This past year has seen a lot of people struggling to make ends meet. And really no one should go into debt over one day a year. In the past, I've pondered, much like Charlie Brown, about the commercialization of Christmas. Things have gotten much worse since I was a kid. The TV ads start earlier. The stores are setting up their displays even as early as October. There is so much pressure to buy stuff.
When I think of Christmases past, I don't remember the stuff. I remember things like putting a puzzle together with my family while we watched The Sound of Music. The time I spent with my family and friends. Watching my child and husband make perogies together.
That's not to say I don't enjoy giving presents. Of course I do. I love to buy something I know will make someone else happy. I love the rush I feel when I see that one thing and think, "This has so-and-so written all over it." But I also like to give gifts that I made myself. I believe it's a nice way to show someone how much you care about them by giving them something they can't get in a store. It also makes me feel that I'm still keeping the old fashioned traditions of homemade gifts alive.
I'm going to offer suggestions on homemade gifts. I haven't made them all myself but I have made some of them. I'll try to include a variety to consider the skills and time that you might have.
Crochet or Knit
I have to include this because I love to crochet! Even if you've never knit of crocheted before there are patterns available online for simple projects like scarves.
Another idea is amigurumi people and animals. Amigurumi is a Japanese fad in crochet and knitting. You can find really simple patterns or more advanced ones. There is pretty much a pattern for every animal so if someone has a favorite you can make it.
These projects use basic sewing skills. They can be made quickly so you can make lots!
This Little Bird pattern free from Spool is sewn by hand so you can make them while your watching TV. Add a hanger and you got yourself a tree ornament.
Book weights are a perfect gift for book lovers. I made this pattern up myself. Cut a rectangular piece of fabric 11 inches by 6 inches. Fold in half (long side) right sides together. Sew 3/8 inch seam along one short side and the long side. Turn inside out. Fill with plastic pellets or if you prefer a natural filler like flaxseed. Hand sew the open end closed.
I made these sandwich bags from instructions found in Linen Wool Cotton by Akiko Mano. Even though they are sandwich bags I use them for other things, like for holding my crafting tools. You could fill them with toys or bath products as the gift wrapping!
The Book Pillow is another great gift for book lovers. The pattern is from Sew Liberated I haven't made one yet but Bethany did. She's also doing a series of homemade gifts. Check it out!
My Mom makes Peppermint Meringue Cookies almost every Christmas. She has her own version but these detailed instructions from Simply Recipe are pretty close. Note though that they put the candy canes in the batter. My mom sprinkles them on the top. It's really pretty. The great thing about these is that they are a low fat treat! They'd make great teachers' gifts. Put some in a cardboard Chinese food type box from a craft store to make them fancy.
Puffed Rice Brittle makes a nice treat for people allergic to Peanut Brittle. It's also gluten free.
I've done paper stars for a previous Advent Calendar post but they are so lovely I'm mentioning them again. As single stars, they would make nice teachers' gifts. Crafter Abbie has instructions with photos.
There a lot of gifts you can make with origami but this tiny wreath looks charming. I can see it made from fancy scrapbooking paper or even pages from a book (one that's fallen apart, of course).
Last year, I gave out printable calendars as gifts. I bought a pdf from an etsy seller and some white cardstock. Once you print them, you cut them, punch holes for hanging at the top. Add a ribbon and you're done! These bookmark calendars are sweet.
Scribbit's glass navtivity is beyond gorgeous. I have no idea how hard it is to make but it would make a nice gift for someone special.
I made bath salts for the ladies I know one year. Dreadlock Girl has a recipe for that. Use mason jars, add a ribbon and a pretty label. For an added touch, head to a second hand shop. They usually have tons of mismatched silverware. You could find unique spoons on the cheap to tie to the jars. Do a whole spa theme and make body scrubs and bath fizzies. Maybe crochet up a Tawashi in a soft cotton for a wash cloth and you got yourself a gift basket.
For the Girlie Girls, Homemade lip balm . Kids could make this stuff up and give it to their friends. If you want to go more natural, Martha has a recipe using beeswax. It uses a stove though so be careful. You can buy containers from craft stores but I can see no reason why you couldn't use those little pill holders I've seen at the dollar store.
These Mini Photo Books are quite fancy but it's a good idea. You could make them as simple or ornate as you like. They'd make nice gifts for Grandparents.
Finally, Design Mom featured gifts kids can make!
If you like the idea of homemade gifts but can't tell a glue gun from a stun gun, you can fake it and buy from vendors on sites like Etsy or 1000 Markets. Feel good knowing that you are supporting someone who creates crafts for a living.
Now while you're crafting your heart out, you'll need some peppy Christmas music to get you in the mood. Enjoy this video from Lenka "All My Bells Are Ringing." You can't help but feel good listening to it.