So, I really should have posted this about a month ago. I stumbled upon a “Home-Made Christmas” effort at Brandie’s blog and thought, Hey, that’s brilliant! And likely less expensive than getting everyone gift cards –which, as a side note, is sort of like just exchanging cash with each other, isn’t it?– and since I’m pretty crafty AND I have free time –side note, HA!– I can totally do that! Well. As it turns out, I wasn’t able to do home-made Christmas for everyone on our list. We usually give to each other, Smooch, and our parents and siblings. This year we also gave gifts to my brother’s girlfriend & her two-year-old son.
I made a little variety of felt play food for Smooch, so at least one of his gifts was home-made. (And his big gift from us, a play kitchen, was home-made by somebody… and then we bought it. That counts a little bit, right, since it wasn’t mass-produced in Thailand or something.)
Gruff and I went totally old-school this year and exchanged home-made coupon books. I have one for a Diaper-Free Day (woo-hoo, yeah, baby!) and he has one for a batch of cookies. We made ten coupons apiece, and they had to be for things we can do for each other for free or for cheap. It was mainly motivated by a desire not to do Christmas on Credit… but it turned out to be quite fun, thinking of ten little gifts of love that would make each other smile. Of course, my coupons for him were all cute – printed in a fun font, then pasted to scrapbook paper and decorated with stickers, tucked into an envelope with yet more stickers. The coupons I recieved were written with a half-dry Sharpie on red construction paper (which I had to fetch because he didn’t know where it was stored in the house). But as they say – it’s the thought that counts, no?
My mother and mother-in-law recieved holiday hostess aprons. I’m really proud of them. I have the materials to make a third apron, for myself, but it got shoved aside in the pre-Christmas rush, so now I have eleven and a half months to procrastinate finishing mine for next year.
I pulled out the knitting needles and worked on my rusty techniques to make a scarf for my brother’s girlfriend. It’s a really pretty blue ‘homespun’ style of yarn, that knitted up to a super-soft, nubbly texture. I put long fringe on it, and she said she loved it. Now I just hope it gets cold enough in north Georgia for her to get some use from it! That’s another project with a twin-in-the-making; I bought a TON of that yarn since it had been so long since I knit or crocheted anything and so I have plenty left over to make another scarf for myself. See the fun in making gifts? You end up getting plenty for yourself too! (No, no, that’s not the spirit of Christmas! Sorry.)
The men in our family tend to be hard to buy for. My dad and brother are technophiles, but
snobby selective about what they like. Since I don’t know the first thing about most gadgets and gizmos, I know that I’m in over my head if I try to buy something for their computers, cars, or stereos. As it turned out, none of the guys got home-made gifts. My dad and father-in-law both got coffee mugs emblazoned with a collage of photos of their respective selves with Smooch; my brother got a subscription to a gaming magazine. And then Gruff has two sisters, spaced ten years apart. The sixteen year old is your average teenager – so we went the safe route and gave her a gift card. The older sister is married and just bought a house, so we gave her and her husband a joint gift of Home Depot spending money and a “new home” Christmas ornament. Easy, but not particularly sentimental.
But for next year, I have grand plans! I want to do a home-made gift for everyone on the list! (I’d also like to add a few friends to my list. Two in particular gave gifts to me and Smooch this year, and I felt so bad that my budget just didn’t allow for me to reciprocate. They are great friends, the kind who know that residency has it’s sucking points and that finances are one. They are the kind of friends who gave simply because they love us and wanted to say they were thinking of us, and they aren’t upset a bit that I didn’t have a big package to mail to them. Still, I really want to do something for them, even if it’s small. So I’m going to plan ahead to make it happen next year.)
As if I haven’t taken on enough already –and it’s only January 2nd!– I’m going to start working on gifts for one and all. My general plan is to keep an eye out for ideas the first few months of this year, and then to start buying supplies and start working on gifts in the late spring or early summer. I think that spacing out the expenditures will help; since the budget is tight I can’t buy hundreds of dollars worth of things at once. But ten dollars here and fifteen there is okay, and then when Christmas rolls around we’ll hopefully only have Smooch (and maybe each other) to buy for.
There are dozens – if not hundreds – of ideas out there. Here are a few I’ve seen so far:
–Cocoa made tote bags, crayon holders, and really precious PJs this year. I really can’t get over those jammies.
–Tip Junkie’s nativity hand puppets are so sweet. They’d be the perfect gift for kids or a young family!
-Of course, Sew Mama Sew did a whole series of posts in their Handmade Holidays section. Great ideas there!