We are talking about gift ideas for crafters, and whether you are a crafter or somebody has just handed you their phone with this episode and said “Hey, you should listen to this.”, I do hope that I can help you with some ideas.
Last month The Craft Room Podcast had it’s first birthday, and I had my … something-th birthday, and that started me thinking about how tricky it can be to buy for crafters sometimes. Then the Coronavirus became a pandemic, and I’ve found myself sending cards and little gifts to people to brighten their day (and perhaps I bought myself some little gifts as well). A few weeks ago we had a blackout, and whilst looking for a book to read, I came across a rather old book called The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman. It got me thinking about how people show their affection for others, and how others actions make them feel loved and appreciated … and I realised that this could absolutely be applied to gifting crafters! So, for a bit of fun, let’s have a look at the five love languages, and how we can use them to figure out great gift ideas. Some of these were easy, a couple were rather tricky, and I’ll have some bonus suggestions at the end. It’s also helpful to note that most people have more than one of these love languages, which doubles your options in the way that you approach gift giving for them.
It might sound obvious, but for some people, gifts are a really big deal. When they receive a gift, no matter how grand or how small, they feel very loved indeed. They also love to give gifts, and they’re probably the person in your life who gave you a gift at an unexpected time, because they saw this thing and thought of you. They’re probably very into gift presentation, and always turn up with a gift that looks like it was professionally wrapped … and they’re the ones who apologise if they feel their gift isn’t up to scratch, even though they’ve chosen something perfect which you love.
When gifting someone like this, you’re in luck … a physical item is what’s needed here, and there are an abundance on the market that would likely make them very happy. Wrap it up really nicely, and they will be overjoyed.
2. Quality Time
This is one of mine. One of my favourite things in the world is spending time with my favourite people. For the past 10 years I have had a tea party with my favourite humans for my birthday, and I don’t want presents. For real, their presence around my table drinking tea, eating treats and talking the day away is pure bliss for me. It might sound like this is difficult to translate into a gift, but there are some very clever gifts you can give someone like me. Perhaps you crochet amigurumi, and your friend has said that they wished they could learn how to do that … gift them the supplies, maybe a book AND your time to teach them. Yes, they will love to learn the skills, but it’s the time they’ve spent with you that they will really cherish.
3. Acts of Service
This is another one of mine, and I have been gifted some excellent gifts over the years that were acts of service. My awesome friend Marni (you met her in Episode 5, talking about the top 10 things you need for quilting, which I will link to in the show notes in case you missed it) is the queen of gifting me via acts of service. Not only is she a talented long arm quilter, she is also a sewing machine mechanic. One year for Christmas she serviced my old sewing machine and my overlocker. That was as good as a large cash gift, as I didn’t have to pay for this service, but it didn’t cost her any money … it cost her expertise and her time. Another year she gifted me her long arm quilting service for 2 of my quilts. Again … this cost her time and expertise, but I provided all of the materials, and this is something I could not do for myself, so it was a wonderful gift. All I had to do was choose the quilting style, then trim up those quilts and put on binding when they were done.
If there is a skill that you have, it can make a great gift for a person who appreciates it when someone does something for them. The trick is making sure that you make time and do this gifted service in a timely manner. It could be as simple as taking away their box of things that need mending and sewing on buttons, hemming pants, patching holes and returning it a week or two later. Perhaps you can create a beautiful cake for their birthday celebrations, or put together a blank baby scrapbooking album where all they need to do is add photos and write details.
You can combine #2 and #3 beautifully if the person you want to gift has been wishing they could tidy up their craft space and get organised. You can do that with them or you can do that for them.
I did this for my friend Linda many years ago. And I think I’ve talked about it in an episode before but it bears repeating. My friend Linda was an excellent scrapbooker. She loved her paper crafts and we were in a swap group together called Oz Swap Till You Drop. It was an old Yahoo group (which should tell you how long ago that was). I remember her saying to me one day in a message (or an email, or on the group … I can’t remember exactly) but she was walking into her craft room and it was just such a mess that she would just stand there and look at it inside, and turn around and walk out. Crafting was a huge escape for her. It was her creative outlet … it kept her sane. And it was devastating to me that she was struggling with her space. It weighed on me. So, I made some arrangements, I jumped in my car, I drove out to Cowra (which is a very long drive from where I live on the Central Coast) and I stayed with her for two nights. I helped her clean up and tidy and organize her craft room … it was a big job.
She felt so much better when it was done. I felt great because I got to spend time with her and I loved her company. I got to meet someone else from our swap group, which was really really cool. She started to use her craft room again, and she crafted right up until the day she became too ill to do so. This was a gift that I could give her, and that I knew she was a person who appreciated acts of service. I think it’s one of my favorite gifts and I didn’t even have to put a bow on it. It was great fun.
You can spot the person whose love language is acts of service … they’re the person who is always trying to do things for you. So it makes them easy to spot. If you’re unsure, just ask them “Do you think this would be a great gift?” and if they say yes and get very excited, you know you’re on a winner.
4. Words of Affirmation
This one was a little tricky, but not impossible. Words of affirmation aren’t just compliments, although complimenting someone’s latest creative masterpiece is an excellent place to start! When it comes to a gift, compliments aren’t really going to cut it. However, if you were to gift a class, a workshop, a kit, a new tool and then be sure to follow up with them to see how their technique has improved since taking the class, or how they tweaked the kit to suit their own style, or how that new tool has streamlined their process, that is when the real gift comes, when you can use those words to ask them questions, give those compliments and encourage them to keep at it.
5. Physical Touch
This is the trickiest of all, but when it comes to tactile people, there are some fun things that you can do. Book them into a pottery class, get them a wool felting kit, take them to a cool yarn store (road trip!) … look for gifts that offer a tactile experience. So many crafts are about texture, so indulge them in something new that compliments their favourite craft, or introduce them to a new tactile experience.
So now that we’ve looked at how the love languages can come into play, I have some more practical things for you.
Let’s talk about gift cards. A lot of times people say “Oh, I don’t want to get a gift card for someone. It’s a bit of a cop out.”. But when it comes to crafters, that’s not necessarily true. I know that I love a gift card because it means I can choose something that maybe I’ve been looking at, but I would never buy for myself. Or perhaps I can expand on a collection. A gift card to a local scrapbooking store was fantastic for me when I was building my Copic collection, because it meant I could just go in and buy the colors that I wanted. Also, if I knew the cycle of sales at a store, I could just save that gift card and go in when items were going to be on sale. Then I could pick up what I wanted and get better value for that same amount of money. I could also use it on a class or a workshop or an event. So a gift card while we kind of think “Oh, it feels like a bit of a cop out”, a crafter knows what to do with that. Think about it … if someone gave you a gift card to your favorite store, you know, that’s a good thing, right? So don’t be afraid to give gift cards.
Sometimes you can be really subtle, you know someone’s birthdays coming up in a month or so, and you’re having a conversation, you can say, “Hey, what are you working on at the moment?”. Other times you just have to ask straight out and say, “Hey, what would you like for your birthday?” or “What would you like for Christmas? What would make you very happy?”.
However, sometimes we crafters are a little cagey and we go, “Oh, no, I’ve got everything I need. I’m quite happy. I don’t need anything.”. I would be one of those crafters. In fact, I’m notoriously difficult to buy for. Everyone tells me so at the moment, and I’m sure it’s because I’m in this decluttering phase of life (I think I’ve mentioned that before) and I am very happy with the things that I have. We are in self- isolation at the moment, the only time I leave the house is to go to the post office, or the supermarket or or to pick my husband up from work (which is only every second day anyway). So currently, I am in my house with my stuff and I don’t need to go and buy anything. I have all the crafting things I could ever want.
However, I have a lovely friend called Sam She, she did something really sneaky. And I’m going to recommend it to you because it worked well and it made me very happy. It was a great gift.
A few years back, Sam asked me if I would do some cross stitched panels and turn them into custom cushion covers for her god-daughters and her god-sons. Ummm … yes! So the deal was that she would buy the pattern and have it sent directly to me. I would stitch the design, I got to keep the pattern and I was happy. I got to stitch something new, and I didn’t have to find anywhere to put it! I mean, that was fantastic. I got the fun of the stitching without the responsibility of finding something to do with the results. I was able to make it into a fun cushion, and the kids really loved them. She wanted to pay me but you can’t pay for cross stitch that’s just damn near impossible. It’s very time consuming … I was delighted that I got to keep the pattern.
But when we started Sam very, very cleverly sat down with me at my computer and said, “Show me your favorite cross stitch pattern stores? Which patterns do you like?”. We were going with fandoms, so I showed her my three favorite stores. I showed her around Pixel Power Designs, Fangirl Stitches and Clouds Factory. They’re my three favorites. I’m not affiliated with them at all. I genuinely adore their stuff. She asked me to show her my favourite patterns … instantly I’m on these websites that I love, showing her the stuff that were on my own wish list. She started asking me very subtle questions and got out of me that there was, on clouds factory, a Harry Potter sampler of all of the books. It was a very large chart and it was quite expensive. I would never have bought it for myself. But I showed it to her, because she asked me “Which ones do you have? What’s your favorite one?” … so I showed her, and didn’t even realize what she was doing.
Each time I finished a cushion, I would deliver it to her so she could wrap it and give it as a gift. Within a few days in my inbox turned up a section of this Harry Potter sampler. It turns out, she went back to the store, and found out that you could buy the chart all in one OR you could buy it in sections. And so each time I finished a project for her, she would gift me with a section and I now have the entire chart. That was very sneaky of her, and it was delightful for me. I got to talk non stop about something I liked. I got to show it to her. I didn’t realize at all what was happening.
So if you are fishing for information about a craft gift to buy for somebody, ask them … what’s your favorite website? What’s your favorite store? What’s your favorite? brand? What’s your favorite? designer, show me your favorite book. What’s a good book to learn this? Or what’s your favorite book for this? or What is your favorite online store to buy this? So when you are fishing for information about where do we even start shopping for a crafter? Ask them real casual like, “Hey, I’m thinking about getting into the crochet amigurumi like you are. What is a good place for me to maybe go buy a book or buy some really nice yarn?” Or, “I like that yarn I saw you using last week. Can you show me where to get that? I’d like to get some from my mum.”
It’s an acceptable white lie, I think. Ask subtle questions like that. Ask them to show you their favorite online store or local store and that’s where you shop for them. And honestly, if they’re a regular customer, you could probably even contact the store and ask what kind of things they like. Honestly, if somebody contacted me and said “Hey, I’m trying to buy a gift from my friend Sam and I know she shops with you. I’m not quite sure what to get her This is my budget. What kind of thing does she usually like?” … I’d be thrilled to help someone buy a gift for my great customer! I know what my customers like and I kind of know what they have, and what would compliment it, so ask questions.
The next idea I have for you is kits. Sometimes we love a kit, sometimes not so much. However, even if you have all of the things for your craft, sometimes a kit is really, really good gift. I have tons of embroidery threads … three containers full of embroidery threads. I don’t have them all but I have enough that if it asks for one color and I don’t have it, I have one that is incredibly close and will do the job (although you know I do always enjoy an excuse for going and getting some more embroidery threads). But now I don’t need them (and I can’t go browsing around the shops because we’re staying home!). You would think that there’s no way I would ever buy an embroidery kit, but you would be wrong.
A couple of years ago, when we went to Supernova, which is like a comiccon here in Sydney, I made a conscious decision to support some of my favorite small businesses in artists alley. One of those was Fangirl Stitches, because her designs are quirky and 8 bit and just delightfully fun. So I hit her website, had a look at all the options and I knew what I wanted. I wanted to get this Princess Leia chart, with all her outfits from the very beginning through to the very end, but whenI went to the store she didn’t have just the pattern. She only had it in a kit. And I thought “You know what, I’m going to get the kit”, because that was my job that day. I was supporting my favorite stores … so I bought this kit. Yes … I could have just gone home and bought it online and had her ship me the chart only, pulled all of the threads and just started working on it. But it would have taken me a really long time to get around to doing all of that. I would have had to have the right size fabric, and if I didn’t have the right size, I would have to go and buy some more aida. And that would take time. But in the kit … I had the pattern, I had the fabric, I had all the threads I needed … there was even a tapestry needle. All I had to do was grab a hoop (and I have a big stack of hoops because I usually have several embroideries going on at any given time). So I grabbed a hoop and I added it to a zip pouch (although I need a bigger one because it’s not quite big enough for my hoop) a pair of scissors, that’s it! Just add hoop, bag and scissors! I had everything there and I started it straight away. I was bored with the cross stitch I was currently working on, and to pull threads for new project I would have had to pull threads out of the one I was already working on. Then that would be somewhere else and so no matter which one I picked up, I might not have the color thread that I need. A kit means I had everything there, and I can jump between the two. It’s very easy. I just grab the appropriate bag, whichever one I feel like working on, and I can work away at it.
Note: After recording this episode, this GORGEOUS zip pouch arrived in the post from one of my artist friends, Jess. Please go check out her shop … she makes bright and beautiful art (and this bag is currently on special). Quick … grab one while it’s still on sale HERE!
So buying a kit for someone who already has all the things is still a good idea. Very handy for crafting on the go.
Make them something
Something that we might not think of, or we might think of it and immediately dismiss it, is to make something for the crafter in your life. Often people are hesitant to make things for me because I can pretty much make whatever I want for myself. However, I love a handmade gift. I really, really, really do. If someone were to make me a large zip pouch that I could put this fantastic Princess Leia cross stitch into, I’d be thrilled. Could I make it for myself? Of course I could. Do I have the time right now? Well, I guess I’m in kind of quarantine. So I should, but I’m still quite busy working in my business. So if someone else were to make it for me, I would be thrilled. I love a handmade gift. It’s very precious because I know how much time and effort and love and thoughtfulness has gone into it. And people are often reticent to give a handmade gift to someone who makes things. So don’t balk at it. Feel free to make a handmade gift for the crafter in your life, they will probably love it. And if it corresponds to their particular craft, all the better.
If you’re a card maker, make a whole bunch of cards and present them in a box with envelopes so then they will have what they need, when they need it. Handmade cards are an awesome gift. I have some great video tutorials and templates that walk you through all of that. So if you’re looking for them, I’ll link those in the show notes as well.
The last thing I will say is that when you are making a purchase of a gift for a crafter, look for something that has been newly released. Chances are, if it’s just come out, they’re not going to already have it. So that’s a pretty safe bet. So if they’re a scrapbooker, or a quilter, or a knitter or jewelry maker … whatever their craft is … find a specialty store and ask them what’s new. Pick up a new must-have item and that will be a safe bet.
There is also a flip side to that. Sometimes people are very, very keen to get the hands on retired items, certainly in the world of stamping. Some stamp companies retire things very, very slowly, if at all. But other stamp companies retire things quite quickly, and it can be without notice. So people may have been thinking, “Oh, I’d love to get that stamp set” and all of a sudden it’s retired before they can get their hands on it. In that case, hit up eBay, check international stockists. I often have items in my store that are retired (or in some company, from companies that have closed) because they’re not as popular here in Australia as they are in the US where they came from. So look into small independent stockists of companies that your crafter loves.
Tools vs consumables vs education
Gifts can be something that is a tool that they can keep and use over and over … think crochet hooks knitting needles, trimmers for the card makers, tools for jewelry makers, rulers, for quilters, there are tools for pretty much every craft you can think of. Now a tool is something that is going to be used over and over. But then also consumables are going to be needed … like yarn, pattern paper, cardstock, beads … you’re constantly using these things to put into the finished product. So sometimes we like a new tool (something that’s easier to use), and sometimes we want a consumable item, something that we’re constantly using up. And if we get more of it, we can make a new thing. So that’s two options.
Also consider education. So we’re talking books, resources, courses, workshops. These are educational things that can help you expand and better your skills. So we’ve got tools and disposables and education or resources that are going to be helpful. It’s not just oh my friend does crochet I’m going to buy her a crochet book. Think soft grip handle new latest fantastic style of crochet hook. Think an accessory that goes with it like a bag, she can store things in and carry with her. Maybe a subscription to a magazine. Or a gift certificate to her favorite pattern store on Etsy. These are all fantastic gifts.
But here’s the thing, when gifting a crafter, expect that they’re going to get very excited when you really hit that perfect gift, and they might just make something for you for your next birthday. Thanks so much for joining me in the craft room today. I do hope you have a very crafty day and I will see you next time. Bye for now.
Pixel Power Design
Episode 5 – Top 10 things you need to start quilting
The Five Love Languages, Gary Chapman
Gift Certificate to my store
My YouTube channel
My TikTok channel