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  • A gift to Cherish

    Happy Accidents

    Ever wondered where all the ideas for some of the beautiful things you see in craft shops, galleries and fairs?

    I hear customers in the shop saying to each other "you would never think of doing that would you?” or "where do people get their ideas from?" and that is what makes handmade special.

    It really is the contents of someone’s head and heart. Most people who create just have to do it,. It's like an itch that has to be scratched. I know I see a piece of paper and straight away I am thinking “ooh I could make.....” or “this would make a lovely.....”

    Don’t get me wrong sometimes I start off as making one thing and then it turns into something else, I like to call them happy accidents. Although some of my best work is happy accidents.

    So yesterday I bought little tiny tassels and can’t wait till tomorrow to get to work to make something to put them on.

    conwy 2

    Everyone is unique

    During workshops I could give ten people the same materials and everyone will make something different. As I say the contents of our heads and hearts.

    I can’t tell you how lovely it is when I finish making something, put it out in the shop and then see somebody picking it up and having a good look and then deciding to buy it.

    It’s not the money, though that is nice, it’s the thought that that person loves it as much as I do. Lots of times they tell me the story of where their purchase is going and another part of my work's story begins.

    I LOVE HANDMADE and I love making Handmade.

    A gift to cherish

    So here is the thing, Christmas IS COMING. If you’re like me it will have taken you by surprise AGAIN. So we are all starting to think about what we would like to give all the special people in our lives. We could give them some boxed toiletries from a large chain, nice. But what about something that shines?

    Something to keep and cherish. Handmade really is special. It has been lovingly made by a maker who has maybe spent months thinking and designing your gift before sitting and creating it out of all sorts of gorgeousness.

    So go to your local High street, to your local handmade shop and a whole new world will open up. Have a coffee or lunch in a local cafe. Bet you find there are shops you never noticed before. There will probably be Christmas events on. So now it’s a day out, a day to enjoy and remember.

    See where I’m going here? A lot nicer than trawling round some hot stuffy department store full of the usual tat.

    This year I am giving my Dad a Handmade memory album with a note in it asking him to give it me as my Christmas present next year. But filled with photos from his family tree, with notes telling me who they are and stories about them. Merry Christmas folks or should I say a Merry Handmade Christmas to you all.


    This post was written by Michelle, Chief Mischief Maker and General Sorter Outer at Conwy Art and Craft, a truly magical little shop on the High Street in Conwy, as part of our 'Getting your Christmas on' series that you can catch up with here.

    Conwy Arts and Craft stocks all manner of beautifully crafted pieces from local artists and crafters.

    Be sure to pop along to 7a High Street, Conwy LL328DB. Open 10am til 5pm Monday to Saturday and 11am till 4.30pm Sunday. You can find them on Facebook too, so go and say hi!

  • Week 3: Ethical gifts of kindness ideas

    We are on Week 3 of our weekly series on the run up to Christmas. We have been looking at all the wonderful Christmasy festive ideas out there, leaning away from the commercial aspect and hearing all your amazing ideas and thoughts. You can catch up on the series from the start here

    I found a few different options for these. I think my favourite has to be Oxfam as you also get a ecard and there were some options to buy something small and tangible to give alongside it. Oxfam call them unwrapped gifts and for example, this week they are giving away a free chocolate goat with any unwrapped gift purchased.

    My favourite 5 gifts cover most budgets: 

    1. £7 can feed a family;
    2. £12 investing in girl power
    3. £24 plant an allotment
    4. £25 buy a goat
    5. £50 safe water for 50 people


    We did speak to a few people to get their views about this and one person said whilst they think it’s a great idea they would be pretty annoyed to receive such a present as it would remind them that so much money being donated isn’t going where it is needed and is instead swallowed by admin costs. We tweeted Oxfam and emailed about this (unfortunately we couldn’t fit it in 140 characters), unfortunately they haven’t got back to us yet and I imagine they receive a high volume of correspondence. I did find this infographic on their website:

    oxfam 2


    More importantly I saw this, The impact of Oxfams work:

    This will be the first year that we have done anything like this and whilst we think it’s an amazing idea and would love to receive gifts like this we are also hesitant to completely do away with something tangible for people. To strike a balance I think we are going to buy something small to go along with them. I love that Oxfam and so many others give a wonderful platform for you to help other people who truly need the boost and share this with your special people buy gifting the donation in their name.

    As always, speak to us! Comment, join in on Facebook, Twitter and Google+ you can even find us on Instagram and Pinterest (we get about a bit ;) )

  • Week 2: Christmas hamper ideas

    Last week was week 2 of our Christmas ideas. We have been talking about different Christmas ideas each week on the run up to Christmas. The aim is to explore and enjoy a less commercialised Christmas and get in the festive spirit. You can catch up on the series here.

    This is the overview of the series:

    Week 1: Homemade Christmas gift ideas

    Week 2: Christmas hamper ideas

    Week 3: Ethical gifts of kindness ideas

    Week 4: Buying from small crafters

    Week 5: Keeping it green

    Week 6: Creating magic

    There were some amazing ideas be thrown around last week! We have put together our favourite 10:

    1. Cheese lover hamper: homemade chutneys & crackers hampers;
    2. Mish mosh hamper: a selection of someone’s favourite things. Similar idea to what the teen put together;
    3. Homemade beautification hamper. Wellness Mama has a great recipe for dry face mask that you just mix up as needed, you could also make your own lip balms and bath soaks or bath bombs and through in some simple make at home from kitchen ingredient ideas;
    4. Christmas Eve hamper: A Christmas family DVD, pj’s, popcorn and snuggly socks;
    5. Craft kits hampers: How To crochet Guide, with some great online resources, a pattern, ball of yarn and hook;
    6. A book lovers hamper: novels, tea, a blanket for curling up under and biscuits for easy consumption whilst reading;
    7. Tea & coffee lovers hamper: A set of matching mugs, a tea strainer and array of loose teas/or a cute cafetiere with a selection of artisan coffees;
    8. A chocolate lovers hamper: With a chocolate recipe book, an array of chocolates, and some posh cocoa for cooking with;
    9. Winter survival kit hamper: homemade hot chocolate, hand warmers, toasty thick socks, soup recipe card and soup cup bowl/bowl cup;
    10. Dreaming of summer hamper: beach towel, rose tinted sunglasses, soothing beach sounds CD, coconut body moisturiser and a beach book;


    We had a great post from The Teen suggesting her perfect hamper and what she felt her peers may enjoy to get some inspiration flowing for presents for teenagers.

    Keep your comments coming in. What’s your favourite? Any great ideas to add to any of the hampers? Make sure you’re hooked up to us on Twitter and Facebook and join in the chats, be great to see you there.

  • Christmas hamper à la teen

    So we asked Gecko Clothing’s very own Teen what her ideal home made hamper to receive would be and a few suggestions on some other hamper ideas for her peers. We believe there is no average ‘Teen’, they’re all individual and, whilst we are led to believe that most would be overjoyed at cold card cash, here are some other ideas:

    The Teen’s Perfect hamper:

    • Socks, lots of socks;socks
    • Refresher sweets and drum sticks;
    • Chockstix (chocolate on a lollipop stick that you melt into hot milk for hot chocolate);
    • Salt & vinegar Kettle crisps;
    • Hand warmers;
    • A hamster (not to snack on);
    • Peppermint & caramel coffee

    Other teen appropriate hampers suggested and teen verified:

    • Film night hamper: A series box set or films, popcorn and fizzy drink
    • Game night hamper: A console game, crisps, dip, fizzy drink
    • Pamper night hamper: Facemasks, bath bombs, nail varnish, chocolate
    • Make up hamper: Different make ups & nail varnish

    Feel free to post any comments. Want to get some teen feedback on Christmas present? We can make that happen just for you, anything for you. Go ahead, post your query, or email in.

    *DISCLAIMER we do not condone animals as presents. Unless you are said teens appropriate adult it’s a bad call. I am said teens appropriate ‘adult’ and she is not having a hamster, she has a cat. If you do buy a pet  why not find one that's in a rescue home and is in need of your love? Always remember that you're not just buying a pet, you are getting a new member of your family and must be treated  as such.


    Profile of The Teen:the teen

    Age: 15

    Sex: Female

    Hobbies & interests: Making a mess, lounging, chilling, consuming, binge watching TV series in one sitting, preening, drinking insanely surgery drinks, selfies, online ‘window’ shopping for things she can’t afford, learning French, world domination plots with Mojo (her cat).

  • Week 1: Homemade Christmas gift ideas

    So, just to catch you up, last week we started with a series of weekly themed chats on the run up to Christmas. We wanted to look at ways to get in the festive swing and have fun while keeping to a tight budget. Obviously you need to buy some Gecko goodness for some of your loved ones, but we wanted to look at some of the less consumerist gift ideas.

    You can check out the Master plan here: Getting your Christmas on.


    Week 1: Homemade Christmas gift ideas

    Week 2: Christmas hamper ideas

    Week 3: Ethical gifts of kindness ideas

    Week 4: Buying from small crafters

    Week 5: Keeping it green

    Week 6: Creating magic


    We threw out a few different links to some posts, but you guys came up trumps with a variety of awesome ideas from your childhood and adult life. Really loved reading the comments and ideas:

    • A lot of love out there for the chocolate truffle;
    • Potato shape printing wrapping paper & Christmas cards;
    • Homemade advent calendars
    • Making your own cheese (apparently there are methods of doing so with your average kitchen utensils);
    • Mull your own wine kits;
    • Mason jars layered with dry ingredients to make biscuits or cakes;
    • Christmas pomanders to bring the festive scent to your home;
    • Movable Father Christmases with butterfly joints to hang on the tree

    Our favourites would have to be the very cute and simple advent calendar and homemade chocolate truffles... Mmmmmm, chocolate.We ended the week on home made Christmas presents with a mammoth 101 gift ideas from Artful Parent that kids and families can make together.

    advent mull wine
    Truffles_with_nuts_and_chocolate_dusting potato

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