Practical: How I edit my photos

Today I thought I’d share my photo editing process as I get told that my photos look great and wanted to share my knowledge. This isn’t a process that will work for everyone, it is just an insight into what works for me and the style I like to create. I am by no means an expert in photography and editing, it is just what I learnt from working in a retouch company and then trial and error.

I shoot my proper photos (i.e the ones I use on my grid on social media and in product photos in my shop) using a DSLR, it is just an entry level Nikon camera which I added a 35mm lens to as I’m lazy and can’t be bothered to switch out lenses all the time and this works Ok for most situations. I then edit my images using Photoshop CC on my iMac. There are lots of other software options available which can do the same functions but personally I’m just used to using Photoshop.

This was my unedited image, I decided to show you this one as this is the worst starting point. The lighting wasn’t great so it is dark and very red looking. I always shoot in portrait if I know the image will be tuned into a square as its much easier to visualise and ensure you get everything in the frame. Normally I would wait for better lighting but I thought it would be a more impressive transformation.

The first stage is just a a simple 1:1 square crop so I know what I’m working with, I sometimes need to move the square around to get the best framing to reduce it down in size. This one was bang on centre though.

Next I change the levels, I drag the white (right hand) marker down to where the histogram starts going up and thats usually as bright as I need it. Occasionally I pull the black marker to the right very slightly but as this was already so dark it wasn’t necessary.

My next step is ‘curves’, which is my favourite editing tool. I like to have bright white-ish (think slightly washed out) photos which might not be your thing but I’ve noticed that I have to edit a bit brighter on my iMac as it always dulls down a little when viewed on a Phone. My usual rule is pull the middle point up a little as shown then pull up a marker about 25% up the line very slightly too. You need to experiment with this as it depends on the starting point of your image and how extreme you want to go.

I then work on the Colour Balance, to neutralise the colours. I don’t like my images to be too warm or too cool. This image started out very warm so I tipped the highlights and midtones slightly more towards cyan but also a little yellow to balance out that red. Again good knowledge of colours is really beneficial at this point as it doesn’t always work out how you think it will.

Another step that works for me is reducing the saturation down, this is just a personal style preference as I like a muted colour palette.

The final edit before resizing and saving is just tweaking the brightness and contrast, often this is not really necessary but again it is dependent on the image.

The last step is just to resize the image, I personally like to stick to a consistent 30 x 30cm and 300dpi so it is high resolution and could use it for anything web or print. I then save as a JPG as this is what is easy to use online. Here is my final image.

I’d love to find out how you edit images and any hints or tips you might have to improve my process so leave me a comment or send me a message. Also, if you struggle with photography and found this helpful just let me know as I’d love to know if you want more of this kind of blog post!

That New School Year Feeling

2020 has been a funny old year, the last few months felt a bit like time was standing still yet here we are in the last quarter of the year…

One thing that you can always count on is the way September brings with it that feeling of a new start; harking back to the time when we would don our too big school uniform, fill up our pencil cases with gel pens and head off for a new school year. Even now in my 30’s I still get the urge to stock up on new stationery but any excuse eh?

This year I actually invested digital stationery (rather than totally pointless scented erasers!) in the form of a new iPad and apple pencil so that I could get to grips with Procreate. I’m very grateful that my online shop has been the busiest its ever been during lockdown but it meant I’ve barely had a chance to play with it! I’m now trying to dedicate some time for it and so far I’ve watched a lot of excellent Skillshare videos and joined in with some of the projects to practise the techniques.

I took this photo in the local park last week, most of the plants in the gardens were starting to look like they were on their way out but these Asters were still as vibrant as ever. It was only later than I discovered they are the Birth Flower for September so I just had to draw them! I love drawing botanicals so this seemed like an ideal project for me.

I started with a rough sketch using one of the basic Procreate pencils. I loved being able to cut and move pieces around which you can’t really do with regular pencil and paper without redrawing from scratch.

Then I moved onto adding layers and drew the outlines using a variable ink pen, filling some of them in with colour. Initially I stuck to my branding palette as I really like the simplicity of limited palette illustrations.

When I was happy with that, I decided to duplicate it and test my recolouring skills using the reference photo to get my palette. I also added more outlining detail to the stem and leaves to see how it would look. I’ll probably go back and edit the blue version to add in some more outlining in the same way.

I also added a colour to my background and added in some speckles and some ink spots for texture from a brush set I purchased on Creative Market.

My aim is to try and do one for every month and maybe if I like them enough I might convert them to personalised prints or cards, what do you think? If you fancy getting 2 months free of Skillshare free then click here. I highly recommend it as an investment for your small business as there are so many things you can learn about and the quality of the classes are excellent.

Let me know if you use Procreate and if you have any tips or recommendations for me!

Corona Creativity: Courses & Kits

If you want something to keep you occupied during lockdown these incredible small businesses are offering online courses or mail order craft kits. I’ve put together this directory of inspiration and will update it with more as I come across them. Please feel free to send me links to anything you would like to add to the list.

Baboosh Designs – Join in with a live sew-along on Facebook by this small business selling baby and childrenswear. You can purchase the pattern to join in on the website.

Oh Squirrel – Take the time to improve your handwriting with a few free tips from the master of fancy writing!

Origami Est – Learn the skill of origami with Esther Thorpe via these brand new online workshops. Take part via Zoom video links.

Little Shop of Lathers – If you fancy making yourself a treat, then these DIY bath bomb kits will keep you entertained for while.

Nikki Whiston Inks – Practise your calligraphy with these great kits for kids and adults. They sell out super quick so follow in Insta to find out the next release.

Hawthorn HandmadeGreat kits for beginner stitchers. I can now do french knots from making up one of the embroidery kits. These cross stitch ones are lovely too.

Tusk & Twine – These are some incredible embroidery patterns and you can make it your own by using whatever thread you have around.

The Paper Haven – This lovely previous customer of mine (who also happens to be super local!) is hosting online papercrafting classes in case you need to practise your stamping techniques.

Beautiful Greys – If you fancy having a go at sewing then why wouldn’t you start with a tutu!! Make Your Own Tutu Kits are limited though so don’t miss out.

Gifts by Indigo – Their name might only contain one rainbow colour but their fab kids craft kits certainly have the full ROYGBIVin them! And it is a bonus if it keeps the kids quiet for more than 5 minutes…

Bluprint – A great selection of crafty courses, you can even preview some first to see if they are for you! https://www.mybluprint.com/

Get a premium SkillShare account FREE for 2 months. So many great courses to sign up to that you really have nothing to lose.

Please drop me an email (alyssa@fernbankstudio.co.uk) or tag me on Insta (@FernbankStudio) if you have any other offers to share in the directory.

CoronaCreativity: Free Colouring & Planning Downloads

In these difficult times, it is so positive to see businesses being creative and offering free mindfulness downloads (for both adults and kids!). Please feel free to send me links to anything you would like to add to the list.

Oh Laura – Kill a bit of time by doing this free downloadable dot to dot. It’s good to get a bit of screen-free time too. If you enjoy that she also has some downloadable colouring sheets for only £1!

Now Then Sunshine – Some more awesome colouring sheets for you. Just make sure you print two copies; one for you and one for the kids so you can colour inside the lines.

The BoweryColour in this sheet and enter it to the competition to win a voucher to spend in store. They have a great cafe, art courses and gift shop!

Oak & Whistle – Another cute colouring set, this time it is seasonally themed which I like.

Ailsa Black – Has created these highly detailed illustrations into colouring sheets. This hare (below) is my favourite as it reminds me of Summer but there are other animals too.

Nutmeg & Arlo – There are some great colouring sheets but I like this thankful list which you also colour in if your pencils have not worn down to stubs by now.

By Charlie’s Hand – If you want to colour all the rainbows then take a look at this Facebook page and download the weekly windows of happiness!

Inky in the Wild – A fab small business offering a free printable planner to give the kids some structure (good luck with that one…)

Morning Mr Magpie – Is saying it exactly how it is with these quote colouring pages. You will need to make sure your pencils are extra sharp for all the fiddly bits.

Canal & River Trust – Here are some great little games and activities to keep the little ones busy. It’s even educational so think thats a win!

Doodle Love Designs – If you need a bit of structure to your own day, grab this grown up downloadable planner sheet (then try and stick to your plan!)

Please drop me an email (alyssa@fernbankstudio.co.uk) or tag me on Insta (@FernbankStudio) if you have any other offers to share in the directory.

5 Things Small Businesses Can Do In Lockdown

It’s certainly unusual and uncertain times right now with the spread of Covid-19 around the world and I expect it has affected almost everyone’s lives in some way by now from altering social plans, and travel plans to self isolating and being in a full lock down situation!

As a person in the high risk category, I fully support the decision to take extreme measures to limit the spread of this virus but it is obviously going to have a detrimental effect on our small businesses. We may not be able to operate at full capacity or our customers are more reluctant to shop. However, its important to remain positive (and indoors!) as we think of ways to make the most of this potential downtime.

Declutter your office or workspace

I can honestly say that decluttering is one of my hobbies and it would appear on my CV if I ever applied for a job! I find it very therapeutic and afterwards feel such a sense of calm when everything is in its place. If you’ve had a busy Christmas period you might find that things have got in a bit of disarray. Personally my method is removing everything out of the space before deciding what goes back to avoid a half hearted attempt. You never know, you might find something good in the clear out to inspire you!

Declutter Your Computer Desktop

I’m sure I’m not the only one that has a habit of saving ‘important’ documents to the desktop and then they sit there for months gathering pixel dust. Have a ruthless clearout of files, organise your photos, name your documents properly so you can find them again quickly. Oh, and whilst you’re at it, do a back up! I’m sure you haven’t done it for a while. I usually back up to an external drive and cloud storage too.

Get a Head Start on Accounts

I know most people find accounts tedious but honestly the best thing you can do is keep up to it rather than leave it until last minute. Why not start prepping your accounts ready for the next tax year in April, then you can be the smug person that isn’t panicking next January when you are trying to track down receipts from a year ago. My advise is to take it in small chunks such as month by month, especially if you haven’t looked at it for a while. …and whilst you have time, look into accounting software if keeping spreadsheets doesn’t bring you joy.

Prep For Busier Times

Depending on what you do, there may be some processes that you can prepare for in advance. I know that one of my hated tasks is making up the flat pack postal boxes but sit me down in front of Netflix for an hour and I can easily make up hundreds (with only one or two papercuts!) Maybe you can sort and stock up a packaging station or something similar so that when shoppers return you are ready to offer quicker turnaround times.

Support Other Small Businesses

We know how tough this is going to be on the economy but its likely the big guys can weather the storm whereas the independents, the artists, the local shops who already have a lot to compete with are likely to take a much bigger hit. We might not be attending parties but there will still be babies born, friends and families celebrating birthdays, anniversaries, retirements so think and plan ahead and buy gifts from those that need your support the most. I’ve seen so many small shops offering delivery services and gift vouchers as options so theres no reason not to! I’m sure it will be much more appreciated by the recipient too and we all need a bit of extra joy at the moment.

If you have any other suggestions or ideas I’d love to hear them and share them so get in touch. Encouraging social interaction right now is beneficial to our mental health if its only on a virtual level!

Fernbank Studio is open and taking orders on the website www.fernbankstudio.com and www.fernbankstudiouk.etsy.com but as I am a sole trader I would have to close immediately if I was to become unwell. I will be limiting my dispatch days to once or twice a week so orders may take a few extra days to arrive than normal but just message me before ordering if you have any queries.

All Imagery sourced on https://unsplash.com/

Build A Dream Business on Pinterest – part two

I hope you have all had a chance to read though Part 1 of my post on Pinterest by now. I didn’t want to overwhelm with too much information all at once so split it into the theory and the practical. Please be aware that that is only my own personal experiences with Pinterest and what works for me, may be different for you and your business. I have not been paid by Pinterest or any other company mentioned in the blog.

My Guide to Pinterest Best Practices

PROFILE – Setting up your profile correctly is the first step. You need to choose a Business account over a personal one if you want access to analytics and business features. Have you website (or Etsy shop) connected as well as lots of lovely keywords in the description. Make sure you keep it readable and don’t just have a string of key words. if possible try to have a short description in your name too if it is not obvious what you do from your business name alone. There is a character limit on names but there seems to be more characters allowed if you edit on a desktop rather than the app.

COVER PHOTO – One of the new features is the introduction of a dynamic cover photo. You don’t choose a static image or slideshow like on Facebook or Twitter but instead it will constantly update. You can choose it to only show pins from a specific board or from all boards. I personally have it set to all pins for a bit of diversity and because I curate my content so they always look good next to each other and maintain that brand consistency.

Dynamic cover photo – I pin botanicals and paper crafts a lot!

BOARDS – Set up a range of relevant boards. If you had been using it personally then you will likely need to archive or delete anything non relevant. Don’t forget you can use secret boards for stuff you want to pin but don’t want the public to see, its worth remembering that Pinterest will still suggest pins in your feed related to secret boards but NOT archived boards. Name your boards something which people are likely to search for and don’t do anything creative with the titles such as putting a space between individual letters. Remember to fill in the board description to help with SEO (search engine optimisation) and whilst you are there set a nice pin as a board cover so that it looks nice and neat on your profile. In page settings you can choose up to 5 boards to feature at the top of your overview page and it’s worth choosing boards which feature the most amount of your own content to highlight.

My featured boards based on what performs well with my audience.

PINS – It is possible to upload unique pins but save yourself the effort and Pin directly from your website or Etsy shop if it is products you are trying to sell. There are various plugins you can install on your browser so you can batch pins and even schedule them so you can spread it out over a few days/weeks. I use Tailwind to do this as it is an official partner of Pinterest. You can also pin the same pin multiple times across various boards or set it to loop pins. It is especially useful for products which fit numerous categories or are seasonal.

CONSISTENCY – If you only take away one bit of information from this post is to pin regularly! Pinterest loves fresh content and the algorithm works by testing the first 5 pins of the day with a batch of your followers and if they are popular then it will spread those pins to a wider audience. For this reason I try to post at least 5 pins per day but I usually stick to less than 10 so I’m not bombarding followings which can be a turn off. I also pin to a mix of boards to keep the content diverse and interesting. I do however focus a bit more on something if it is seasonal, for example I am trying to pin Father’s day content at the moment as that is the next calendar event that people are searching for.

My own pins just added to my Father’s Day board

FOLLOWERS – I try to not to focus on my follower count too much as it is doesn’t seem as vital as on social media platforms. Following others is really important though, but try to stick to high quality accounts that are pinning relevant content regularly. The follower feed is a new feature which shows you followers pins in chronological order and sits alongside the regular algorithmic feed. If you follow the right people then it will be easy to search out the right sort of content you should be pinning too.

A snapshot of my ‘follower’ feed showing a diverse range of content

SOURCES – When you are pinning the content of others be sure to check the sources. Nobody likes a dead link or a link to something irrelevant or worse, inappropriate. It is also worth having a quick check of the caption on the image to make sure it is also relevant.

QUALITY – As with anything you share publicly in connection with your business, make sure that it best represents you. Use good quality images and make sure your links all link back to the correct places. Always check what you are sharing adds value and is authentic to your brand.

ANALYTICS – I’ve not had a chance to get to grips with the new analytics fully yet as they have just made some more significant changes which were only in Beta testing previously. I like how on The Audience Insights breaks down the content that your audience is searching for. It is fairly obvious that the majority of users are female and searching for things relating to crafts, family, events etc. but it would be interesting to see insights from a different type of business to mine such as a food or fashion business so see the difference in audience. There is a link to see the insights relating to ‘all Pinterest users’ so I will be sure to update once I have had a chance to delve into this further.

The new audience insights panel

CONTENT – Finally, make the most of your lovely content! You don’t need to create brand new content for every platform, that way madness lies. If you post something on social media, set up a link so that it sends those posts automatically to a board. (I use IFTTT to help me with this!). My business board with content only from social media gets the best interaction, I can then use the content from there and spread it further to other relevant boards. If you are pinning direct from a website or Etsy shop and the listing has multiple photos, pin them all! Close ups, lifestyle shots, packaging, the more diverse the better. You have invested so much precious time into creating your content why not get as much out of it as you can.

That’s it, my best tips for building your dream business through Pinterest whilst only investing a few minutes a day! I’d love to see some links to your Pinterest accounts so feel free to follow me on there and send me a message if you’d like some feedback.

Build A Dream Business on Pinterest – part one

Hands up who loves Pinterest? Now keep those hands up if you enjoy pinning those dream homes, how about your dream wardrobe or maybe even your dream wedding?

Now imagine you can pin your dream business.

We’re all guilty of wasting a few hours being drawn into the wonderful world of Pinterest but I imagine most small business owners don’t know how powerful it can actually be for your business. Yes, it’s awesome for finding and collating inspiration but did you know it can actually draw traffic to your website and help you find customers?

I’ve been a keen ‘pinner’ for years but only in the last 12-18 months have I really started to recognise it as a business resource. I’d just like to mention that I am not paid or sponsored by Pinterest or any other brand mentioned in this post. Everything is my own opinions and experiences. The fundamental thing I learnt that completely changed my mindset is that Pinterest is a search engine and NOT a social media. I know, mind blown! It makes sense once you think about it but as it so often gets lumped with Facebook, Instagram and all the others it’s easy to forget how unique it is.

A snapshot from my gift wrapping board

At the beginning of last year I spent the quieter days huddled around my computer watching all the videos learning the best practices, taking notes and making a plan of action to get the most from this underrated platform. It really didn’t feel like work though as Pinterest is so visual and fun and I’ll be the first to admit I’m the nerd that enjoys a bit of extra homework!

Pinterest is constantly evolving and it is something that requires some commitment, as with social media but it really doesn’t have to be a chore if you create a routine for yourself. You do get out what you put in though so if you decide Pinterest needs to be a part of your life then commit and don’t set it up and neglect it.

Last year they introduced a number of new features including statistics for business accounts. I’ll admit I did become a little obsessed whilst I was learning about Pinterest and at the peak I was getting half a million monthly viewers to my pins which is just crazy. Since then it has settled at a more manageable 250-300K. There are sometimes peaks and troughs through out the year such as when searches increase for seasonal items. Having these monthly viewers is a nice guideline to how well your account it performing but views don’t equal £ in the bank so for me, it was the amount of traffic that was being drawn to my Etsy store. 87% of all my traffic via social sources is Pinterest with 6% coming via Facebook and 5% from Instagram. It’s nearly impossible to know how many of those people actually purchased but clearly people are interested enough to click through so more traffic usually equates to more sales.

It is a little heartbreaking to realise how much effort I put into creating content for Instagram and Facebook yet it is such a small percentage of traffic compared to Pinterest which requires quite minimal effort but the reality is, that Pinterest is where my potential customers are hanging out and imagine how awesome it could be if I directed my attention to them?

A graph from my Etsy Statistics showing social media sources.

That’s not to say that what works for me and my business may not work for everyone but I thought it would be fair to share my Pinterest routine and hopefully bring back a bit of love for this often ignored platform.

Part 2 of this Pinterest guide is now live and features some very practical and useful information that you can implement.

Horsforth Photo Walk

I’m not sure if it was the fact it was sunny and warm when I woke up this morning or the fact that I have been enjoying my copy of the new book ‘Hashtag Authentic‘ by Sara Tasker but I was feeling enthusiastic about taking the camera out for a walk.

There is an amazing amount of interesting paths and trails very close to where I live and I set out to find something different. Here are a few of the images that were all taken around Horsforth, Leeds. We started at the Peace Garden as we had an errand to run first then walked down by the river, incredible to think that the ring road passed right above us at one point!

When it comes to photography, I often find myself in a bit of a bubble. I’m so focused on getting the perfect ‘grid’ shot for my business on Instagram that I forget to see anything else. The low February light was producing some amazing effects through the shadows which I was keen to capture even if it meant breaking some traditional photography rules.

This photo was taken by my partner @andy_j_marshall, you should check out his instagram but only if you really like mountain bikes!

The realisation that I’m not a planner

This post was adapted from one of my subscriber e-letters that was sent on January 13th 2018. If you would like to subscribe to future updates please click here.

It has taken a while to get back into the swing of things after Christmas. I’m not the kind of person to go into January armed with planners, highlighter pens and a heap of hopes and dreams. I’m a realist and after over 5 years in business I am aware that January is usually one of my busiest months so I don’t add any extra pressure onto myself. I respond very badly to failure and if I don’t complete a to do list, I consider it a failure even though I know that is ridiculous. I’m very much self aware of this aspect of my personality and now just accept it rather that fighting with myself and setting my standards too high.

It is a bit heartbreaking to realise that I’m not a planner as my love for stationery runs deep! I even have a business selling stationery but I will literally find any other task to do rather than making commitments and planning for the future. In an ideal world I would be an optimist but I was reminded once again last night that I do expect the worst to happen at all times. The interesting take away from that realisation is that it doesn’t make me stressed or anxious, in fact it means I’m more prepared than I realise when things don’t go the way they should.
I have to remind myself daily that I run Fernbank Studio whilst having a chronic illness; which is not something I talk about publicly. I’m not telling you this for sympathy but to give you permission to accept your limitations whatever they might be. You might have family commitments, relationship or health issues and all these take up precious time and head space. If you also have a small business then do not feel guilty about not completing all those mammoth tasks you wrote on the 1st January. I’m not saying you shouldn’t set goals as I think most people are more efficient when they have something to work towards but just take it back a step and feel satisfied at what you do achieve.

I was recently reminded that it was 2 years since I was an Etsy Mentor for the Resolution programme. It was a wonderful experience and really pushed me out of my comfort zone. I was given the opportunity to mentor hundreds of brand new Etsy sellers which was pretty amazing and I’m still not sure how I managed it. Imposter syndrome well and truly struck me as I didn’t believe I was good enough for such a gig, and honestly I still feel the same two years on. I don’t think it ever leaves you. I’m not an Etsy mentor anymore but I’d really love to hear if you have an Etsy shop and if there is anything that you struggle with running it. I’m going to start thinking about ways that I can help and support small business owners, especially with running their online empires. It is still very much a tiny seed in my head but helping others has always been a key focus of what I do so this seems like a really practical way to share my experience and expertise.

I feel like I can justify going out and buying that brand new diary now that I have these new ideas to plan out but I know full well that it will be left blank and gather dust in a drawer so maybe I will just window shop and stick to my usual method of diving straight into a project and hoping for the best.

2018-03-20 14.41.34

A Conscious Christmas Gift Guide

I can’t believe Christmas has crept up so quickly, I know this happens every year but it somehow still always surprises me! I didn’t get a chance to create a gift guide of my favourite independent sellers and most of them have now shut up shop for the holidays so instead here is my guide to last minute gift ideas that are a bit more ethical and a little less consumerist.

If you are still struggling to buy for that person that has everything or you accidentally missed someone off your list then here are some ideas to consider. They might seem pretty obvious but with all the stresses at this time of year it’s good to have a refresher!

Gift a Skill

  • If you are a great cook (or even if you are an average cook) do you have a defining dish that you make all the time and is delicious, why not make up a few extra portions and they would be appreciated by any elderly relatives or brand new parents who are struggling to cook for themselves. There is nothing better than a lovely home cooked meal! It’s best if you can make something that will keep in the fridge or freezer, a hearty soup, stew or chilli maybe?
  • A similar concept is baking, everyone loves cake! It doesn’t have to be anything too complex but wrap it nicely and it makes for a really thoughtful gift. You could even try a home made granola, its so quick and simple; I make a huge batch every week and have gifted it to friends in kilner jars and it has gone down a treat!
  • If you are not a great baker, then fill a nice jar with the ingredients to make something lovely instead.
  • Can you knit or crochet? Even if you are beginner but you can cast on, knit a straight line and cast off then you can make a whole range of things from scarves, wrist warmers, phone cases, dishcloths… take a look online for super-easy patterns. Pick up balls of wool in charity shops for a good price.
  • Artists can gift a piece of their artwork, make it something specifically designed for the recipient as art is a very personal thing and you wouldn’t want it to end up hidden away at the back of a cupboard.
  • Are you an ace at nail art, then gift a pamper evening; face masks, manicures or whatever else you fancy…

Gift Your Time

  • Time is probably something we could all do with a little bit more of so a promise of your time is the ultimate gift for busy people.
  • Offer to babysit, dog sit, house sit whatever it is they need to allow them to take some time off. They might be too proud to ask for help or feel like they would be putting you out so make it clear that they are on your priority list.
  • Alternatively gift the promise of your time to spend with them, make it legitimate with a ‘goodwill’ voucher and be specific i.e ‘I promise to take you out to your favourite coffee shop for tea and cakes’/ ‘I promise to bring over a takeaway and a movie one Friday evening.’ If they are someone really special, then you could make up a whole booklet of goodwill vouchers. There is a template at the bottom that you can download and use.
  • If you are a dab hand with a paintbrush or nail gun then offer your time to help them with a DIY project. Everyone has jobs to finish in the house and it’s always nice to have a helping hand.

DSC_0208

Gift the Environment

  • Look online for ways to sponsor an animal or if the charity have an Amazon wishlist that you can send to. A nature reserve near where I live allows you to sponsor a bird box. The perfect gift for any animal lover and you can usually download a certificate of sponsorship by email so it can be very last minute!
  • A plant makes a lovely gift although not everyone is green fingered. Gifting a cacti or a hardy houseplant is an option and if you have plants yourself then take cuttings from then and put in a nice pot with care care and instant gift! You could even get creative by making a fairy garden or terrarium, so many wonderful ideas on Pinterest.
  • Recycle. I think we can all admit to receiving gifts that have just sat gathering dust for a while, as long as they are still in date and in good nick then there is no shame in re-gifting to someone who will appreciate, just make sure you don’t give it back to the person who got you it!
  • Have a craft kit lurking in the back of the cupboard that you haven’t finished (or even started)? Dig it out and its the perfect time to get it completed and give it to someone, you never know you might discover you have learnt a new skill in the process.
  • There are so many home made bath and body products that can be made using kitchen cupboard essentials, good recipes for natural lip scrubs, hair masks, bath salts etc. a nice label and you’re good to go. If they have short shelf lives then write out the recipes instead so the recipient knows how to make their own.

Gift Local

  • Visit independent coffee shops to ask if they do vouchers for afternoon tea etc or get a voucher for a haircut, manicure, craft or cooking classes at a local workshop. This all helps to support the high street.
  • Search out local charities, they always need help. You can buy merchandise such as calendars or there are often ways to sponsor. Even better if the charity is close to the heart of the recipient.

Gift Keepsake

  • Make a mixtape. I suppose the 2018 version is to create a personalised Spotify playlist rather than recording songs off the radio onto cassette tapes!
  • Root through your digital photos and get some printed. Make up an album or if you are handy with a computer you should be able to make a collage of the best ones that you can then pop in a frame.
  • Write a heartfelt letter, a poem or even write a song (if you are lucky enough to be skilled in that way!)
  • Make an inspiration or memory jar. The idea is to put strips of paper or ribbons with either memories or inspirational phrases or a mixture of both.

 

If you like the idea of giving your time then you are welcome to download my free goodwill voucher in your choice of gold, silver or rose gold for personal use. You could even print off a few and either staple or tie together with ribbon to make a book of vouchers.