Handmade and From The Heart: Christmas Gifts

Christmastime, while a wonderful time to celebrate, can also be a very hard time for people with financial woes.  You want to give the “best” gift ever to everyone you love and you want to spend as much money as you can on this “best” gift, but you can’t afford it.  Is it any wonder that Christmas is a depressing time of year for many people?

The solution is easy: homemade gifts!  Now, in the recent past, homemade gifts were looked upon as cheap, tacky and a “buy-out” to the proper gifts that cost a lot of money.  Fortunately for those of us who enjoy making gifts for our loved ones, this mindset is no longer as prevalent.

Gifts made with skill and love are now accepted with excitement and gratitude.  I have found that gifts that I make are treasured items in the lives of my friends and loved ones.  For many years in the past, I have tried to make a lot of my gifts; this year my goal is to make the majority of the Christmas presents by hand.  A few will need the help of my handy husband, but most will be fiber related.

I am obsessed with weaving, so most of my gifts come from one of my four looms.  However, I can actually make things that are not woven.  This makes my giving a little bit more of a challenge but makes it more fun.

In the summer, or even earlier, I start a list of people who will get Christmas presents from me and start thinking of what I want to give.  Is it a family who will get one gift or is it an individual?  Is it a single person or a member of a family?  I try to be careful and not give the same person the same type of gift each year.  I don’t want the receiver to get placemats several years in a row, for example!

So, on to the list.  What to give for the hard-to-please?  What to give to the easy-to-please so that it’s not just “something”?  This year I think I’ve hit the right mix.

First of all, I asked everyone what they would like “if” I gave them a woven object and went from there.  One asked for placemats, one asked for a table runner, one asked for bookmarks.  So I took their requests in mind while planning colors for each and everyone’s individual theme in their home.

And those who had no need for woven items?  This is where a non-weaver can shine!  I got some drapery material cut to fit a table and hand-hemmed it for a lovely tablecloth.  I got some other drapery material and cut and hemmed it to make place mats.  For a special sports fan in my life, I found some material for the favorite team.  This material is very light-weight, so I ironed interfacing on the back, sewed an edge to keep the interfacing from coming off and cut “hems” with my pinking shears and made (what I think are) unique placemats.

You do not need to be a craftsperson to make gifts, however.  There are many ways you can show your love and your talent in whatever field you have.  Do you like to bake?  Everyone loves cookies and Christmas breads.  Do you like to make candy?  Everyone has a sweet tooth.  I have found a site on the Internet for diet candy that I plan on making for a good friend who is diabetic, so his love of sweets can be met, and he can enjoy sweets like everyone else. Can you sew?  Knit?  Crochet?  My daughter knits socks, stocking caps, mittens and gloves as gifts.  A crocheted afghan would be much appreciated.

One year I took two pieces of fleece, cut and tied them together for an extra heavy afghan.  This year I have a single piece of blue and white checked fleece that I hemmed to make an afghan for a blue-loving guy.

Search your heart and mind.  What do you love doing?  Do your family members request something often that you can make into special presents?  Fill an ice cream bucket with special candy or cookies, paint the bucket or wrap it with wrapping paper.  Sew clothing for fashion-loving teens.  Make an afghan with material or yarn – it’s nice to have something warm to cuddle up to in the winter.  Can you paint?  Paint a favorite scene, frame it and give it with love.  Do you write?  Write a short story for and about a young child.  Print it out and have an office store bind it with plastic coil binding.

There is another way to give without money.  My middle sister was in a money-crisis one year and could not afford anything.  She went through the items in her house and gave away HER treasures to US.  I have a small music box that I still treasure because I knew that she loved it but was willing to give it to me, with love.  No one who truly loves you would consider “re-gifting” as an insult but as a gift of love.

And as far as wrapping paper; it costs so very much to wrap a present in that special paper which gets thrown away at the end of the gift-opening.  Save trees, save the environment, save money; make your own wrapping.  One sister would wrap her presents in comic-strips from the newspaper.  It doesn’t make the presents shine under the tree but it saves paper and looks rustically charming, too. She would chose comic-strips that fit the person, if she could, which made it more fun to open the gift.

You can make bags out of Christmas material that can be re-used over and over again, year after year.  I usually purchase material after Christmas when it is on sale to make bags for the next year.  Some people give them back to me, others save them to use themselves the next year.  I make simple bags, just a pillowcase type of bag with (or without) a drawstring.  If there is no drawstring, I fold the ends and tape them shut, or tie them with fabric ribbon.  There are patterns out there if you want to make a bag with shape to it.

There are so many things you can do to make Christmas a loving time, without spending a whole lot of money.  It not only saves on your budget but it shows that you have taken time and thought to give each and everyone a gift of love.  These gifts will be treasured and you will receive many thanks for your thoughtfulness and love.

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