Virtual Advent Tour 2009: Homemade Christmas

So this is Christmas and what have you done. Not to make you feel the pressure but the big day is coming up soon. Are you prepared?

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.

Paper Crafts

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.

Merry Christmas!

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  1. Great post with lots of awesome ideas to peruse! I really have to try those Peppermint Meringue Cookies! The name alone sounds scrumptious.

  2. Lots of great ideas here...will spend some time with the links later. Thanks!

  3. I love these ideas. The book weights in particular are very cool... my whole family reads a lot, and those would be great stocking stuffers. That said, I haven't sewn anything by hand or machine for... uh, four or five years, scarily. Maybe it's time to start practicing again...

  4. I am in the mood to craft now. Thanks for all the great ideas.

  5. Those crochet animals are so super cute! You have some really great ideas here for homemade presents. This is a great contribution to the Virtual Advent Tour.

  6. What an awesome post! I've been feeling the pinch this year, and as I am a little crafty, I've decided to make the important family members Christmas cards this year, instead of buying a whole box to send out to lots of people. It can take up some time, but it's worth it when you see the looks on the faces of the people you give them to; they appreciate the thought and the effort, and they genuinely like my designs, so it's all good!

    Some of your ideas would make great birthday gifts as well! I'm going to bookmark this post to come back to for future reference! Cheers!

  7. Good heavens, this Virtual Advent has made me realize how uncreative I am and I feel all inadequate with all you crafty people out there! Ha!

    Thanks for sharing these ideas! I might just give the book weight thing a try!

  8. This is such a timely post! I LOVE the sandwich bags, particularly :)

  9. That little crocheted Sleepy sarah is so cute...

  10. Great suggestions! I'm thinking about making flavored hot chocolates and putting them into festive tins for friends and coworkers this year.

    And thanks for the link to the video. That's a peppy one I hadn't heard before!

  11. I am not a crafter, but your ideas are beautiful. When you said,' And really no one should go into debt over one day a year,' it made me think of wedding days. Funny how people are willing to blow money that could go toward a house or appliances on one day, and esp. when so many end in divorce!

  12. There are lots of great ideas here. Great post Chris! Thanks for participating in the tour again this year.

  13. I love this post because I love gifts that are homemade. Another idea is to give a coupon for something like washing someone's car, walking their dog or babysitting their kids.

  14. Great idea for a post! Thanks for joining in! :)

  15. I like that book weight idea, and I could go to Bulk Barn to buy flax seed, I love Bulk Barn.
    I made caramels last night to give to teachers.

    Merry Christmas, Chris!

  16. Those weights are a great idea, and would be a simple and fun project to do with the young ones. I love all the family activities that you mentioned.

  17. Jo- That sounds so nice!

    Raidergirl- mmm, caramels.

    Kathy- That's a great idea for kids to give to busy Moms.

    Sprite- That sounds yummy!

    Nan- Yes, you could buy a house on what people spend on weddings.

    Thanks everyone for stopping by. I hope you got a few ideas for your Christmas.

  18. The first year my parents were married, they made paper stars for their tree because they couldn't afford ornaments. I have one of them; it's 51 years old and it's the first thing I put on my tree. But I never knew how to make them. Thanks for the instructions!

    I found you from Shona's blog. I found her because I'm hosting a Gilmore Girls reading challenge and someone mentioned that she's set a goal to read all of the books. And I thought if I got through 20 books that would be great!

  19. I love how you got right down to what matters: putting ourselves, and our hands, into what we give. I love those things so much more than what can be bought!

  20. I love this post. There's definitely something special about homemade gifts. And though I'm crazy about bath fizzies, I had never considered making my own...hmmmm. *bookmarks recipe*

  21. I have a young son and I've been a bit disgusted myself with the commercialization of Christmas. It's not about anything to most people but "What did you get?" and I don't want my son to get that idea. I'm not a creative person by any means, but I'm trying my hand this year to prepare a crafts corner for him so we can have something to do all year long!

  22. I love this!

    You're so right since I was a child things have become extremely commercialized. Black Friday has become this mythic scenario, each year seasons decorations appear in stores earlier and earlier it's amazing. We haven't gotten through Halloween before we're seeing and hearing holiday treats.

    I totally remember Sound of Music being on and looking forward to seeing it. It was a symbol that the holiday was almost over. We used to unwrap our gifts and play games we'd gotten and just enjoy spending time together. For me that is still the best family all in one place at one time.

    I hope you and yours enjoy!

  23. Thank you for the wonderful ideas! My sister does a handmade Christmas every year (and is always way ahead of schedule, too ... very efficient!). I'm sending this link to her for next year's planning (and next year, *I'll* plan, too!)

  24. Completely un-creative and without a crafty bone in my body I am amazed of all the things one can do if they are crafty. There are some wonderful stuff here which I wouldn't mind getting myself either :o) Happy Holidays.

  25. crafts are a fun tradition of Christmas. I have white paper stars on my "snow tree" The kids at the highschool make them and sell them for a fund raiser for their art club.

  26. I definitely agree that homemade gifts is an awesome way to go - I'm going to bookmark this page and come back next year when I'm brainstorming ideas (I usually do that very early because it can take a long time to make stuff). I typically stick with the baking and giving that stuff as gifts, but some of these others (like the book weight!) look awesome. :)


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