Christmas this year is a weird one, right? With all that's been going on in 2022, it offers a good opportunity to forget our troubles, let our hair down, and celebrate what's good in the world. At the same time, many of us will be feeling the pinch and won't necessarily wish to spend a fortune on gifts and going out.
But as we've all known since childhood, it's not the amount you spend on a present that shows the most love; it's the thought you put into it. Again, though, as we all struggle to meet our pre-holiday deadlines, there's often scant time for thinking. So to help you out, we've pulled together an epic list of creative gift ideas your friends and family will love, to suit a wide range of budgets and tastes.
As ever, rather than feeding the Amazon beast, we've included ideas from the kind of independent artists and designers that Creative Boom loves to celebrate. Plus, there are gifts from independent retailers, too – all in the spirit of supporting the shops and small businesses that might need a little extra help to stay solvent this Christmas. (For more of these, check out our guide to the UK's top independent shops.)
Finally, note that this article is supported by MPB, our favourite online platform for used photography and videography equipment. If you're thinking of buying a loved one a camera, lens, lighting or other photography kit this Christmas, you'll love their low prices, and each item comes with a six-month warranty.
Aren't these cotton socks gorgeous? Made by Corgi in Ammanford, Wales, their mix of fine cotton and nylon make for an excellent fit and durability, and they retain their colour, wash after wash. A stylish and comfy way to keep your toes warm this winter.
Fred Aldous is one of our favourite art and craft stores, and if you get to one of their branches in Manchester, Leeds or Sheffield, you can pick up one of these beautiful Arquero Fish Cases in person; otherwise they're available for online delivery. Made from 100% cotton, they're great for storing your pencils, pens and other odds and ends rather than leaving them littered across your desk.
Here's another aesthetically appealing way to keep your bits organised. This set of three all-purpose pouches is brilliant at storing your clutter, including coins, cards, or an extra pair of shoes. They expand to hold your essentials and lay flat when not in use.
What fellow creative doesn't love a quality notebook? This delightful creation from The Handmade Cyclist boasts a luxurious and durable soft-touch cover with 96 lined pages. And while it's inspired by Milan, it's actually made in the UK.
Unscented and weighted, this eye pillow is a versatile tool to soothe tired eyes, block out unwanted light and help deepen your relaxation. Use it as a warm compress to relieve dry eyes and across the body to ease migraines, cramping and pain. You can heat it in the microwave and oven or cool it in the freezer.
Designed by Cari Vander Yacht, this felted wool decoration couldn't be more Christmassy if it tried. Ethically produced in collaboration with a Nepalese development project, using 100% fair-trade materials, these canine cuties are handcrafted by expert local craftswomen.
Bath products make great gifts, but they can be a little boring. This one definitely isn't, though. The Ball Soap by Tamanohada has notes of bitter orange with fresh green and light floral tones. Entirely plant-based, it's made with palm oil and kernel oil, fits perfectly in the palm of your hand, and produces a light milky lather suitable for the face and body.
We all need to be using hand cream at this cold time of year, and this one would make a perfect gift. Made in Sweden with natural and organic ingredients, its essential oils have astringent and cleansing properties, with bergamot peel to ease and cool with a slight exfoliator and patchouli leaf to calm, cleanse and even heal.
With the possibility of blackouts this winter, we all need a box of matches around the house to light candles. So why not make it a colourful and stylish one? Sporting a colourful parrot design by Ariane Butto, these shades of royal green and soft pinks will brighten up your mantlepiece, and inside, you'll find 100 lovely long (100mm) matches.
A diary makes a nice present, but for many, it's too much of a commitment to keep up. For the busy people in your lives, consider the One Line a Day Journal, in which you simply write one line per day. Each journal page includes an entry for five successive years, allowing you to revisit previous thoughts on a specific day of the year. This small handsome book features a rich, oatmeal-coloured canvas cloth case, striking metallic page edges, and a ribbon page marker.
Tattoos look great, but not everyone wants the commitment (and pain!) of getting a permanent one. As a halfway house, these temporary tattoos look the business. And you can make them as personal as you like: they can be customised with any digital image, printed on demand and shipped to anywhere in the world.
Yinka Ilori is a multi-disciplinary artist and designer whose bold visual language draws on his British-Nigerian heritage to convey new narratives. These sensational collectors-edition basketballs are inspired by Yinka's artworks ERE and ORUN, which celebrate joy and the power of creating memories in play. There are only 300 per edition, though, so grab them while you can.
Buying for someone who loves art and bingo (ironically or otherwise)? Then here's the perfect gift. In this version of bingo, you'll find the world's best painters, sculptors, performance artists and photographers assembled together, from Banksy to Basquiat, Haring to Hockney and Yayoi to Yoko. The game comes with eight double-sided randomised bingo cards and 48 tokens.
Winter can be boring and depressing, so here's a great antidote. This cosy illustrated jigsaw puzzle, featuring a kitty, coffee and lounging figure, is finished in muted hues and comes packaged in an equally stylish box. A fab contemporary design for fans of puzzles.
Here's another fun variation on a classic game: a deck of playing cards featuring 52 illustrations of Belfast's iconic pubs. Created by Cowfield, a father-son business in Belfast, these playing cards will get you to explore what the city has to offer or remind you of the times you did.
Table tennis is a great activity for friends and family over Christmas, getting everyone off the sofa and burning off those calories. And here's a very nice set, indeed. The bats are crafted from sustainable materials and a combination of FSC-certified Rosewood, Spruce and Ayous. The grips are concave and have softened edges on the wings for an extra-comfortable grip.
Everyday Adventures is basically a suggestion box to spark the imagination, revive the spirit and motivate you towards the slightly more adventurous life you've been looking for. Ideas range from eating an unfamiliar fruit from the market to re-reading your favourite book to asking a parent what they were like as a teenager.
Here's a great gift idea for those who like to make and build. Blockitecture is a brand of architectural building blocks: cantilever and nest hexagonal blocks to create towers, cities and dwellings. Its Big City set includes 74 wooden pieces inspired by a sprawling metropolis's architecture and public spaces.
Here's a great gift that any keen reader will value immensely. A Stack subscription means you get a different independent magazine delivered every month for £8. You never know what you'll get next, so the anticipation is almost as much fun as the reading!
Everyone's heard about the Kama Sutra, but how many of us have actually read any of it? This new project by famed illustrator Malika Favre is a great place to start. The 'Kama Sutra A-Z' was initially developed by Malika Favre in 2013 as an art project and exhibition. Now, she's brought it together into a limited-edition book co-published with Counter-Print. The 26 letters are displayed as individual art pieces and accompanied by erotic excerpts, carefully curated by the artist, with a strong emphasis on female poets.
Launched via a successful Kickstarter in 2018, Akin Magazine is a local magazine and shop based in Norwich that supports independent creatives and entrepreneurs. Its first limited-edition tote bag is made from eco-friendly, heavy-duty natural cotton and features a cobalt blue 'Mags for life' screen print by Vino Sangre. With a side pocket and main compartment, it's perfect for fans of books and magazines.
The African diaspora – a direct result of the transatlantic slave trade and Western colonialism – has generated a wide array of art, from blues and reggae to the paintings of Henry Ossawa Tanner and video creations of contemporary hip-hop. This book concentrates on how these works, often created during times of major social upheaval and transformation, use black culture as a subject and context.
Designers love logos, and the Logo Book Set delivers just what it promises. Each book contains a selection of logos, trademarks and symbols from around the world, collected under their three themes: Architectural Logos, Maritime Logos and Food & Drink Logos.
This sumptuously designed book is the perfect gift for the trainer and sportswear obsessive in your life. Combining 500 colour illustrations with stories, insights, knowledge and passion, this book explores the history of Nike's ethos-driven design formula. Placing industry-defining innovations and globally recognised products alongside previously unpublished designs, prototypes, and insider stories, every page is packed with visual inspiration.
The difference between the pixel-perfect designs on our screens and how they end up, in reality, is the subject of this unusual book. It points out that in real life, our creations are ripped from walls, littered on streets and faded in shop windows. A montage of original essays and interviews explores this dichotomy, making this publication by Nick Deakin and James Dyer a true one-off.
Five years in the making, Pentagram: Living by Design is the definitive statement on 50 years of the iconic design agency. Covering the group from its beginnings in 1970s London to its global status today, this landmark book is published in two densely illustrated volumes and spread over 1,400 pages. Designed by Tony Brook and the Spin design team, it's available in a limited edition of 1,000 copies.
As the title suggests, Great Women Painters reveals a richer and more varied telling of the story of painting than has been previously told. Covering nearly 500 years of skill and innovation and featuring more than 300 artists from around the world, it includes both well-known women painters from history and today's most exciting rising stars.
If someone special in your life takes their photography very seriously, it doesn't get much better than a Canon EOS R5. This baby has everything: resolution, speed, and video capabilities that set a new standard for versatility. A full-frame mirrorless camera, it features a newly developed 45MP CMOS sensor, which offers 8K raw video recording, 12 fps continuous shooting with a mechanical shutter, and is the first EOS camera to feature 5-axis sensor-shift image stabilisation. An indulgent gift, granted, but one that will stand the test of time.
On the slightly more affordable scale of recommended cameras lies the Fujifilm X-T4. Offering a glorious mixture of both photography and videography, this excellent model is one of the most powerful in the X Series and uses the fourth generation X-Trans CMOS 4 sensor, X-Processor 4, a newly developed compact in-body image stabilisation system, and much more. A winner, in our eyes.
Aside from what's available for Canon and Fujifilm lovers, what might you consider for those die-hard Nikon fans? The trusty and reliable D850, that's what. With its full-frame FX splendour like you've never seen before, this camera gives everything a pro photographer needs, from the studio to the remotest locations on earth.
For entry-level photographers, why not consider the much-loved Canon EOS 5D Mark II? It combines high-performance ISO with outstanding resolution and provides full-frame capabilities that ensure you capture scenes and people with clarity and confidence. Given its full frame and high megapixel excellence, one might never guess the affordable price. It can even manage full HD movies. You'll be a winner on Christmas morning.
The Lomographic Society International has just announced the release of its new 35mm creative film camera in two editions: classic black leather and real Italian leather with bold turquoise trim. With a 21 mm wide-angle lens, three lens attachments and a whole host of experimental features, this would be the ideal gift for the creative or experimental photographer in your life.
Japanophiles and stationery addicts will love this art stamp washi tape. Inspired by Miami style, it has a mix of abstract stamps in pop colours and is perforated so each piece can be pulled off, just like real stamps. 25mm wide and 5m long, and arriving in a cute cardboard box, it's a fab gift for anyone wishing to up their bullet journalling game.
Here's another treat for fans of Japanese stationery. These beautiful water-based fountain pen inks are made in Kyoto according to thousand-year-old Japanese dyeing techniques dating back to the Heian era.
Fred Aldous also has this fab retro gift: an utterly adorable rocket-ship pencil sharpener. This key-chain attachment comes with a moon and astronaut tag and is made from biodegradable, earth-friendly, natural bamboo fibres.
Imagine waking up each day to a new font... In this beautifully designed tear-off calendar, you'll find 365 examples of new typefaces to intrigue and inspire you. And to the rear, you'll find the credited designer, an index of figures and the source of supply, each on a coloured background. Brought to you by designers Raban Ruddigkeit and Lars Harmsen, we honestly couldn't think of a better gift for a Typophile.
YKRA (pronounced eek-rah) is a Budapest-based husband and wife team that produce everything in-house. Combining traditional craftsmanship and materials with design simplicity, their products are inspired by 1970s apparel and balance fresh, vibrant colours with a nostalgic, utilitarian aesthetic. This brilliant pencil case is made from 100% cotton canvas and features cotton tape and a brass zipper.
The Everyday Pen is a hybrid that brings together smooth-flowing ink, like that found in a fountain or rollerball, with the ease of use of a ballpoint. A needle-like 0.5mm tip creates an ultra-fine writing line, and the pen body is made from a natural cedar wood casing, so it feels as lightweight as a pencil. This collection of seven pens and seven refills is presented gift-ready in a 135gsm burnt orange gift envelope.
Fans of tidy desks will love this rainbow-style paper holder. Made from steel with a matte brass effect, it comes with three handy storage slots. A handy accessory to organise your envelopes, letters and papers in one place.
Anyone who wants to get organised doesn't need just one notebook; they need a set. And this collection, featuring an A5 Weekly Planner, Grid Notebook, Dot Notebook and Line Notebook, will cover many bases. They're all printed and bound in the UK, using 100gsm UK FSC-certified papers for inner pages and 270gsm for the embossed cover.
Want to store your pencils in style? Then you want a giant pencil you can fill with pencils. The Heritage Pencil Collection from veteran US stationery company Musgrave Pencils houses 12 of them, and the tube also makes a handy desk pot.
Here's the perfect winter gift for lovers of geometric design and bright colours. Sporting a stunningly original design, this soft jacquard knit is handmade in Leicestershire using 100% Scottish spun lambswool and is suitable for all seasons.
These unisex sunglasses are something else. Created by Swedish brand Monokel Eyewear and named after the Japanese word for cat, it combines an exaggerated cat-eye shape with high-level craftsmanship. The lenses are made by Carl Zeiss Vision, and the main material in the frame is premium, plant-based acetate. The result is a highly durable, hypoallergenic material made from renewable resources.
Designed by Stuart Semple, this 100% cotton T-shirt pays tribute to the Japanese artist with the slogan: 'Bigger than Nirvana: Yayoi Kusama'. As with all the T-shirts here, it's printed to order and available in various sizes.
Fans of '70s-era David Bowie will especially be drawn to this statement jewellery. Cast in the shape of a lightning bolt, made from silver-tone metal and encrusted with glistening glass rhinestones, these striking earrings are generously sized and can't fail to make a visual impact.
If you've never been to the Yorkshire Sculpture Park, you're missing a trick: this open-air gallery in West Bretton, Wakefield, is a real treat. Their online shop sells some great stuff, too, like this stylish, modern rucksack made with 16oz cotton canvas and a 100% Nylon mustard lining. There are many smart pockets for all sorts of things, including your laptop, and the adjustable webbed shoulder straps are super-comfortable too.
Taking inspiration from the Memphis art movement, this scarf's bold and vibrant colours and geometric shapes add up to a sumptuous interpretation of the postmodern aesthetic. Made in a small, family-run factory in Istanbul, this 100% acrylic scarf is vegan and hypoallergenic and can be machine washed at 30 degrees.
This everyday bag is anything but ordinary. This colourway item is made from recycled bottles, and each piece is dyed, so every item is individual. Because of this, sometimes the colour can be a little uneven, which adds to the bag's character. More generally, it's so big that it becomes part of your outfit and features drawstrings on either side (to compact itself and hide under your arm) and an interior zipped pocket.
As we begin the new Carolean era, these Buckingham Palace-inspired trainers are a great gift for the royalist in your life. Or, for that matter, for anyone else who appreciates stylish design. They're lovely and comfy, too, thanks to the removable memory foam insole.
Featuring art deco-style flowers in delicate pastels colours, this vintage-inspired, full-length kimono is perfect for fans of timeless style. It has traditional loose sleeves, a belt secured at the back, and a second interior tie for extra security. It can be worn in two ways: tied at the back, it makes a chic open-fronted jacket; tied at the front, it works as a closed jacket or dress.
The name of this tote bag sums up exactly what Creative Boom is about, and we hope you are too! Designed by Tara Collette, it's ethically produced and chlorine-free. You can order online for pick up at one of Fred Aldous' stores in Manchester, Leeds or Sheffield.
Know someone who loves houseplants but is always unwittingly killing them? Caroline Byrn, the Irish artist and founder of Brazen Botany, sells an unusual line of her handcrafted botanical sculptures to customers worldwide. We've picked out her paper interpretation of the Alocasia plant or the African Mask plant, as its colourful pink arrow-shaped leaves and eye-catching red veins will brighten and add personality to any interior space.
Giving a candle for Christmas might seem a cop-out, but not when it's as gorgeous as this. Inspired by Sulis, a river goddess that watched over the Roman spa in Bath, each candle has been hand-poured in Manchester, using 100% pure essential oils to provide aromatherapy benefits, and offers a burn time of 55 hours. The European-grown rapeseed wax blend is a more sustainable alternative to soy wax and still provides a long-lasting burn and great scent throw.
Featuring a palette of colour gradations rendered in different weights of line, this blanket would make a wonderful gift for painters and artists of all kinds. Providing a clean, simple and timeless feeling, it's knitted in a fine double-layer reverse jacquard. This creates a subtle shift in colour emphasis between the two sides, with no true front or back, and results in an especially fluid drape.
Want to surprise someone with a Christmas gift? One thing's for sure: it's very unlikely they'll expect to receive one of these beautifully made ceramic ghosts from independent Leeds store Colours May Vary. Each one is unique, hand thrown, glazed, decorated, and low-fired in the kiln three times, and it stands roughly 9-10 cm tall.
A nice cup of tea can be the best thing in life, so why not make it even more special for a loved one? These fine bone china mugs are forged exclusively for The Handmade Cyclist by one of the UK's oldest firms in the heart of the world-famous Stoke Potteries. And their fun designs will put a smile on people's faces, however early in the morning hour.
These beautiful coffee tins, complete with a candy pink coffee scoop, are designed by Ana Popescu, Cari Vander Yacht, Alejandra García Y Gutiérrez, and Charlotte Mei. The latter's peaceful design is inspired by the Chinese Gingko tree, while Ana Popescu imagines a serene still-life scene, Alejandra offers a colourful collage, and Cari's spirited coffee relay is full of a lively caffeine buzz.
We love this out-there cushion design: a collage of building-like shapes and a vibrant colour palette that evokes a full moon's light reflected on an urban landscape. This is less a cushion and more a soft sculptural element for your home. Made in the UK, the front panel is knitted jacquard, and the back panel is a cotton canvas, screen-printed by hand.
Fans of letterpress and Japanese culture will go wild for these amazing, limited-edition A5 prints. Hand letterpressed onto beautiful, chunky 900gsm GF Smith Wild White, and each set features four designs: Kyoto Rain, Tokyo Lights, Fuji Skies and Arashiyama Shade.
Made in Hong Kong since 1968, this calendar clock is a true graphic classic. It's also impressively large, measuring 380 x 305 x 75mm, so it can't fail to make a statement on anyone's wall. This solid, timeless-looking device runs off one AA battery for around a year.
Supermarket chutney is one thing; authentically, locally-made chutney is another. This one's made by a family-run preserve business in Enniskillen founded by local chef Declan O'Donoghue in 2016. It boasts a unique stout flavouring that's to die for, making it a great gift for the foodie in your life.
More and more people are getting into gin these days. If one of those is close to you, treat them to this brilliant collection of 25 handpicked miniature craft gins. It comes with a fun advent calendar, with QR codes that unlock a mini video paired with each day's gin.
Originally from Milan, Panettone has become a festive favourite in countries around the world. This version is enriched with chocolate chips for extra indulgence and comes in an elegant box. Made with high-quality natural ingredients, it's the perfect gift to give to family and friends at Christmas, perhaps paired with a bottle of Spumante or Prosecco.
Not so much a recipe book as a guide to the philosophy of cooking. Holistic cook Julia Ponsonby presents 25 thoughtful insights into the holistic health and well-being we can digest through the everyday process and experience of cooking. This way, she shares the true value of eating homemade, real food, mixing together practical and soulful ingredients to present a carefully crafted dish that every discerning cook will want to savour.
If you know a discerning chocolate lover, they probably won't be too excited by a box of Rose's. This, though, will have them intrigued. Combining sweet orange oil from Italy combined with cocoa from Colombia, this unique flavour combination will have their tastebuds tingling. It's vegetarian and gluten-free too.
Who doesn't love to get a hamper at Christmas? And this one is packed with small-batch treats, from artisan honey chocolate to gourmet popcorn, freshly roasted coffee and fudge. It's sent to the recipient for overnight delivery, with reusable and recyclable icepacks and packaging to keep everything cool and fresh.
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