Shop local and find your perfect Secret Santa gifts for under £10

I guess by now you must all be very aware that Christmas is just around the corner. Hopefully you’ve managed to make a start on the Christmas shopping and have nabbed yourselves a few deals in the Black Friday and Cyber Monday events.

But although it can sometimes feel easier to shop online (apart from the delivery challenges!) <insert Yodel/Hermes/Other company rant here>, it's worth remembering that there are other options. There are lots of independent retailers around, especially in Maidenhead, which means you can get something unusual, and right on your doorstep.

Although I’m guilty of usually preferring to shop online (mostly because there’s never a good time to traipse a toddler around the shops!), I got in touch with Deborah Jones from the Craft Coop in Maidenhead to see if we could collaborate on a ‘local’ gift guide. 

If you've not heard of the Craft Coop before, its a pop-up shop in the Nicholson Centre that supports local designers and crafts people. It occupies the former Waterstones shop and it gives a high street presence to over 150 local 'crafters'. As we thought about the gift list we decided that rather than do the usual ‘for him’, and ‘for her’ we thought we’d mix it up a bit and show range of presents that are all under £10 and all made by people local to Maidenhead! 

Wearing a karate suit... all in a days work at Three!
In Maidenhead we have lots of large businesses with the head offices located here (I should know, I work at Three!). It's ‘Secret Santa’ time of year and the annual challenge of trying to find something decent for under a tenner for someone that you don’t usually buy gifts for can be quite a challenge. 

So I set Deborah the Secret Santa challenge to see what she could come up with for less than £10. Hopefully this list will give you all a bit of inspiration, and if you've left it too late for the delivery man to make it in time, even better. You can nip there and back to the Craft Coop, and still have time for lunch.

It's worth mentioning upfront that I'm not writing this post for profit. 

As a photographer I know that the creative industries can sometimes be a thankless task and I wanted to share a bit of support where I can. So I said to Deborah that if she could find a range of great gifts for less than £10, the deal was that I would come along to photograph them.

Be careful what you commit to! 

I have to say I was surprised to see such a hefty list in my inbox! So, a little intrigued, I went along to the Craft Coop on the 6th December (which rather appropriately was Small Business Saturday) and I was pleasantly surprised.

Before I talk about what I saw, it's worth mentioning some of the wider business context here. I think it's pretty fair to say that Maidenhead has felt a little bit lacking on the retailer front over the last 12 months - we’ve seen some large national brands vacate their premises, and sometimes these have lain empty while the landlords wait to hear the next steps for the town’s redevelopment. Compared to Windsor, Reading or High Wycombe, Maidenhead can sometimes feel like the poor relation. 

But, thanks to this blog I’ve met lots of local business people, lots of them mums, who are starting to turn that trend around. They’re innovating, being creative and are finding place for themselves on the High Street when space is available. Last Saturday was a great example of this. Our little town was alive! We had Art on the Street all along the High Street with lots of local artists braving the cold and showcasing their talents, there was live music outside and inside the Nicholson centre. You could even meet Father Christmas (for free!) 

Art on the street created a great atmosphere
So with a spring in my step, and wishing it could ALWAYS be like this, I went into the Craft Coop. 

Confession time: at first I wasn’t quite sure where to start - there is A LOT of variety in there. I’m also quite picky when it comes to craft items (probably down to having a super creative husband that seems able to make ANYTHING, from perfect Playdoh creations to keep the little lady entertained, to my own custom made paper flower Wedding Bouquet)

Handmade paper flower bouquet, made by the hubby!
But referring to Deborah’s list I was able to get a bit closer to the detail and spot some standout items that would make great gifts.

So, in no particular order, (and covering only half of the designers on the list that Deborah sent me!) here’s a list of things you can buy from 'Secret Santa', all for less than £10, and all handmade locally.

The Craft Coop has lots of gifts, all made locally and lots less than £10.

Bluebell Glass

If your designated Secret Santa person like bright and bold colours, then they'll like the contemporary glass designs from Bluebell Glass There's a mix of items, from tea light holders to earrings. The purple and blue stud earrings caught my eye, but this is not about buying for me!

 Here's a little bit more about Claire:

"I design and produce fun and funky fused glass pieces in Crowthorne, Berkshire. Glass is a bright and vibrant medium to work with, facilitating refreshingly individual and beautiful designs, ideal for any home.
My work includes a wide variety of products from the more functional items to indulgent decorative pieces"

What can you get for less than £10?

Cookham Candles
Instead of the standard box of handwash and body lotion, (does anyone else call them 'smellies!?) a candle can be a great alternative, and even better if it's handmade locally. The Cookham Candle Company make a range of scented and non scented, handmade candles in various different decorative containers. 

Here's a bit more about them: 

"We concentrate mainly on container based candles, and are constantly evolving our range of unique designs and delicate fragrances. We have some beautiful glassware and ceramics ranges and are also very keen to use craftsmen both here and abroad."

What can you get for less than £10?

Roelofs and Rubens

Handpainted earthenware, including egg cups, plates, plant labels and more! I particularly liked the 'no idea' plant label, perfect for the mystery herbs that grow in your garden.

Here's a bit more about them:

"On the border of Berkshire and Hampshire, the R&R studio sits in a shed in the garden, a true honest cottage industry. Using handmade/pored English earthenware bisque, derived from Stoke-on-Trent, our products are hand painted in our Hampshire studio, using stamps, stencils, sponges and lots of free hand painting. Once painted they are glazed and fired in the kiln to 1100°C."

What can you get for less than £10?

Teresa Mills Mosaics

Teresa Mills Mosaics have created a mini Mosaic kit that has everything you need in a bag to create a personalised mosaic. Although your first thought might be that this is just for kids, never underestimate the value of a gift that can keep your child occupied, quiet and happy while Mum or Dad can have a cuppa in peace!

Here's a bit more about her work:

"I have designed these professional quality kits so that anyone can create their own unique mosaic letter to use as a wall plaque or a place mat. The kits make a lovely present for both children and adults and are an ideal party, craft or 'rainy day' activity."

What can you get for less than £10?

Yolande devine

Yolande Devine makes a range of unique bracelets, earnings, brooches and much more. Her bright patterns and colours really caught my eye. I thought the presentation of the earrings was particularly clever, much better than a boring old jewellery box!

Here's a bit more about what she does:

"In my range you will find a distinctive collection of jewellery designed & created from high quality materials including semi-precious gem stones ,fresh water pearls ,glass artisan beads and hand pour resin pieces all finished off with hand forged sterling silver, copper and Vermeil. Each piece is designed and hand made in my home studio in Maidenhead, Berkshire." 

What can you get for less than £10? 

Co-Co Crafts

As you walk in the door of the Craft Coop its hard to ignore the vibrant colours and patterns that you can see on the Co-Co Crafts stand. A friend of mine is a fan of the kids dungarees... partly for the pattern and partly because you need straps to be able to grab a running toddler!

Here's a bit more about Coco Crafts:

"My name is Amy Neal and I am CoCo Crafts. I have a wonderful range of handbags, purses, accessories and children's clothes. I make all the products I sell at home and take great care in the quality of every piece. My love for colour is portrayed in my selection of bright, funky fabrics and I am constantly adding new additions to the range."
What can you get for less than £10?

Korry's little shop

Another year, another Christmas decoration! If you're buying for someone that LOVES Christmas, then a handmade decoration from Little Korry could be just what they want.

Here's a bit more about Little Korry:

"At Korry's Little Shop, you will find that perfect decoration for a nursery, a children's room, any room in the house or the Christmas tree. Every item is hand cut and hand stitch, there is no glue in sight.
Whimsical home deco and unusual jewellery handmade in High Wycombe with love and the French touch."

What can you get for less than £10?

More than Divine

I'm a sucker when it comes to bold colours and patterns (I got married in bright blue, as you do!) So Trish Westrop's corner of the Coop really caught my eye. there were some great patterned coasters and bookmarks. 

Here's a bit more about Trish:

"I'm a surface designer/ maker I graduated, as a mature student, in June 2010 with a BA in Surface Design from the University of the Arts, London. Whilst I enjoy making fun pieces of jewellery I also design wallpaper, greetings cards and prints for fabrics; both fashion and interior. "

What can you get for less than £10?

Fran Mc Caskill

With a range of decorations in different colours, Fran McCaskill's fused glass pieces are bright and quirky.

Here's a bit more about Fran's work:

'I live in Surrey with my husband and 3 children. I trained as an information graphic designer at Middlesex University and have 20 years commercial design experience.  I am a highly motivated person with a real passion for design in all media. I enjoy experimenting with wire, wood, metal and glass and am inspired by the 'wonkiness' of life recreating this in my designs - making them unique with a quirky twist!'

What can you get for less than £10?

So there you have it, a handy little list to encourage you to shop locally! I hope you've found it useful and that you feel inspired to take a look in the Craft Coop. If you're still stuck as to what to get for your Secret Santa person, they even do gift vouchers so you can let them treat themselves!

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