In an age where the shop small and Just A Card campaigns are running strong and gathering steam year after year, long gone are the days when homemade and ‘craft’ gifts look Scrooge-like! Making or purchasing handmade items demonstrates a care for the community, a thoughtful purchase and passion for passing on something cherished to the recipient. Artisanal products are made with love; from the sourcing of materials, traditional processes of creating and crafting and down to the local markets and high streets from where they can be purchased - and the gifting of these is an easy way to show that you have thoughtfully matched the gift to the recipient this Christmas.
Are you worried that it will be hard to find the perfect gift? Fear not, there is a massive range of artisan businesses in the UK – 12,000 of them in fact – who are currently satisfying consumer demand for ethical, handmade goods. The Guardian recently demonstrated that in figures compiled last year by the Crafts Council, there were 11,620 craft businesses in the UK, with 43,000 employees! That’s a lot of small businesses out there who are all offering something special to wrap and pop under the tree this year.
Today I am celebrating our amazing directory listers, local creatives and incredible artisans by sharing my very favourite ideas for your homemade and artisan gifts this year.
There’s simply nothing like sharing a family recipe passed down by generations, or foraging for something to steep, jam or bottle. However, if spending hours in the kitchen making festive fudge or alcoholic brews isn’t your forté - there are simply hundreds of options to consider still giving something that can be enjoyed as soon as its unwrapped!
Take delicious after dinner treats from Baravelli’s or Fwdge to your next festive event host and I assure you they will be thrilled! Based in the medieval walled town of Conwy, Baravelli’s, sheltering within the castle walls, is an innovative hub of all things chocolate and is creating a local buzz as the place to go for luscious gifts. I recommend trying Fwdge’s Sea Salt Caramel sauce made with Welsh butter, or smooth Salted Cocoa Caramel made using locally sourced Welsh cream. Guaranteed to satisfy even the worst of sweet tooth! For a savoury flavour, a cheese board is never complete without something local, so take a look at Castell Gwyn Cheese, or Snowdonia Cheese Company for something creamy to pair with your biscuits! If you are sourcing something more ‘grown-up’, Barti Ddu Rum is made up of a blend of the finest Caribbean rum, seasoned with not only the most delicate festive notes of vanilla, clove and subtle orange, but with hand picked laver seaweed from the beautiful Pembrokeshire coast.
Personally, I love gifting something for the home. Either beautiful or useful, I find an artisan product adds something of an even more ‘homely’ element to the roost! It could be something so simple as a framed photo or craft from the kids, but when care and attention has been put into choosing something that reflects both the recipients needs and taste, it is a personal and touching gift. Take Gwili Pottery for example, where every pot is unique and beautiful, with great care taken to ensure they are also really nice to use. Furniture from Baa Stool or Dave Cockroft’s chairs, benches and spoons are a beautiful addition and demonstrate the love, craft and talent that have gone into their productions. As an investment piece for years to come, you will be definitely in the recipient’s good books! That’s not forgetting, of course, our own gorgeously luxuriant fleece throw which will add a pop of colour to any room, is perfect for any time of the year and looks stunning inside or outside on the terrace.
Treats for them
Sometimes, it's a treat, an item that they wouldn’t necessarily purchase for themselves that makes a perfect gift. Skincare products from Freyaluna are based on traditional herbal remedies to create products formulated to not only look, feel and smell good, but to do good to your skin as well - so will be a lovely touching gift for someone who you feel needs a little bit of self-care this Christmas. Merino socks and hand-poured aromatherapy candles go hand in hand from Flock by Nature and Bridge Park Candle Co. too. My shop small ethics are reiterated by the wonderful designer Avril at Fresh Fleeces, who says ‘we believe your jewellery should reflect your loves and make you smile’, and her cute sheep designs certainly do that whenever I see them! Of course if it’s something to add to the wardrobe you are looking for, check out the beautiful bags and other leather products from Bradley’s, hand crafted in their tannery in the traditional market town of Bridgnorth, Shropshire.
Why buy a product at all this year, when you can give the gift of a skill and adventure. As we are eager to shed our screens and spend more time in our wonderful Hills, I also urge you to look at the craftsmen and women on your doorstep who have workshops, courses and skill shares available. From cooking at the School of Artisan food, foraging at the Woodland Crafts Centre and beekeeping with Conwy Beekeepers, to more blood-pumping activities from Surf Snowdonia, Breese Adventures and Oneplanet Adventure - there are things on our doorstep for all ages and fitness levels!
I hope these marvellous small businesses have inspired you to get out there and consider shopping independent this Christmas, and have sparked some thoughts on what gifts truly give the gift that keeps giving! If you are looking for more ideas still, I would encourage you to head over to our Directory page and discover more fabulous artisan makers and their shops!
I’m Janet, and I live at the foot of the beautiful Welsh Hills with my children Mary, 21, and Mark, 18. We share our four-acre plot with our six dogs, six cats , four hens, an assortment of wild ducks and all the other wonderful wildlife that visits our garden.