As long as I can remember, I’ve been ambivalent during the holidays. As we roll into December and Christmas looms, my emotional state vacillates wildly between excitement and enthusiasm to join the rest of the society scurrying around me in the manic preparations, and deep despondency that leaves me numb some days just staring out the window, weighed down by obligation, confused about whether all the effort, expense, and bother is really worth it.
I avoid going to the mall after Halloween. Ignorance is bliss, I’ve found. If I’m not physically there to stumble upon an ‘irresistible’ deal, I won’t know about it and I’ll be richer for it. I don’t want to feel pressured to spend so much money on presents (even be tempted to go into debt over it). I don’t want to succumb to the retail marketers who are ruthlessly bombarding us with that not-so-subtle lie that the more you spend, the more you love the recipient, the more precious your Christmas experience will be.
The few gifts I do buy – those I’m purchasing and not making myself – I purchase locally, at boutiques and stores in the two small towns nearby. I can’t tell you what a different shopping experience this is compared to weathering all the bad temper and hassles found in the big box stores or city malls this time of year.
The best part of Christmas preparations for me as a child was making simple crafts to decorate the house and the tree. The laughter my brothers and I shared as we sat around the kitchen table merrily getting ‘crafty’ while my mom supervised still makes me smile for the memory.
Making handmade gifts and giving them to my loved ones makes me happy. It’s fun to challenge yourself and see your creativity materialize into something wonderful, something that didn’t exist before you made it.
I hear people say so often they don’t have enough time to make handmade Christmas gifts. Yet some are willing to spend hours upon exhausted hours driving all over the place (some even to the States, endure a longgg wait at the border) getting jostled and hassled in crowded malls or stores only to spend tons of money…on toys and gadgets that will be obsolete in a few years.
Imagine instead of investing all your time in hunting down those deals, you decide to make something really special and unique for a few people on your list, a gift they could treasure for many years to come.
If this alternative appeals to you (and even if you consider yourself ‘not crafty’), here are some ideas to try:
Personalized gift baskets
I decided a few years ago to do this for my brother-in-law and he loved it. Buy a bunch of edible goodies you know the recipient loves. Buy a wicker basket. Scrunch up some festive tissue paper and place it on the bottom, then pile up all the items in the basket. Wrap it up with clear cellophane and top off with a nice bow. They will appreciate this so much more than those generic basket collections on sale everywhere this time of year.
Don’t forget the furry loved ones on your gift list. I’m sharing my two favourite treat recipes I make every year to give to the felines and canines in my life. They go bonkers for these and they’re so easy to make:
Cheesy doggie biscuits
2 cups all purpose flour
1 1/4 cup grated cheddar cheese
1/2 cup vegetable oil
7-9 tablespoons of water
1. Mix all but the water, until it forms a dough.
2. Add the water tablespoon by tablespoon if needed, until the dough has a good texture, sticking together but not too mushy.
3. Roll out onto a floured board or counter until it’s about an inch thick. Cut little rectangle shapes with knife or use cookie cutter shapes.
4. Put in 325 degree oven for 15 mins. Let them completely cool before storing in airtight container or tin.
Holy Mackerel Crunchy Cat Treats
7 ounces of mashed sardines (or mackerel, tuna, chicken, turkey you buy in cans)
1/4 cup Dry Non-fat powdered milk
1/2 cup wheat germ
1. Mix mashed sardines or whatever you’re using with 1/4 cup of powdered milk and the wheat germ. Mix ingredients well.
2. Roll into approximately 40 little balls, place on greased cookie sheet and flatten with fork.
3. Bake at 350 degree until brown(10 mins in my oven).
Gettin’ stitchy with it
Here are some really easy sewing patterns:
Feeling creative yet? Here are some art projects you’ll probably want to make for yourself as well:
For all the writers and diarists on your list, make a unique and inexpensive mixed-media journal. I agree with EcoHeidi, it’s cool to craft!
You’ll probably want to make some of these cinnamon and coffee bath salts. I suggest decorating the small mason jar by gluing a few coffee beans on the lid and tying a ribbon around the jar with a few cinnamon sticks stuck in the bow:
I’ve made countless handmade gifts over the years and keep getting inspired with new ideas and projects to try every year and I hope you will too. Feel free to add some ideas of your own and share in the Comments section.
Be sure to check out Sue Mitchell’s post today : 3 Priceless Gifts You can’t Buy at the Mall
Photo thanks to Taliesin on morguefile.