Knowing how to support makers at Christmas is the gift that keeps on giving. Forget Jelly of the Month Club ( thanks Christmas Vacation). It’s been scientifically proven* that showing festive goodwill to the creative genius in your newsfeed bags you smug points, boundless artistic beauty and better orgasms.
(*this might be a lie)
Seriously, though, if there was ever a time to support makers it’s at Crimbo. Being the artistic David to the corporate Goliath takes hard slog, years of learning, midnight tears and endless faith. Every time you coo over that gorgeous embroidery, crochet or glasswork you’re really cooing over decades of someone’s hobby or worklife. Happily, you can turn that cooing into encouragement by knowing exactly how to support makers. I’ve even done the hard work for you with this list of 23 ways to do it. You’re welcome…
Be patient. When a maker talks about Christmas in October it’s because we don’t follow the Gregorian calendar. We follow whatever the hell calendar means having to do things three months in advance. If we didn’t think of Crimbo until December 1st nobody would order from us because there was so little time and if they did we might not be able to make up the order quickly enough.
Learn to equate us with awkward relatives. I don’t mean in that we look pissy at every gift we are ever given. I mean in that we are the solution to that relative. Where off-the-shelf items never make them happy, more unusual, tailored and personal gifts might and we makers can provide them for you.
Buy small. We’re not asking you to prop up a maker’s mortgage single-handed. It really is OK to buy just one thing that costs a couple of quid. I mean, imagine how much we’d all support makers at Christmas if we all just did that one teeny thing? On the other hand…
Buy big. BUY. ALL. OF. THE. THINGS.
Stuck behind a maker in the post office? The type of maker who has to post 16 parcels by the morning? Be patient. Keep your huffs and puffs to yourself however desperately you want to buy just one second class stamp.
Go to Crimbo fairs and markets. Every attending maker will openly welcome your custom. You’ll get gorgeous gifts, we’ll feel like someone gives a shit and everyone will have that festive glow come Crimbo morn. Hallelujah!
When you DO go to craft markets, play nice. Nothing sucks the joy out of Crimbo like a customer fingering my wares (not a euphemism) before declaring that they can make it for half the price. They bloody well can’t and it’s bloody well mean. Unless you’re telling the maker that you love their use of colour or the size of their embroidery hoop (still not a euphemism) keep your thoughts to yourself.
Make it personal. Don’t assume that you have to buy exactly what you see on a maker’s page. Ask if we can personalise items for you by, say, making a bag strap to fit or adding a pocket. I’d much rather tweak a design to make a sale than spend Christmas smelling the breath of Quality Street eaters because I can’t afford my own.
When you commission something at Crimbo, decide exactly what you want with your maker before going ahead. Suddenly deciding you want blue rather than red ric-rac the day before your item is due will cause creative carnage. Support maker at Christmas by knowing what you want and sticking to it.
Remember that courses and kits are cracking gifts for creative souls. Loads of makers do both and they are great ways to kick off the new year with hope and creativity. Make sure that what you buy suits the recipient though. A course where they own the materials and don’t have to meet deadlines, for example, will suit some people more than others.
If you have an idea for an item you’d love to gift but your fave maker doesn’t make it, just ask. I’ll be honest: 50 per cent of what I make has been in response to customer requests. My range of cotton sanitary pads started with customer demand and my own designs often evolve with customer requests.
Check out makers who offer gift vouchers and installments. It means you can spread any cost or cover any gift base and you support makers while you’re at it.
If you fancy buying off a maker but don’t yet know what you want, acquaint yourself with their last order dates and Christmas posting notices so that you don’t leave it too late. You could even let them know that you intend to buy before Crimbo but ONLY do this if you mean it. There’s nothing as unfestive as a false promise and you don’t want to make us cry on Christmas Eve. Do you?
Post a good review if you love a maker and I don’t just mean about the actual items you have received. I’d have no problem with your review being just about how I interact well with customers, how I keep surprising your timeline with new items or how much you enjoy the community on my Facebook page. It’s all part of how you support makers at Christmas.
Ask friends and family to buy off that maker for YOU. If you love a maker but can’t afford to gift their items to anyone else why not have them gifted to you instead? Drop hints, share memes, make demands that are slightly creepy… the maker is still getting the sale and you’re getting the real deal rather than a fleeting image on your newsfeed.
If you’re into Pinterest set up a board exclusively of your fave makers or items. By curating your faves you don’t just support makers but the community as a whole.
When you do buy from a maker, share what you bought online. Look, if you can share a pic of that half-arsed avocado toast that you ate in a local caff, you can share the exquisite hand embroidery that you just bought. Obvs, don’t do this if it gives the game away for the recipient but if it doesn’t? Spread that word!
Be flexible. I don’t mean accept that your Crimbo items will come in March. I mean that when a maker says your items will be with you in three weeks, take her at her professional word. Messaging her with threats every day until your item comes isn’t being prudent. It’s being a vile melt. Don’t do it.
If you can’t find the time or money for an all handmade Crimbo (and who can?), just make a small part of the day handmade. It could be just the dinner decorations, the gift at the foot of each stocking, the teeny keepsakes you post to the grandchildren…
SEND EGG NOG.
Order early. This year my first Crimbo order came in June. Last year it came in – get this – February. That’s how to support makers at Christmas when it’s not even Christmas yet. And yeah, I know it’s a pain in the arse to have to think about Crimbo when there are still leaves on the trees but it doesn’t just support makers. It means you beat the festive rush and can spend more time bawling over Meet Me in St Louis (which I do. Every year).
Doing a secret Santa with mates or at work? How about all agreeing to go handmade? You can still have a maximum spend and pick up things that no one would expect. You could even all put together a list of fave makers and use that as your starting point. And it’ll bag you enough brownie points to cover you when you’re caught snogging the line manager come the Crimbo party.
If you can’t afford to buy, do whatever else you can to support makers at Christmas. It is ALL appreciated. Like and share social media posts, comment and engage, tag in friends, recommend us to family… all of these things impact on whether we are seen by people who can afford to buy. Your help in doing this can make the difference between not just a good and bad Crimbo but a business that stays open or closes. THANK YOU.