Freelance writer living in Manchester, UK. Also works in marketing for a dance organisation.
Go elf and hand-make presents to keep, for free
I always assumed I knew the best way to spread Christmas cheer, but the people down at Sadler's Yard, part of Manchester's NOMA neighbourhood, may have just changed that. If you're sick of giving the same old presents; slippers, socks, toiletries & toys - it's time you take a little trip to 'Wrap Up 2016' to see what's new.
Get cosy with local designers and makers at Manchester's festive winter workshop and wrapping exchange. Located next to the community-built Pilcrow Pub, which featured on The One Show, friendly local design collective, Makers Dozen, will be there everyday until December 23rd in a big white igloo shaped pop-up to help you hand-make a selection of traditional gifts, from candles to toy-boats & more. Eat some Blawd gingerbread men, make a gift, wrap it in GF Smith paper and take it away to hide in someone's stocking. The catch? Apart from the gingerbread men adding to the winter weight, there is none. It's ALL free.
Thinking it sounded too good to be true, I asked builder, baker, designer and maker Joe Hartley, why? Joe is one twelfth of Makers Dozen and part of OH OK LTD, the team behind it all. "There is no catch. People go to look at things over the Christmas period for free all the time. Like the Christmas lights, or our Hungarian architectural Christmas Tree installation last year. So why can't people make something and take it away for free?" It's a simple idea that incorporates plenty of ingredients from the magic of Christmas. Crafts. Care. Love. Giving. Time instead of money.
If you don't want to get your hands ever-so-slightly dirty, you can even go shopping to buy your own presents, which seems silly now. Take them to Wrap Up and leave them to be wrapped by a pro whilst you sip a pint in the pub as you wait. This is another free service on offer, but one you might be more inclined to make a donation to. All donations go to Mustard Tree, a charity to help the homeless. Of course donations are optional, but it is Christmas, a time for giving. That's what OH OK LTD are doing. So give something back, it'll make you feel good.
Making the traditional gifts isn't necessarily easy and does require an hour or two to do so with help. Each has been reinvented through exciting material twists and contemporary processes, but you'll come out with more than just a present. It's a keepsake, something meaningful, and that's rare these days. You'll be hard pushed to find an activity this season with a better grasp on the true meaning of Christmas than this. So 'Wrap Up', it's time to get into the true spirit of things.