Don’t feed the Amazon beast! We’ve got a selection of quirky and beautiful gift ideas that will raise your present-buying above the generic and propel your imagination.
Christmas is all about rituals and traditions… and if you work in the creative industry, they start right here! Because every year, all of us at Creative Boom put our collective heads together and help you find the perfect gifts for fellow creatives.
Why? Because all of us love the idea of buying presents in theory – ’tis better to give than to receive, as they say – in practice, we often struggle to devote enough time to it. As a result, we end up getting boring, generic gifts on Amazon that don’t really communicate how much we care for our loved ones… in fact, they might infer the opposite.
And it makes us feel bad for our profession too. After all, ideally isn’t it better to give our hard-earned cash to fellow independent creatives, rather than just feeding the billion-dollar tech giants that dominate our world?
To guard against that happening, last year we compiled the ultimate 2022 Christmas gift guide for creatives. And now we’re back for 2023 with another bumper crop of amazing gift ideas from independent artists and shops. (For more of the latter, check out our guide to the UK’s top independent shops.)
As ever, this guide will help you find truly original, unique and beautifully designed gifts, enabling you to support creatives designing and selling their own products, and the independent stores that partner with them. And that means that if you’re buying for fellow creatives, be they friends, family, clients or colleagues, they’re much more likely to hit home and feel truly meaningful.
Plus if you see something you’d like for yourself, there’s no shame in leaving your laptop open around others to drop a hint or two!
Grumpy Ant plush toy by Aysha Tengiz
If you have a friend who makes (or just appreciates) good art, check out the online shop of Aysha Tengiz, a London-based artist working within illustration, animation and textile design. It’s packed with great products such as this plushie with a difference. Judgemental and moody, squashy and creepy, this is the perfect present for the lover of unique things.
Diana F+ CMYK by Lomography
The love for lomo cameras within the creative community runs strong, and if you’ve got a friend who feels this passion then treat them to Lomography’s recently re-released classic Diana F+ CMYK camera. Brimming with retro chic, this camera takes medium format film (120), incorporates a flash, and is beautifully adorned in Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, and Key (Black). Splash your shots with colour using the gel filters, experiment with pinhole photos, and shoot multiple and long exposures with ease.
Felt hanging decorations by Wrap and various artists
Built upon creative collaborations with designers, illustrators and artists, Wrap started life in 2010 as a magazine and now includes a stationery and product range, online shop and editorial content in print and digital. And their felted Christmas tree decorations are insanely cute! They’re designed by long-term Wrap collaborators Cari Vander Yacht and Elliot Kruszynski, who worked with a Nepalese development project to produce 100% fair trade ornaments, handcrafted from felted wool by expert local craftswomen.
Stay Wild penneant flag by Pine & Bear
Pine & Bear is a treasure trove of handmade gifts for adventurous families, made in the UK, that celebrate the nostalgia of vintage camp life and the great outdoors. Handcrafted from wool felt in forest green, white and mustard, this pennant flag would be a great addition to a child’s bedroom, and inspire their sense of adventure. The flag measures 20cm x 45cm and can be hung with either White Tack or command strips.
Mini Stories by Scout Editions
From the natural world to man-made objects, everything has a story behind it. And that’s the fundamental premise of this beautifully designed series of books from Scout Edition; a London design studio with a passion for riso, colour and illustration. Mini Stories was inspired by the studio’s love of history and story-telling, and they delve into the back stories of many of the common things that surround us.
Jumbo Alphabet Stamps by Present & Correct
Who doesn’t love a good old stamp, and these big rubber stamps will do just the job for those creative pals who enjoy printing posters, labels, or even ransome notes. The wooden blocks will print you an 18mm letter. A cute option for any festive stocking.
Film Pin Badge by Fred Aldous
Fred Aldous makes a regular appearance in our Christmas gift lists, and for good reason. It’s a lively hub of creativity that’s been supplying the people of Manchester and the rest of the world with art supplies since 1886. And it does a neat line in natty gifts too. For instance, if you know someone with a love of camera film, what better gift than this fun and quirky badge?
Sketchy Girl Pin Badge by Hattie Clark
Here’s another super pin, and one which would make a great gift for any artist or illustrator in your friendship circle. The 30mm pin is reasonably priced and was designed by Hattie Clark, a freelance illustrator based in Duke Studios, Leeds.
Norm The Worm by Bobbi Rae
Your eyes do not deceive you. This twirly pink swirl of soy candle goodness is a creation of Bobbi Rae, a Yorkshire-based artist and designer who aims to bring us “uncensored printed goodness” and a “little bit of something for all ages, persuasions and budgets”. We had a feeling many of you would delight in having Norm The Worm on your mantlepiece. Limited edition and designed and made in the UK, its burn time is three hours, but who would want to actually light the wick? It looks too good to use.
Karel Martens 2024 Calendar by Present & Correct
One for the designers: a page a day, tear off calendar with a difference. And this one has been designed by Dutch designer/printmaker Karel Martens. Expect 366 pages of graphic numbers printed from found objects, in a fine array of colours, perforated at the top for easy removal. Another great offering courtesy of Present & Correct.
Big House coffee by NewGround
Coffee lovers behold! NewGround is an independent B Corp roastery in Oxford that brews up a whole range of different coffee blends, including Big House which rolls with the seasons. This juicy coffee promises to be the foundation to start your day. With great balance and medium complexity and notes of chocolate, toffee and red apple, it’s the perfect festive wake-up call. And the packaging design is just…delicious.
Friend’s Annual Membership by Yorkshire Sculpture Park
Yorkshire Sculpture Park (YSP) is an open-air gallery in West Bretton near Wakefield in West Yorkshire, and the largest sculpture park of its kind in Europe. A Friend’s Annual Membership here is truly a gift that keep on giving. The lucky recipient will enjoy 12 months of inspiring days exploring art and the great outdoors across 500 acres of gorgeous parkland, woodlands, lakes and galleries. They’ll also enjoy all kinds of exclusive perks, previews and early access invitations to world class exhibitions and events.
Nan’s Stash by Fatso
Not yet heard of Fatso? It’s a female-led chocolate brand launched in Richmond in 2022, offering the most delicious chunky dark chocolate bars made with only the finest ingredients. Even better, Fatso sources its cocoa from a family-run business called Luker’s Farm in Colombia and who are behind The Chocolate Dream, an initiative that ensures sustainable development in the cocoa territories. If that wasn’t cool enough, the cool packaging design will be more than make your mouth water.
For The Fashionistas
Kanata Knits x Natsko Seki for Niwaki
Winter is coming, and if you have a friend who feels the cold, what better gift than a charming cardigan? This one is hand-knitted by Kanata Knits, who are based in British Columbia, Canada and follow the traditions of the original Vancouver Island Natives. Featuring a distinctive combination of thick pure wool, shawl collars and horizontally created patterns, the design was created in collaboration with Natsko Seki. The result is influenced by Japanese aesthetics whilst retaining the traditional techniques and craftsmanship that are central to Kanata’s pieces.
Loop Crew by Folk
This classic fit knitted crew neck in a textured, loop effect yarn is brought to you by Folk, an independent clothing store in London, founded by Cathal McAteer in 2002. Describing its collection as “quietly stylish enriched by subtle details” and “style without drama”, we think a browse through Folk’s online store won’t disappoint.
Andrew polo shirt and Alberto pants by Andrew Footit via LAU Clothing
Buying clothes for loved ones is always fraught with peril. But if they’ve got a love for colourful, arty, Eighties-inspired design, they won’t fail to love this printed polo shirt with side splits and cuffs. In fact, this pattern design by Andrew Footit is such a work of art, we’re not sure whether to wear it or hang it on the wall!
Tokyo by HOFF
We couldn’t not include a pair of sneaks in this year’s gift guide, and HOFF is a brand we’re particularly taken with. Founded in Spain in 2016, the brand’s products for men and women come in a range of colours and styles. We love that each trainer is named after a city, and inspired by its own culture. Here, we’ve picked out Tokyo, a shoe that nods to everything from Japanese fashion, avant-garde cuisine, and dancing robots to temples, monks, and ancient shrines.
Rainbow striped scarf by Penny Grace Knitwear
Here’s another great way to warm people’s hearts this winter, both literally and metaphorically. This brightly coloured scarf has a striped, rainbow design that will instantly add a contemporary finish to your outfit. Hand-made by Penny Grace in her garden studio, it’s ideal for anyone who appreciates a gentle touch, because it’s made from Geelong lambswool, which is comparable to cashmere for its warmth and luxurious softness.
You Wot tote bag by Hattie Clark
Another fun gift idea from Hattie Clark, this fun (yet heavyweight) shopper bag has long handles with reinforced cross stitch. Made from 80% recycled cotton and 20% recycled polyester, it’s nice and capacious (490mm wide and 370mm deep), plus the sides are gusseted for extra space, perfect for popping in all your bits and bobs. It’s the clever creation of an ethical brand called Stanley Stella, who make garments with a focus on durability, comfort and quality.
Cheeky Cherry Necklace by Good Daze X Hattie Stewart
We’ve long been huge fans of doodle artist Hattie Stewart, so we’re psyched to see she’s collaborated with Good Daze to create a dynamic fusion of art and adornment. The seven piece jewellery collection is inspired by Hattie’s cheeky, vibrant visual aesthetic and the pieces embody her distinctive, playful doodle-inspired style. (Learn more about it in this article.) All Good Daze pieces are designed and made ethically, from recycled metals, in small workshops around East London. Each piece comes gift wrapped and with the option to add a gift message.
For The Seriously Extravagant
Table Football by Hey & RS4 Home
If you’re going to spoil someone who loves the beautiful game, might as well be a unique gift, right? RS Barcelona and Hey have just the thing. The Barcelona-based brands recently joined forces to craft this special edition table football game. Available in an explosion of colours, this is quite possibly the coolest offering of foosball we’ve ever seen. Now you’ve just got to find somewhere to house it.
M11-P camera by Leica
All photographers are worried about AI and intellectual property theft right now. So Leica have a bit of a coup here. The latest addition to their ‘P’ range, the M11-P, is the world’s first camera to attach Content Credentials to images at the point of capture to protect the authenticity of digital images. Plus it’s a pretty impressive camera in general, with a 60 MP BSI CMOS sensor, Triple Resolution Technology, the high-performance Maestro-III processor, 256GB internal memory and sapphire crystal glass with an anti-reflection protective coating on the LCD screen.
Also launching is the next generation of the Leica Summicron-M 28 f/2 ASPH, an update to the M-Lens portfolio offering a state-of-the-art, versatile wide-angle lens with the latest sensor technology in an improved ergonomic and compact body. The lens hood has been manufactured in a modern, round design, directly integrated in the lens, making it especially easy to use and screwed in or unscrewed with a simple hand movement.
C Line Explore by Brompton
Brand new from Brompton is the C Line Explore folding bike in a lush lime green. Choose from low, mid or high handlebars with this six-speed workhorse, geared up to cope with just about any terrain. The model includes a front carrier block, so you can add a Brompton bag quickly and easily. There’s also the Brompton saddle with black rails and a pump that sits on the rear frame. To warn people you’re around, there’s an integrated bell. Crafted in its London factory, Brompton powder-coats each and every bike using environmentally-friendly powders and energy from 100% renewable sources.
For The Outdoorsy & Active
Ojukokoro basketball by Yinka Ilori
Yinka Ilori is a London-based multidisciplinary artist of a British-Nigerian heritage, who specialises in fusing his British and Nigerian heritage to tell new stories in contemporary design. His new limited-edition collection is comprised of basketball designs and corresponding T-shirts. The brightly coloured collection is inspired by the concept of Ojukokoro, which is derived from the Yoruba language and reflects on the notion of greediness transforming into mindfulness.
Blue Mountain CloudTouch Blanket by Voited
Voited is on a mission is to create unique, eco-friendly products that are purposeful and inspire us to venture into the great outdoors. This 4-in-1 insulated, water-resistant and machine washable outdoor blanket is a great example: it’s so soft and comfy, you won’t believe its 100% made out of plastic bottles. It feels like real sheep’s wool but is much lighter in weight, less bulky, and has faster drying abilities. In short, it’s perfect for cosying up inside your van, tent or even in the comfort of your sofa at home.
Bonfire 2.0 fire pit by Solo Stove
One of the biggest fire pit brands in the world, Solo Stove has an ethos of connecting community in nature, by the fire side. These simple, ingenious outdoor products help create good moments that become lasting memories. Bonfire 2.0 is a ‘smokeless’ fire pit that can be situated on heat sensitive surfaces. Ideal for family and friend gatherings, any time of the year, in the backyard and beyond.
Travel Tumbler by Kinto
Take your tea or coffee with you in this seriously stylish travel tumbler by Kinto. Available in various dreamy colours (we personally love khaki or white), the vacuum insultated tumbler has great heat and cold retention with a cap that feels smooth on the mouth and allows you to drink the liquid inside from any angle. We also recommend Kinto’s trail tumblers for the keen walkers amongst you.
For The Book Worms
Don’t Get a Job… Make a Job by Gem Barton
Is it your dream to make it as a creative? Imagine for one moment that there are no employers, no firms to send your CV to, no interviews to be had; how would you forge your own path? The most ingenious and driven designers have found ways of making opportunities for themselves across the creative disciplines… and you can learn from them in this incredible book.
Don’t Get a Job… Make a Job celebrates the various strategies that the next generation of creatives are taking to gain exposure and define their own success. This revised edition includes inspirational advice and a new chapter on making a difference, features new stories from 13 innovative designer-entrepreneurs, and checks in with many of the original creatives from the first edition.
Optic by Counterprint Books
Some art forms have had more of an impact on the language of graphic design than others, but not many have helped contribute the same dynamism, energy and vitality as Op Art, aka optical art. Graphic designers today are rediscovering the best Op Art of the 1960s with delight, revelling in its experimentation and unexpected outcomes. Optic does a great job of explaining the different optical effects used in graphic design and helping you to distinguish their various forms.
Universal Principles of UX by Irene Pereyra
UX (user experience) seems to have take over the world of design in recent years, and if you can add UX to a job title, it tends to bump up the salary considerably. So whatever type of designer you are, it’s worth getting your head around. And here’s an expert guide from UX veteran Irene Pereyra.
This book will help you to master the art of user experience design through the 100 laws, guidelines, human biases, and general considerations in this comprehensive, cross-disciplinary encyclopedia.
Richly illustrated and easy to navigate, it pairs clear explanations of each concept with visual examples of the ideas applied in practice. This landmark reference is the standard for designers, engineers, managers and students who seek to broaden and improve their user experience design expertise.
Paused in Comic Reflection by The Chemical Brothers
Paused in Cosmic Reflection is a newly released book that features the definitive story of The Chemical Brothers, told in the voices of Tom Rowlands and Ed Simons, with contributions from friends and collaborators, from Noel Gallagher to Beck, Q-Tip Beth Orton and Wayne Coyle. Fully illustrated with 30 years of mind-bending visuals, this is an excellent gift idea for those who still remember the afterglow of the Manchester acid house scene and who appreciate one of the biggest electronic music acts in the world today.
For the Homebirds
Stendig Calendar 2024 by Massimo Vignelli
We all need to buy need a calendar at this time of year, but there are so many dull designs on the market, it can be a depressing task. Here’s a notable exception. Created by legendary Italian designer Massimo Vignelli in 1966, the Stendig remains one of the best examples of 1960s modernist design, featuring two of the movement’s most iconic creations – Swiss typeface Helvetica and the Grid. Soon after launch, the calendar entered into the permanent collection of the MoMA, New York, where it remains to this day.
Vignelli’s design is simple yet bold, litho-printed on large 122x92cm sheets bound together by three hand-punched eyelets. The pages alternate in colour, with odd months laid out as black text on white, and even as white text on black. Sheets are detachable, designed to be removed at the end of each month. Previous months’ sheets make excellent wrapping paper.
Tea towels by Wrap
Here’s another great gift idea from Wrap. Why put up with drab and boring tea towels, when these brilliantly illustrated tea towels can make drying up way more fun, and can’t fail to put a smile on your face. Made with 100% woven cotton, Wrap’s latest styles include a fruit salad from Cari Vander Yacht, and gardening rabbits illustrated by Elliot Kruszynski.
Simple Wall Clock by Present & Correct
Classic, timeless, and ideal for any discerning creative’s office wall, this simple clock by Jasper Morrison will never go out of style. It has a moulded plastic body, crisp type and a striking red second hand.
Dog Bowl by Hammo X Fred Aldous
Sticking to Fred Aldous, did you know the independent also does loads of great collaborations with local artists and designers? Nick Hamilton, popularly known as The Hammo, is one of them. A Manchester local, Nick lives with his family, two large cats, and a medium dog. Which might explain the concept behind his new collection with the shop. Expect pet-themed mugs, money boxes and this super cute dog bowl – perfect for your beloved furry friend this Christmas.
Power Infinite screen print by Dotto Studio
Want to cheer up a mate who’s struggling, or just a bit down? Then how about a powerful affirmation they can gaze at every morning? This limited-edition screen print featured in the Agency exhibition at Manchester’s Hilton House, and is based on the notion that: “Your power is infinite. Wield it wisely.” Super simple and neon bright, this design packs a real punch, and would make a great gift for any creative. It was designed by Dani Molyneux and printed by Harvey Lloyd.
Egg Cup by Jon Burgerman
A cheerful addition to any morning routine, these ceramic mugs by New York-based illustrator Jon Burgerman not only have an eggy design on them, but also a colourful rim, handle, and inside, too. Dishwasher and microwave safe, order yours now to get guaranteed delivery to the UK. Also check out Jon’s charming Fwends Mug.
Corvo EKG Electric Kettle by Fellow
Any creative would be proud to have this designer electric kettle on display in their kitchen. Smooth, elegant and unique, it’s not just gorgeous to look at; it’s functional, too, as its 1200 watts allows a quick heat time, and there’s a world of features for ultimate control. Made in San Francisco, we’re almost gutted to be telling you about this, as we’re not sure we’ve seen anything like it.
Keel blanket by Haar & Swansdown via Hilary Grant
Looking for more soft and warming gift ideas? Hilary Grant is a textile design studio, based in Orkney, Scotland, that specialises in knitted pattern for fashion and home. All their textiles are made from luxury grade, cruelty-free 100% lambswool. This sofa blanket borrows its shapes from their 2021 Dovetail pattern, but arranges them liberally and without rules, rotating, mirroring and chopping them up to suit the composition. Special care has been paid to the kerning between these characters, so you’ll be able to gift this to a graphic designer without any fear of wincing.
Handmade porcelain mugs by 1616 / arita japan
Last but not least are these stunning handmade mugs by Teruhiro Yanagihara – the designer behind 1616 / arita japan. Made in collaboration with Dutch designers Scholten & Baijings, the mugs are part of a Colour Porcelain collection which throws new light on Japanese tradition, mixing Asian craftsmanship with European culture. Just beautiful.