By Jenna Herbut
This season, shopping handmade is proving more popular than ever, with conscious consumers choosing to support local businesses instead of buying aimlessly online. Craft fairs and markets are popping up everywhere to support the growth of emerging makers along with demand from holiday shoppers. This trend shows the desire to connect and engage in-person instead of scrolling and clicking.
Make It has been a staple of the Vancouver craft fair scene since I founded it in 2008. Over the last 15 years, our little show has grown in size from 25 exhibitors in a tiny community centre to over 250 Makies at the PNE Forum. The vibe and energy at the show are a result of the excitement the artists and makers have for participating and being a part of the community. Shoppers love coming out because they know they’ll find a lively, festive atmosphere along with amazing handcrafted gifts made with intention.
Supporting local brands and businesses has never been more important and needed than it is right now. Many small entrepreneurs were hit particularly hard during the pandemic, and it’s been a struggle to re-emerge. Consumer behaviour has changed significantly with social media and inflation, making holiday shopping an even more overwhelming pursuit.
By coming out to events like Make It, shoppers can feel good about what they are buying, because they can see firsthand who their money is going to. It’s a wholesome and positive exchange that can help ground someone into the moment. Also, the artisans all have inspiring stories about how they started their businesses, which they share openly and freely. This elevates the experience, because it’s not transactional like online shopping can be.
Here are six great handmade gift ideas from local artisans that you can find at Make It this year, which takes place at the PNE Forum from December 7 to 10.
Chances are, you know someone who drinks coffee or tea. Ditch the cup sleeve for one of these cool, locally handmade crochet replacements.
If you are on dessert duty or are looking to have some gift items on hand when you’re attending holiday socials, consider bringing local treats such as Oh Sweet Day!, famously known for its cheesecakes, shortbreads, and modern-design buttercream cakes. Every year, they create a Holiday Cookie Box: a festive gift box with 32 freshly-baked holiday cookies, a cookie card, and a hand-tied red ribbon.
These one-of-a-kind plush monster stuffies are handmade by Terri Wild in Victoria. All are crafted with care from upcycled wool sweaters, making this super cool idea for not only kids, but monster lovers of all ages.
Tree Fort Toys creates natural wood toys, games, and hands-on learning materials. One of my favourites is the yoga dice game—it’s such a great entry point for getting kids excited about yoga.
For the book lover in your circle, consider magnetic bookmarks that stay with them wherever they go.
These handmade confectionary-inspired soaps are natural and vegan. Try the Cookies and Creme, Donuts, Cupcake, or Macaron soaps—beautiful enough to eat, but please don’t.