THE GIFT OF HAND­MADE

Christmas shop­ping has a bad rep­u­ta­tion, but when you shop in­de­pen­dently, you can turn it all around

Mollie Makes - - Cocktail Hour - Words: SO­PHIE BROWN Il­lus­tra­tion: RUBY TAY­LOR

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.”

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