The 10 Best Websites for Creative Gift-Giving

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I’m obsessed with gifts! And while I might be a materialistic brat from time to time, in this case I’m referring to the giving  of ’em (a halo appears). A lot of my friends have fangirl indulgences, so I have that advantage, but it’s important to me that I give presents that are thoughtful and personal. I thought I’d share a few of the websites that I use when it comes to the big search, before the lead-up to Christmas properly kicks in.

And yes, I have already purchased present number one. The dam broke.

1. Etsy

We’ll get this one out of the way first. Etsy is my most-used website when it comes to gift-giving. Not only does it have an incredible range of unique, handmade products, but they are made to a really high standard. Whether it’s for my parents’ silver wedding anniversary, a nerdy birthday gift or a yearning for some really exceptional typography design, Etsy never lets me down. It’s also a really easy-to-search site and you can set it to only show items that ship to the UK. Take it from me, you shouldn’t go getting attached to things you can’t have.

Rec: PopArtPress (use the coupon code SAVETWO to get $2 off!)

Pros: Biggest range and best quality.

Cons: US-based so shipping can often be a little startling. Always look into shipping when purchasing – often ‘buy extra item’ deals can help. Also: you may fall into a never-ending search spiral, not unlike when you’re “just going to watch ONE Youtube clip”. Sure, sure.

2. Folksy

Folksy is kind of the UK equivalent to Etsy. While its range is somewhat more limited, and if you’re looking for nerdy gifts (as I so often am) it’s not quite so good, Folksy shipping prices are low for UK residents and there’s still a really nice range of goodies. One of my favourite stores on Folksy, which I first found at a market, is ‘Framedup’. They sell lego versions of a number of iconic film and TV characters in frames. If that does not sound excellent to you then maybe we can’t be friends. A LEGO WOODY AND BUZZ. THAT IS FRIENDSHIP, OKAY.

Rec: Framedup.

Pros: Low-price shipping.

Cons: Limited choice, when compared to Etsy.

 3. YourDesign.co.uk

This is a photo-printing website, where you can personalise items including mugs, hoodies, shirts, phone cases, bags and more. I’ve only got experience buying a few of their products, but it’s the most reasonable price/quality ratio that I’ve found. This is where I would recommend you look if you want to create personalised items for friends.

Similar: Zazzle, Vistaprint, Printster, Snapfish.

Pros: Reasonable prices, decent quality, nice selection of personalisation options.

Cons: You’ll get a higher quality product at VistaPrint, but the prices there become unreasonable when postage and packaging is added in.

 4. Society6

Society 6 is great. They have free shipping deals about once a month, and the designs are works of art. A lot of the presents I buy are nerdy gifts, and Society6 is a great place for that – Firefly, Harry Potter, Doctor Who, The West Wing, The Office. It’s fun to give my friends presents that are covered in pop culture references relevant to their interests. Society6 is perfect for all of that, but it also has more abstract designs if you just want to give someone a distinctive print – for t-shirts, vests, iPhone covers, wall art, tote bags etc.

Pros: Shipping to the UK isn’t too bad, but wait until they have free shipping deals if you can. They’re relatively frequent.

Cons: It doesn’t have a perfect search system. I’m pretty sure it only picks up title words. Keywords, people. Tags? Even instagram has hashtags. Step it up!

 5. Red Bubble

This is a more comprehensive collection than any other print t-shirt design site online. It’s not ridiculously pricey, but it works out a little more than Society6. As well as t-shirts, you can also get stickers, iPhone cases, posters, cards and hoodies. The designs on this website are really impressive, and make a lot of official merchandise look amateur. Again, this is best-suited to nerdy gifting. Whether you want a Pikachu Potter, Joss jokes or just have a penchant for all things Parks, there’s a wide range of cool designs for all.

Pros: I GET LOST IN ALL THE DESIGNS.

Cons: I GET LOST IN ALL THE DESIGNS. So much choice has become too much choice.

 6. Wicked Clothes

The designs are simple but the slogans are gr9. I really love this website. I’m lucky enough to have lovely friends who do lovely things which include buying me lovely sweatshirts from WickedClothes, so I review this particular site as a gift receiver, not giver. Definitely check out the collection though, if not just to admire the pretty.

Pros: Great quality and fun, cool designs. I mean, cool to me. Probably not cool by the most traditional definition.

Cons: Pricey.

 7. Black Milk

They sell Harry Potter leggings. LEGGINGS. They sell Harry Potter swimming cozzies. SWIMMING COZZIES. Guys. I’m not even into Harry Potter enough to buy any of their Hogwarts collection, but damn it’s cool. This website is also damn pricey, but the designs are not just fangirl fine – they’re fashionable. You have to have far more swagger than I will ever have to carry a lot of them off, but if I ever spot a person in a Marauders Map dress, they get an auto high-five.

Pros: The designs are fashionable????

Cons: You still probably aren’t cool enough to pull them off, and you’ve paid over £50+ for the pleasure. Nevertheless, if I am ever wealthy enough, everyone goes home with a shooter of their Hogwarts house that Christmas.

 8. Firebox

Firebox has a real variety of gift ideas, and is at the very least a good start to the brainstorm. I also think this is one of the better sources of inspiration for bloke presents. I take great pleasure in hunting for gifts for my female friends (especially the fangirls), but the men in my life are a mystery come Christmas. Check out the Top 50 as a place to start. Also: if you don’t have a friend who would rock those unicorn slippers, get new friends.

Pros: Ideas for everyone, and some that are out of left field.

Cons: Not the widest selection ever, and some stuff is expensive so keep an eye on the prices while you’re looking.

 9. Lovely Jojos

This is a really small website, that I found after seeing them at a market stall. A friend and I fell in love with their ‘We Love You London’ print, which is simply magnificent. We had the brilliant opportunity to examine all the detail of it in person. Had I the money, I’d have hastily snapped it up for said friend. There are some other really nice items available, and if you’re looking for something unique for a friend it might be a nice place to start. Their card designs are priced at £2.75.

Pros: Unique and fun designs! It’s nice to know that no one will be giving the same gift as you.

Cons: HELP ME I’M POOR.

 10. Custom Made

They have a really pretty website to go with their really pretty designs. The necklaces are where it’s at. They’re as cute as anything you’ll find on Etsy, and UK-based. A particular favourite of mine is the lightning bolt, but everything that they sell has a real charm about it.

Pros: If you have a friend obsessed with owls (and doesn’t everybody?) then this is your moment.

Cons: Only a limited range of products.

If you have any similar great gifting websites or have any further tips on the subject, then leave a comment because I’m always on the lookout for more. Thank you, and happy shopping! Sorry for being that person, bringing up Christmas in September. It’s just really cold in my house. I’m wearing fleece!

The Deep End is Really Deep

Just over a year ago, I made a Big Scary Life Decision. Do I stick with the course that I am unhappy on, or do I move past my overwhelming fear of change and transfer to English? After a horrible period of will-she-won’t-she (the one-woman version of Ross and Rachel), I did it. I talked a little more about this in my first post but, ever since then, everything that’s happened has only confirmed it to be the absolute right choice. This week any remaining doubt I had was obliterated.

In the middle of August I headed off to London, for some very ‘citing work experience. Two weeks at the TV Times. Not bad, not bad. I was in equal parts thrilled and nervous about the opportunity. I love TV (more than is socially acceptable) and I love writing. This could work… right?

During my two weeks, I had the chance to do a real variety of writery things. One thing that I really sensed from the people I was working with was that they really wanted to give me great experience. It wasn’t a matter of bringing me in to do all the little jobs that they didn’t want to; at least, that’s not how it felt. Even writing a transcript of an interview felt valuable because I was learning about the interview process, the kinds of questions they like to ask. It was in the second week, though, that I was given something that I could really sink my teeth into.

On Tuesday (Day 7) I was invited to a screening of a new BBC show, Peaky Blinders, the following evening. There would be a panel afterwards, with Cillian Murphy, Helen McCrory, Otto Bathurst and Steven Knight. I was to take my cassette dictaphone (old school) and get some quotes for a feature I would later write. A couple of hours before I left for said screening, an interview with Helen McCrory the following day was thrown into the mix. It was one-to-one and face-to-face. Do-you-need-more-hyphens? You should know, prior to this, I had never interviewed anybody. I’ve never been very good at putting myself forward for things, but it was a matter of being given a task and wanting to do it to the best of my ability. It all happened very fast.

I have to say, I thoroughly enjoyed the screening and there was some really interesting discussion at the panel. Afterwards, I immediately began throwing together a list of questions that I thought would make for a good interview, before emailing them very late that night to my boss. It was really exciting to have so much freedom. While there was certainly a little input from him on the questions, it was very much my interview. The next morning, I found out details of the interview. I was given a half an hour slot. Now, just to make clear how long an amount of time that is, let me list some things you can do in half an hour: watch an entire episode of a soap of your choosing, make one of Jamie Oliver’s 30 minute meals (probably not, but still), learn Cups, load The Sims, watch just the good bits of any romantic comedy twice over, go on a shopping spree with me, listen to the Firefly theme song 34 and a half times.

The interview itself, while daunting, went relatively well. I’m still alive and there’s no restraining order in place. I call that a win. Helen McCrory was probably the best first interviewee I could hope for: patient, intelligent, interesting and passionate about the project she was promoting. We ended up talking a lot about female roles on television, which is something that I have a particular interest in so I enjoyed that. I think it also helped that my enthusiasm about Peaky Blinders was so genuine. I can honestly say I’ve not enjoyed watching a new series so much since The Hour. The cinematography is outstanding, and the actors make up a compelling ensemble. Watch it, you know you want to.

Gone are the days when getting the milk/coffee/water ratio correct and answering phones are the scariest aspects of work experience. And now look…