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Gift Ideas

When someone (usually my husband) asks me what I want for Christmas or for my birthday, I always answer with “I don’t know”. Especially if it’s Christmas – I’m too busy dealing with gifts for everyone else. But if you think about it , you do know. Crafty stuff! But you don’t want to figure out what to get, where to get it, and how to explain what it is. So, here is this handy list of great gift ideas, in case someone asks you (or you need to drop a hint for a sometimes-forgotten holiday, hee hee)…

I gave links to multiple stores so that you can easily check prices before you buy. I tend to ask for things I wouldn’t buy for myself. A stamp set? I’ll buy that. An ink pad? Yep. A set of Copics? No. A collection of ink pads? No. The list below consists of items that I already own and would recommend. I give a little commentary on each item and what colors/sizes to start with. I love everything about crafty shopping. I love planning it, talking about it, writing about it, anticipating it, and doing it. I hate to say this, but it might even be better than actually using the items. Ha!

If you plan to purchase anything on this list, please support me by clicking the links on my blog right before you buy. If you do, I will get credit for the sale. You don’t have to click on every product – just one link to the site will do it. Thank you. 🙂 So here we go…

Gansai Tambi Watercolors

These palette watercolors are fantastic. They are more opaque than your typical watercolor, so they give vibrant and intense color. White, black, silver, and gold are included in the set. Amazon has the best regular price as of this writing, but if you have a coupon code, you might get a better deal at Ellen Hutson or Simon Says Stamp.

Zig Clean Color Real Brush Pens

I started with the 12-count set. I loved them so much I purchased the 48-count set! To learn more about these fabulous watercolor markers, see my review and tutorial. Amazon has the best price by far.

Inktense Pencils

Inktense Pencils
I asked for the 36-count set of Inktense Pencils for Christmas a few years ago and my husband got me the 72-count set! I love, love these pencils. You can use them wet or dry. Add a lot of water for a watercolor effect, add a little bit of water to blend with vibrant color. These pencils are easily one of my favorite products. Once again, Amazon has great pricing. Dick Blick also has good pricing, especially with their coupon codes.

Distress Markers

Distress Markers
These markers are also a great option for watercoloring, especially for beginners. I posted a marker comparison, if you’d like more info on that. You can find good pricing at Amazon and Scrapbook.com.

Peerless Watercolors

Peerless Watercolor
I mostly use these watercolors for backgrounds, similar to the Gansai Tambi watercolors. The Peerless colors are a little more transparent than the Gansai Tambi. The great thing about these watercolors is that they are very portable. They are just pieces of colored pigment paper, so they travel very well. The colors are easy to layer and look gorgeous. I posted a product review, which also includes an explanation on how to use them and store them. I recommend purchasing both the basic pack and the bonus pack. With these two sets, you’ll have all the colors you need, and then some. 🙂
Simon Says Stamp: Basic pack and Bonus pack
Ellen Hutson: Basic pack and Bonus pack

Finetec Metallic Watercolors

Finetec Watercolors
If you’re looking for some watercolors you can use on black cardstock, here they are. Absolutely fantastic… the most gorgeous shimmer you’ve ever seen. I recently compared these to the Gansai Tambi metallic watercolors here. They aren’t cheap, which is what makes them a great gift idea! I got mine at Simon Says Stamp.

Copic Markers

Copic Markers
A lot of people ask me what colors to start with. To answer this question, I went into my craft room and evaluated all my markers. I asked myself, “If I had to start over, what would I purchase?” I really like 3-color combos, as it gives you enough color variation to blend. So, I pulled out my favorite combinations and colored some examples for you. I would choose the combos you like below and start there. As far as E’s go, I would choose your favorite. And, I would get either the W or C set to start. You can purchase them for great prices as Ellen Hutson and Blitsy, especially when you take advantage of coupon codes.
Click the image to enlarge:
I also recommend getting the Colorless Blender. You’ll also need Copic-friendly paper and ink. I use Neenah Solar White cardstock and Memento inks, Tuxedo Black (at Ellen Hutson or Simon Says Stamp) and Rich Cocoa (at Ellen Hutson or Simon Says Stamp).

A Stampin’ Up! Ink Pad Collection

Stampin' Up! Ink Pads
If you’ve already checked out my dye ink comparison post, you know that Stampin’ Up! inks did extremely well in my experiment. I own most of the ink pads and use them often. I would start by purchasing the Brights Collection, which contains most of my favorite colors. After that, I would move on to the Subtles Collection and the Regals Collection. Just really great quality inks.

Distress Oxide Ink Pad Collection

Oxide inks
I used to recommend the regular distress inks here, but I’m switching my recommendation to the Oxide inks. Although I still love my regular Distress inks, I think the Oxide inks are a great buy. They blend better and they stamp better than the regular ink pads. However, they don’t watercolor as well. They can’t be perfect! For more detailed information, view my Distress Oxide Product Review. I find myself reaching for these way more often than the regular ink pads. These ink pads are sold pretty much at all online retailers, so I would just shop around. I purchased mine at Blitsy, and I consistently see them on sale there. If you’re planning to buy them individually and not as a set, my most used colors are: Candied Apple, Picked Raspberry, Spiced Marmalade, Fossilized Amber, Cracked Pistachio, Lucky Clover, Peacock Feathers, and Wilted Violet.

Fiskars ProCision Trimmer

Fiskars ProCision Trimmer
I’ve had this trimmer for 2 years and I still love it. It cuts perfectly every time. It’s not without its faults, but I have no regrets about my purchase. I pretty much use it every day. For much more information, see my Fiskars ProCision Product Review.

Stitched Dies Set

Stitched Dies
I researched a lot of brands before settling on Simon Says Stamp for my Stitched Dies. I chose them because of price and also because they have stitching on the inside and the outside of the die (so you can get a negative with stitching as well as the die cut itself). These basic shapes are a staple I use all the time.

Stampin’ Up! Ink Pad Storage

Ink Caddy
I store most of my inks in this 48-slot Stampin’ Up! ink caddy, and I store the caddy on my back table. You can turn it easily, and there is storage at the top for other items (I use it for things like Glossy Accents, glue dots, pencil sharpeners, masking tape, etc.). Obviously, Stampin’ Up! ink pads fit perfectly. But… so do Hero Arts, Memento, Adirondack, and Versafine! I actually store them upside down so the ink drains to the top. The Stampin’ Up! ink pads are already labeled on the side so you can find the one you want easily.

Distress Ink Pad Storage

Distress Ink Storage
After many hours at Container Store, I discovered that this nailpolish holder is absolutely PERFECT for distress ink pads. For more details on how it works, you can view my ink pad storage video. Don’t worry about storing the ink pads on their sides – it’s okay, per Tim Holtz.

Other Ink Pad Storage

Other Ink Pad Storage
I store many of my other ink pads in these vanity trays. They have little vertical compartments that keep your ink pads from falling down. No more labeling the sides! You can view the tops as you flip through them. You can see them up close in my ink pad storage video.

Heat Embossing Supplies

Heat Embossing Supplies
Ready to get into heat embossing? One of the greatest techniques ever. You’ll need a heat tool, Versamark ink, and some embossing powders. I would recommend getting white, clear, gold, and silver. You can use the clear powder on top of pigment inks (including Versafine Black and Distress Oxide inks) to get colored embossing. I tend to go for the “fine” powders, as those give a more crisp result.
I have the Stampin’ Up! heat tool, which I love. For the ink and powders:
Purchase at Simon Says Stamp: Versamark Ink, White, Clear, Gold, and Silver.
Purchase at Ellen Hutson: Versamark Ink, White, Clear, Gold, and Silver.
Purchase at Stampin’ Up!: Versamark Ink, White, Clear, Gold, and Silver.

Sizzix Big Shot and Magnetic Platform

Sizzix Big Shot
Do you want to enable yourself for an entire year? Get a Sizzix Big Shot. I cannot live without mine – I love it. There is an endless supply of dies, embossing folders, and plates to use with this machine. You’ll find the best prices at Amazon, Scrapbook.com, and JoAnn’s. Also extremely useful is a set of Mylar Shims for those detailed dies and the Silicone Rubber Pad for dry embossing.

And please don’t forget the magnetic platform. I’m telling you this is a lifesaver and one of the most useful things in my craft room. I resisted buying it for awhile but was so glad when I finally did. The best prices again are at Amazon, Scrapboook.com, and

A Ream of Neenah Cardstock

Neenah Cardstock
Hands down, my favorite paper. I use it pretty much on every card. It’s the perfect thickness for a card base, plus it handles Copics and colored pencils beautifully. I buy it by the ream: 250 sheets. It comes out to 7 cents a sheet – a pretty good deal considering I actually finish these reams! I always buy mine from Ellen Hutson. There seem to be several labels for it at different retailers, but the one I get at Ellen always works great for me. As far as paper goes, the Hero Arts black notecards (black on the outside, white on the inside), Simon Says Stamp white woodgrain, and Stampin’ Up! Whisper White (for SU inks) are all winners.


You see me use this thing every single video, right? I used to use the little hand-held tape runners and still do occasionally for small tasks. But, it gets pretty expensive if you make a lot of cards. I swore off those giant guns because they seemed so bulky and heavy. But, economically, you really should invest in it. It doesn’t take long to get used to. Check prices: Ellen Hutson, Simon Says Stamp, and Amazon.

Acrylic Block Set

Acrylic Blocks
I debated buying this set of blocks for quite awhile, but I’m so glad I did. I used to have a drawer of miscellaneous blocks of all different qualities and sizes. It seemed like I needed a lot of them. I now only need the blocks in this set. I keep them in the Clear Block Storage caddy, permanently open, inside my main craft table drawer. Before I got the caddy, I just stored them in a box on my craft table. The blocks are thick, very clear, and have a smooth groove on the sides to make them very easy to grab and hold onto.


What wishlist would be complete without the MISTI? I use it daily for aligning stamps as well as cardstock panels. You can watch my video review of the MISTI HERE. If you’re deciding between the large and the small, get the large, as it’s more practical for all sizes of projects. Ellen Hutson usually has it for a good price.

Color Burst Powders

Color Burst Powders
Many times I will purchase a product based on member suggestion. Usually I am skeptical at first, which was the case with these powders. However, I have reached for them multiple times, even after the novelty wore off. They are fun to play with and the results are beautiful. You can watch them in action here, here, and here. Personally, I own the Brights collection, which you can find at Scrapbook.com and Blitsy.

Okay, I think that about does it. Hope you enjoyed my reviews and recommendations!



  1. wrote on January 6th, 2015 at 11:45 am


    Hi Darlene,
    I was happy to subscribe to Live,Love,Cards…You have so freely shared your talent over the years and I wanted to show my appreciation by signing up for a yearly membership and ordering Stampin Up from your sister to support foster kids. Thank you for the tips techniques and inspiring words.
    Fondest Regards,
    Jeanne Peck

    • wrote on January 6th, 2015 at 4:06 pm

      Darlene DeVries

      Thank you Jeanne! 🙂

  2. wrote on January 7th, 2015 at 3:10 pm


    Hi Darlene. I love this list. You have described lots of products and given your detailed opinion. Very informative. I wanted to comment on heat tools. I have a Ranger on and like it for the size and how quiet it is. It heats well but does seem to take a very long time to get hot and actually melt the embossing powder. I have lots of Stampin’ Up! products but have never tried their heat tool. Do you think it’s similiar to the Hero Arts one that is so popular? Thanks for a fun and exciting journey of crafting and learning!

    • wrote on January 7th, 2015 at 4:51 pm

      Darlene DeVries

      Hi Vicki, I’ve never used the Hero Arts gun, so unfortunately I can’t compare the two. I do know that I love my SU tool. 🙂

    • wrote on November 22nd, 2017 at 5:21 pm

      Carol Mac

      I asked my husband for one for xmas last year and I love it! it is light, slim and heats up very quickly! I have not used a Hero Arts one, so others will have to chime in. Next to the MISTI, I believe it is the second best tool I ever purchased! 😎

  3. wrote on January 12th, 2015 at 3:40 pm


    Wohoo. I’m excited to receive your videos. I do stamping camps and need all the ideas I can get my hands on! It will be wonderful it to have to recreate the wheel(s)!!!!

  4. wrote on March 15th, 2015 at 8:45 am


    Hi, hoping your site will help me be more card-productive. I have tons of stamps and supplies which I love buying but after hours and hours of playing, I have only actually mailed ONE card. Enjoying everything on your site. Thank you for sharing !

    • wrote on November 22nd, 2017 at 5:22 pm

      Carol Mac

      Linda, you should join a card group here, it would give you more reason to mail cards and it is great to receive some too!

  5. wrote on March 18th, 2015 at 11:20 am


    Have been following you for several years – love your videos, ideas and techniques. Thanks so much for sharing your talents. Just received my Misti and am thrilled! Ordered and had it within 3 or 4 days – can’t wait to really put it to use. It will make my stamping life so much easier. Now what do I do with all my wood block stamps?

    • wrote on March 18th, 2015 at 11:04 pm

      Darlene DeVries

      I know what you mean! Using a stamp-a-ma-jig seems archaic now, lol! 🙂

      • wrote on November 22nd, 2017 at 5:27 pm

        Carol Mac

        I still use my stamp-a-ma-jig but have also converted some of my wood stamps to cling stamps so I can use them in my Misti! it is not that expensive and easy to do. I converted some background stamps and those detailed ones that I could never get a good impression (even stamp in twice like Darlene). HTH! 😎

  6. wrote on March 19th, 2015 at 9:11 am


    Nice blog on products. Some I have some I don’t. Sure wondered about some. Gives me a way to go. Thanks for your information. Betty

  7. wrote on March 28th, 2015 at 2:21 am


    Didnt get to log on when this all started so hope i havent missed too much. Looking forward to catching up. I love your work Darlene.

  8. wrote on May 21st, 2015 at 7:31 pm

    Jennifer Stark

    I made a board on my Pinterest site called “Want To Buy” I pin things I want to get someday. (It’s mostly what I see you use on your projects) I showed my husband how to get on Pinterest. I label every item with what the product is and the cost. Now when family and friends ask what I would like, I can tell them to go to Pinterest!!

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