Holiday Gift Guide of Independent Artists

From a greeting card by Steven Geeter at Creativity Explored


Ex Libris Anonymous – one of a kind journals made from recycled books
Art from Creativity Explored – an art center for adults with developmental disabilities
Baby doll head candles are mad cool
Ryan Baldwin – gorgeous photos
Commission a portrait from Diane Feissel
Shizknits – sleeves,hats & other knitted goodies
Kimbaa striped felted wool hats
Stupid Creatures are the best reason for the existence of socks
Wendy Cook jewelry and art
Booty Boutique belt buckles
Eau de Yosh perfume
Megan Mitchell – more unique hats!
Superhero scarves – yum
Superhero jewelry – yum


Any book by SARK will inspire you
Spilling Open by Sabrina Ward Harrison is an amazing book
Living Out Loud by the brilliant Keri Smith
Matthea Harvey’s poetry is wild and gorgeous. Her first book, Pity the Bathtub is exquisite. Her newest book, Sad Little Breathing Machine can be ordered now!
Plant Your Dreams and the Miracles Will Grow by the gorgeous Christine Miller
Living Happily Ever After and Expectations both by Laurie Wagner – these are perfect gifts
Michael Bernard Loggins book entitled Fears of Your Life will be released in hard cover on December 5th by Manic D Press. Michael is a rare treasure. I adore him.

Friends Who Make Music

Martine Locke
Jeff Pitcher
Leokane Pryor
Chris Gallagher
Jonatha Brooke

DIY Gift Giving

Sometimes the most generous expressions of the heart are in the form of gifts that don’t cost a cent.
Here are some ideas to get the creative juices flowing:

1. Thirty things I love about you
For my 30th birthday, my friend Jeff gave me a list of the 30 things he loves most about me. I swear, this one melted me instantly.

2. Stone poetry
When this gift arrived in the mail from my friend Jen Peterson, I literally gasped. Imagine a heavy round box with a woman painted on the top. Inside are hundreds of smooth, irregular shaped rocks with gorgeous words written on each one-hope, radiate, simplicity… I had a friend close her eyes and choose a few rocks the other day. She chose “home, electric, home” This gift is full of magic.

3. Love letters
The first birthday gift my husband ever gave me was a poem he had written on beautiful paper, scrolled and placed inside a genie bottle. We weren’t dating yet, and it was his way of letting me know that he thought I was the bees’ knees. Even though it took me a year to come around, he got me in the end!

4. Performance art
My other favorite gift from my husband was performed for me at the San Francisco airport. I was leaving for Mexico, and as a going away gift, Matt wanted to give me a strip of photobooth pictures. As it turned out, the machine broke and the pictures never emerged, so he performed each cell of the photo booth strip for me. {One of the more hilarious and endearing moments of my life}.

5. Postal art
During the first few months that Matt and I were dating, I painted a large painting on heavy card stock. When I was finished, I cut it into approximately 30 postcard size rectangles. One by one, I decorated the back of these with a message or drawing or just Matt?s name, and mailed them to him one by one. Each day he received a piece of the puzzle.

6. Wish containers
I love putting wishes, lists, worries, and things I’d like to manifest in a cigar box. Some call it a “God box.” I call it the pneumatic tube (like the old fashioned bank deposit containers) Sasha made me a portable tube in the form of a hand bound book. She painted on several pages, and glued tiny envelopes inside to place wishes. This book is my portable wish container for the most tender things.

7. Tribute books
The best gift I have ever given was a book that I made for my mom for mother’s day. I asked each of our family members and several of her old friends to answer three important questions: 1. How did you meet my mom? 2. Choose one word to describe her. 3. What do you love most about her?

What I got back were incredible stories (things I had never known about my mom), gorgeous old photographs, and poignant declarations of love from family and friends. It was truly one of those presents that was a gift not only to her, but to everyone who contributed to it.

8. Gratitude Journal
After my post about Gratitude last week, Jennifer Higgins wrote to me about a “gratitude journal” she received as a gift. She started slow, writing a few things each day that she was grateful for (some as simple as someone smiling on the elevator.) She says, “When I look back through the pages, I am instantly overwhelmed at the blessings in my life. It’s helped me recognize the wonderful things all around me.”

9. Tributes to your friends
Are you a blogger? Write a tribute to your friend/sister/parents on your web site.
They will flush with pride and joy. Someone did this for me once and I will never forget it.


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Hi, I’m Andrea

On this blog you’ll be learning with me how to use our voices, share our creative superpowers and live life in full color.

As an artist, photographer, life coach + mentor, I’m redefining what it means to be a SUPERHERO — ‘cause in my world, it’s got nothing to do with capes, spandex or sidekicks and everything to do with tenderness, intuition & baby steps of bravery.



  1. joan

    iam so glad you wrote about the power of the hand or home made gift. I was telling my kids the other day about some of my fav. gifts and they were almost all thoughtful gifts that money could not buy. my friend donna made me a video tape of all the shows she thought i would enjoy. this was for xmas and she had the extended cable pkg. there was an interview with SARK, documantaries of artists and some wonderful music videos. i loved that present . One sat. morning my husband made me breakfast in bed , told me to get up and get dressed cause he had a surprise and blindfolded me. He took me to a new bookstore / cafe that had just opened called HEAVEN> as we walked up the stairs he hummed stairway to heaven, as well as any other songs with the word heaven in them. It was such a wonderful surprise and especially meaningful to me because he is not a bookstore junkie like i am. i felt known and loved. thats the best gift.
    i love your blog- i read it all the time.

  2. katrina

    My beautiful lover gave me a box of wooden dominoes after hearing my stories about how it was my favourite game to play with my Bubbushka when I was a kid … the smell of the wood and finding symmetry where I don’t expect it, and being loved by someone who listens to every story I tell.

  3. wendy

    Dear Andrea,
    OK so I am adicted to your blog….it has become my morning ritual accompanied by a cup of organic fair trade coffee in small china cup imprinted with the words: smiles, spontaneity, dreams, synchronicitiy.
    You can imagine my surprise and delight to have found my name mentioned in your post today. THANK YOU so much for the plug!!!!
    Much love to you,

  4. evina

    That is very tough question .. my father never shows his feelings, he is very king, generous, loving, caring .. just showing it is that difficult part .. when I was leaving for England to stay there another year it was kind of sad, because it meant I didn?t see my family for a year .. so while I was hugging all my family, he went out and came just in time to hug me and his eyes were full of tears .. it was for the first time I saw him crying .. he didn?t say a word but through his hug I felt all his love that I started crying too … like now when the memory came back .. I LOVE YOU, DAD!

  5. m

    Can’t think of the best gift only intangibles like ‘friendship’.
    However my new discovery is ‘collage wrapping paper’. Its so damned expensive instead I put my magazine addiction to work by tearing up colourful pages out of mags collaging them together. Pulling out headline words to decorate on top. The I put gold or silver ribbon around it. Collaging shoeboxes or paper bags is also great for a container of lots of small pressies.

  6. soren

    thanks for the great ideas, Andrea!
    well I’ve gotten so many wonderful presents in my life… once my SO snuck over to my house and left me a christmas tree when i was too poor to buy one.
    the one I think of first, though, is a really rare set of Tarot cards that goes for tons of money on ebay… i never thought i would actually own it, but i had shown it to my sister lots of times in awe of its beauty.
    so one year, she and the aforementioned SO spent a night watching and outbidding everyone else on ebay to get it for me. it was amazing!

  7. Jenn Higgins

    thank you for sharing my gratitude journal with everyone… it really can be a blessing. my favorite gift was given to me just this year…my father also is not one to share feeling and emotions…this year in march for my birthday, I received a handmade book of me from my father. It’s full of pictures of me and memories of my family from my father’s perspective. It’s sweet and dreamy and I will treasure it forever.

  8. Jackie

    Hi Andrea,
    I love your blog – read it faithfully. I can’t tell you how many times you’ve brightened my day.
    Today I wanted to thank you for the idea of the tribute book. I have been struggling with what to get my Mom for Christmas. Nothing seems right. Then I read today’s entry and bang! I’ve got it! I am going to make her a wonderful scrapbook of her life and our family. I know she will love it! Thank you so much for the great idea!
    Your zest for life and beautiful attitude are truly inspiring. You are one of the people in this world who truly sparkle.
    Thank you,

  9. - h -

    ‘Ello 🙂
    Thanks so much for posting these ideas. You never fail to inspire me. Ive been pondering all day as to what to get/make people this Christmas and nothing has really tickled my fancy. I really want everything to be just-so and am honestly struggling.
    It sounds like you have such fabulous and creative friends and S.O.
    Whenever im reeeeally stuck i use
    for a bit of help and adapt the ideas there.
    Thanks again missy 🙂

  10. ginger

    I have to agree, some of my favorite gifts — nearly ALL of my favorite gifts — are homemade and filled with the heart of the giver.
    Some of my favorite gifts to give, along the lines of those mentioned already include a “Happy Thoughts Jar”. Just a jar FILLED with all sorts of inspirational quotes and happy thoughts. I decorate the paper & get really creative. I find quotes to match the person & decorate the jar accordingly.
    Another thing I’ve done are “Celebration Boxes” –like a “Celebrating Jane” box. And then I would fill it with all sorts of things that ‘Jane’ likes & things that I love about her, etc., etc.
    As much as I love getting heartfelt gifts, I love giving them. The world isn’t often as kind as I would like, and even if I think I know somebody, there is always something going on underneath. There is a real grace to love that’s hard to be kept to ourselves.

  11. abs

    The idea of a gratitude journal is amazing, i think everyone could benefit from such a thing
    abs x

  12. mademoiselle a.

    Thank you for the DIY’s – wonderful ideas! I have done 9, 7, 6, 5, and 3 somewhere, somewhen, and in some variation in my life so far. I can’t say which was the most wonderful gift I’ve received – does it mean I have uncreative friends/family? Nah – rather, as always, this will keep me pondering all day until the answer pops up out of nowhere in the middle of the night.

  13. abs

    You know, i am now going to have to post about your post!
    abs x

  14. rachael

    you really are an inspiration & such a bright and beautiful soul, andrea. heheheh. Just about everything you listed from independent artists are things I already want. I wonder if that makes me greedy? 🙂 Thanks for the link to the “stupid creatures” site. It’s wonnnnnderfulll! I love it. All of the creatures really make me smile.
    I agree that the gratitude journal idea is a great one. I’m surprised that I never thought to keep one. I always have to keep reminding myself how great and beautiful my life (and life in general) is. I tend to stress about insignificant things and let that overwhelm me.
    I wonder if this bothers anyone else – For Christmas both my & the boy’s families always draw names. Then you’re supposed to buy gifts for the names you pulled within the $20-$30 price range. Well, after it’s all said & done, we’ve got about eight “names” to buy for. And almost everyone wants gift certificates. I just hate the idea of “you give me a gift certificate, I’ll give you one. where do you like to shop?” Or “just give me money.” What’s the point? There’s no thought put in it. It just makes me sad. And then if I make something, I’ll just look cheap. bah-humbug. Well.. I guess since I’ve got to spend $20-$30 bucks at least now I can spend it on gifts from some great independent artists, which is fun. 🙂

  15. Julia

    I love the idea of a tribute book!! I think that for my mom that would be the best present ever. I can hardly wait to begin putting 1 together for her. Thanks too, for posting all the wonderful artist’s sites. I adore the unique, colorful and hand-crafted items on many of these sites. Thanks again for your wonderful gift suggestions,that go beyond the material and commercial presents we all think we and others need and want. You are such a divine inspiration to me, (& others) at this time of year. My best present?….. that’s a tough one…I have been blessed with thoughtful friends, and a wonderful daughter, and fulfilling work…Gee, I guess that’s about the best presents anyone could get, right?? Happy Holidays and blessings to all…….

  16. Rachel

    Best gift? That my friends’ parents found each other and got it on. And that mine did, too!
    I think I might snag your postcard puzzle idea for someone who is very special to me, who is going through a rough year and to whom I’ve never confessed my love, passion, etc.

  17. Jennifer

    Thank you so much for providing so many wonderful Christmas gift ideas! I wanted to pass along a really awesome hot cocoa recipe that someone gave to me – 3 peppermint candy sticks (crushed), 1 cup sifted confectioner’s sugar, 1 cup powdered non dair coffee creamer and 1/3 cup cocoa. Mix all ingredients and store in an airtight container (like a mason jar). I live in Orlando, and yes, we do have the ocassional cold evening here (tonight is one of them -it’s getting down to 40 degrees), and I think we all know how wonderful it is to curl up on a chilly evening with hot coffee/tea/cocoa/soup and some flannel pajamas and warms socks…I felt it was my duty to pass this recipe along.

  18. Katie

    We gave my mother a “Memory Jar” one year for x-mas. It contained 372 or so memories on colorful slips of paper. She opened one up everyday for the next year. Then she would email all of us to let us know what it was. It wasn’t too hard as there are 3 kids and we just each wrote 150 or so memories and emailed them to me and then I made sure there were no duplicates and printed, cut and voila…present done.
    She loved it so much that we are stuck for presents ever since – we will never live up. Except that tribute book is a great idea!! I will get working on that for next year 🙂 It too was a present for all of us, not just her.

  19. Jennifer

    Gosh, such wonderful ideas!! And Andrea, you were concerned about being grateful enough…no concern for that sort of thing with such wonderful ideas for tributes and memories to offer friends and family.

  20. travis

    great ideas. best gift i ever received was this skateboard when i was about 14. not the most expensive thing, but you know when a little kid says “just what i always wanted”? that line nailed it exactly that year.

  21. Taro Gold

    Great gift ideas. I hope to see my books on your list next year!
    The best gift I ever received was when I was 18 and living in Tokyo on my own, and my mom showed up from California by surprise to spend the Holidays with me.

  22. Heather

    ONE of the best gifts I’ve ever received is a liitle, soft, extremely flexible and very personable monkey named T-Chaco. A friend gave him to me when I was leaving. I posed the monkey relaxing in my front yard, took pictures and sent them to her. Now she’s my roommate and T-Chaco gets moved all the time–dressed in Barbie clothes or curled up on pillows to surprise eachother.

  23. thuy

    hi, andrea!
    you have a terrific web site. i discovered it two days ago. i am looking at your archive entries and most of the pictures don’t show. please helpl me; how do i get them to load properly?

  24. april

    My two suggestions are gifts for yourself:
    1/ buy an old manual typewriter from a thrift store and leave it out somewhere as sort of a decoration. Put a sheet of paper in and every time someone new comes over to your house, have them type a memorable quote or a couple of sentences of their choice on that one sheet. Kind of like a guest book. It’s always nice to walk by and read something one of your friends wrote!
    2/ buy a polaroid camera and every time a friend comes over, take a picture of them. Punch a hole at the bottom and keep them together with a metal ring. Leave them on your coffee table for other guests to enjoy!

  25. Sheryl

    My top favorite gifts of all time…one would be the remarkable opal earrings that my ex scrimped and saved to buy me, by an independant artist of course.
    One of my other favorite gifts is a project I started with my niece. I gave her some of the makings of a journal for her birthday. She keeps it, draws and writes in it and then sends it to me and I do the same. We’ve been working on this for months and it’s lots of fun.

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