Handmade Holidays 2008

A nearly complete sample of my gifts this holiday season:

my pile of gifts

My reaction: Wow. What a season!

Last year I gave everyone at least one handmade item and I was determined that undertaking a completely handmade gifting project not mean a decrease in gifts.  Rainer and Sandra made fun of me a little for this, quoting Dudley Dursely at me: “36?!  36?!  But last year I got 37!”  Point taken, but I just felt a need to have this handmade year have a bountiful feeling as well as a personal touch.  I couldn’t get it out of my system.  And there was the reality that the others were very preoccupied producing their presents and, as the mom and the most comfortably creative family member, stocking stuffers were going to be my responsibility.

I’m glad I had my little freak-out in October and called a week of handcrafting our homeschooling. I got a lot done that week, although I crossed almost nothing off my list since it seemed like I was getting to midway on everything.  It set the tone for the kids, though, and they started to see that to carry this off we’d need to make plans and work to chip away at the projects.  Amazingly, the closer we got to Christmas, the more relaxed we became because we could see just how many things we had done and knew we were ok.

My handmade gifts

1. accessories set, 2. Meret, 3. Bracelet set, 4. Necklace set, 5. multi-stranded necklace, 6. bracelet set, 7. Snack Mix, 8. Flaxseed and Onion crackers, 9. Simple shirt, 10. Swim Bike Run shirt, 11. Winter Photography mittens, 12. Cute, 13. Rainer’s Mittens, 14. Foliage, 15. Rainer’s Swell, 16. Nutkin socks, 17. toque, 18. Birthday Cowl, 19. Sushi shirt, 20. Moss Stitch Cowl, 21. Long distance relationship cards, 22. bathsalts, 23. house magnets, 24. Little town pin cushions

Created with fd’s Flickr Toys.

Things I learned:

  • knitting is pretty much the slowest way I know to create a gift, and yet it means the most to me to give
  • beading is fabulously fast and so addictively pretty
  • gifts from the kitchen are fast, but given my focus on healthy living they create conflict within me, even when I’m using healthy recipes
  • a 9 yo boy is not too old for a knitted toy if it looks like a mutant
  • stocking stuffers are hard to do when you’re not just buying little trinkets or hobby-enabling items
  • list-making is really important to keep my mind in one piece and in one peace.  Nothing is too small for the list.
  • my family is inventive and creative, going far beyond the skill sets I thought they had
  • handmade Christmas morning is double the pleasure of giving and receiving

Will we do this again?  Absolutely.  Everyone is already talking about ideas for next year.  I think, though, that while this ‘pure’ approach was wonderful and instructive, it’s not necessary for future years.  Little gifts, perfect books, stocking stuffers, etc., need not be excluded from our celebrations.  Having set the stage with a strickly homemade season, we no longer need rules because we are inspired and we are confident in our abilities to make things people will want to recieve.

I’ve already got the yarn and patterns set aside for several of the gifts for next year in my Personal Yarn Club.  While I finished my gift knitting in early December, I don’t enjoy the focus on productivity I feel in the fall months each year.  I want to feel less like a factory and less like a yo-yo knitter: I madly focus on others, then collapse into a phase when I want to knit solely for me, then realize that Christmas is coming, and then madly focus on others…

I’ve also bought a notebook dedicated to giving.  It’s a work in progress, but it is based on  a few things I’ve learned.  The first 12 pages simply list the months of the year, and I’m writing in birthdays and Father’s Day and the like.  The next set of pages lists people by name.  I’ll write in what I gave them this year and past years, what colours they like, what I might want to make in the future, sizes, etc.  The rest of the book is currently blank, but I have a feeling it will be a place to write ideas, brainstorm, make lists, etc.  Hopefully it will make giving creative gifts simpler all through the year.


9 thoughts on “Handmade Holidays 2008

  1. AutumnRose says:

    What beautiful gifts! The hats & mittens are especially gorgeous–I love the colors!

    Happy New Year! May 2009 bring you peace, joy, & laughter 🙂

  2. GailV says:

    Here’s my fantasy: A cross between the Ravelry queue and the Amazon.com wishlist. I could sort it by person, by craft, by time period needed. I could drag-and-drop ideas into it — fiber related, beadwork, papercraft, kitchen creations, home movies, whatever. I could move items into a “working” file, and track my progress by percentages (I love tracking my progress by percentages). I could also put purchased gifts into it.

    In the meantime, though, a pretty notebook is a good idea.

  3. Courtney says:

    THANK YOU for all this inspiration!

    I had a November/December mad-crafting frenzy and vowed n-e-v-e-r to do that again. Although I’m not a resolution maker, this year I vow to craft year-round for the holidays. I’m sure my kids would enjoy a once-a-month creative project day instead of our homeschool routines.

    And the notebook idea is spectacular … sounds like just the thing I need to help myself focus.

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