Holiday Gifts on a Budget

Washington is buzzing with talk about the "fiscal cliff." I am not quite sure what that all means for me, but I do know that I have considerably less money in my bank account compared to ten years ago.

I like giving gifts for the holidays, especially unique, handmade items. Unfortunately, some people in my family, and even some friends do not really appreciate how special handmade can truly be.

I have witnessed friends making lists of all the things they plan to return, and what they plan to get instead....not really embracing the true spirit of gift-giving.

For that reason, I am a fan of giving a bunch of "little" gifts. And by that I mean gifts around $10. I usually pick out 4-5 "little" gifts for each person, hoping that they will like at least a couple of the items. I hate to think of myself plunking down a considerable amount of money for one big gift, that the person may not like.

I often turn to etsy to find those special little items, that cannot be found in target, wal-mart, and other big department stores. Here are some awesome picks from members of the Etsy NY team:

Koto Designs

I hope I have given you a few ideas for some gifts this year, and remember, whatever gifts you may receive this thankful! Until next time, happy crafting (and/or shopping!)

Nordea / nordeasoaperie

What was the best holiday gift you have received?

When we’re kids the gifts we ask for are largely influenced by television. I can still recite all the words to My Buddy and feel the sense of loss at never having had one despite the fact that, thinking back, I always thought he was kind of creepy. It sure was a catchy tune though! Aside from the occasional She-Ra Cloud Castle or Popple that we dragged around everywhere (much to our parents dismay) a lot of the gifts from those early years are forgettable.

As time goes on we stop seeing our parents as bringers of stuff and things and begin to see them more the way we see Grandma…as a dispenser of cash. It’s not because we’re greedy. It’s because that’s what we need most at that time in our lives. How will you get through college if you can’t buy coffee and burritos?

This is generally followed by a brief, well-meaning, but delusional stage when we inform our friends and family that all we want for the holidays is their Love. This is a confusing time for many and, while you do mean it, you’re not doing anyone any favors. Your loved ones are going to get you something regardless and now they have no idea where to start. While you run the risk that everyone will take you seriously and you’ll get nothing but Love. That’s great and all but, let’s face it people, Love doesn’t keep the snow from getting under your coat collar and trickling freezing torture liquid down to the small of your back. That’s SCARVES! Scarves do that.

Now that I’m an adult I think I finally get how this whole thing works and, after interviewing some of the awesome vendors from the upcoming Holiday Cavalcade I think I can safely say that all great gifts fit into one of three catagories…

1. Gifts that help us find our way - Jean of Fiber Dance Weaving Studio tells us about the 35mm camera she got in high school, "Having such a great camera allowed me to explore my creativity in a way I never had before. I went on to make photography my career. (...) Eventually, I found my way to weaving, a craft which I believe has many similarities to photography.  Not only is weaving a wonderful collaboration between man and machine (looms do have a mind and a personality of their own) but also, because I never really know what I've got until I pull a woven piece off the loom, there's a good bit of mystery and anticipation involved, as well. So now, instead of envisioning things in black and white and using different papers and chemical processes to achieve my objective, I am working with colors and fibers, and adding a whole new dimension (literally) to my creative process, while continuing a way of life that all started with the gift of a camera."

2. Gifts that make our lives easier - Karina makes tons of cool toys and coloring books for kids in her shop Windows Of Agate, but with all the work she puts into her creations it's got to be hard to find time for anything else. That's why this gift was so spot on, "When I received a standing mixer from my husband the Christmas after my second child was born, I was elated! I was sleep-deprived and overwhelmed, and getting the standing mixer did wonders to my lofty goal of baking cookies for all my neighbors." 

Besides being incredibly thoughtful, and making the lives of the recipients better in some way these gifts share one more thing in common. The third and, what I consider to be, the most important category...

3. Gifts that show us we are loved - Sayo from Sarustar Jewelry says, "my favorite holiday gift to date is a marshmallow robot from my boyfriend. He presented it to me at dinner on our second date, a few days before Christmas and a few days after I had mentioned in passing that I would like to own a marshmallow robot. (I don't remember why I wanted one) Anyway, my marshmallow robot has red eyes that light up while he spins around and around... and he is made out of a marshmallow, and he is awesome."

Find your special holiday gift at the upcoming Holiday Handmade Cavalcade.

Jessica Alpern

Halloween DIY Style

Halloween is just right around the corner! I'm throwing a Halloween party at my new apartment, so I've been searching for inspiration for party decorations. With these great DIY ideas, you really don't have to spend a ton of money to throw a spooky/awesome Halloween party!

By Nnenna of star-crossed smile

Renegade Craft Fair Review: London

The Renegade Craft Fair concluded last week across the pond in London.  Although I couldn't be there in person, I live vicariously thru flickr!

What do I notice in these photos that seem to be hot: nature, foxes, birds, 2 color prints, geometrics and very cool embroideries., embroideries taken a step further with color and dimension.

This is the second year Renegade has landed in London. Renegade, a DIY and indie craft market, started out in Chicago in 2003 with 75 vendors.  Vendors are selected from applicants that are emerging  artists in the diy and craft communities.

All pictures from the Renegade Craft Fair on Flickr. Click here to view many more!

If you are interested in participating in Renegade, they will be in Brooklyn for their first time ever Holiday Market on November 17th and 18th.

Tracey Toole

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Etsy Mother's Day Cards

Those who know me well know that I'm a huge stationery fan!  I love to find the perfect card for that special someone for each occasion.  Mother's Day is about a month away, but that doesn't mean it's too early to find the perfect card for your mother!  There are so many fantastic options on Etsy- take a look below!


Warm Fuzzy Valentine

Here's a quick little Valentine's decoration with a twist: It holds chocolate!

  1. Felt
  2. Fabric glue
  3. Needle and thread
  4. Embroidery floss
  5. Pins
  6. Scissors
  7. Ribbon
  8. Chocolate!
Cut heart shapes out of felt. I cut two sizes, one for the front sides of the pockets that will hold the chocolate, to decorate the pockets with. Glue (or sew, if you prefer) the smaller decorative hearts to the larger (pocket) hearts (you can also do this second step later; I just happened to do it at this point).

Pin large hearts onto another piece of felt and cut around it to create the back sides of the pockets.

Set front sides of pockets aside and lay the back sides out in a line. 

Measure out a piece of ribbon and position lay it on top of your row of pocket-backs. Pin in place

Sew (or glue, if you prefer) the ribbon to the pocket-backs.

Pin the front sides of the pockets to their corresponding backs. Using embroidery floss, sew most of the way around, leaving the top open (pic below is out of sequence).

Fill the pockets with chocolate and hang (use push-pins, magnets, or sew a ring to the top of the ribbon -- I used magnets to attach my chocolate-pocket heart garland to a lamp).

Happy Valentine's Day!

Purty Bird

Sending Out Christmas Cards

This time of the year I get that spoof Christmas song in my head based on the 12 Days of Christmas. You know it...the 12 Pains of Christmas. The Fourth thing at Christmas that's such a pain to most people is sending Christmas cards.

What? Why?! Obviously as a stationery maker, I look forward to sending AND receiving holiday cards, but I can's one more thing to do & an easy one to leave to the last minute. So! Here are some quick ways to get them done - all great cards that you can print at home!

Printable Christmas Card - Bird Wreath Greeting with Personalization Option


Last Chance Printable Christmas Cards DIY Digital File Deer Reindeer Antlers Woodland

Custom Printable Christmas Card Design

Sending Smiles :: Holiday Photo Cards

The above screen shot is of THIS treasury I did a few weeks ago. All of the items featured are photo holiday cards that you can print yourself. That's what I'm doing! Well, that's what I'm doing in the sense that I am taking my thumbdrive to CVS up the street & getting 5 x 7 prints made. Want to see??

{design by me, photo by NewNew member Kelley Gudahl}

Now all you need are envelopes! Hope your holidays are Merry & Bright!


Holiday Rush!

Oh, my goodness, are we in the thick of it now! For crafty biz people like me it's like final exams every week for a month, with the biggest, baddest exam coming up this weekend, the last shopping weekend before Santy Clause makes his annual visit. It's so busy, I'm taking cat-naps on the couch, eating mac and cheese at the kitchen counter, walking the dogs at all hours of the night, and probably not changing my clothes often enough.

Getting ready is as much mental as it is physical (in the sense of making enough stock to satisfy the hoped-for overwhelming demand). For me it involves coaching myself not to freak out, to just keep cutting, sewing, gluing, painting. Sleep can wait. It's a long slow winter.

To see the results of my and over 80 other local artisans' "making" madness (including that of many NewNew members), swing by the first ever Yelp Giftacular Holiday Market in downtown Manhattan this Saturday and Sunday, December 17 and 18, from 12 to 6 PM. And/or check out any of the numerous other local handmade holiday markets happening throughout the City. For a comprehensive list of these happenings, visit the Markets of New York Holiday Market Guide. It rocks.

Happy handmade holiday shopping!

Until next time -

Linda/Purty Bird

Gift Giving from 2010

I'm not one to brag. It has been ingrained in my brain from my Chinese ancestry that bragging is off limits. But in this case, I just can't help myself.

My one bragging allowance is that I am an excellent gift giver. And this Christmas, I gave some awesome gifts. Thankfully, the gift giving was particularly easy this year given that the {NewNew} was in fine form, providing me with a great variety of amazing handmade goods to choose from.

The first gift I gave this season was a pair of beautifully made gold key cutout earrings from Lingua Nigra, which I gave to my best friend. You can see them peeking through as she snuggles with my daughter.

Every year I pick up a pack of notecards from Blue Stitch Books, which are great when writing thank you notes!

My dear friend from high school is now currently working on her dissertation at U.C. Berkeley, so I picked out this sweet print from Virginia Kraljevic, framed it, and mailed it off to her. It's now sitting on her desk so she can see it when she writes.

And for my dissertation-writing-friend's mom, I've been sending her these seasonal tea towels from Claudia Pearson all year and "winter" was the last one to complete her collection.

I sent a couple of these lavender soaps from Nordea Soaperie to my godmother, who absolutely loves this scent!

And for a few of my friends and my sister-in-law, I picked out an assortment of lovely earrings from Wish By Felicity.
And lastly, I always reward myself with a couple of gifts for myself for surviving the busy selling season. Every year at the Holiday Handmade Cavalcade I treat myself to one of Better Than Jam's gorgeous dresses.

And to top it off, I purchased a beautifully sewn hat from Rocks and Salt. (And my daughter is wearing a Rocks and Salt hat that I purchased from them about five years ago! She loves it!)

I'm looking forward to 2011 as I become acquainted with new designers and their products, so I can get ideas for the next holiday season!


Holiday Gift Guide from the {NewNew}

Nothing says happyholidays-happybirthday-happyhanukkah-merrychristmas-happynewyear-iloveyou like a good, old fashioned piece of paper. Somehow, now matter how hard you try, the absurd graphics of e-cards, the strange language of texting, or an update on Facebook doesn't cut it when you're trying to make an impression. This year at the Holiday Handmade Cavalcade at OpenHOUSE Gallery in Nolita, New York, over forty designers will be selling perfect gifts for every occasion. In particular, the artisans doing their work on paper are exceptional. Be sure to come on by on Sunday, December 5th to see these beautiful paper products for yourself!

More fantastic products will be available at the Holiday Handmade Cavalcade, so keep checking back between now and December 5th for more product and artisan features!