How handmade goods make Christmas even more special

A young woman was sitting on a bus, a bag of groceries on her lap, watching the rain fall in rivulets down the window and splash off the pavement. It was a cold December evening and at five thirty, was now already dark. All the shops had closed; the only building which was showing signs of life was the Salvation Army shelter where hot food and a warm welcome awaited. Car headlights and street lamps sent out beams of subdued lighting battling valiantly against the dark. Everyone was heading for home on this Advent night, after all, it was the season for heading home to contemplate and prepare for Christmas. This young woman had a slightly slower pace of life at present, with different priorities as the days were shorter. She had been busily making and baking for Christmas with her children, squirrelling home made gifts away and filling the store cupboard with home produced traditional treats. Precious saved up pennies would be spent on a few carefully chosen bought gifts and confectionery. Anticipation was slowly mounting, but what she was really looking forward to was spending time with family and friends; a pulled together school nativity with cotton wool beards and priceless mistakes and classrooms bedecked with home made paper chains, sharing festive food, singing carols and playing games around the fire. There was going to be nothing loud or glitzy; her emphasis was on home spun charm and spending time with a family she loved.

How different is this to the weeks running up to Christmas today? Yet only a couple of generations ago, this scenario would not have been too far removed from reality. Here at Craft Insurance, we love all the festivities which surround Christmas, but for us, the more traditional handmade Christmases of the past capture the essence of Christmas much better than the hectic commercial whirl of bright lights and credit card bills which have become a predominant feature of our present culture. Yet, maybe the current climate will take us back to a quieter, simpler, more contented Christmas without the stress and the pressure? Could it be that there is already a slight shift in all this? Might you, as crafters, be offering an alternative which is becoming increasingly appealing?

The rise in Christmas markets across the country would suggest that this is the case; from school bazaars to lavish city centre festive markets and everything in between, these events are rising in popularity. Markets offer not only individuality in gifts, but a whole shopping experience and day out. It is this, that as craft vendors, you can pick up on. So, ensure you have your insurance for crafters in place and head on out there!

Christmas markets have become a December tradition for many; families with young children looking to spend pocket money, friends on a girls’ day out, and elderly folk enjoying the community feel of a local craft fair. Food is often a central part of the day, and while there will probably be stalls selling mulled wine and mince pies, this is a great opportunity for craft businesses who specialise in chocolates, cakes and other sweet treats to display your show stopping wares. Christmas is a time for celebration and feasting, a time when we can let go and enjoy some of the good things in life.

Most of us will associate chocolate with Christmas; chocolate coins in stockings or chocolate Father Christmases nestled into the tree. A gift of chocolate is an indulgence, a perfect treat for a season of celebration. As consumers are becoming more discerning in their purchasing, small chocolate businesses are in an ideal position to meet those requirements. Be bold about your businesses credentials; state clearly where your raw ingredients come from, how they are sourced and produced and how you package the finished products. Make sure the ethical foundations of your business are clear. Take some time to think about this; what you would probably consider common sense and general courtesy towards your staff may not always be normal practice within large companies. If you are selling online, make sure these are clearly stated on your website, along with your personal “about” story. This links the customer to you, and starts to build a relationship between vendor and buyer from the start. If you are selling at a market, you could make a visual display of your fairly traded raw products and ethical policies. You will also need insurance and as specialists in insurance for crafters we can ensure you have the correct policies in place; why not give one of our friendly team a call today?

Next comes the decision of choosing which of your range of products to take to a market. This will obviously depend partly on the location.  However, some products will be top sellers wherever you are; stocking fillers and small boxes of artisan chocolates, maybe with a Christmas twist or two. As a food business you will need the correct insurance for crafters in place; to avoid extra stress at this time of year, give us a call and have peace of mind.

Christmas bakes are also a winner at festive fairs. The enticing aroma of traditional treats such as gingerbread men, mince pies and of course Christmas cakes and puddings will bring customers flocking to your stall. The area in our brain which processes smell is right next door to the part that is responsible for memory, hence why we associate smells with different places and events  in our past. So, as a baker, you will be giving your customers a sense of well-being and nostalgia alongside your delectable treats. Very few things encapsulate the sense of a warm and cosy Christmas as does the smell of home baking.

Why not get nostalgic about the warm, homely cosy side of Christmas? After all, although Christmas traditions have evolved over the years, the reason behind the very first Christmas was about the birth of someone special, ie. God’s Son. The event wasn’t glitzy or glamorous, just simple and homely, well actually, more ‘stabley’. He grew up to live a humble life, enjoying celebrating and sharing food with friends.

Back to our young woman in the bus. The handmade Christmas she was preparing for seems far closer to the heart of the first Christmas than the commercially driven ones of today. As crafters, maybe we can help people rediscover a bit of the real Christmas spirit by offering individual, beautifully and lovingly crafted gifts, which are sure to bring a smile to people’s faces.