Handmaking Christmas

pilllow case gift wrapping(homemade present in homemade wrapping)

Each year, running up to Christmas, I love making gifts. There are so many reasons why I prefer to make. Don’t get me wrong, my children do receive bought presents too, but mixed up in their gifts are a few homemade goodies too.

potato print parcel

(homemade printed wrapping paper)

I was reading an article about how Christians are the least stressed European community running up to Christmas. The long and short of the article was that they seemed more protected from the heightened commercialisation at this time of year. It got me thinking.

felted triceratops

(Handmade triceratops made from old felted jumpers)

I’m not going to defend or refute the findings, but I did find the concept interesting. Was it that they spent less time shopping, or that they spent time in other activities which balanced everything out?

It made me look at how I portion out my time.

I love the Christmas events, that having children in the house, inevitably brings. I miss the nativity plays, now mine are too old, but there is always something to join in with. We have so many wonderful family traditions at this time of year, that cannot be missed out. Plus family to visit.

polar bear and toadstool

(heat bag cover made from felted reclaimed wool)

I also like to handmake some of the presents. It gives me time to think about the person I am going to give it too. Every stitch added is woven with the hope that they will like it. I can add in their favourite colour. Or incorporate their favourite animal. By the end, it should be a gift that says that I know them and have spent time getting it right.

wolf cover

(wolf cover for heat bag)

Not that I always get it right.

Nor is my handmaking restricted to just the children. I also love to handmake something to give to the wider family. Often these are edible goodies. Sometimes just cosy.

potato chip knitted scarf M

(potato chip scarf)

So how does handmaking gifts relate to less stress running up to Christmas? It should add more stress surely.

To start with, I’m not the keenest shopper. Apart from finding myself in fabric or yarn shops, most shopping is soul destroying. Food shopping is a drag. Honestly, if I could outsource it, I probably would. Fortunately, I try to shop from local suppliers, where a shopping trip turns into a catch up with old friends .

Christmas turkey

(Yes, that is us collecting the turkey on one snowy Christmas Eve)

With gift shopping, I find searching for presents often leaves me feeling harrassed, as all the choice and advertising becomes too overwhelming. Add in all the hustle and bustle, and I’m not really in the state of mind for finding the perfect present for a loved one. As a result, I keep it brief. I have a list and I know where I am going. Short and sweet.

patchwork toadstool cushion front

(cushion made from fabric wrapping)

Contrast that to handmaking a gift. As I craft, I am calm and thoughtful. There is no stress. If I don’t hit the deadline, then I don’t hit the deadline. They will get the present later. They understand. There is time to get it right.

knights waistcoat

(Handmade knights waistcoat for role play)

I think the time spent making, gives me the quiet that I need to counterbalance the busy-ness of this time of year. An activity which is more to do with slow and quiet thinking. Taking time to reflect.

pink bowl

It works for me.

chocolate and gold fudge(gold chocolate fudge)

The most common question at the moment, is “Are you ready for Christmas?” The most common reply is “No”. It is the same each year.

So, I’m interested. How do you keep the balance at this time of year?

12 thoughts on “Handmaking Christmas

  • Wednesday 9 December, 2015 at 6:49 pm

    Lovely post!
    I remember my Mum making things for us when we were small and not so small! and we loved them.
    I think my most successful Christmas’s are when I manage not to bolt and panic! the madness is so infectious…
    If I remember to keep it simple and keep the brakes on it’s so much more fun .
    I’m not great at making things for presents …I have ambitions but it only occasionally works out.
    I try and follow my Mum’s rules …Something to read, Something to eat, something to make, something to play with and something to wear.
    It’s one of those times when less is better I think…?
    The girls are better at the making of gifts than I am ..probably not least because I’ll buy then craft materials but cash is rare…Older daughter has made memory wire bracelets for all her friends at school and Knitted two bears for young cousins.. I’ll ask her if I can post pictures of them .
    I think your presents and Christmas activities look lovely !

    • Thursday 10 December, 2015 at 12:16 am

      I like the idea of keeping it simple. Your mother sounds very wise. I dream of making everything handmade. When the children were younger, it was easier to achieve. Now they are older, it is more difficult, although they all still want me to make them something. I’m glad your girls have the confidence and will to make for their friends and family. Long may it last. 🙂

  • Thursday 10 December, 2015 at 5:43 pm

    We have a similar ‘rule’ here something they want, need, wear and read. I always really struggle with this time of year I think it is beacuse it is harder to be different now. My family were not into all the madness and indulgence when we were children. But when you marry and your siblings marry it can be harder to keep it from the door. I have tried to say I don’t like it but I always falls on deaf ears.

    • Thursday 10 December, 2015 at 7:07 pm

      Walking a different path is always going to be more challenging. So many choices I made early on, have been compromised. Partly as I didn’t want the children thought of as the weird ones. Just one difference can make them stand out. Even now it still crops up, but I really am not going to give in to XBoxes and the like, which is my current battle. Again.

      Looking at it from the other side, it is a time of giving. We all like to give. And we all need to learn to accept graciously. If nothing else, maybe your local charity shop will be grateful.

  • Thursday 10 December, 2015 at 8:05 pm

    lovely post – gives a lot to think over… this year is an exception for me, but because of thora’s arrival i’m crafting zero presents! this hasn’t happened since i started knitting!
    i feel pretty much the same way you do about shopping – i get stressed out in crowded stores and have trouble taking the time to think through the gifts i want to buy. that’s why i’m a huge fan of online shopping. especially with etsy and other sites it allows me to still give handmade small vendor gifts without actually making anything!
    (and i do my fair bit of shopping at the larger internet retailers too… but i try to keep most of it to smaller businesses if i can!)

    • Friday 11 December, 2015 at 12:01 am

      Online shopping certainly beats all the crowds and the hasty present buying. Gives me time to deliberate, although I have had some surprises when the parcels have turned up. I have not shopped with any of the handmade sites, which seems like an oversight. I really ought to change that. I do like to buy from local companies when I can. I try and buy handmade gifts that I couldn’t make. It’s nice to talk to the person who made it. There again, a far less stressful experience.

  • Thursday 10 December, 2015 at 10:31 pm

    As I was reading this I kept nodding to myself (ahh, the joys of old age).
    I can’t stand shopping, and hate how I always leave feeling like I have bought stuff because I could, or it was cheap, or I was panicking…

    Christmas can be crazy, and I personally find that a morning spent at the sewing machine with a cup of tea, is far less stressful than running around overcrowded shops.

    Every year we try hard not to overindulge the girls. We make a list of gifts early on and stick to it.
    They get one ‘crap’ present (something plastic, overpriced, and usually a current trend).
    The rest is either hand made, or comes from local shops, or small stores on places like Etsy.
    I started sourcing small, special, personal items back in September, and my cut off for buying is mid November.

    I sew up until the last minute of course 😉

    Early December I wrap, and I always have a total panic at this point. The amount of items seems SO small when I look at it all together.
    But I step back and look at each item, and see that it was chosen with love, and is absolutely perfect for the person who is receiving it.

    And the girls always seem happy enough, and they still love their homemade gifts, so I really do feel like we have achieved a pretty decent balance (even if it didn’t happen overnight).

    • Friday 11 December, 2015 at 12:22 am

      I do begrudge those panic buys. I know they can be returned, but I don’t always. Thinking that they might be good reserve gifts for those moments when you need a present at short notice. I think your timescales are inspired. I really ought to take note.

      I also can empathize with the feeling that the pile of presents isn’t big enough. Your approach is perfect. I like giving the children experience gifts such as new activity lessons, also I’ve given magazine subscriptions. They last longer and take up less room.

      My children love receiving something homemade. Youngest has been dropping hints about exactly what he wants me to make. I hope that he never loses that sentiment.

      • Wednesday 16 December, 2015 at 6:13 pm

        I’m really impressed with how organised and disciplined Fiona is and totally get the “So small” panic moment…
        but if I panic and go OTT ( 😳 ) it’s disregarded as the excess it is .. (guilty cough and blush )

        I see I’m not the only one who also has the limitation of space ..It may be inexpensive ..it may be wonderful …but the voice in my head wails …”but there is nowhere for it to go !”

        and writing this I realise how spoiled I am to have the ‘problem’ of excess….

        • Friday 18 December, 2015 at 12:23 pm

          Me too. Seems entirely sensible to have a cut off before December. Although, Youngest is still dropping hints about what he’d like, so I’m not sure how I’d deal with that. There is always a cut off point. An earlier one would make it easier to enjoy the run up to the Holidays.

          It is not just the space, but the concept of another thing for them to look after and be responsible for. That includes tidying away. We try to give non-cluttering presents eg experiences and doing things. They take up less room in the long run. Also things they need anyway. I love giving books, which I’m not sure fits in with the concept, but nothing is perfect. 🙂

  • Sunday 20 December, 2015 at 9:21 am

    I love that handmaking gifts helps you relax too. Gifts from the heart and what treasures you have made! Fudge looks yum

    • Tuesday 29 December, 2015 at 11:38 pm

      Made more over the holiday. Forgotten how good it tastes. 🙂

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