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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…

LiveLoveCards Subscription!

How about another year of LiveLoveCards? The gift that keeps on giving. Send your gift-giver HERE to get more information. You can activate it up to a year after you purchase it, and it lasts for a full year.

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. Again, Amazon has a great price, but the downside is that the larger sets are shipped from Japan and can take longer. If you’re in a hurry, check Ellen Hutson and Simon Says Stamp.

Inktense Pencils

Inktense Pencils
Last year I asked for the 36-count set of Inktense Pencils 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. Dick Blick has the cheapest prices I’ve seen, by far. Be sure to purchase some Strathmore Watercolor Paper to go with it. It’s economical and I love it.

Distress Markers

Distress Markers
These markers are different enough from the Stampin’ Up! markers to justify the purchase, in my opinion. I posted a marker comparison, if you’d like more info on that. I would go one of two ways here…. if you want to go all-out, get the full 49 marker set (original 37 markers, plus 12 seasonal). If you’re on a budget, the seasonal 12-count set has some of my favorite colors. Amazon has good prices on these markers, but I would check Ellen Hutson, Simon Says Stamp, and Scrapbook.com.

Peerless Watercolors

Peerless Watercolor
I rank these watercolors up there with the Inktense Pencils and the Distress Markers. Rich, vibrant colors that 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

Stampin’ Up! Markers

Stampin' Up! markers
If you collect Stampin’ Up! products and love the color coordination, the Stampin’ Up! markers are great. What I especially love is that you can color your stamps with them. Just turn over your stamp, color the rubber with the marker, huff on it, and stamp on paper. It looks like you used an ink pad. Great for journaling too!

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. I’ve found great prices at both Dick Blick and Ellen Hutson.
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 Ink Pad Collection

Distress Inks
More dye inks, but these are different. Lots of awesome techniques you can do with these pads. If I had to pick a set of colors to start with, I’d go with Barn Door, Picked Raspberry, Spiced Marmalade, Squeezed Lemonade, Peeled Paint, Peacock Feathers, Broken China, Dusty Concord, and Walnut Stain. After that I would choose Spun Sugar, Scattered Straw, Ripe Persimmon, Evergreen Bough, Chipped Sapphire, Shaded Lilac, and Antique Linen. See the collections at Simon Says Stamp and Ellen Hutson.

Dye Ink Blending Supplies

Spinning Rack
Do you want to make your own colored cardstock using whatever dye inks you have on hand? Get a set of 8 foam applicators (one for each color family), a spinning storage rack, and a craft mat. You’re all set.
Purchase at Simon Says Stamp: Foam Applicator, Spinning Storage Rack, and Craft Mat
Purchase at Ellen Hutson: Foam Applicator, Spinning Storage Rack, and Craft Mat

Memento Luxe Pigment Ink Collection

Memento Luxe
Pigment inks are completely different from dye inks. If you’re not sure you should get them, check out my Pigment Inks 101 video.
They don’t absorb into the paper. They dry on top of the paper surface. As a result, you get great results with these inks on clear stamps, no matter what quality stamps you have. In addition, because they stay wet longer, you have time to heat emboss with some clear powder. I did a lot of research, trying to decide between investing in Colorbox or Memento Luxe. In the end, I decided on Memento Luxe pads because they are touted as a “mixed media” ink, so they should accommodate more than just paper projects. There are 24 colors to choose from, which is kind of a lot. I have Angel Pink, Dandelion, Love Letter, Rose Bud, Lilac Posies, Danube Blue, Bahama Blue, Pear Tart, Northern Pine, and Morocco. Find them at both Simon Says Stamp and Ellen Hutson. If you think Colorbox is a better choice for you, JoAnn’s has a great selection and good price. You really can’t go wrong with either.

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 craft 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
I recently 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, black, clear, gold, and silver. You can use the clear powder on top of pigment inks (and distress inks too) 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. Unfortunately, I can’t comment on other heat tool brands. If you can, please add to the comments section. For the ink and powders:
Purchase at Simon Says Stamp: Versamark Ink, White, Black, Clear, Gold, and Silver.
Purchase at Ellen Hutson: Versamark Ink, White, Black, Clear, Gold, and Silver.
Purchase at Stampin’ Up!: Versamark Ink, White, Black, 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.

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! Ellen Hutson has it slightly cheaper than Simon Says Stamp. But again, check for sales. As far as paper goes, the Hero Arts black cardstock (black on one side, white on the other), 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. The one I have is the 3M Scotch ATG 714 ($90)… I know, not cheap. I had often wondered about the Pink ATG, which is significantly cheaper, also made by 3M, and appears to be the same tool. I’ve read that the 714 is made for commercial use and the Pink ATG is made for consumers. But what does that mean??

Well… at my last scrapbook retreat, someone had the Pink ATG. I sat down with both guns to compare. There appears to be no difference in function. Same tape, same threading, same application, same structure. I even took one of my refills and put it into the Pink ATG and it was the same. The only difference I could tell was weight. The 714 seems just slightly, slightly lighter than the Pink ATG. Is it worth the difference in price? No way. Go with the Pink ATG. It even comes with refills! Check prices: Ellen Hutson, Simon Says Stamp, and Amazon.

Acrylic Block Set

Acrylic Blocks
I debated buying these 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 a little box on my craft table for easy access. 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. The most cost-effective place to purchase it is My Sweet Petunia.

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



  1. Profile photo of scrapcajun
    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

  2. Profile photo of pinkposhcards
    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!

    • Profile photo of Darlene D
      wrote on January 7th, 2015 at 4:51 pm

      Darlene D

      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. 🙂

  3. Profile photo of Sudale
    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. Profile photo of lindainyukon
    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 !

  5. Profile photo of Woody
    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?

    • Profile photo of Darlene D
      wrote on March 18th, 2015 at 11:04 pm

      Darlene D

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

  6. Profile photo of Betty
    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. Profile photo of Dawn
    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. Profile photo of Jennifer Stark
    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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