I always keep a large supply of colored cardstock of varying weights,
I also keep in a variety of papers with texture,and patterns - which you can find all different kinds of.
I love using stamps, particularly in cardmaking. A basic selection of generic words and phrases, plus a variety of general images would be helpful. Try to keep everything as multi-purpose as possible.I use both, but actually much prefer to use clear acrylic stamps, which you use interchangeably with an acrylic block. I just find the results to be clearer and more consistent.
Pigment ink pads come in a whole host of colors, and I've gradually built up a rainbow of a selection over time.
Punches and die cutes are great to use, and take some guess-work out of hand-cutting. They also save a lot of time.
Ribbon is great to use in cards to add dimension, and although they make stuff specifically for papercrafting - any lightweight ribbon works great.
I would highly recommend investing in a punch that will cut ribbon holes for you - it's so clean looking and again, such a time saver!
Embellishments are something that I collect gradually, when I see them on sale, or when something strikes me as unusual. I used flowers and brads like these below for Alison's Shower Invitations.
Once you begin to accumulate a basic stock of the items above, I think you'll find that you'll be inspired by just *one* special embellishment, sticker, paper, stamp, etc. you see at a store, and can build a design around that using your stockpile of "stuff."
It's okay to look to other folks for inspiration...
In general, the crafting community is VERY supportive, and willing to share ideas! (as long as you adhere to copyrights, etc.) The blog community for example, loves to share ideas and brainstorm designs right along with you. Check out some of the folks at the links on the right hand of this screen.
I've found this link particularly helpful. It provides you with a directory of online resources, templates, and ideas. Oftentimes just looking at other people's work can inspire a design of my own, based on one color, embellishment, layout, or font I've seen elsewhere.
Don't get pigeonholed into one project...
If you're a beginner, don't set yourself a lofty goal of say, creating 30 baby shower invitations for an shower a month away, or designing Christmas cards to be mailed out next month. If you lock yourself into themes and time-frames from the get-go I would expect that you would become frustrated - fast. I love to have multiple projects going at once, especially when I'm working on initial designs, and allow myself plenty of times for ideas to evolve. Remember, this is supposed to be FUN! Don't lock yourself into deadlines and expectations.
And the bottom line...
Is like I said, to have FUN! Crafting of all kinds has proved a great emotional release and stress relief for me, and has allowed me to be creative on my own terms. Some projects will work, and some will fail. And that's okay. Just enjoy the process!
It's YOUR turn to offer advice to our beginner crafter. Perhaps you have certain tools of the trade you love, or a great resource for ideas, or just some general words of "wisdom." Comment away!