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GET­TING READY TO BRACE YOUR­SELF FOR THE AN­NUAL SHOP­PING FEST? TAKE OUR AD­VICE AND SWITCH IT UP WITH A MORE CREATIVE AP­PROACH THIS CHRIST­MAS

Mollie Makes - - CONTENTS - Words: HAN­NAH CARR Il­lus­tra­tion: CAROLYN SUZUKI

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.

MAKE TIME

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.

BET­TER TO­GETHER

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.

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