Make your own holiday presents at The Gift Workshop

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Located in the space formerly occupied by Create-a-Video, The Gift workshop offers aspiring crafters the opportunity to make a variety of DIY projects: signs, candles, jewelry, bath bombs, lotions and more.  “Everyone loves Pinterest, right?” says owner Katherine DePrater. “But they don’t necessarily have the materials or know how to get started. The whole idea behind it is that instead of going to Home Goods and purchasing candles or signs or pillows, you would come here and make them yourself.”

The idea behind The Gift Workshop came in 2015.  “I was going to all of these parties, like paint a canvas.  And I thought, well, how many canvases can I have in my house realistically?” laughs DePrater.  “But I love going out with my girlfriends or having a date night, and you know, there’s really not a lot of options,” continues DePrater who found herself driving to Matthews or farther to take advantage of DIY workshops.  

“So I thought, what if you could have a space where you could go as many times as you want, and you could make things?”  DePrater envisioned a multipurpose space where you could make a project for your own home, have a date night, or host a bridal shower.  She began writing the business plan in 2015, but life unfortunately interfered. “In 2016 I got divorced,” says DePrater, who was suddenly thrown into life as a single mom.  “ And I thought, wow, I can’t start this company now.”

DeParter put her plans on hold.  “2017,” she thought, “that’s going to be my year.  That’s when I’m going to do it.” And then, the week of Christmas 2016, her father died.  Still dealing with her own divorce, DePrater now threw herself into helping her mother transition into a new life without her own husband.  “I thought, you know what? I’m gonna put it on the backburner and when the timing is right, I’ll go for it,” says DePrater.

In her mind, DePrater was fixed on January of 2020.  But then, at the beginning of this year, DePrater was informed Coca-Cola, where she had worked for over a decade, was facing a huge corporate reorganization with potential layoffs of 40% of the company’s employees.  The corporate reorganization made DePrater realize that now was the time for her to follow her dream. Tired of spending long hours at work and missing out on her son’s life, DePrater decided to leave Coca Cola and put her business plan into action.  “There’s no better time than the present. If I don’t walk away and do it now, at this state of life I’m in and this age of life I’m in, then I may never do it,” says DePrater.

The Gift Workshop is open daily at 9:00 am.  During the day, customers can shop from prefabricated, locally sourced crafts in the gift shop.  Wednesday through Friday evenings and Saturday and Sunday afternoons, they offer classes where individuals can come in and craft their own original creations.  “We teach people how to make their own original gift, whether a gift to themselves or someone else,” says DePrater. “The whole point is to make something you love.”

So let’s say you want to make your own porch sign.  Here’s how it works: on the Gift Workshop’s website, you’ll be able to view the class schedule, register for a class and pay online.  Every class will have a set price with some a la carte additions (like adding a piece of glass to a lazy susan, for example). When you register, you’ll pick out the type of sign you want to make and specify how you want it personalized (for example, with your last name, address or favorite quote).  

DePrater shows the plain grain wood planks and stencils used to create a porch sign.

When you arrive at The Gift Workshop, you’ll go to the workroom, where all the tools and materials you need will be pre-set in a tray for you.  Surrounding the workroom are project rooms. For example, the candle room houses different scent, wick and container options. DePrater or another teacher will take you through every step of the process from staining your wood to setting and painting your customized stencil and adding hardware and accessories.  You’ll leave the class with a finished original product made by you.

The Gift Workshop provides all the materials and tools you need to DIY an original holiday gift.

Demand for a workshop like this is strong.  DePrater has already hosted three parties, and received even more inquiries, but The Gift Workshop officially opens its doors on Black Friday.  Starting at 9:00 am on Black Friday, The Gift Workshop will offer tours and light refreshments. Customers will have the opportunity to make a wood slice ornament, shop the gift shop and book future classes.  

DePrater expects porch signs to be a popular offering for the holidays.  Although a holiday-themed porch sign may seem like it has limited use, DePrater plans to offer a “refill” – a wood plank that will slip onto the front of the sign for the next season.  “You can do it for Christmas now, but then come back and do your name or address in January!” says DePrater. Another popular craft so far has been lazy susans. Although it’s another item that may seem to have limited use, customers are making lazy susans not only for the dining room table but also for holding remotes on their coffee table or towels in their guest bathroom.

DePrater expectes customized lazy susans like this one to be a popular holiday class.

DePrater expects The Gift Workshop’s website to go live in two weeks.  To inquire about a class in the meantime, you can email, call 980-224-8794 or stop by any day starting at 9:00 am.

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Mary Beth Foster
Mary Beth Foster works part time as an essay specialist at Charlotte Latin School and full time as a mom to her eight-year-old daughter Hannah and her six-year-old son Henry. Prior to having children, she worked as a high school English teacher for nine years. Most recently, she chaired the English department at Queen's Grant High School. She and her husband have lived in Mint Hill with their children and their cats since 2011. Email: