Holiday Cheer: Handmade Gifts

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Homemade gifts have become a staple in our house over the years. In the past they were often associated with whatever craft we were exploring at that time—we've since settled on hand embroidery (me) and woodcarving (him)—but the gifts were always well-received and often elicited a conversation about the ins and outs of our chosen craft.

With grad school on the horizon I will probably have to step back from homemade for a few years, but our aspirations for a simpler, more meaningful holiday season will not fall by the wayside. In fact, less time and an all-encompassing focus elsewhere means we will likely lean toward minimalism around the holidays for a period.

Some of our tried-and-true handmade Christmas gifts, which are fun to make + encourage family time + make the recipient feel loved:

Ornaments // My tree is covered in messy, hard-to-identify ornament projects Kiddo made throughout his preschool and elementary years. Every so often they need to be tended to with some glue or a needle and thread, but gosh if I'm not smitten with each and every one of them. Turns out, friends and relatives feel the same way about our adult creations! I've done an ornament project for the last 8 or so years, which we give to close friends and family. With Pinterest and Instagram, inspiration is everywhere. Bonus: it scratches that holiday crafting itch. (You can find some of my past ornament projects here, here, and here.)

Gift Your Hobbies // Over the past couple of years, I've gifted embroidery pieces. In the past it was jewelry, paper crafts, wool felting, crochet, and various other pastimes I explored. Husband carves beautiful wooden spoons by hand, which the recipient always treasures. I'm currently enrolled in a pottery class which includes unlimited studio time, firing and glazing. I didn't take advantage of those benefits in the early weeks of the course, but now I'm in the studio as often as possible which means many of my family and friends will be getting bowls and mugs this year. Will they be perfect? Not a chance! But they'll love them just the same and think of me every time they use that vessel. Whatever you're into (or have always wanted to try!), find a simple project and cross two things off your list.

Bake // We live in close proximity to a lot of neighbors that have become friends. I want to spread cheer to them during the holidays, and do so by making treats. I buy pretty canning jars and other inexpensive holiday containers in various sizes (which are gifts in and of themselves) and fill them with homemade treats like snack mixes, roasted nuts, caramel sauce, and cookies. Bonus: I get to bake without sweets lingering in the kitchen. (This Homemade Almond Roca is a perennial favorite!)

Share the love // If you know a friend would enjoy learning a new craft, make them a kit! With embroidery, for example, I would print a pattern (Pinterest is chock full of free patterns!) and include coordinating thread, the appropriate size hoop, a scrap of fabric, and a pack of needles. (Total cost: less than $5.) You could even make it more elaborate by including a cute tote bag, sewing scissors and/or a needleminder. Same goes for candle-making, wool felting, knitting/crochet or any other low maintenance craft: The supplies are simple, cost very little, and are readily available. (If it's a craft you enjoy yourself, you probably have almost everything on hand.) Even better? Include an IOU for lessons.

Framed photos // I had copies of Kiddo's senior photo printed on high quality matte photo paper and grabbed some simple frames from IKEA. Grandparents and other close relatives will get a photo all ready to hang.

More handmade gift ideas:

Giant knit blanket // This DIY video makes it look very doable.

DIY hanging holiday lanterns, which I think would be cute year-round.

Mini candles // I took a candle-making class recently and loved it! I picked up some mini Ball jars + scents, soy wax and wicks from CandleScience, all of which were relatively inexpensive and make a lot of candles. Every one of us in the class made a Blue Spruce candle—it seems to be a universally loved scent. I've been throwing around the idea of making mini candle trios for when I need a more substantial gift.

Martha Stewart's 54 Gift-Worthy Christmas Cookies

DIY Mason Jar Snowglobes (adorable! + adaptable to be non-Christmas themed!)

Infused Vodkas

DIY Wool Mittens (using old sweaters!)

Give me all your ideas!

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