Monday, November 24, 2008

Handmade Holidays

If you're like me, spending unthinkable amounts of money on Christmas and Hannukah presents makes you want to hibernate until the New Year. Last year, I did a halfway handmade holiday, but I've decided to commit more fully in 2008. Luckily, resources for making things at home or assembling them out of cheap-o supplies just abound. I've seen a few posts around about homemade gifts, but I wanted to compile a list of my own, too. On with the show.

My Plan of Attack
  • Baked goods. I love to bake, so having an excuse to spend all day getting high off sugary goodness sounds like a wonderful plan. I've never made truffles or candy of any sort, but I plan to learn this year. I may also do fudge and/or cookies. I have an uncle who loves chocolate of any kind, and since we don't know him terribly well, this idea came out primarily as a way to make something for him.
  • Luggage tags. These are from the Mark Montano book listed below. Basically, laminate an 8.5 x 11" sheet of paper -- scrapbook paper, a map, etc. Cut a 3 x 11" section, then fold a one-inch section over on one end. Staple over the flap, close to the folded edge. Fold the other end almost in half, so the unfolded end slips easily into the stapled part. Punch a hole in the stapled part to attach something to secure the tag to the luggage. On the blank inside, use a Sharpie to write the recipient's name and address. Voila! For pictures and such, go look up the book on Amazon, choose the Look Inside! option, and search for "luggage" in the box.
  • Jewelry. Alright, time for a gimme. Yes, I'll be making jewelry for friends and family. I may even use leftover craft-show inventory for some of this purpose. Don't tell!
  • Recipe books. I haven't quite figured out a plan of attack for these babies. There's the basic method of writing recipes on index cards, punching a hole through them, and then connecting them with ribbon, a key ring, or some other method. There's the full-on handbound book method, but I doubt I'll have the time for that. I'm thinking of buying a small three-ring binder and typing up recipes. Basically, this is definitely still in the planning stages.
  • Classes or lessons. I'm very excited to put some money into paying for loved ones -- especially the kidlets -- to do something. I'm looking into getting my brother guitar lessons through the local community college (only around $60 for 10 weeks) and possibly my stepsister to take some jewelry classes with me. I'm also interested in signing my mom up for voice lessons, something she's been dying to do.
  • Calendar. This was suggested in at least two of the links I posted. I intend to give one to my father, who is notorious for forgetting my birthday every year. I am considering making the entire month of August and most of September dedicated to my birthday, with items such as "start planning Brigid's birthday present" on August 1, "wrap Brigid's birthday present" on August 31, "plan Brigid's giant birthday bash" on September 1, and "Brigid's 25th birthday!!!!!!!!!!" on September 10. It sounds a bit passive-aggressive, but it's really not. I think my dad would find it funny, and I'd be more likely to get a gift next year!
  • Bath products. Many bath items are insanely easy to make. Bath salts, for example, are easily made using epsom salt (which costs pretty much nothing), some table salt, fragrance, and food coloring if you like. Body scrubs are nearly as easy, made by combining sugar or sea salt, some oil, fragrances, and food coloring if you want. There are also tons of fairly basic soap, lotion, bath bombs, and other goodies online. Do a Google search, and be amazed with the possibilities.
  • Crocheted stuff. A few (possibly unlucky) recipients may be receiving hats and scarves made by me this year. I say "may" because we'll first have to see how much time and patience I can whip up. I do plan to crochet little face cloths to go with the body scrubs. Any basic crocheter can do them: get some fairly thin cotton yarn and small hook. Use it to make a square -- 4 x 4" or 6 x 6" would be good -- just in single crochet. Way easy. There's also a really small chance I may try some more amigurumi this year. We shall see.
  • Sock critters. You may remember that I made my first sock monkey several months back. Well, it was so fun and easy that I'm considering trying other kinds of animals, too. I have big plans of making little ones out of baby socks. Aww!
  • Manipulated photos. I'm no PhotoShop whiz. In fact, I've never use it in my life. However, there are lots of other fun ways to personalize pictures without all the fancy computer stuff. There are collages (digital or the good-old-fashioned kind), ones presented in decoupaged frames (Mod Podge+dollar store frames+old magazine clippings), ones made into 3-D images (check out the Montano book for instructions), photos printed up poster size, scrapbook pages, and other items printed up with family photos -- tote bags, T-shirts, napkins, placemats, etc.
  • Assembled kits. These are a pretty common suggestion for gifts in the links below, too. And why not? They're easy, cheap, and fun. When I was a kid, I did one for my stepmother of different varieties of tea and a couple of chocolate bars in a thrift-store basket. Movie baskets (popcorn, soda, candy, and a DVD/rental coupon), garden kits (spade, seeds, and gloves in a pot or watering can), home spa sets (bath products, nail polish, lotions, aromatherapy candles, and a loofah in a nice basket), travel activity kits for kids (travel game, coloring book, crayons, Play-Doh, and flash cards in a decorated shoe box or little case), and romance basket (wine/sparkling juice, candles, coupon for free babysitting, restaurant gift certificated, and bubble bath) are all basic and fun ideas, too.

These are some of the things I intend to make. If you see an idea you like, please steal away. There are a million more good ideas out there that aren't going on my list this year but will still be great choices for others. Below is a list of resources I found and love for just such an occasion.


  • Get Rich Slowly blog: This blog entry has 34 excellent ideas for things you can make for holiday presents (thanks, HighFashionGirl, for mentioning it!).
  • Buy Nothing Christmas site: From the previous blog, I found this interesting list with even more ideas for ways to save money and give from the heart. Many have a religious slant, but most gifts are perfect for Christians and non-Christians.
  • Crafty Gifts community: From the crafty_gifts community on LiveJournal, I found this great list of things to make or put together using low-cost items.
  • I've looked through this list several times, too, and there is a ton of good ideas. Most suggestions -- with complete instructions -- are great for kids, too.
  • The Big-Ass Book of Crafts: This will more or less be my present-making Bible this year. The writer, Mark Montano, has directions for making a huge variety of stuff. Plus, the pictures are great, and I find that it sparks my creativity in tons of areas.
  • Recipe Goldmine site: There are tons of good recipes here, but I'm most interested in the truffles and bon bons section. I'll let you know the results!
  • She is the creator of the best, easiest, clearest sock monkey tutorial I've ever seen. Here it is.

Even with all this, I haven't started making a single thing this year. Yikes! There is a method to my madness, though. I will start crafting as soon as I'm done with shows this year, which will be soon.

Who else is doing a handmade holiday? Please share any links or ideas you have!

1 comment:

Holly Casey said...

Wow, this blog entry was so helpful to me! You have really come up with some amazing ideas. I used to feel bad about giving handmade gifts, I was afraid it would look like I was too cheap to just go purchase a present. However, I've found that the quality of the things I can make far outshines the quality of the items I could afford to buy- so really the recipient is getting a much better gift out of the deal when I do it that way.

You mentioned baking some holiday items this year, and I just wanted to tell you that I have an awesome book which you may find useful for this. It's a book about making your own gifts, and the last chapter has a bunch of different recipes for common edible gifts as well as cute ideas for how to wrap and package them. Many (if not most) of the wrapping ideas involve reclaimed items too! If you would be interested in borrowing this book, just let me know before the next time we see each other and I'd be happy to bring it along.

I hope you're enjoying the holiday season, babydoll!!

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