THE GIFT OF HANDMADE
Christmas shopping has a bad reputation, but when you shop independently, you can turn it all around
Like it or loathe it, Christmas shopping is something you can’t avoid. So, switch things up this year, and turn it into a joyful exploration of all things craft by shopping independently, extending festive cheer to all those talented designers and makers out there. Whether you’re a last-minute shopper who relishes dashing round the shops on Christmas Eve, a planner who notes down inspiration months before, or a secret stasher who collects gifts throughout the year, there’s a crafter out there to fulfil your every need, and give you a few ideas for your own Christmas list...
A PERSONAL TOUCH
In an ideal world, we’d all have the time to dedicate months to crafting our own truly personal gifts, but with hectic schedules and busy lifestyles, it’s not always possible. Buying handmade, however, is almost as good as making it yourself. And by doing so, you’re not only supporting fellow crafters, you’re still giving unique presents to the ones you love at Christmas.
When you start to look beyond the uniformed items on high-street shelves, you’ll open yourself up to an array of gorgeous gifts that can be made especially for you. With online marketplaces like Etsy and Not on the High Street, it’s never been easier to connect with a vast range of crafters from all over the world. Plus, you can shop from your sofa (avoiding hectic shopping centres!), and know that you’re helping a small business to thrive while you do.
Annette Picardo, managing director of Etsy UK, explains: “Christmas is the ideal time of year for people to really think about what they’re buying, and who they’re buying from. Shopping from independent and local businesses is a great way to give these companies a huge boost in the lead-up to Christmas, and also the perfect opportunity to find original items and gifts.”
Annette’s sentiments are echoed by Nikki Strange ( www.nikkistrange.co.uk), a print designer with a range of stationery and accessories that’s guaranteed to impress even the most discerning of recipients. For Nikki, when you shop independently, you’re getting more than just a gift. “You’re buying into something special that has a story, giving it even more sentimental value. You also get a lot more transparency in how the items have been made and where the materials have been sourced, which helps you shop sustainably.”
If you love the experience of Christmas shopping in person, there are heaps of seasonal markets and craft fairs to visit, and the experience is way more fun than fighting through hoards of people in generic shopping centres. Pop-up markets usually include tasty food stalls, and sometimes even live music. Plus, not only are you likely to pick up original gifts, you’re also able to meet the designer-makers behind your buys, and find out what makes them tick.
For Sarah Hamilton ( www.sarahhamiltonprints.com), a designer-maker who’s making a di erence in the craft community, Christmas is an opportunity for shoppers to help their favourite businesses keep going for the rest of the year. She originally launched the Just a Card campaign ( www.justacard.org) to highlight the di erence every purchase can make to independent businesses, after reading this quote from gallery owners who’d been forced to close their shop: “If everyone who’d complimented our beautiful gallery had bought just a card, we’d still be open.” As Sarah knows firsthand, “small sales add up – just a card, just a cushion, just a necklace, just a book.” She also points out: “High streets aren’t the enemy, but variety is the spice of life.”
SHOUT ABOUT IT
If you want to make a di erence this Christmas, get shopping at your local markets or independent stores. Browse Instagram using hashtags such as #shopindependent, look to marketplaces like Etsy for inspiration, and support the makers you love.
Start by joining Sarah’s Just a Card campaign on social media. “We’d love people to follow us on Instagram and Twitter @justacard. Retweet us, share our Facebook posts, put up our poster and spread the word. The more people who hear our message, the more likely we are to retain our independent shops and keep creatives in business.” After all, as Sarah says: “It really is as simple as Just a Card.”