If you're looking for a creative activity for yourself or as a gift for someone you know who loves all things artistic or crafty, you're probably already aware of how relaxing these sorts of mindful pastimes can be.
Slow living, hands-on time carved out of an otherwise busy, digitally crowded day or week can prove invaluable for your sense of well-being and your mental health.
Ways to spend your time that don’t involve a screen or batteries (perfect for these current times when energy prices are going through the roof!) can concentrate your mind and prove extremely mentally relaxing as you focus only on what is right in front of you.
Not only that, you can sit back and admire what you have created when you've finished! Win win!
So here is a selection of creative activities and kits that provide everything you need to take some time out, and they make perfect gifts if you are looking to give some artistic downtime to your favourite people.
They make the perfect gifting solution all year round but especially when you are searching for present ideas in the run up to Christmas.
All of these suggestions come from small British businesses so you also have the satisfaction of shopping small and local to support passionate, female led independent businesses, who will celebrate every order and recommendation. Feel good gifting!
I ordered the Cheeky Chunky Yarn (100% merino wool) from Wool Couture in Duck Egg during lockdown to make a gorgeous moss stitch blanket, pictured here.
It was quite a daunting project as I hadn’t knitted anything in a long time but as my blanket started to grow it became quite an addictive process to finish just one more row, until I literally ran out of yarn!
The result is a beautiful, amazingly soft, incredibly warm layer that I am so pleased with.
Wool Couture offer all sorts of different kits, and whether knitting, crochet, or macrame is your bag, they have something suitable for beginners through to advanced level; you are sure to find something to take your fancy.
Knit one of their lovely blankets, create a super cute mouse or octopus, or even crochet your own Christmas decorations. There is a huge range of options to choose from; find them at woolcouturecompany.com.
If knitting a blanket feels too much of a commitment or you want to be able to see results sooner, and you love the idea of wearing your finished creation, a crocheted necklace (or two) might just be the answer. Offered in a rainbow of colours, you can choose whatever takes your fancy and will fit with your wardrobe from Emma at Stitching Me Softly.
You won’t need to put aside hours to create your masterpiece and you can wear it with pride afterwards. It’s sure to be a talking point, as admirers will want to know where they can get one. Other options include kits to crochet your own basket or hat, or a friendship bracelet kit.
Take a look at all the lovely options at stitchingmesoftly.co.uk.
Calligraphy has enjoyed something of a revival in recent years. Feeling just as at home in a traditional or modern setting, beautiful, graceful lettering makes everything look better, whether you want to make your own wedding or party invitations, place names or gift tags.
With a bit of practice (OK, quite a lot of practice, it’s not as easy as it looks!) you too can impress your friends and family with the stylish elegant simplicity of your dinner parties or gifts.
Writing and rewriting individual letters with a nib and pen that looks like it has been borrowed from a historical novel, is in itself is a pleasurable, meditative activity that will make you lose track of time in your search for the perfect sweep and downstroke …
Another Christmas present request from me was this beautiful starter set from Judy Broad Calligraphy, judybroadcalligraphy.co.uk. Gift-ready with everything you need to get started (and hooked) it comes tissue wrapped in a sturdy box and would make a unique gift. You can also sign up for an online course for additional guidance and expert support.
4. Paint by Numbers
Not something I have tried yet but I’m sorely tempted! Painting by numbers is another offering that has enjoyed something of a makeover in recent times.
Find an artist you love, and recreate your very own version of a piece of their art, which when finished you can hang on your wall to remind you of your artistic genius!
This is such a great option if you would love to paint but have no idea where to start. Everything is provided, from paints to brushes, a carefully laid out canvas showing you how to progress from start to finish!
Enjoy the therapeutic process of applying beautiful colours and textures, almost as if the artist is standing right beside you cheering you on, as your masterpiece takes shape. The only difficult bit is deciding which picture to choose.
Rhi James at Hebe Studio offers the most beautiful, colourful paint by numbers kits, as well as prints, homewares and even gorgeous travel inspired scarves. You can find them on her website hebe.studio.
5. Jigsaw puzzles
As the founder of small British jigsaw business, Bloom Puzzles, I can’t not include puzzling in this round up of creative, mindful ways to relax! The perfect way to tune out the day to day, as you focus on finding that piece you’re sure looks like it should be blue with a tiny dab of red on the corner...
Take up the challenge of a 1000 piece jigsaw, puzzle alone in peace or make it a social event with family and friends. Either way, make sure you’ve got some puzzle refreshments to hand and settle in for as much time as you can spare (be warned, that voice that keeps telling you ‘just one more piece…’ can be very persuasive!).
Perfect as a quiet escape from the festivities over the Christmas holidays or whenever you need to be able to take a deep breath to gain some mental clarity, puzzling could be the answer (it’s almost definitely the answer!).
Add in an aromatherapy candle to naturally elevate your mood and help you unwind, a carefully chosen selection of music completes your relaxation essentials to provide maximum jigsaw puzzle enjoyment.
Visit Emma Shipley, Prints in Pieces or Pieces Store for gorgeous, anything-but-twee British jigsaw brands or take a look at Bloom Puzzles jigsaws and aromatherapy candle gift sets here, for some seriously relaxing downtime and the perfect unique gift solution for any one of a number of discerning people on your Christmas present list.
Shopping small and local, buying quality gifts made by people who are passionate about their products and their customers, will not only help boost every small business you support after what has been a difficult couple of years, but it will also leave you feeling extra good about the thoughtful gifts you give to the people you love for Christmas this year!
ps If you enjoyed this blog post, you might like to subscribe to our email list, the Bloom Edit, for information about new designs and special offers, or follow Bloom on Instagram @bloom.puzzles :)