The Cottagecore Gift Guide

Not much good has come out of 2020, but the development of ‘cottagecore’ – a wholesome, whimsical aesthetic focusing on a romanticised ideal of a cottage garden lifestyle – has got to be a highlight. Cottagecore is floral skirts worn with walking boots and hand knitted cardigans, it’s pressing flowers you grew yourself, it’s embroidery on a Sunday afternoon, it’s foraging for mushrooms and baking them in a pie. It’s delightful, calm, simple. Everything that 2020 is not. If, like me, someone in your life has discovered this year that there’s a cottage-dwelling hedgewitch inside them, aching to be let out, then read on for some suggestions of gifts they’ll love this season. To be clear – this gift guide is just a bit of lighthearted fun… don’t take it too seriously, just enjoy the inspiration!

There’s so mushroom for treats

Mushrooms and flowers will be a recurring theme throughout this gift guide, which makes sense, considering cottagecore is all about celebrating the beautiful world we live in. Here are a few irresistible fungi-themed items, all, naturally, created by small business owners…

I’m honestly squealing with how adorable these all are. Get the earrings here, the mugs here, the ornaments here, the British mushrooms print here, and the grow your own kit here.

Cosy up with a good book

Books are unmatched when it comes to their ability to transport you into another world or another life – essential escapism for these times. One particularly wonderful suggestion I have for you is Hag: Forgotten Folk Tales Retold, which is a collection of modernised retellings of British folklore. I recommend it because the short stories are not only absorbing, gripping and highly entertaining, they are all based on local folk tales that we don’t really hear about. We’re all familiar with many European folk stories, but ones from our own isles don’t usually make the cut, and it’s so interesting to learn about them.

And because, of course, cottagecore is all about embracing the nature in our own world, non-fiction needs a mention too. How about Wilding by Isabella Tree, in which the author shares the journey of her and her husband letting nature take over their farm. Or what about Braiding Sweetgrass by Robin Wall Kimmerer, a botanist and member of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation. This is a beautiful book in which she shares the importance of reconnecting with the natural world, and the lessons we learn when we do.

The links above will take you to Waterstones, but if you’d like to support independent bookshops instead, head to my Bookshop.org Nature and Folklore list, where you can find links to all of these and more.

Plus, if you’re buying a book, why not dial up the nature-factor with handmade pressed flower bookmarks? They are absolutely adorable, made from upcycled paper and only cost £2.50 for three! Get them here.

A floral embrace

As I mentioned above, the cottagecore aesthetic is all about flowers and fungi. So here are a few beautiful options for floral-inspired gifts, again, all created by independent makers and small businesses.

A beautiful flower press

My partner actually got this for me for my birthday, so you can thank him for this idea! If the person you’re buying for has taken up gardening during the pandemic, this is the perfect way to celebrate their newfound love for plants, because it will allow them to press the flowers they’ve grown themselves, and keep them for years to come! It was also a finalist in the 2019 Etsy Design Awards. Get it here.

Dried flower bouquet

Dried flowers are a lovely eco-friendly, sustainable option for bringing the joy of blooms into your home, especially during the winter months. I am obsessed with this like this absolutely beautiful one from BloomPost (which was another birthday present for me, thanks James!) Get it here for gorgeous florals all year round.

The most beautiful floral earrings

Sabi Studio creates these breathtakingly beautiful earrings, all hand painted on polymer clay. I simply cannot get over the stunning designs. Don’t hate me, but the designs you’re looking at are currently all sold out – that’s the nature of shopping small! BUT, on the 29th of November at 5pm she’ll be restocking with 200 more of these beautiful nature inspired designs, so be sure to set a reminder, because any flower lover will have their day made by a set of these beauties.

Resin flower earrings

Forget-me-nots are the perfect choice for pressed-flower earrings because they are tiny enough to make subtle pieces, but their rich purple colour makes them stand out. I love this set from Nordic Flowers on Etsy, and they do all kinds of other flowers too, take a look here!

Boldly adorable cottagecore wall art

Yes, I am so obsessed with this print that it got its whole section all on its own. Can you blame me? It’s gorgeous! I think it would transform even the most modern city apartment into a kitschy cottage. The price starts at £18 for a 30x42cm paper print, and there are three larger sizes to choose from, with the price going up to £61 for a 60x84cm cotton canvas print. Get it here.

Eco friendly whimsey

A key tenet of cottagecore is low-impact living. A lifestyle aesthetic that revolves around nature and slow living means time to embrace plastic free reusables, but giving them as gifts can often seem a little utilitarian, so I’ve hunted out an item that combines prettiness with eco-conscious practicality. It’s always been amazing to me how quickly handkerchiefs fell off the radar – when I was little, they were just going out of style. All of those beautifully embroidered hankies your granny had were slowly making their way to the back of the cupboard, to be replaced by plastic wrapped travel tissue packs. There’s a lovely seller on Not on the High Street who makes absolutely gorgeous hand-embroidered and printed hankies, every bit as delightful as the old-fashioned kind, but with a lovely modern twist. Check them out! Click here to take a look at the mushroom hankie and here for the set of three floral ones. Or you could just visit the shop, because there are all sorts of gorgeous hankies on there, these are just my personal favourites!

Eclectic handmade wearables

I haven’t included clothes in this list because honestly, I think clothes are tricky to buy as gifts and even tricker to recommend as them! But these gorgeous handmade items are sure to delight, without being reliant on sizing or fit.

Get the socks here, the choker here, and the beret here.

I hope you enjoyed this gift guide! The cottagecore aesthetic isn’t a serious thing or anything, it’s just a bit of whimsical fun, and I hope reading through these gave you a big of inspiration. Much love!

The Harris Tweed Gift Guide

The Isle of Harris is one of my favourite places in the world. Although during my lifetime my family lived on the neighbouring Isle of Lewis, Harris is where my Granny grew up. So I’ve been lucky to have received more than my fair share of Harris Tweed gifts in my lifetime (and have furnished my home with plenty of my own purchases too). I thought I’d share a few ideas for high quality, long lasting and thoughtful gifts made from this historic, sustainable fabric.

Before we begin, I just wanted to point something out – Harris Tweed is the name of the fabric, not the brand that makes the product you’re buying. You’ll know that the product is made with genuine Harris Tweed fabric because of the logo on it, so look out for orb logo, and you’ll know you’re getting the real deal. The great thing about Harris Tweed is that it’s available to anyone, from big brands like Nike to old ladies on the island who only sell at craft fairs, so you can support small businesses and independent makers, with the guarantee that you’re buying a super high quality product. Because of the cost of the fabric, you don’t get people buying it and making rubbish out of it. Harris Tweed products are made with serious love and care. I’ve bought from many, many makers and all of the products have been amazing quality!

Harris Tweed Weekender/luggage/holdall bag – £150

This is one of the first Harris Tweed items I was ever given, and it’s been going strong since I was 17. You can get one in just about every colour under the sun, to suit your loved one’s personal style. Get one here for £150 – there are many places you can buy one of these bags but this is the place I got mine from (you can see it in the first image, it’s the exact same make, just 13 years old!) and has a MASSIVE array of colours to choose from!

Harris Tweed Cushion Cover – £29+

There are some absolutely brilliant makers on Etsy who have really lovely cushion covers, depending on the style and the colour scheme of your recipient’s home. The first I’ve chosen is CoverandShade, who make a range of gorgeous front fold cushions for £29, and the second is TillyTreeMouse who makes ones with zips across the seam, for £29.99+, depending on the size you want. Both come in a variety of colours. But the third… oh my god I can only dream of these. Hand embroidered thistle and Highland coo (cow) authentic Harris Tweed cushions by TallaTweed. How delightful are they?! Shop here.

Harris Tweed Teddy Bear £58

There are lots of teddy bears out there made purely from Harris Tweed, but I do wonder if the hardy fabric would be a bit too scratchy to cuddle with. I think much better is a normal fluffy teddy with a Harris Tweed jacket – it also means that the parents of the kid you’re buying it for can protect the pricy fabric on days spent playing in the mud! And again, this one comes in loads of colours. See the range here.

Harris Tweed Tea Cosy – £28.50

I couldn’t find the exact version of the blue tea cosy that you’ll see in the photo at the very top of this post – but such is life, we’ve had it for years so hardly surprising! Here is a similar version, with an infamous Scottish midgie on it (be sure to check the dimensions for your teapot). But I also wanted to share this very lovely patchwork number from Etsy seller PoppyMallow. It might not be as whimsical, but it’s nice and tasteful, and guaranteed to keep a teapot warm until the end of time. Get it here!

Harris Tweed Dog Collar – £10+

Etsy is definitely the place for Harris Tweed dog accessories, and there’s a shop called Itsallaboutdog, who have leashes, bows and collars in pretty much every colour you could ever want! The gorgeous colour collection I’ve shared in the photo can be found here.

Harris Tweed Tie – £29.95

This tie makes me wish I was the kind of person who had to wear a suit to work. I love it. Nevermind your friends and family, buy this for me!!

Harris Tweed Coin Purse – £14

This is a lovely small gift, great for a friend or colleague. I have one and actually I’ve started using it as my normal purse, as I love how simple it is! It’s also great because this one comes in a million different colours, so no matter what their style, you can find one for them.

Harris Tweed Washbag – £34 – £41

These absolutely gorgeous washbags from Etsy seller faithmonsoon are the perfect example of a Harris Tweed toiletry bag if you ask me. I’ve wanted a tweed washbag like this for ages and haven’t found one in a colour I like, but my eye is firmly on the herringbone pink one! Get one here.

Harris Tweed Slippers – £49

A pair of slippers is always a safe bet for a gift if you ask me. Unfortunately, the pink ones in the first photo, which we bought in Sainsbury’s and are by a brand called Totes, are already sold out on Sainsbury’s website (though you could have a look in store!) so I thought I’d put up a different recommendation, which are these gorgeous £50 ones from House or Bruar. I love the thick lining and proper soles, you just know those are going to be amazing slippers.

I hope you found something you like in this list! There’s an almost unlimited amount of stuff that can be made with Harris Tweed, but these are some that I either really love for myself, or firmly have my eye on for the future…

A Gender Neutral Valentine’s Day Gift Guide

So for the first time in my 25 years I’m actually not single on Valentine’s Day. Normally all those ‘Love is in the air’ email marketing campaigns would go straight in the junk folder, but I’ve actually been opening them this year, and unsurprisingly found some hefty heteronormativity and cisnormativity. I really think stands in the way of romance. Know what my dad got for my mum a few years back? He hunted down a (not widely available back then) black and white non-edited version of Night of the Living Dead on DVD. She loved that film when it came out, and hated the way it’d been edited over the years. You wouldn’t find that on an ASOS ‘Gifts for her’ edit.

Maybe you’re in a new relationship or suck at buying gifts, but don’t want to fall back on chocolate and roses or aftershave, because you’re a bit more enlightened. Or maybe you’d just like to enjoy a bit of seasonal romance without the ludicrous obsession with giving men basic skincare products as gifts. Good for you! Hope this helps.

1. Printed Instagram photos

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I love this idea, it’s seriously romantic. There are lots of options for printing too – posters, books, mini pictures, framed photos. You could even get creative and take photos that will surprise your partner – cutting out big letters that spell out a message and taking Instagram photos of them perhaps? These in the photo are £8.99, and prices vary depending on what you want.

2. A recipe book to use together

Books are great gifts because you can write a thoughtful (romantic) message inside it. Buy a cookbook and write inside the front cover how one of the recipes reminded you of them, or that meal they ordered on your first date. Write how you can’t wait to spend Saturday afternoons making food with them, or why that particular book jumped out at you as the perfect one for them. The one featured above is written by a couple and contains lots of stuff about their adorable daughter, so maybe don’t buy this one for them if its early days and you don’t want to freak them out…

3. Something for the kitchen

spice rack

Following on from 2, if you’ve already got an amateur chef in your life, get them a cool, funky, different thing to go in their kitchen. I absolutely love this spice rack, a great option for people who use lots of spices, buy them in big bags and spend forever trying to keep them organised and clean whilst avoiding spills. This spice rack is ridiculously adorable, and unique. Just like your other half, I’m sure.

4. Body Oil

You know why. I featured this REN Moroccan Rose Otto Body Oil because I genuinely think it’s the best body oil around, but it’s fairly pricey. If you’re on a budget but still want to enjoy sexy massage time with your partner, Lush make amazing massage bars for around £5 that will go down a treat. My favourite is Tender is the Night, which has the most incredible jasmine scent.

5. Something for their house

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Whether your partner is living in a pokey flat in East London with 4 other people, or owns their own house somewhere grown up (or you live together!), I think Valentine’s Day is a great excuse to buy them something for their home that you, or they would never buy normally. A nice shower curtain is something I always think would be lovely to have, but a completely unnecessary extravagance when Primark sells them for a fiver. ModCloth has some adorable ones, and Society6 also has a wide selection. Here are a few other examples of housey stuff that would make great, completely unnecceary but thoughtful gifts:

I love this matching toilet brush, soap dispenser and toothbrush holder. Can you imagine how much this would brighten up a morning?

Really really nice bedding. This is from Zara Home, and the quality of their bedding is amazing. There’s something wonderful about seeing your partner all sleepy in the morning against the backdrop of some gorgeous, quality sheets. OK, to be fair that’s probably the least important benefit of your partner having nice bedding, but it’s the only one I’m going to put on my blog. I love these others too, but of course it entirely depends on your partner’s taste:

Garden Bed Linen

  Leaves Bed Linen

Printed Bed Linen

An added bonus to all these lovely homely things is that if you end up living together they’ll bring it with them…crafty aren’t I?

6. Something sexy

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Maybe there’s something your partner has mentioned wanting to try. Well, do it. Tell them you’re taking them Valentine’s shopping and head to the nearest sex shop to get them the vibrator they’ve been lusting after forever. Some sexy clothes for you or them? Erotic literature? A whip? I’m not suggesting you slam a bottle of lube on the table for your first anal session because they said they’d like to try it, unless that’s the kind of relationship you have. Work out what they’d like and how they’d like to get it, (e.g. surprise vs non-surprise) and treat them to something that’s going to make you both feel amazing. The photo is of a toy called the TRANSFORMER, which is the world’s first gender neutral sex toy. That’s pretty cool.

7. Take them on a thoughtful date

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Do they like plants? Science? History? Art? Botanical gardens, museums, stately homes, art galleries… take them somewhere interesting and walk around holding their hand before having a cup of tea in the cafe/gift shop while taking a few selfies of your cute selves. This is my boyfriend at Kew Gardens. I highly recommend that as a romantic destination because you’re both guaranteed to feel great in the fresh air, and it’s ridiculously beautiful. But museums and art galleries are usually free, so that’s a good option if you’re completely broke come the 14th.

8. A Spotify playlist

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If you have absolutely no money to spend then some extra time and effort needs to be put in. Make a Spotify playlist of all their favourites, or a mixture of yours and theirs, or even just of songs that remind you of them. That’s sure to brighten their morning commute. Make the playlist, give it a special name and share it with them over Spotify with a sweet message. A millennial mix-tape. There’s a reason it used to work so well in the 80s! Of course if you don’t have Spotify (er, what?) then there are lots of other places you can make a playlist. I just don’t know what any of them are because I barely even use iTunes any more let along anything else…

9. Headphones
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What I’m trying to communicate here is that if your partner doesn’t already have a good pair of headphones, and you can afford it, GET THEM SOME. Headphones are the perfect gift, and will go great with that nice little Spotify playlist you put together for them. One thing I’ll point out though, as someone with big, easily messed up hair, I can’t use my Plattans when I wear it down. If your partner has long or large hair, or they spend a massive amount of time styling trying to tame it, perhaps lean towards a pair of earphones.

10. A handmade card

When I was a kid, if I wanted to give my parents anything for mother or father’s day, it had to be a handmade card. These were purely consumerist holidays, they told me, and I wasn’t to ask the other parent for money to buy them something, or indeed use my own pocket money. If I wanted to show my love and appreciation for them, I had to make them a card. I think my magnum opus was probably a mother’s day when I was about 8 or 9. I made a long thin cone out of paper and stuck it upside down to the front of the card on which I’d written something like ‘Love you mummy’. I went out into the garden, picked some small flowers and tucked them into the cone so it looked like a mini vase. She was pretty impressed with me that year. Anyway, buying a Valentine’s Day card from any big store, no matter how hard Urban Outfitters try to make it look like an indy project off Etsy, is buying into mass produced consumerism too. If you possibly can, make them a card. And if you can’t, get it from an independent artist.

Something you might notice about this list is that none of these things are specific Valentines Day gifts. Seriously, people, use the day as a way of showing the person you love that you love them. But buy into it only in so far as you say ‘I may hate the premise of Valentine’s Day but I sure as hell love you so here’s something that doesn’t have any hearts on it, wasn’t mass produced and sold at a vast markup, and won’t get thrown away the second we move house because it’s literally just a piece of trash’. Quite apart from making us better humans and being better at relationships, it’s better for the planet!