Thinking about buying a Cricut Joy but a little confused by all of the options for tools and materials? Check out this shopping guide for everything you need to know as a Cricut beginner.
The Cricut Joy has quickly risen to the rank of my very favorite crafting tool. I still LOVE, love, love my Cricut Maker, but the petite size and ease of use makes the Joy perfect for most of the projects I tend to do with my Cricut (aka labeling and organizing things mostly).
If you are considering buying a Cricut Joy, I’m writing this buying guide just for you. I hope the thoughts and opinions I share below will feel like we’re both standing in the Cricut aisle together and I’m a friend telling you all about what to buy and what to skip.
With its smaller size and lower price point, the Cricut Joy is what I recommend if you are interested in getting your first Cricut. While the smaller size poses some limits on the size of projects you can create, the Joy will do most everything I find the majority of beginners want to do. There are of course exceptions, but I’d say the Joy is a good fit for most.
If you have no idea what the Cricut Joy is or how it compares to the other Cricut machines, jump over to my Cricut Joy FAQ blog post. That will give you a great introduction to this small yet powerful cutting machine.
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Cricut Joy Shopping List
Here’s a quick rundown of the machine, tools, and materials I recommend you pick up to get started! I will go into more detail about all of these in the next section but wanted to give you a list that’s quick to skim first.
Must-Haves – Machine + Tools
Must-Haves – Materials
- Smart Vinyl – You can get permanent or removable — pick what YOU need for your preferred projects. I usually just buy removable unless it’s a project that will be near water or outdoors. I also recommend getting a roll of white and/or black to start with since these colors are very versatile.
- Smart Transfer Tape – this is sized for Smart Vinyl ( buy if you’re getting permanent or removable vinyl — not needed for Smart Labels or Smart Iron-On)
Nice-To-Haves – Materials
- Smart Labels – If you want to label things, the new Smart Label material comes in both a vinyl and paper form.
- Cricut Joy Pens – If you get the writeable Smart labels or want to write/draw on greeting cards or other paper projects – note that the machine comes with one black pen.
- Cricut Joy Insert Cards – If you want to make greeting cards, these are amazing!
- Card Mat – If you’re getting the Cricut Joy Insert Cards, you’ll need one of these.
- Smart Iron-On Vinyl – If you want to make small iron-on projects, grab a roll of this. I’d probably start with white or black as a basic color that can work with many projects.
- Cricut EasyPress Mini – Nice to have if you plan to do a lot of projects with iron-on material. The mini is great for small projects, you may also want to consider the medium size if you plan to do larger projects.
Nice-To-Haves – Accessories
- Cricut Joy Tote Bag – This padded tote will protect your Joy and has a nice shoulder strap to take it on the go.
What Cricut Joy Tools & Materials Do You really need?
Here’s my personal thoughts on what materials you’ll want to pick up to go with your new Cricut Joy. This is my own brain dump and I hope it will feel like we’re standing in the store together and I’m telling you about each thing and why you should or should not get it.
Note: Below are my thoughts on the most popular Cricut materials you can use with the Cricut Joy. Check out my full Cricut Joy materials list for a comprehensive list of every type of paper, vinyl, iron-on, and more that this baby Cricut machine can cut!
Cricut Joy Machine
There are different Cricut Joy bundles available and the exact bundle contents often vary depending on the retailer. Bundles are a great way to get started but my recommendation is to make sure the bundle includes materials you will actually be likely to use.
So take a look at my recommendations below and decide what you’re interested in doing with your Cricut Joy. If you find a bundle that’s a good match with what you want, great! Otherwise, you can order everything individually.
>>> Buy This: Cricut Joy
>>> Might Also Want This: Cricut Joy Tote Bag (Not required by any means, but this padded tote will protect your Joy and has a nice shoulder strap to take it on the go. If you plan to store in the back of a closet or travel with your Joy, this is worth the purchase. It’s compact and has room for your machine and charger.)
Here’s what comes in the Cricut Joy box:
- Cricut Joy machine
- Blade + Housing — this is a special one that fits the Joy so you won’t need any other blades
- Fine Point Pen, Black (0.4 mm) — this is a special one that fits the Joy
- StandardGrip Mat, 4.5″ x 6.5″ (11.4 cm x 16.5 cm) — this is a special one that fits the Joy
- Welcome card
- Power adapter
- Free trial membership to Cricut Access™ (for new subscribers)
- 50 ready-to-make projects online
- Materials for a practice cut
A couple of things to note on that list are that it does come with a cutting mat but it does not come with any Cricut tools. You don’t need a ton of tools, but you will want a few of the basics (more on those in a second). It also doesn’t come with materials beyond a small piece for a practice cut, so you will also need some materials before you can start creating.
Cricut has a variety of tools. If you’re just getting started, stick with the starter pack that has the 3 main tools you need. These are almost all I ever use! If you don’t already have Cricut tools, you’ll want these.
>>> Buy This: Starter Tool Set
Understanding The Different Materials
Before we dig into each material I recommend, you first need to know that Cricut released a brand new type of material called Smart Materials that are specific to the Cricut Joy.
Smart Materials don’t require a cutting mat and are sized to the width of the Cricut Joy (which is smaller than the other Cricut machines). This is a new feature that’s only an option on the Cricut Joy and allows you to skip the step of sticking your material to a mat–Smart Materials feed directly into the Joy so you can get cutting faster and you can cut longer designs since you aren’t limited to the mat length.
For a beginner who doesn’t already own Cricut materials, sticking to the Smart Materials is a smart idea. They will make things just a bit quicker and easier and you will avoid the hassle of cutting down the other 12-inch wide Cricut materials to fit the smaller Cricut Joy that’s limited to 4.25 inches wide.
All that said, Cricut Joy can cut many of the regular Cricut materials and other materials like scrapbook paper, cardstock, etc. (Check out the full Cricut Joy materials list here)
>>> Summary: If you are a beginner and don’t already own Cricut materials, stick with the new Smart Materials to start with for simplicity’s sake. Any Cricut brand material with the word “Smart” in the name will be compatible with your Cricut Joy.
Vinyl & Transfer Tape = Must-Haves
Vinyl is the main material I use with my Cricut machines. It comes in a ton of different colors and is sticky on the back. This is what I use for almost all of the labels in my house where the individual letters are cut out (like in my pantry).
You’ll also almost always want transfer tape when you’re using vinyl. This is basically a clear, sticky contact paper that helps you move your cut out letters/shapes from their backing onto the container or whatever you are applying it to. There are some situations where you won’t need it, but you’ll definitely want to have a roll of it on hand.
>>> Buy This: Smart Vinyl(designed for the width of your Cricut Joy and doesn’t require a cutting mat)
>>> Buy This: Transfer Tape
Note: Other non-“smart” vinyl (Cricut brand or any other craft vinyl brand) will work with your Cricut Joy, you’ll just need to cut it to fit onto your Cricut Joy cutting mat.
Smart Labels = Recommended if you like labeling things
One of the big selling features of the Cricut Joy is the new Smart Label material! Cricut has not had a label material like this before.
If you want to use your Joy as a label maker, you’ll want to try out either the Smart Label Vinyl -or- Smart Label Paper. You don’t necessarily need to order both right away, you could just choose one to start with.
The Smart Label materials are sticky on the back and writable, making them like sticker paper. It comes in both a paper form or a vinyl. You can cut out any shape of label you want and you’ll use the Cricut Joy pens to write on your labels (this is opposed to regular vinyl that is not really writable).
I’m hoping they will come out with additional colors in the future, but here are your options right now…
>>> Buy This: Smart Label Writeable Vinyl -OR- Smart Label Paper (The paper feels like regular paper that’s sticky, so basically sticker paper. The vinyl has a glossy surface so I think it will stay cleaner and be better around possible moisture, though I don’t know how the ink from the pens will hold up to water. I will personally gravitate to the vinyl for my labels around the house and probably only use the paper labels for office projects like labels file folders or binders or that sort of thing.)
>>> Might Want To Buy This: Cricut Joy Pens (The base machine comes with a black marker that you can use on your labels, but if you want to write in other colors you’ll need to pick up a pack of markers as well.)
Cricut Joy Insert Cards = Recommended if you want to make greeting cards
Besides the Smart labels, the other big selling point of a Cricut Joy is the ease of making greeting cards. If you want to make cards, grab a pack of Cricut’s new Insert Cards (tons of color options) and you’ll also need a Cricut Joy Card Mat.
Cricut has a lot of pre-designed greeting cards for the Cricut Joy so you can just choose a design in the Cricut Design Space software and quickly whip up a really cool greeting card in a jiffy. I’m really impressed with the ease of this process and the packs of insert cards of genius! I shared the card-making process in action over on Instagram if you want a peek at how it works.
>>> Buy This: Cricut Joy Insert Cards
>>> Buy This: Cricut Joy Card Mat
>>> Might Want To Buy This: Cricut Joy Pens (The base machine comes with a black marker that you can use to write on the inside of your cards, but if you want to write in other colors you’ll need to pick up a pack of markers as well. Or you can skip the markers altogether and just handwrite a message inside the cards.)
Iron-On Material = Recommended if you want to add designs to clothing or fabric items
Just like the vinyl, iron-on material is available in the new “smart” format designed specifically for Cricut Joy or else you can use other iron-on and cut it to fit the smaller mat size of your Joy.
I don’t use iron-on often, but it is fun to play around with. I typically use this to add designs/words to clothing, though keep in mind that the Cricut Joy is meant for small projects so it wouldn’t be ideal for making large designs on adult T-shirts though it is big enough to create designs for baby onesies). You can also use iron-on to add labels to fabric bins and things like that!
Check out this fabric alphabet banner I made for my daughter’s nursery for an idea of the type of project you can create (I made that banner with my Cricut Maker and it could be done with the Joy if you made a few more cuts).
>>> Buy This: Smart Iron-On (designed for the width of your Cricut Joy and doesn’t require a cutting mat)
>>> Might Want To Consider This: Cricut EasyPress Mini (although you can use a household iron, Iron-On material works better with the EasyPress. I love my mini for little projects and it would pair well with the Joy! Learn more about the EasyPress Mini here.
Note: Other non-“smart” iron-on material (Cricut brand or any other craft iron-on vinyl brand) will work with your Cricut Joy, you’ll just need to cut it down to fit onto your Cricut Joy cutting mat.
Infusible Ink = Fun to play with but probably not something you’d need initially
This is a new specialty iron-on material that creates beautiful saturated colorful designs (read more about Infusible Ink in my blog post here). This is not really necessary for beginners but something fun to think about down the road!
Infusible Ink is a fairly new product for Cricut and they’ve made rolls of it in the Smart format for Cricut Joy. My advice is to try out some of the other common materials listed above and then venture into Infusible Ink later. It’s a super cool innovation and really cool for adding designs to clothing and fabric projects.
>>> Skip This For Now: Smart Infusible Ink
Alrighty, that’s a full rundown of what I’d tell any friend whose considering buying a Cricut Joy! I hope this shopping guide is helpful to you!
Stay tuned for future Cricut Joy projects and inspiration here on the blog soon. In the meantime, be sure to add the Cricut Joy to your wish list!
More Cricut blog posts:
- What is the Cricut Joy and what materials does it cut?
- DIY Labels Made With Vinyl And The Cricut Maker
- How To Make Pretty Pantry Labels With Cricut Vinyl
- 25 Personalized Gifts Made With Cricut
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