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  • Writer's pictureCharlie Collis

Your ultimate 2023 independent & handmade Christmas gift guide

Updated: Oct 20, 2023

Many people, myself included, are stopping to think about the bigger picture this Christmas (and the next!). With the rise of the zero waste, reusable, refillable movement, it's time to apply those same values to Christmas. Take a minute to consider the environmental impact of your usual gift purchases, where they come from and who will benefit most from your custom this Christmas.

Will your loved ones really appreciate generic plastic gifts from a supermarket? Perhaps they would prefer a long lasting, personalised or one-of-a-kind present? 

In the last few years we've seen nearly more prime ministers than roast dinners. Truly it's been hard hitting for small businesses across the UK and Ireland, with disruption to deliveries and suppliers causing havoc in the wake of the pandemic and Brexit; never mind the cost of living crisis. Now more than ever, independent retailers need our support to remain open and thriving. And they make and sell some pretty fantastic, gift-able goodies!

Shop Independent

A great place to start your search online for unique gifts is UK Gift Hour. Use the UK Gift Hour Giftfinder to browse categories and materials such as wood, textiles and glass to source the perfect present for a special someone, all year round. Or, find fresh new products from independent makers every weekend on Twitter with the hashtags #UKGiftHour and #UKGiftAM.

#UKGiftAM hand tied present wrapped in brown paper gold bow
#UKGiftAM Christmas Gift Ideas

My Helpful Hints Small Business Directory is another Twitter based community, brimming with talented artists, makers, jewellers and designers. Follow the #MHHSBD hashtag to keep up with hundreds of handmade products, sales and new releases. The Merryn Christmas Gift Guide is another wonderful online directory filled with over 1,200 fantastic handcrafted, artisan goodies from independent British businesses. It's well worth a browse as the nights draw in, cosied up on the sofa with a mug of hot chocolate, gently easing you into the festive season.

Less is More You don't need to go crazy on presents at Christmas. There is absolutely no pressure to haul around your own version of Santa's sleigh. Think about what your family and friends will actually use, love or cherish for years to come. If I have something super specific already in mind, my immediate go to is Etsy. It's choc full of talented artists, illustrators, creators, makers and designers that can make your visions become a reality. From furniture to fabric, greeting cards to gardening, there's a whole raft of potential and many Etsy sellers consider the environmental impact of the products they make throughout their creative process.

Popular gifts for Christmas Gin Advent calendars Christmas Shop Gift Ideas

Not on the High Street is another brilliant website, full of inspiration and gift giving goodies. Founded by Holly Tucker, creator of Colour Friday (the independent business alternative to Black Friday) and one of my favourite small biz advocates. Whether you're a maker or a shopper, you'll find plenty of helpful blog posts on her Advice Hub, and a stack of indie biz gems on The Ultimate Small Business Directory and Inspiration Hub.

A lot of makers offer ready made products that can ship next day but always consider the time needed to create something truly handmade or bespoke. If you're shopping later in the year, filter shipping to show UK based sellers only to minimise the chance of any accidental delivery delays.

Shop Early

Amazing things don't happen overnight so if you want a truly unique gift, make sure you allow plenty of time. It's easy to say, but less than straight forward to do, but try starting your shopping a little earlier each year. Even if it's just a week! Spring and Summer are traditionally a quiet time for sellers, so keep an eye out for fantastic gifts and sales around the school holidays. You might find it not only helps spread the cost impact of Christmas, but also opens up a world of extra wonderful artisan crafters.

Shop Local

Bespoke gifts can take longer to make, but that’s the beauty of shopping early and shopping independent. 

You can explore all options! In the run up to the festive season, you might find that the shops in your local community start to bring in their seasonal ranges. Even if you haven't visited in a while, make time to pop to your local precinct, high street, village or square regularly. Check out leaflets and consider services as well as items. Sometimes you can strike gold in the most unlikely of places. A quick scout around can give you ideas for nearer the time, a future birthday or result in some early Christmas wins!

Left it all last minute?

If life has got in the way, don't worry! We get it. We've all done it too. Every single small business owner I know will go out on a limb to provide an outstanding service to their customers. It’s always worth asking if they have any availability, even if chances are slim and time is not on your side. Whether it's your local florist, favourite Etsy seller, or your massage therapist up the road, many small businesses now offer gift cards to use at a later date. Get in touch and see if they can work their last minute magic! ❤️🎄

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