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.
And 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: