Handmade & Vintage Gift Ideas

In case you're like me and you still have 90% of your holiday shopping to do, 'tis the time for list-making and internet-scavenging! This year, I'm making more of an effort to support small and local businesses. If you want to shop independent and you're not sure where to start, Etsy makes it easy to search across many small businesses for a particular kind of item. You should also check out the comments section of this recent post on the excellent blog Door Sixteen for a roundup of links to all sorts of small businesses. Easy ways to shop local include frequenting independent bookstores, markets, and craft vendors; these shops enrich my life all year long, so it only makes sense to support them during the holidays. 

I often forget about the vintage side of Etsy, but if you do a little searching, you can find some truly unique items. There are so many affordable vintage posters, books, and household objects that might align perfectly with a loved one's special interest or aesthetic. I'm planning to gift a couple of vintage items found on Etsy, and I cannot wait to see the expressions on the recipients' faces when they open them!

These are just a few of the items I've bookmarked this season; if I have time later this week, I'll share a few more. This is probably as close as I'll get to a holiday gift guide this year, if only because I find gift guides so hit-or-miss. (Also, procrastination.) If you want to share your love for a small business, please leave links below! 

Items above, from upper left: VaseCord WrapTerrariumEarringsNecklaceHat

Etsy Picks + Tips

Transient

One of my current favorite places to shop online is Etsy. To me, Etsy is half treasure trove, half rabbit hole; you can find some truly unique and well-crafted pieces, but it's easy to get lost in the sheer quantity of stuff. The beauty (and chaos) of Etsy is that there's something for just about everyone. So how do you find the items that fit your aesthetic?

A simple search can suffice... if it's specific. For example, I've been looking for a delicate silver infinity ring for a while, and typing "silver infinity ring" into the search is guaranteed to pull up something that fits the bill. But if I just want to browse the jewellery section, it's much harder to find something to my taste, even if I narrow it down by material or color. From my experience, here are a few tactics that can help you browse Etsy when you don't know exactly what you're looking for.

1. Browse the "Treasuries" to find items that suit your style.
On the Etsy homepage, you'll see a selection of "handpicked items," a curated collection of 15 or so goods compiled by another Etsy shopper. If you click "see more," you'll be able to search through all the treasuries. A "treasury" is basically Etsy's version of a pinboard or moodboard, and anyone can make one. This kind of search allows you to explore items within a certain aesthetic. For example, I typed in "minimalist" and found jewellery, home decor, clothing and art that incorporates clean, simple designs. (I may have also searched "cats.")

2. Browse by "Trending Items" to find popular goods.
Sometimes I like to know which items are bestselling, and that's when the "trending items" tab on the homepage comes in handy. If you see an item you especially like, hover over it and you'll find a link to "see similar items," which will pull up an assortment of items with the same general design or function. I also click through to the shop's main page to see what else it offers.

3. Shop collections around the web.
Many websites publish Etsy gift guides or top picks. I like to check blogs and online magazines to see whether they've mentioned any inspiring Etsy items. There's even a whole site devoted to Etsy-exploring: A Cut Above the Retsy features the "best of Etsy," handpicking items in every category and spotlighting notable artists. The Soapwalla deodorant is something I bookmarked long ago after reading about it on countless blogs.

So far, the finds I'm most impressed with on Etsy are jewellery, home decor, and paper and leather goods. I'm amazed at how affordable some of these items are (that handcrafted leather pouch is only $34!). Here are the links to some of my top picks... these sellers have pretty things and great reviews. Do you have a favorite Etsy shop?

Bowls // Ring // Pouch // Epsom Salts // Earrings // Deodorant // Mug // Planter // Calendar // Card // Cat