Is it too early to be talking Christmas? Not if you plan to make any of the gifts yourself. Making the gifts you give is a wonderful way to put the heart back in Christmas. Handmade gifts invite you to slow down and enjoy the moment. Instead of the manufactured rat-race, you are looking at a one-of-a-kind-original. The recipient knows you actually put time and effort into their gift -- and that you were thinking of them while you invested that time. It's a wonderful way to get back to the quiet beauty of Christmas. It doesn't hurt that hand crafted gifts often save you money, too. That makes them a great de-stressor. Because, let's face it. It's stressful to look at the bills after Christmas if you overspent.
But if you don't plan ahead, hand crafted Christmas gifts can be their own stressor. Here are some quick tips on planning your hand made Christmas giving:
1. Be selective. Don't try to make something for everyone on your list -- it's just too overwhelming. Choose a few hand made gift recipients and purchase gifts for the rest.
2. Start small. You can always add more hand made gifts next year if things go well this year. But if you plan 50 completely different projects this year, then you crash and burn, it will probably be the last time you ever attempt hand made anything.
3. Group like items together. For example, if you have 5 ladies on your list that love jewelry, consider hand crafted necklaces for all of them. You can make each necklace look different, but use the same process to make them all at the same time. Same thing for the candle lovers on your list -- make them all the same type of candle. You can put them in different jars and use different tags to make them unique if you like. By making things in multiples, you save yourself time, money and stress.
4. START EARLY!!! In fact, start earlier than you think you need to. There is nothing worse than scrambling on Christmas Eve to finish a big hand made gift. You'll be stressed. You'll be tired. You'll tell your little one not to touch it because the glue isn't dry yet and then she will refuse to touch it for the next 3 years. Or so I've heard. (Okay. I made May-May a dollhouse for Christmas when she was about 4 years old. It boasted "Mansion in minutes" on the front of the box. It had pre-fab walls. It was supposed to be easy. I started working on it in October. On Christmas Eve, after several all-nighters trying to finish what proved to be a nightmare project, my husband bailed me out. He let me sleep while he spent the entire night gluing on individual cedar roof shingles. One-inch-long, individual shingles. Hundreds of them. He finished at 7am. When we took our precious daughter in to see her masterpiece, the shingles were still wet and slid whenever you breathed near them. So we gave her rules and cautions and admonitions. The result: She wouldn't touch it. FAIL. Don't do that. And don't believe the boxes. They lie.)
5. Enjoy the journey. If making things yourself stresses you, then you should go to the mall. If you see that a project isn't working, there is no crime in re-evaluating the project. Maybe you can change it (we should have just painted the silly dollhouse roof and been done with it. We would have been happy and rested, and our daughter would have actually played with it.) If you run out of time, relax. Give them something else for Christmas and give them a "just because" gift when it's done. Now they get TWO gifts. What could be better? But who wants a gift that had you so stressed out that you chewed everyone's head off every time they got near you? That kind of misses the point, doesn't it? You don't have to be Martha Stewart. But if you want to have a beautiful Christmas, you do have to be nice.
Next time, I will give you some hand crafted Christmas gift ideas (that don't involve a single dollhouse.)