You’ve run across London to get the 19.16 and missed it by two seconds. You’ve got half an hour to kill but want to avoid indulging in the cans of pre-mixed pina colada and imitation Whispas in M&S for the journey. I know, hard to know where next to shift your focus.
Wetherspoon’s for a pint overlooking the concourse? Burrito from Mi Casa (that you’ll taste on the school run tomorrow? (But which are amazing by the way)). All the magazines your heart could desire from WHSmith (but that you’ll inevitably ignore on the way home to scroll Instagram instead, and then never touch once you get there because who has time for that)?
No, shun it all. There’s a better place for your in-transit pounds: HEMA. Like the Dutch lovechild of IKEA and Tiger (but better), it’s just a dash up the escalators near platforms 13-19 to Victoria Place. Follow the corridor round and you’ll spot it there on the left.
I would never have thought of doing a blog post about this, but even if all of the above is with my tongue (sort of) firmly in my cheek, this is the brilliant idea of my friend E, who heads there and stocks up on cheap-but-good art supplies for her daughters whenever she’s awaiting a train.
Aside from awesome craft stuff, HEMA has shelves of brilliant party bag fillers, many of them multi packs for less than a quid. There are bags of mini packs of sweets, paper masks, small stretchy bead bracelets and fake IWAKO rubbers (because who doesn’t love an eraser shaped like a podgy gorilla?).
There’s birthday wrap, streamers, ribbon, hats, party bags and invitations. There are sheets and sheets of stickers; a whole display of packets of small self-inking stamps; bags of small Dutch honey waffles and butter biscuits; and cake making and decorating bits and bobs.
There is also plenty that’s not for kids – and not for birthdays/parties. But with my youngest’s third shindig coming up this weekend, I managed to get party bags for 16 kids for £10 (including the bags themselves) in the space of nine minutes. No exaggeration.
This is of particular note because I traditionally don’t approve of party bags (a thinly veiled way of saying I can’t be bothered with them), so the niceness and cheapness of what I found at HEMA basically did a pretty good job of totally changing my stance on the matter. But I still didn’t go overboard, I bought very four very simple things for each kid.
Also at HEMA are home goods – from plastic storage boxes, bathroom beakers and bins to really nice teapots and cookware. There’s also a mammoth (relative to the size of the shop) beauty section if you want to ignore the kids and house and just buy for YOU. This is fun make-up à la Topshop (but without the crowds and instant panic sweats induced by the Oxford Street behemoth).
HEMA isn’t going to change the world, but it might make some aspects of your life a lot easier. And funner. For less.
Address: Victoria Place, 115 Buckingham Palace Rd, London, SW1W 9SJ
Tel no.: 020 3764 7239
Open: Mon-Sun 8am-8pm
Disclosure: No compensation, financial or otherwise, was offered or exchanged for the writing of this post. I discovered Hema and thought it was a good spot to share.
+++ If you like this post, why not join our adventures by hitting ‘subscribe’ (in the side bar on desktop, or way down the bottom on mobile). This’ll mean we hit your inbox up whenever new posts go live +++