Handmade products Surprises

Silver and gold stick necklace

Every month, one of our monthly subscription gifts is a dainty and lovely piece of handmade jewelry.   In September, subscribers received this silver and gold stick necklace, made by Rita of Just a Charm Jewelry.

Silver & Gold Stick Necklace

We absolutely loved this piece.  It was actually created exclusively for Fair Ivy—Rita had created a similar piece in silver before but decided a unique pairing of gold and silver would be just the ticket for her first  feature as a Fair Ivy surprise gift boxes hand-maker! Both our Original Subscription subscribers and our Jewelry subscribers received this hand-wrapped  and hand made goodie as one of the surprise gift boxes in their mailbox. IMG_7835 Also! I was recently asked by Whole Foods to do a presentation on Creative Gift Wrapping for the Holidays at a location in Santa Monica, and they asked for a photo of me to put on a banner (gulp).  I decided this necklace would be a perfect accent piece, so wore it for the photo—check it out below!  (ps. If you live in or near Santa Monica, come to the Wilshire Whole Foots on December 9th at 2pm to hear me speak and participate in a gift wrapping craft event!)

Lucy Fairweather - owner of Fair Ivy surprise gift boxes

For more details on Rita’s jewelry and other lovely handmade products, check out her shop Just a Charm Jewelry.  We know you’ll love her handmade products as much as we do—and remember to keep them in mind for future birthday presents, or random surprise gifts for friends.

Keep your eyes open for more posts on our previous and recent monthly subscription gifts. Coming soon…

Gift Packaging

Creative Gift Wrapping : A How-To

Creative gift wrapping

Creative Gift Wrapping from Fair Ivy Here at Fair Ivy we absolutely love creative gift wrapping—which is lucky, considering we are involved with it every day for our jobs!  Vendors come to us with lovely handmade products, and often ask us for help and suggestions on improving their branding, info cards, and gift wrapping styles.  We often point them to our Pinterest Board Creative Gift Wrapping, but we’ll break down a couple of simple and easy ways to improve your gift wrapping right here on the blog (and most of them are very cheap)! We are going to focus on three types of gift wrapping (our favorite kinds):
  1. Organic/natural
  2. Feminine
  3. Stuff around the house (this is generally the most inexpensive and creative gift wrapping!)
Here’s the break down:

1. Organic & Natural Gift Wrapping

This is my personal favorite kind of gift wrap, and it’s the one that most of Fair Ivy’s vendors end up using when they send out surprises each month.   Besides feeling organic and natural, it is classy, simple, and timeless.

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For this style, you almost always start with kraft gift wrap.  I have a HUGE roll at home, for personal gift wrapping to give to friends on their birthdays, Christmas, or just as little random treats.

THRIFTY TIP: You can save the kraft paper that is often crumpled up and used to pad items that you receive from Amazon or ebay or anywhere else online. Not to mention a paper grocery bag, turned inside out so you don’t see the store label.

Second, twine is pretty essential.  You can often get this from a fabric or art store, but I know that Home Depot has it in their gardening section for much cheaper.

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Lastly, find something natural as an embellishment.  In Fall, a combo of yellow, orange and brown leaves looks gorgeous and feels very seasonal.  You can also add twigs or sprigs of a tree or plant.  Rosemary and lavender is a big go-to for me, because it doesn’t wilt very quickly and additionally adds an amazing smell to the gift packaging.  You could even use shells, small pieces of driftwood, or stones.

Cute, inexpensive and creative gift wrapping

On to the next style…

2. Feminine

The second most-used type of gift wrapping for Fair Ivy artists is the feminine style.  Like the Organic style, it is classy, but has to be a bit more well thought-out.  You can’t just grab a bunch of twigs from the ground and brown grocery bags and call it a day.  This is the type of packaging I’d suggest for giving as a birthday gift to a mom, grandmother, as a wedding gift for the bride, anything baby-related, or to any woman you know has a feminine style.

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Generally, the best base plan is to start with a very neutral colored gift wrap.  Kraft paper is still a really great plan, since it goes with pretty much anything.  Beyond that, I’d suggest white or a pastel colored gift wrap (think baby girl colors).  If you have access to nice fabric, definitely go with that. For the ribbon, I usually suggest lace.  Nothing says feminine like a lovely piece of lace.  You can purchase this type of ribbon from a fabric store. THRIFTY TIP:  I haven’t done this before, but I know thrift stores often have lots of lace doilies, table runners, and curtains.  It’s just the type of thing that people clean out of their attic.  Buy a huge piece of that for a couple bucks, cut it into strips and you’re good to go. For the embellishment, add a small fake flower like a rose, or a heart, bell or little key.

Cute, inexpensive and creative gift wrapping

On to our final type of gift wrap…

3. Stuff around the House

This is usually what impresses people the most, if you reveal your secrets.  It’s also the most inexpensive and creative gift wrapping, usually.  As I mentioned before in the Organic section, it’s great to use brown paper grocery bags (or brown lunch bags) as your base wrapping paper.  However, it’s not the only way! You can also use newspaper—use the black and white sections for more classy/serious gifts, and the comics area for fun and silly gifts.

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Add any of the free embellishments mentioned in the organic section (e.g. leaves and tree sprigs), or even paint and draw on the paper to create a bit of design. Even a magazine can be repurposed to be something crazy and cool. You can use the paper strips themselves to make a ribbon or bow.

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paper-rose

thrifty_packaging-580x386The above image actually comes from The Surpriseaholic, my personal blog.

You can even use an egg or strawberry carton!

Cute and Creative gift wrapping

To conclude

Gift wrap should never be a painful or expensive experience.  Follow the above tips and become a creative gift wrapping master!  If you have any questions or want some tips feel free to email me directly: lucy@fairivy.com. Happy wrapping!  

Ps. Want to receive handmade, hand-wrapped gifts like this every month?

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More Gift Packaging

Fair Ivy News Handmade products

Why buy handmade: An inside look at our business practices

Why buy handmade?  Here at Fair Ivy, we hold great value in buying handmade versus mass produced. This means that every product we send to you monthly as a surprise comes directly from a small business or individual hand-maker. Nothing comes from a big factory, and everything is produced using good business practices.

Why buy handmade?  Fair Ivy breaks it down. Why is this important to us?   There are multiple reasons why we feature handmade products exclusively, as well as a few challenges (that we think are well worth it).  Here’s an inside look at why-we-do-what-we-do.

Pros (i.e. why buy handmade):

  • We support small local businesses and individual artists. Often the creators of our handmade surprise gifts are regular individuals with a specific skill and love of crafting, who hold completely unrelated day jobs and then spend their evenings and weekends lovingly creating the products you then receive in your subscription.  Some are stay-at-home moms,  some are teachers, nurses, accountants, or marketing executives in the daytime.
 
  • Lace coin purse from Fair IvyThe money you spend on your subscription (and thus the money we then use to purchase each surprise gift) stays in the US economy. All of these artisans are located within the USA, meaning that you are shopping locally, even though you are purchasing something through the internet!
 
  • We love working with individuals verses corporations. All our business transactions occur after we’ve found someone wonderful at a craft fair, via Etsy, or though another artisan venue.  We absolutely love the part of our job where we get to interact with these creative individuals.  And we love helping the businesses grow stronger—some of the businesses we’ve worked with have grown to open brick & mortar stores!
 
  • handmade-versus-mass-producedOur customers get to connect with the artisans as well. Each surprise gift you receive should have details from the artist about their life, their craft, or their inspiration.  We have had many reviews and feedback saying that this personal touch sets Fair Ivy apart from any other service out there.
 
  • Each surprise item is hand-wrapped! You can’t get that with mass-produced items!
 
  • We know the business practices of our hand-makers. By working directly with individual small businesses in the US, we are boycotting the types of labor practices that often go hand in hand with mass-produced overseas products.  We know exactly who is making our product, and that they are doing it because they want to, not because they have to.

Challenges:

  • Individual artists need time to create all the handmade items for our subscribers.   Which means Fair Ivy has to plan ahead—far ahead! Sometimes we have to give them 3 months before their feature to get all the items made.  This also means that once we decide on a quantity for a given month,  we can’t accept any additional customer orders (so if we tell an artist to make 200 items for a future month, once we hit 200 subscribers that month we have to close orders completely).
 
  • While handmade items are more costly to create, we think the quality is worth it. Some people may say “why buy handmade when it’s so much cheaper to buy mass-produced items?”  Many companies use products from overseas simply because labor is very cheap outside the US.  Having individuals in the US make products is more costly, but it also comes with a guarantee that they are using good business practices (e.g. no child labor, no indentured service, no unhealthy working conditions, etc).  As a result we have a much lower profit margin than some of our competitors, and our boxes are slightly more expensive.  However, we know that our customers realize all the wonderful benefits of connecting with US hand makers and supporting their craft.

Why buy handmade? The bottom line

We hope you can see why we value handmade so greatly, and why a subscription purchased through Fair Ivy is a conscientious purchase.  And now if anyone asks you “Why buy handmade?”, we know you’ll be able to answer! If you have any questions at all about our products, our process, or anything else, don’t hesitate to contact us.