Hello winter! Here in the UK there’s finally a proper chill in the air; we’re drawing the curtains by 5pm, and piling on all the layers. As a small business owner who works from home, I try to make this season as cosy as possible by adding comforting textures, soothing scents and soft lighting everywhere.
Fortunately, I know a few brilliant indie brands that are thoughtfully creating perfect products for this time of year – from stationery to candles to haircare – so grab a mug of something warm and hunker down with my curated 2023 gift guide. You’ll find supplies to help you hibernate in style, and gifts to bring a little bit of joy to the people you love.
1. Space for your thoughts with a hand-made notebook
Whether you’re journalling mindfully, planning ahead for 2024 or finally writing that novel, a beautiful piece of stationery lends a little bit of luxury – even to shopping lists and scrappy first drafts. Especially when it comes with splashes of gold like this gorgeous notebook (£18) from Blue Stiggy.
Lincolnshire-based Michaela creates her stationery by hand and adds personalisation with help from her vintage typewriter Dorothy. Her eco-conscious notebooks make such lovely gifts (and with a tree planted for every order, there’s a gift to the planet too).
Follow Michaela (and Dorothy) on Instagram: @bluestiggy
2. Set the scene with comforting candlelight
There’s something magical about festive fragrance, isn’t there? I’d happily spend November and December in a cloud of orange and cinnamon. Create instant Christmas atmosphere with the spicy warming scent of this Stollen-scented candle (£26) – whether you keep it for your home or gift it to a friend, it’ll brighten any dull winter days.
Based in Norfolk, Rock + Realm was founded by Laura to help people nurture their spiritual wellbeing with sustainably and ethically sourced products, from crystals to jewellery to herbal teas.
Discover more from Laura on Instagram: @rockandrealm
3. Decorate your winter nest with playful art prints
‘Tis the season for wrapping up on the sofa with easy warming comfort food… I’m definitely in the mood for this beautifully illustrated print (from £9) celebrating all things noodle-y. More of a pasta, pancake or cheeseburger fan? Browse Skudaboo’s prints to find your favourite.
Bristol-based Katie designs art prints and homeware with a modern eclectic flavour – just the thing for decorating your winter sanctuary.
See Katie’s work on Instagram: @skudaboo
4. Add a little indulgence to your routine
Equally suited to Christmas party prep or a self-care Saturday in your dressing gown, use this Mane Event gift set (£37) to treat your hair – or pamper your favourite person. Suitable for all hair types, it’s designed for shine-boosting ultra-glossy results. (And how inviting is that satin scrunchie?)
Founder of Wild Rising Skincare Danielle creates her award-winning products in Torbay, Devon with a focus on connecting with nature. From bath oils to smoothing serums to beautiful gifts, you’ll find organic and vegan ingredients and a refillable philosophy.
Follow Danielle on Instagram: @wild_rising
5. Catch the winter light with sparkling glass
Bring the frosty weather inside without the freezing temperatures with these hand-crafted glass icicles (from £35 for 6). Hang them on the Christmas tree, or dot around the house for winter wonderland sparkle. They look delicate, but are resilient enough to stay outdoors too!
Based in Harrogate, Joy runs The Glass of Joy using lampworking techniques to create delightful glass decorations. They’ll become treasured heirlooms to bring out year after year.
Get more glass goodness on Instagram: @theglassofjoy
6. Get lost in a cosy craft project
Winter and yarn go together like mince pies and mulled wine – whether you knit, needle punch or crochet (hey crochet pals!) it’s the perfect time for making cosy items. This joyful yarn (£18) will elevate any project to new levels of gorgeousness (and yes, all the colours are just as dreamy).
From her Edinburgh studio, Leonor of Eleanor Shadow creates hand-spun, hand-dyed yarns with one-of-a-kind colourways you won’t find anywhere else – just the thing for your favourite knitter. And who knows – if you’re very very lucky, perhaps they’ll make you some special Christmas socks.
Follow Leonor on Instagram: @eleanor.shadow
7. Write a comforting note to a friend
Sometimes it’s not only the weather that feels cold and foreboding. It can be a tricky time of year for those of us managing mental health challenges, chronic illness, or bereavement, and it’s easy for anxiety and isolation to creep up on us. I love it when people send these cards (from £3.30) just to let a friend know you’re thinking of them… especially in this busy season when it can be harder to meet up with people face-to-face.
In fact, cards for empathy, encouragement, grief and loss are some of my favourite ones to design – it’s always a good day to let someone know you’re on their team.
Connect with me on Instagram: @rockpaperswan
8. Look forward to 2024 with a greetings card
Whether you’ve enjoyed 2023 or can’t wait to flip the calendar, marking the new year with warm greetings is such a lovely idea. These bold 2024 cards (£3.50) from Jess A Little Creative are a tangible way to share hopes and wishes for 2024.
A fellow indie greetings card brand, Jess designs thoughtful cards from her home studio in Cheltenham for all sorts of occasions, incorporating her distinctive illustration style.
See more of Jess’s work on Instagram: @jessalittlecreative
So there you go: eight thoughtful products from eight great indie UK businesses. Hopefully you’ve ticked a few gaps off your Christmas list, or discovered a lovely new business to follow and support in future!
Wishing you the cosiest possible winter season from Rock Paper Swan x