GETTING READY TO BRACE YOURSELF FOR THE ANNUAL SHOPPING FEST? TAKE OUR ADVICE AND SWITCH IT UP WITH A MORE CREATIVE APPROACH THIS CHRISTMAS
Tap into your creativity this season
We’ve all been there. As soon as the countdown to Christmas kicks in we start panic buying presents that are often discarded come Boxing Day. This festive season, why not break that high street habit and treat loved ones to something more meaningful and longer lasting?
As crafters, we squeeze in as much time as we can for making, so think about treating your faves to some creative time as well, gifting them a unique experience rather than a physical present. Think craft workshops, classes, online courses, or – if you’re feeling generous – a creative retreat.
Experience gifts are growing in popularity as we realise an expanding mountain of stuff can’t always spark joy, but memories definitely can. And, by gifting someone time to be crafty, you’re giving them something they often don’t have a chance for in our non- stop world.
“Watching people who’ve put their creativity on the back burner for a while – or even a lifetime – reengage with their expressive side is the most rewarding thing,” says Coralie Sleap, co- owner of Drink, Shop & Do ( www.drinkshopdo.co.uk), a London café, bar and craft space. Sophia Palmer of Sew Jessalli ( www.jessalli.com), a sewing school in Dorset, agrees. “It gives people time out of their busy lives to slow down and get creative. Plus, meeting and chatting with like-minded people is good for the soul.”
As us makers know, there’s nothing more joyful than expressing our creativity. It’s a sensory journey that allows us to experience sounds, textures and sights. And when we become fully involved in making, it can even create a sense of often-needed meditative calm. “It’s hard to unwind on demand, but creativity is a form of active rest that restores and refreshes the mind,” explains Sonia Bownes of London Craft Club ( www.londoncraftclub.co.uk), an independent business that runs craft classes at venues across the capital.
All creativity can be restorative, but is there a tried- andtested activity you can opt for? Sophia recommends dressmaking, which gives crafters the opportunity to make clothes to their own specifications and in exactly the right size. “Why settle for ‘that top’ when you can make one you adore?” Meanwhile, Sonia suggests soft crafts like crochet, knitting or macramé – tactile go-tos for anyone who needs to unwind – and candle-making or pyrography for those who crave creative freedom. For Coralie, nipple tassels are the project of the moment; a playful craft where you can create something impressive pretty quickly, and have a giggle over glitter. Still unsure? Go for a gift voucher, so they can decide for themselves instead.
When you choose an experience, you’ll save time in a period of the year when it’s often in short supply. Wave goodbye to hours spent traipsing round the shops or endlessly scrolling online, and say hello to a more sustainable gift that’s good to go – no wrapping required. As crafters, there’s the ever- present temptation to overcommit and add that handmade touch to everything, leaving us frazzled versions of our former selves after crafting all our Christmas gifts again. Not this year, makers – we’re getting savvy. Creative experiences are easy to source and still provide that personal touch.
Of course, a gift is even better when it’s a gift to yourself too. “The best thing a giver can do is give two tickets – one for them and one for yourself,” points out Sonia. “A shared experience is a wonderful way to build and nurture relationships.” Coralie has similar thoughts: “Time is our most precious resource. Spending quality time doing something with your loved one makes memories that bond us and connections that last a lifetime.”
If you want to add unique flair to your Christmas gifting, you could always plan your own event where you share your creative skills with pals – an option that’s budget-friendly, too. Hold it in your home, at theirs, or at a local crafty venue. Use materials from your own stash and give them take- away instructions so they can make the project again, and share the love with others too.
Who knows where their experience will take them? This year’s lucky recipients could end up with a shiny new hobby, a revived love for a long-forgotten craft, or even an alternative career ignited by their passion. After all, creativity truly is the gift that keeps on giving.