As the holidays rush towards us (Hanukah has already started and it’s only November!) I see a lot of discussions going on about gifts. I’ve always been of the opinion that I’d rather get nothing than something cheap and impersonal, especially if I won’t use it. And this year between climate change and supply chain disruptions, that is more true than ever. However, there are few things that I love better than getting a really thoughtful, useful gift. And as a serial crafter, I craft tools and supplies are some of my favorite things to receive. So, if any of you are shopping for your creative friends this year, I’ve put together a list of my best gift ideas for crafters.
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Know Your Crafters
Most makers fall into two main categories: the crow types, who just love collecting any shiny thing they could possibly make into art and the very particular. The best gift ideas for crafters are going to be different depending on what type of crafter they are
Crow type are a bit easier to shop for. Partially because they are more open to trying new things and partially because they tend not to spend a lot on their tools. This means that a random box of lace you com across at a flea market may be welcome or that they never would have bough themselves the nice set of wooden crochet hooks you picked out.
Very particular crafters (of which I am definitely one) generally have small stashes and think a lot before making a purchase. However, this means that if you ask them for a shopping list they can usually give you a detailed one!
You also want to know what craft or crafts they’re into. Some people are strictly into a single craft and have no desire to branch out. Other’s like to constantly experiment and learn new things. It can be a little easier to shop for the later, because they’ll welcome gifts from adjacent crafts.
An Invitation to Raid Your Stash
If you’ve been crafting for a while, you likely have developed a stash of tools and materials. One of the best ways to gift while avoiding excess consumption is to share what you already have.
At first it might seem like a bit of a cop out, but there are plenty of ways to make it feel special. If the person you want to gift is new to the craft, offer to give them a lesson or two and then help them pick out some a few tools or supplies from your stash. Maybe add one or two essential tools that you’ve bought new as a bonus. A new garment sewist might be delighted to get a set of good sewing shears, your old machine, and the chance to pick out a few yards of fabric to practice on.
This is also a great option if you’re part of a crafting group that does a yearly white elephant or secret Santa. Go easy on both your wallet and the supply chain this year by making the gift exchange strictly a no-buy affair.
Gift Card to a Local Shop
Gift cards have a bad reputation among some people, but they can be a really thoughtful gift if you do it right. If you’re gifting to a crafter who loves the process of planning and shopping as much as making, a gift card is on of the best gift ideas for crafters.
To make it thoughtful, you have to actually, well, put some thought into it. If your budget is small (under 40$), go to the store they shop at most. That way your gift will help them with a project they’ve already got planned. Maybe let them upgrade the quality a bit.
If you have a bigger budget, if there a shop they often talk about longingly but don’t purchase from because it’s out of their price range? Go there. Then, talk to the sales person to get an idea of what it would cost to get all the supplies they’d need to complete a small project. For example, at one of my local yarn shops, a skein of really nice sock yarn will run from 15-30$, they might need a pattern or some needles too. Maybe a few other accessories like stitch markers. So, I would put at least 50$ on the card. This will vary based on the craft and the store, but the general idea is to give them an amount of money that lets them do a full project without having to spend anything of their own.
Gift cards are also great if paired with another related gift. I personally can never have enough pairs of small embroidery scissors. A consumable gift, like tea or home made cookies, also can make a gift card feel more personal.
When I was getting my undergraduate degree in fashion design I had to spend a lot of money on tools and supplies. So, there were a few areas where I ended up buying the second, or third best option just to make the money work. And like a lot of artists it took me a long time to upgrade from my student level supplies to nice, professional grade supplies.
So, next time you hang out with your crafter friend, take a look at the tools they’re using. If you see them using a ratty plastic pallet, consider upgrading them to a nice ceramic pallet and accessory set. A seamstress might appreciate a big pair of Gingher shears. A knitter or crochet enthusiast who always seems to be struggling to keep their yarn in line might love a nice yarn bowl.
The trick to do pulling this sort of gift off successfully is to actually talk to them about their tools first. If you want to ensure your gift gets used, it has to be something they actual want. If they’re not the type to drop hints, there’s no reason that you can’t ask directly!
I’ve already talked a lot on this blog about my obsession with The Crafter’s Box. I’m the sort of crafter who’s picky about my materials but at the same time I love to try new crafts, so it really is perfect for me. If you know a crafter who likes to try a lot of new things, getting them a subscription for 3 or 6 months is a bit pricy, but also a great idea. You can also pick out just one kit to send from their back catalog. The sock knitting kit is one of my very favorites!
You may also look into buying an online class or two. Domestika, one of my favorite platforms has a really easy way of giving courses as a gift. Sadly, at the moment my fave subscription service, Craftsy, doesn’t seem to have an easy way to gift, but if you make the logistics work would still be great. There are also a ton more virtual craft class platforms to consider, so you should be able to find a good fit for any crafter on your list.
New and Vintage Crafting Books
While video classes are fantastic, most crafter’s I know love a good book. They can be technique based like The Act of Sewing by Sonya Phillip or more philosophical like Jen Hewett’s This Long Thread. You may also want to look into coffee table or history books that are filled with inspiration. Personally, I’ve got my eye on the new addition of How to Read a Dress.
If you know a crafter who’s interested in history and old school techniques, there are few better gifts than a real vintage book. It’s generally easy to get ahold of books from the 1920s through to the 1960s for under 50$ if you search on Etsy or Ebay. Not only are they fascinating to read, but they also make great decor. One of my prize possessions is a copy of Decorative Stitches and Trims from the Women’s Institute series that I found on Etsy.
So what are your best gift ideas for crafters? Leave a comment below or over on Instagram!