10 spring birthday gifts for friends from Cardiff small businesses

by Alice Ojeda

A stash of bright and beautiful gift ideas always come in handy when birthday season comes around. If spring birthdays are hopping into your calendar faster than a fluffle of Easter bunnies, you probably know that dilemma of wanting to show your love with personal, ethical gifts and still get them sorted in time! So, without further ado, my 10 spring birthday gifts for friends from Cardiff small businesses are winging in to help you out.

Growing up, my mum had a gift bag full of treasures she'd pull out for every occasion. Inside were pretty finds from craft markets and gift shops and the odd re-gift too. I still aspire to that bag, if virtually... who after all has the space? One thing I love about running my own Cardiff small business making skincare and candles is how many local creatives and makers I get to meet. Here are just a few!

1. Embroidery hoops for crafty friends who love to use their hands

Do you have the kind of friend who has 10 craft projects on the go and a house full of colourful homewares she's made herself? Described as colouring in, but with thread, this DIY leaping rabbit embroidery hoop from Magpie & Me Designs is sure to give her some creative time while also being calming enough to relax with.

Each kit comes with a design (this one's my favourite!) created by Marianne from her home studio in Cardiff. I love how the rabbit is printed to help you out. You'll learn French knots and 5 stitches from seed to fishbone. It all makes this embroidery hoop easy to start and harder to mess up too!

 2. A coffee cup for friends who prize their morning cuppa

For the friend who always has a hot drink in hand, and one for you too, these stoneware coffee cups by Betula Ceramics are sure to level up their coffee ritual!

I don't know why there's something special about no handles. If you've read Joyful by Ingrid Fetell Lee (a book I do recommend!), it might be about the circle your hands make around your warm cup. I love the natural texture in these cups too which Liz makes from adding a mix of recycled materials to her ceramics when they're on the wheel. The effect is a kind of landscape that's coffee-like... time to re-fill the press?

3. A chunky sweater for small business friends in need of a hug

Have you followed your frazzled, small business friend through the rollercoaster of the past few years? If their birthday's coming up and you're thinking of some TLC (or just because!), this super-soft small business sweater from Coconutacha is a find.

Natacha designs and has her sweaters embroidered in Wales with the words 'Small business. Big Dreams'. The design shows familiar parcels, a mug of tea, computer designs and a thermal printer (working perfectly in this instance! Very comforting.)

 4. A clutch that gives back for activist friends

This one's for the inspiring friends who are always out campaigning for the causes they care about. They'd probably prefer you made a donation but, with the freedom clutch bag from Eliza Eliza, you can do both! 

Elizabeth makes each bag by hand and designs them to start conversations about the causes you care about. With an unassuming hemp exterior, my favourite bag opens up to reveal watercolour butterflies by artist Elena O'Neill. The freedom theme is around modern slavery so proceeds go to support Unseen and survivors of trafficking. If supporting a small business is double gifting (to your friend and the small business), this is triple!

5. A necklace for when the mountains are calling

Do you know that old saying by John Muir? Living in Edinburgh for years, I loved walking his trails along the coast by the seaside town of Dunbar. If you have a friend who's an adventurer and loves to be in nature, this mountain charm necklace by Rhian Kate is a treasure for days out and the day job, dreaming of the next trip!

Look closely at this necklace and you'll see a pair of mountains with a brass sun overhead. Each is handmade by Rhian who has a knack of creating subtle, wearable jewellery that also tells a story about the wearer.

 6. An art print to inspire green-fingered friends ready for planting season

Trailing nasturtiums... They go everywhere! Last year, mine even tried to cross the path into our neighbours, and that's the pleasure of gardening. If you know, you know! I spent an entire Christmas market admiring this nasturtiums in blue light print by Sophie Potter. If your gardener friend  is feeling the lack of light, this is the one to get them inspired to go out planting again.

Printed on cotton paper designed to last 100 years, I love the energy behind these cheeky pink nasturtiums which are obviously looking for their next spot to grow! If you take a look at Sophie's work, the thing that most comes through is joy of it and the colour. An artist living in Cardiff, Sophie is inspired by nature, her time living in Japan and nostalgic everyday objects.

7. Skincare and scents for the friend who loves everyday rituals

Some friends teach us to savour the small moments - a taste, a scent, the feel of a skin cream on your face. Our happy birthday gift box is for the friends who intentionally take it slow.

Inside, you'll find my handmade Think Again Facial Serum, an organic orange blossom skin treat to use in-between cleansing and moisturising. You also get to choose one of my handmade scented coconut candles - try rose & sandalwood if you're unsure!

Last of all, I wanted to include a big bar of Raw Halo chocolate. You can pick any flavour but Mylk & Vanilla is my favourite. A tip I learnt from The Happy Pear for enjoying craft chocolate is to savour, not scoff it. When you take the time to let it melt in your mouth, it's bliss.

8. A pouch for the friend who dresses like the rainbow

Heard of the dopamine trend? I love it for its bright colours and playfulness, surrounding yourself with the belongings that help you feel joyful. If you have a friend who'd never be seen wearing black, they'll love the colourful shapes pouch by Nelly's Treasures.

I bought a brilliant string of paper baubles from Helen Bellamy who's behind Nelly's Treasures last Christmas. I also was admiring her pouches up close. She makes them by hand with screen print and velvet appliqué designs - not 2 are quite the same! Each is hand-dyed buttercup yellow so they'll look cute on a dressing table or tucked into a backpack for summer adventures.

9. Earrings to lift up a friend who's having a hard time

Not just Wales' favourite flower, daffodils are a symbol of rebirth and resilience following winter. These dreamy daffodil hoop earrings by Fizz Goes Pop would make a thoughtful spring birthday gift for a friend coming through a tough chapter in life.

These daffodil earrings are laser cut by Liz from a mirror, marble and frost Perspex and the thinnest plywood to keep them light. One drawback to laser cut jewellery is it's often ENORMOUS (no shiny lobsters around my neck for me!), so what I love especially about these daffodil earrings is how small they are. Each is a beautiful spring yellow, shiny and joyful, but also super easy to wear.

10. An illustrated map for friends who love to call Cardiff home

All roads lead to Gabalfa roundabout (the bane of my driving lessons!) in this fabulous map of the 'Diff by RachelBronwen. If you have a friend who's a proud Cardiffian, this print will make them smile in their home office or hallway - so they can always check where they're headed!

I first got to know Rachel while having a stall next to her at Pontcanna Market through Christmas (a must-visit any time of year!) Her Cardiff maps were definitely the most popular. Look closely for little details from Roath Park Lake to Castell Coch.

I hope you enjoyed my 10 spring birthday gifts for friends from Cardiff small businesses! If you've made it this far, your friends will be very lucky to have you! What other local Cardiff gifts would you add? Comment them below as I'd love to hear.

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