the thousands of small businesses shining bright this Christmas, Virgin StartUp has given one founder a festive makeover, shining a light (literally) on Sipful – a small, Yorkshire-based, premium ‘cocktails in a can’ start-up. The home of the founders, Darius and Emily Darwell, has been wrapped in a very merry and bright Christmas lights extravaganza, which would make most high streets in the UK jealous. 

Virgin StartUp
Virgin StartUp

Bringing the jingle to Ingleton, the small village where Sipful is based, the illumination includes: 

  • 12 thousand twinkling lights

  • 11 festive baubles

  • 10 dazzling stars

  • Nine icy snowmen

  • Eight candy canes

  • Seven jingle bells

  • Six sparkling snowflakes

  • Five orange slices

  • Four Christmas trees

  • Three cocktail glasses

  • Two disco balls

  • And a giant can of Sipful cocktail 

(Yes, you can sing that to the tune of 12 Days of Christmas. And yes, we will have it in our heads until the New Year.)

To keep the environmental impact as low as possible – while keeping Christmas cheer as high as possible – the display consists of low impact LED lights and is run on an environmentally friendly battery-powered generator.

Deck the Smalls Sipful Ingleton Yorkshire Virgin StartUp
Virgin StartUp

“It’s great to see that many of us are already choosing to support independent businesses this Christmas, but there’s still time to spread some much-needed festive cheer amongst the start-up community who are working hard to create unique gifts, food and services that make Christmas special for all of us,” Andy Fishburn, Managing Director of Virgin StartUp, said. “Their workshops are often hidden away in sheds, kitchens and garages and don’t always get the recognition they deserve. So, we’re shining a light, quite literally, on start-ups like Sipful to say thank you and to encourage would-be founders to make 2022 the year their own start-up ambitions come true.”

Virgin StartUp
Virgin StartUp

Virgin StartUp is Virgin’s entrepreneurial foundation that helps founders to start and scale ther businesses. If you’re dreaming of starting your own business in the new year, visit Virgin StartUp for Start Up Loans, advice and guidance.