This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Natural Living Blog Carnival hosted by Happy Mothering and The Pistachio Project through the Green Moms Network. This month, our members are talking about how homemade gifts can make your holidays more cost-effective and special! Check out all of the posts to get homemade gift ideas for everyone on your list.
Do you want to do a homemade holiday this year? Maybe money is tight and you figure making gifts is a way to save money? Or you want to make a valiant stand against the commercialization of Christmas by making every gift you give a personal expression of your time and effort?
Before you go crazy on your new home-made holiday extravaganza, here are a few words to the wise about how to keep your newfound passion from becoming another holiday headache.
Budget Your Time
Let's say that your family togetherness (or lack thereof) at Thanksgiving inspires you to commit to a Christmas or Hanukkah of home-made gift giving. Or maybe it's prompted by another round of Black Friday shopping horror stories. Either way, you usually have less than a month from that point to make gifts.
How many gifts will you be making? Just for your immediate family, or for all the extended family? Will you have to ship any gifts? When do you want people to receive your gifts? Remember to leave at least a week or two for postal delivery during December. I've even had a box sent through Priority Mail take 2 weeks to reach its destination just before Christmas.
With the answers to those questions, you should figure out the right quantity and amount of time for when the gifts have to be done. How much time a day - or week - can you dedicate to making gifts, including wrapping and shopping for materials? Be sure to pad your schedule, as life interrupts, mistakes can be made, and even the best of us underestimate the time a project can take.
If this is your first crafty Christmas or handy Hanukkah, I suggest taking it slow. Make gifts for your most intimate friends this year, and expand your circle next year to include more people if all goes well - and you remember to start sooner!
Keep It Simple
Your love for your friends and family may know no bounds, but your available time and and budget have finite limits. The more complex the projects you set out to do, the more can go wrong.
It's okay to make simple gifts for your friends and family. To be honest, some of the most striking home made projects are astoundingly simple.
One way to simplify the gift-making process is to put together something similar for everyone. Let's say you make everyone potholders. Each can be individualized, but for a good deal of the project you will be following the same steps. This makes it less likely that mistakes will occur.
This is especially true with children! When making gifts with young ones, budget a lot of time beyond what it would take you to do the craft by yourself. It's perfectly okay to make everyone ornaments for their Christmas tree the first year, since kids have a knack for making any simple project complex in ways you could not even imagine.
If you just learned to crochet, don't expect to make everyone a sweater. Be realistic about what you can do with the time you have, factoring in all the other holiday preparations and traditions you have planned, your skill, and your budget.
If you are going to make a single gift for a special someone, you can push the limits of your skill. If making gifts for a dozen people, it's best to stay in your comfort zone of your established crafting skills.
If you're trying to save money by making homemade gifts, you need to be careful. It's easy to go overboard on materials, making your expenses the same, if not more when making homemade gifts.
Cooperate On Gifts
Growing up, my family made gifts for one another every Christmas. It was a beautiful and wonderful tradition, though it made the last days before Christmas incredibly stressful. With 6 kids, plus mom and dad, each person was making 8 presents, all while trying to keep our efforts secret.
Eventually, we realized a simpler way to maintain the tradition without going completely insane - we cooperatively made gifts. Each person received a unique, hand-made gift from the entire family.
With each gift, everyone had something to contribute. Even the youngest could point to some part of the completed gift and say, "I did that!" It was also easier to coordinate efforts to work on the projects in secret; while dad was at work, we could all work on his present, and when mom ran out for errands, we could work on hers.
Making homemade gifts for the holidays is indeed a wonderful tradition. Just make sure you plan ahead and take some precautions so that it becomes another way to enjoy the holiday, not another reason to dread its approach.