December has arrived and that can only mean one (of many) things: Christmas shopping. If you’re looking to avoid the hustle and bustle of highstreet festive shoppers, get some gift-spiration from Anna’s take on crafty Christmas markets…
If you’re looking for something a bit different this year, have you thought of going to your local craft market? Crafting has come a long way in recent years and the markets can be a treasure trove of unique gifts.
I rediscovered my love of photography and art during lockdown and it seems other people either revived their interest in something they used to do or learned a whole new craft. When friends and family said that they liked my photos I thought I would try selling them at a local fair so I had some printed and mounted and they went down quite well. But what I enjoyed most about being at the fair was seeing all the wonderful things that other people had made.
I have been to three fairs all together with two more booked for December. Two have been in church halls and are often to benefit the church or the work they do. Before I went I had an old fashioned view of what it would be like and expected them to be cold, draughty places but in fact they were modern, well lit and warm. The visitors, who encompass all ages, are always friendly and often eager to find out about how things are made or produced. By chatting to everyone I have found that it’s a great way to get to know people in your local community.
One of the other nice things is that all the stall holders support each other, whether it’s a question about supplies, parking or the technical issues of how to use debit card readers. Many of us belong to a WhatsApp group and it’s always busy with chat so it’s even nicer when we finally all get to meet up at the fairs. I have definitely made some friends in the short time I have been involved.
The standard of craftsmanship is so high now that you will usually find these types of markets billed as “Artisan” craft markets and I am pleased that people’s talents are being recognised in this way. It truly is a labour of love for a lot of people.
At my local market you can find everything from jewellery and personalised stationery to felt hats and bespoke lamps as well as soaps and essential oils. At the last market I attended there were over 80 stalls, all offering something different.
When I spoke to Katy McGurk the founder of Folk & Bespoke about why she set up the fairs in my local area she said “I want to provide an outlet for local businesses, artists etc, to sell their products, all year long, and work together to be the driving force to shopping local and shopping small. It is a way of giving back to the community of small businesses in our local area.”
It’s a reminder that shopping at fairs such as this are not only great for finding something a bit different but they also help the local economy and it’s more environmentally friendly to shop locally. You can also get to see who made the item you are buying and they will be so pleased that you like what they have produced. The people I have met range from mums who create in their spare time to people who use the fairs to promote their full time business, or those who are retired and want to sell things they make as a hobby. Whoever they are, the feeling is always the same, that they love what they do.
So next time you see an advert for a fair at your local church, community centre or larger venue, why not pop in and see what you can find? You might even be inspired to start selling something you have created.
And for tips on how best to wrap your quirky Christmas gifts, check out our gift wrapping class with Tina!