Are you folk-obsessed? Do you know someone else with a similar folk affliction? Are you struggling to find Christmas gifts for you, them, or everyone? Look no further. We’ve compiled the annual Tradfolk gifts list to help you through.
And remember, if you’re buying items from Bandcamp on December 2nd, it’s Bandcamp Friday, so the artists get a whole lot more of your cash than the company does. Make December 2nd your Christmas shopping day!
Simple really – the list would be almost never-ending if we went there. If you’re after albums, check out our recent reviews, and if you want gig tickets, you’ll want to head to the Tradfolk Events Calendar.
Everything was in stock at the time we wrote this article, but if they’ve run out by the time you click on them, then you’ll have to click on something else. We’re only making recommendations, remember. We’re not stocking them ourselves.
We chatted a bit, tossed around a mixture of things that the Tradfolk writers thought might be nice, mainly focusing on stuff from artists that we’ve featured on our pages this year, then we made a list and checked it twice.
Sorry, this isn’t that kind of website.
In this list, you’ll find…
- Christmas cards
- Folk art
- Folk books
- Folk fashion and clothes
- A single DVD
- Food & drink
- Gift vouchers
- Mugs and things
Gloucestershire Wassail cards
Not sure what the ‘Gloucestershire Wassail’ [Roud 209] is? Well, here’s a little info on it in relation to a well-known Britpop band from the 90s. And once you’ve got that under your belt, come back here and buy these lovely wassailing Christmas cards, featuring all of the characters from the song’s verses, designed by Merry Illuminations. Have a look around the online shop. There are some lovely yule-ish things available.
Buy from: Merry Illuminations shop
Full Moon Dance cards
We understand that Alex Merry’s Full Moon Dance image (see ‘Folk art’ section below) will be printed as Christmas cards in the very near future. Keep an eye on alexmerryart.com for their impending release.
Ben Edge prints
Ben Edge is well-known to Tradfolk readers, and his work is instantly recognisable. For the folklore-loving folkie, the Frontline Folklore boxed set, signed by the artist himself, will make as much a collector’s item as a beautiful Christmas gift. 20 prints housed in a hand-oil-painted A4 box with the name and title of the series.
Buy from: Ben Edge shop
Full Moon Dance print
Alex Merry of Boss Morris created this gorgeous painting for the cover of the most recent Good on Paper magazine. It depicts 12 Morris dancers a-leaping across Haresfield Beacon under a full December ‘cold moon’, as their beasts play by firelight. A more beautiful winter celebration is hard to imagine. Alex has made the painting available as a signed A4 Giclée print on her website.
Buy from: Alex Merry shop
Man in the Woods prints
Man in the Woods is an artist who makes artefacts that tell the story of strange, rural Britain. He lives in a semi-fictional, composite world known as the Mump. His work tells the stories of the people and beasts that inhabit this world, and it’s a captivating, charming place indeed. Those of you who have spent time on folkie Instagram will know his work well.
Buy from: Man in the Woods shop
Nick Hart’s modern-day broadsides
These beautiful, hand-made re-imaginings of traditional broadside ballad prints are a collaboration between tradfolk singer, Nick Hart, and illustrator/author, Nick Hayes. The three songs depicted (‘Lemany’, ‘Our Captain Calls’, ‘The Bold Pedlar and Robin Hood’) appeared on Hart’s latest album, Nick Hart Sings Ten English Folk Songs. Each A3 print is numbered in pencil, underlining their unique nature. A limited run, order them while you can.
Buy from: nickhartmusic.com
Squeezebox Timberkit man
Timberkits are a great way to explore the magic of movement by creating characters, creatures and contraptions with different themes and ability levels. The Timberkit company has a passion for wood and their design challenge has always been how to use a natural organic material in an engineering context and give it life and animation. Like a 3D jigsaw puzzle, a Timberkit is a satisfying and relaxing way to pass the hours as Christmas week melts into the New Year.
Buy from: The Morris Shop
The Ballad Partners
This not-for-profit publishing company specialises in papers on a variety of traditional folk subjects. Mainly edited by Steve Roud and David Atkinson, the most recent edition is called Thirsty Word (and Other Legacies of Folk Song) and covers a series of papers that were initially presented online under the auspices of the Traditional Song Forum. It may sound a little academic, but for the serious folk scholar, anything with Roud’s name on it is worth a peep.
Buy from: The Ballad Partners
The Brickfields Tunebook
A lovely companion to The Brickfields album for anyone who might like to have a bash at either the traditional or original tunes. This downloadable booklet includes information about the tunes and their original sources, as well as behind-the-scenes insights into the album-making process. Chords are helpfully included, but sadly the book doesn’t come with a helping of Granny’s Attic’s enviable talents, so some practice might be required.
Buy from: grannysattic.org.uk
The Captain’s Apprentice
Like the Old Songs Podcast? Wish the episodes would last a bit longer? Then you need this in your Christmas stocking. Caroline Davison serves up 400 pages, ostensibly on one song – ‘The Captain’s Apprentice’ [Roud 835] – and, like our very own podcast, the conversation takes in so much more. Part scholarly tome, part travelog, part memoir, part Ralph Vaughan Williams biography – it’s a fascinating book that will enchant anyone who loves the old songs. You don’t even have to be all that interested in Vaughan Williams. Just a smattering of curiosity will pull you into an engrossing story.
Buy from: Amazon
Folk Song in England
Steve Roud’s definitive work is essential reading for anyone bitten by the traditional folk bug. Yes, it’s huge, but it’s so fulfilling, and you’ll find yourself coming back to it again and again. As fRoots said when the book came out (2017), “There won’t be a better or more important book about English folk song in any of our lifetimes.” Here at Tradfolk, it’s like the Bible.
Buy from: Amazon
Jacken Elswyth’s Trad Carols & Wassails
Not content with making a solo album, a Shovel Dance Collective album, and a bunch of banjos (see below), the polymath, Jacken Elswyth, has also published a yuletide songbook, replete with 50 bangers. “They contain all the ones everybody knows,” she says, “plus a selection of Herefordshire and Sheffield carols, folk songs associated with Christmas and the New Year, and a handful of wassails. All illustrated using linocut designs I’ve made for Christmas cards over the last few years, with a useful index and a short introduction.”
Buy from: Bandcamp
John Spiers’ Tunebooks
Available in hard copy or as paper-saving PDFs, these two books contain over 150 tunes ranging from well-known traditional to new folk tunes. Each one comes with suggested chords, and where necessary, is transposed into a friendly key for squeezebox players. With so many new tunes, even the most seasoned folkie is sure to find something to occupy them after Christmas lunch. Don’t forget to check whether your Secret Santa can read music though…
Buy from: John Spiers shop
The New Penguin Book of English Folk Songs
This might seem an obvious choice, but we know that many Tradfolk readers are starting out on their journeys and explorations. As Emily Portman told us in a recent interview, this is the book that got her started, and if it’s good enough for one of the country’s finest traditional folk singers, it’s certainly good enough for the tradfolk novice. We use it for a lot of our Old Songs Podcast research, as the tidbits of research and history that accompany each song are real gems.
Buy from: Amazon
A Secret Stream
This wonderful book is the first of two volumes of songs collated from the English Gypsy tradition, put together by Nick Dow, with help from his collaborators, Cohen Braithwaite-Kilcoyne and Steve Gardham. It’ll make a wonderful Christmas present for musicians and folk history geeks alike.
Buy from: francisboutle.co.uk
It has taken Steve Roud 52 years to bring the Roud Index to its current state of completion, comprising over 28,000 traditional ballads and 40,000 broadsides. Who would possibly choose to try and arrange them all in chronological order for the benefit of beginner guitarists and folk newbies? Karl Sinfield, that’s who. His Sing Yonder project does a wonderful job guiding the uninitiated through the vast and often dimly-lit caverns of traditional song. Just in time for Christmas, he’s released a bumper pack of the first five, beautifully designed editions. Already an essential part of any folk explorer’s library.
Buy from: Bandcamp
Still Growing: English Traditional Songs and Singers from the Cecil Sharp Collection
Another one that proves invaluable for Old Songs Podcast research, this slim volume covers the lives of the source singers associated with Cecil Sharp, and it’s a fact-filled treat. It also contains the finest collection of neck-beard photography in print, so if that’s your thing, don’t miss out. Unfortunately, a copy is fairly hard to come by, but it can usually be found on secondhand book sites and the likes of eBay and Amazon’s used section. Grab a copy while you can.
Buy from: Abe Books
Remember the Right to Roam Movement and the Englefield Trespass this summer? Well, here’s the manifesto. The Trespasser’s Companion is a rallying cry for greater public access to nature and a gently seditious guide to how to get it: by trespassing. We are excluded from the majority of our land and waterways in England, but writer Nick Hayes shows how reclaiming our connection to nature would be better both for us, and for nature.
Buy from: Hive
Green Man Summer Leaf t-shirts
We saw a bunch of these t-shirts around the festivals the summer – they’re clearly hot to trot. Keep up with the early adopters and bag yourself a Green Man t-shirt before the new folkie season arrives. Screen print on a premium quality 145 gsm, 100% combed and ring spun cotton.
Buy from: Ben Edge shop
If “heavy metal Morris dancing” is more your thing, you’re probably already aware of Blackthorn Ritualistic Folk, the rulers of Weirdshire. You, too, can proclaim your devotion to the darker folk dance arts by sporting one of their beautifully-designed t-shirts. They currently have three on sale via their Etsy shop, but if they’re anything like their events tickets, they’re pretty sure to sell out soon. Be quick.
Buy from: Etsy
Eliza Carthy t-shirts
Eliza Carthy’s barnstorming 30th-anniversary tour continues apace across the country, and on the merch stand you’ll find these beautiful t-shirts depicting the Queen of the Whirl album art, designed by the artist Tracy Dovey. Eliza assures us that they’ll go up on her online shop as soon as the tour is over, in plenty of time to take Christmas orders.
Buy from: Eliza Carthy shop (from next week)
Folk fashion from Weven
Smocks! Aprons! Woven backpacks! Jewelry! Aprons! Pretty much all the traditional folk fashion garb you could hope for is ready and available from the Weven shop, either in Stroud or online. They tend to stock items that are handmade, organic and crafted from techniques passed down via the oral tradition. A wonderful not-for-profit shop that’s well worth your custom.
Buy from: Weven
Folk Legend t-shirts
Tradfolk’s very own ‘Folk Legend’ and ‘Folk Hero’ t-shirts come in all colours, shapes and sizes. Grab yourself one and help fund/advertise your favourite tradtional folk website. We’ll be grateful forever (not just for Christmas).
Buy from: Tradfolk shop
Jim Moray’s digital leaf t-shirts
Not just an amazing, pioneering musician, Jim Moray‘s design chops are well and truly up-to-scratch, too. His digital leaf t-shirts (especially the green logo on navy blue material) are gorgeous. For the discerning folk fan that likes to keep one foot in the present.
Buy from: Jim Moray shop
Martin Simpson’s Evolution of Guitar Tunings t-shirts
Designed by the guitar legend himself (unfortunately not pictured above), these Martin Simpson Evolution of Guitar Tunings t-shirts are a must-have for any wannabe folk fingerpicking guitarit who needs a constant, close reminder of what the options are. Start at the top (standard tuning) and work your way down to the last one (black belt tuning). You’ll be playing like the mighty Simpsonian in no time.
Buy from: Teemill
Simon Brock’s clogs
Not only is Simon Brock an award-winning maker of traditional British clogs and other leather items, he’s also a “reasonable singer, passable accordion player and longsword dancer” (his humble words, not ours). Whether you’re looking for clogs for stepping, North West Morris dancing, or everyday wear (are you even a folkie if you don’t own a serviceable pair of everyday clogs?), hop-step it to Simon Brock’s online emporium.
Buy from: Simon Brock’s shop
Tamsin Elliott FREY t-shirts
At the time of writing, only six of Tamsin Elliott’s FREY t-shirts remained on her Bandcamp page. The t-shirt designs are almost as enticing as the album they’re advertising, with their gold, floral emblems on rich blue and green backgrounds. Snap up a t-shirt (and an album) while they’re still in stock. (Note: neither the coffee, pastry or hunk in the above photograph are included in this purchase.)
Buy from: Bandcamp
The Old Songs Podcast t-shirts
Support your favourite traditional folk songs podcast by becoming a walking advertisement. Available in all shapes, colours and sizes. Get involved!
Buy from: Tradfolk shop
Here’s a Health to the Barley Mow
Nobody buys DVDs anymore, do they? But if they did, they’d certainly want this one. From the ‘sexy, savage’ Cornish May Day rites of Alan Lomax’s Oss Oss Wee Oss to Jeremy Deller and Alan Kane’s footage of ferociously fought traditional football; from children’s games in London’s bombed East End to intricate sword and step dances, this collection of poetic documentaries, long un-seen television reports and rare silent film footage reveals just how powerful and enduring the folk traditions of Great Britain have always been.
Buy from: Amazon
Food & drink
In celebration of the 10th anniversary of Broadside, Bellowhead created a gin rich with juniper, expertly handcrafted in small batches using only the finest of botanicals. Distilled and bottled in England, vegan Friendly, grab it while it lasts. A very limited edition.
Buy from: Tanked music
Boss Morris – Las Guerreras coffee
And you thought Boss Morris were just dancers! They have to get that kick in their step from somewhere, and it turns out it’s from their very own brand of coffee. The coffee was grown by 14 female producers in Guerrerro, Mexico, an area the suffers at the hands of human traffickers. The producers responsible for producing this coffee are fighting in a system which maginalises women. The collaboration, made viable by Ensemble Coffee, tries to ensure that the money raised goes into the hands of the women, rather than a male member of their families.
Buy from: Noni’s Coffee Roasters
Scarborough Fair IPA
Forget your parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme, this IPA is a modern interpretation. Peach and lychee are the order of the day. And just incase you’re wondering whether it’s the Scarborough Fair they’re referring to, there’s a jaunty Martin Carthy-esque character on the label, roving off into the distance.
Buy from: Wold Top Brewery
English Folk Dance & Song Society vouchers
Gigs, dances, workshops, gifts… there are plenty of ways a person could spend their cash at Cecil Sharp House, or indeed with the English Folk Dance and Song Society in general. Best give your beloved folkie a gift voucher and let them do the hard work of deciding. Each voucher is valid for 24 months.
Buy from: EFDSS Shop
Halsway Manor gift vouchers
Northumbrian Smallpipes taster days, anyone? Hurdy Gurdy Weekend? Violin making? One of these Halsway Manor gift vouchers could place all this – and so much more – firmly within your folkie friend’s grasp. Give the gift of learning this Christmas. Give the gift of Halsway.
Buy from: Halsway Manor (call on 01984 618 274 or email firstname.lastname@example.org)
Jacken Elswyth banjos
We’ve already seen Jacken elsewhere on this list, but here she is again in banjo-making mode. She has been mending and building banjos since 2018, selling her first in 2020. Since then, she has made it a key part of what she does. So, if you’re after a fresh new banjo, hand-made by a passionate folk musician in South London, look no further.
Buy from: Jacken Elswyth banjo shop
Nick Hart’s unusual instruments
Like Jacken Elswyth, Nick Hart can turn his hand to many folkie things. In this entry, allow us to introduce you to the Nick Hart’s Unusual Instruments shop (and highly entertaining accompanying Instagram account). An accomplished instrument repair gentleman, Nick has been running his online emporium since lockdown. If you’re someone who collects instruments you never thought you needed, beware – it’s hard not to visit his shop without creating a frustratingly long wish list.
Buy from: Nick Hart’s Unusual Instruments shop
Folk London subscription
With so many printed folk magazines vanishing in recent years, it’s encouraging to see the passionate and wonderful Folk London clinging on in there. Ostensibly a monthly go-to-guide to all things folkie in the capital, it also contains great interviews that are well worth a read wherever you are in the world. A yearly subscription only costs £18 and would not go amiss in these difficult times.
Buy from: Folk London shop
Hudson Club is an artist-community online platform available to subscribers to the Hudson Records Bandcamp page, home to a growing library of new and exclusive music, articles, podcasts, conversation and much more from your favourite Hudson artists – most of which sits firmly in the folk camp. It’s a treasure-trove of content, and feels like a sustainable way of approaching the difficulties caused by the messy world of online streaming platforms.
Buy from: Hudson Records
Soundpost Donor Box
Soundpost is a Sheffield-based, artist-led organisation that coordinates a range of participatory events, exploring folk traditions through practical workshops, performances, debate and discussion. You can support their excellent, ongoing work through their donor page, which helps to maintain running costs as well as artists bursaries that aim to engage more 18-30 year olds in folk and traditional music. A worthy cause.
Buy from: Soundpost donor page
We create content on Tradfolk for free. However, we do have some overheads, so we appreciate your assistance. If you like what we’re doing, head to our support page and consider either subscribing or making a one-off donation. We’ve got a Paypal tip jar, a Ko-Fi account, or subscriptions via Steady. Many thanks for checking it out.
Buy from: Tradfolk support stage
Weird Walk subscription
The people behind the wonderful Weird Walk magazine specialise in that intersection between traditional arts, rituals, and the landscape. They publish new editions of the magazine when they’re ready (rather than on a regular schedule) and regularly present podcasts and folkloric events. Get behind what they’re doing by ordering their back catalogue to date as a juicy Christmas present – enough to fill a stocking and under the tree!
Buy from: Weird Walk
Mugs and things
Jackie Oates mugs
The latest Jackie Oates album, Gracious Wings, came out in September. For those who wish to celebrate their love for her music through warm drinks, these special edition mugs should be high on your wish list.
Buy from: Bandcamp
If Tradfolk has proven to be your cup of tea this year, help spread the word with one of our logo mugs. Keep them on your desk at work as a proven conversation starter. Dishwasher and microwave safe! What more could you ask for?
Buy from: Tradfolk shop
Weven’s clay pipe collection
“Nobody knows anything about clay pipe making,” Rhia Davenport told us in a recent interview, “but when you see them being made and you see a finished pipe, they’re so gloriously satisfying and tactile and they’re just such a nice thing to have, and to learn a tiny bit about the history of them. I think clay pipes are really cool whether you want to use them as a functional object or not. I just think they’re a really nice thing to have. For £10, buy a pipe everybody!” Well? You heard the woman.
Buy from: Weven shop
According to our resident Morris expert, Wentworth pewter tankards are the must-have item for the dancer about town. Giant tankards, ‘superior’ tankards, X-range tankards… if you’re looking for the drinking person’s drinking vessel, Wentworth should be first on your list. (For the uninitiated, pewter is a malleable metal alloy consisting of tin, antimony, copper, bismuth, and sometimes silver. It is believed to keep your drink colder for longer, kind of like a traditional vaccuum-insulated flash, but without the vaccuum or insulation.)
Buy from: Wentworth Pewter shop
Johnny Campbell’s tea towels
Absolute road dog, Johnny Campbell, travels light. You’ll not find many cumbersome CDs on his merch stands. Instead, they’re resplendent with a range of tea-towels, hiking badges and t-shirts, each commemorating one of his single releases from the last few years. Of his many wares, the highlight is surely this ‘Right to Roam’ cloth, replete with Johnny’s own lyrics. Peruse his store. There’s bound to be something you like.
Buy from: Johnny Campbell shop
Nick Hart’s hankies
Musician, instrument maker, designer and all-round dandy, Nick Hart makes his final appearance in this Christmas list with an (unused) hanky, hand-printed with lyrics from his signature song. “Do you need help in your struggle to avoid flash company?” he asks us on his website. “Look no further than this chic yellow handkerchief, hand stiched in Bristol.”
Buy from: Nick Hart shop
Wefan Textiles is a one woman weaving enterprise established by Rosie Butler-Hall. It is born out of her dyed-in-the-wool intrigue into the seasonal changes and cultural calendar of the British Isles. It produces hand-woven homewares, fashion items, accessories and hand-dyed skeins of British wool each inspired by a place or time in the ritual calendar of Britain. Take a look at her website and learn all about the Glimakra 4 shaft floor loom on which she creates her beautiful pieces.
Buy from: Wefan Textiles shop
Trinkets & badges
Art 4 Folk Gold Enamel Ping Badge
Join the revolution with these golden badges! Designed by Ben Edge, these lapel-dazzlers depict the Green Man in all his glory, and reference Edge’s Art 4 Folk manifesto, the details of which you’ll find on this page.
Buy from: Ben Edge shop
Foraged Fibres trinkets
An amulet pouch created by Suzie Grieve of Foraged Fibres, handwoven from willow bark, yellow flag iris, dandelion stem, crocosmia, black grass and corn husk. Finished with a handmade pebble button gathered from the edge of lake Coniston and a hand-carved Honeysuckle bead.
Buy from: Foraged Fibres
Folk customs trinkets
Cast bronze pendants made using the traditional lost wax technique, based on the Whittlesea Straw Bear, the Garland King, the Burryman and Jack in the Green. Hung either with a silk ribbon or leather cord so you can wear it at your desired length. These pendants are a one-off limited run of items made exclusively for Weven by Josie Wickes to celebrate the eclectic and eccentric British folk calendar.
Buy from: Weven accessories
Like some kind of secret sign, wear your silver EFDSS swordlock badge and make other folk lovers in the vicinity aware that you know your double-steps from your single-steps. Also available as part of the EFDSS Fan Pack (including pencils, a tote bag and postcards).
Buy from: EFDSS Shop
Folk Fatales sticker pack
Earlier this year we chatted with Lucy Wright, the artist behind Folk is a Feminist Issue. A number of our reader said they loved the ‘Folk Fatales’ series, so here’s a great little stocking-filler for you. Lucy’s sticker packer includes the Burrywoman, Straw Mamabear and other femme folk favourites. It’s a limited edition collection featuring six vinyl stickers, all based on the original art series.
Buy from: Folk is a Feminist Issue shop
For the folk musician that has everything, a Lindleywood birdbox comes in both accordion and melodeon designs – so why not have one of each? Handmade in sustainable pine with a non-toxic paint coating, it’ll make the ideal present for the bird-loving folkie in your life. But you’ll have to wait. Due to unprecedented demand, it won’t arrive before Christmas. The early birds caught all the worms, it seems. Pre-order on the link below.
Buy from: Lindleywood