I've taken the Handmade Challenge and am very excited to see so many other people are as well! I've always preferred handmade for myself and my general distate for malls has necessitated our own version of ‘Handmade Holidays' through the years. We do this by paring down the list, making special things for the people who reamin and giving cookies to everyone else. In the 3 years we've been married, we've developed a bit of a tradition:

  • We simply don't buy gift for anyone we won't be seeing over the holidays
    • Jay's extended family is huge (15 Aunts and Uncles + spouses + kids) and we just don't want to mindlessly contribute to the masses of gifts they're all getting each other, so we give tins of cookies or handmade ornaments. I'm not sure they entirely appreciate it, but after 3 years, they accept it. Same goes for my Dad and Step-mom.
  • I always knit slippers for my Mom and 2 little brothers (ages 6 & 7 this year). It's something they all love and have come to expect)
  • Together we make something for his parents (handpainted cookery, pictures in frames).
  • I also try to make a handmade ornament to use in place of a gift tag for every gift I give. One year it was little hats, last year it was beaded wire snowflakes.
  • There's at least one ‘required' gift for co-workers (in every office we've worked in, we've insisted on a name-drawing and just give to ONE person). This just can't be avoided and I'll address the problem of buying a gift for someone you might not know anything about during the Handmade Gift Guide.

The above system not only saves money, it's a great way to avoid contributing to the commercialization of the holidays and it requires us to think and plan and make together.
Even with the small gift list, this time of year always feels like creative overload for me. So many things to make, so many tutorials to read and new things to try. And that's just for gifts. Gift wrapping is something I love, but I never feel I truly succeed in getting it just right. Tree decorating is a whole other creative endevour: finding old ornaments, making new ones. And Baking: cakes and breads and iced cookies. Yum!
Sometimes there are so many things on the To-Create that I get overwhelmed. This year, in an effort to avoid that, I'm going to learn to be ok with buying something handmade.
In that spirit and to celebrate the official start of the Holiday Shopping Season, I'll be posting a daily Give Handmade Guide, starting on Friday, November 23. Each day will have ideas and links on appropriate gifts for different types of giftee (anonymous co-worker, Crafter, Foodie, Reader, Kids). I choose these gifts with the following in mind:

  1. The gift must be handmade (or produced by a small business) or be something you could handmake in a short amount of time.
  2. Be as environmentally friendly as possible (extra points for recycled or reclaimed materials!)

On the final day, I'll list gift-wrapping tutorials and links to Handmade gift wrap.

Oh and many many stores on Etsy are having sales (or free shipping) this weekend, Friday – Monday, to kick off the Holiday Season. Just search “cybersale” to find all of the sales!
Happy Shopping!

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