Handmade Holidays

[ 6 ] November 20, 2011 |

I like to make things; I always have. Through the years, my skills have grown, which certainly makes giving a handmade gift easier. But I sought to give handmade gifts long before I could sew or knit. I think back to student Christmases, or the years I worked for a non-profit, when my budget fell far short of my gift-giving list. I framed my own photographs to give to family. I baked homemade bread and packaged it with delicious organic butter. I made fudge. I worked, in other words, with the talents I had.

My gift list has changed dramatically since then, as has my budget. As my generation has grown up and had kids, we focus our gift-buying on the children rather than the adults, but I still like to have something to offer the taller people in my life. Additionally, a long list of school-related personnel has been added to our gift list. When at all possible, I turn to the gifts I can create with my own hands first.

This extends to my children’s hands, too. Over the years I’ve attempted many projects with them, the desired end result being a gift they could give to aunts, uncles, and grandparents–with mixed results! I like for the gifts they give their teachers to include something handmade as well, but useful in some way. (In the past we’ve made initial keychains, bookmarks, and holiday ornaments.) I try to keep in mind not only what I can make, but what will be used and welcome. One of my favorite go-to gifts is hand-knit cabled fingerless mitts—beautiful and useful (I have a pair too! I love them). I’ve knit scarves, and even bracelets with thin gauge wire and beads.

Bookmark craftAnd what about the kids? Yes, Santa brings them toys, even toys that nobody’s hand made, like Legos. But I like to include something Mama made—a set of knit and felted stuffed balls, for instance. A wee blanket, nestled around the doll in the stroller Santa left. I’ve sewn and knit softies, for Christmas or Easter or just because. When I see my children—or someone else’s children—playing with something I’ve made, I feel right.

From my hand and heart to theirs—and that is how it is with handmade gifts, no matter who the recipient. It’s from my hands and heart, using my talents and time. I think of the recipient as I stitch or craft, and I imbue the item with my care. And if you are not a crafter, you can be sure that a handmade item you are buying was made with just as much thought for the eventual recipient.

I hope my handmade gifts are received happily, in the same spirit in which they are created. In a rushed and busy world, it is a quiet way of saying, I thought of you—I thought of you well before the holidays, with time enough to make my plan, gather my materials, and make this just for you.

Here are some handmade gifts my children and I plan to make (or have already made) this year:

Recycled Notebook Craft

Category: crafts, holidays, made by hand, meet a parent


Amy Hood

about the author ()

Amy Hood lives in South County with her husband and three children. A lifelong Rhode Islander, she puts up with the snowy, dark, cold months because she lives a ten-minute drive from the beach. Right now her main gig is hanging out with her youngest all day, and she thinks she has the best job around. She blogs about her artistic adventures with her children at Kids in the Studio and her own creative pursuits at Salamander Dreams.

Comments (6)

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  1. katy says:

    This is great, Amy! I just took my copy of I’M DREAMING OF A GREEN CHRISTMAS down from a high, high shelf and found the perfect project: making potholders out of outgrown T-shirts. I am pretty sure none of the recipients liked last year’s crazy-patchworked dishtowels decorated with scraps of ruined Lilly Pulitzer bathing trunks, but I LOVED THEM.

    Reading your piece made me happy!

  2. Amy Hood amy says:

    Aw, thanks, Katy, and I hope you have pics of those dishtowels?! I also have some projects in my past that didn’t turn out quite as, um, expected but I love to be on the receiving end of handmade gifts, too.

  3. Bells says:

    I’ve always found your approach to handmade gifts so inspiring. This year, since we’re all scaling back actual gift giving, I’m looking at other ways to inject the creativity of the handmade into Christmas. I may even consider gift tags! Thanks as always for your ideas and sharing.

  4. Amy Hood amy says:

    Thanks, Bells. You are *always* knitting for other people, seems like! I like the idea of handmade gift tags–The Artful Parent had a felted leaf gift tag up this week, and I’ve been thinking of carving a stamp for gift tags and/or using on plain brown paper for wrapping. You know, in my spare time. :-)

  5. Bella says:

    I agree with so much of what you touch on in this great post. There’s nothing quite like a homemade gift. When my children were younger, they took such pride in giving out their bookmarks, drawings, and homemade cookies. The tradition continues with my daughter, but is understandably on hold with my teenage son!

  6. Amy Hood amy says:

    Thanks for your comment, Bella! (I think your blog is so full of great ideas, too!)

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