Tips for Having a Happy (And Organized!) Handmade Holiday!

"It is Christmas in the heart that puts Christmas in the air." ~W.T. Ellis

Ah, Christmas.  If there is one time of year that motivates us to don our crafty hat, it's you.  This is how our Christmas storage boxes have come to be lovingly filled with treasured collections that are almost anthropological in nature.  

One could argue that manufactured Christmas-a-bilia demonstrates the styles of the times quite well itself, thank you very much!  So it does.  But there is something about the homemade, the handcrafted, that can really bring to mind a time, a place, an era.

Look at your collection.  Got a smocked ball in there?  I'll bet you a sugar cookie it was lovingly hand crafted in the early to mid 1980's.  Ceramics?  Eighties again.  Knit items are a little trickier, since the grandma set never stopped knitting, but you may have noticed a resurgence of knit ornaments, tree skirts, and stockings since the turn of the millennium, when wool crafting experienced a renaissance.

You get the idea.  As timeless as an item may seem at the moment it is made, there will inevitably be something about it that will mark it as being distinctly "1985," "1994," or even, of course, "2010."  (And yes, I'm still reeling that we're living in 2010.  2010!!!!  We're space age!!).

As I mentioned on Monday, this year I've been embracing homemade gifts and I'm really excited about them!  For fear of ruining the Christmas morning surprise, I'm not going to get too specific, but followers of this blog will know that I knit, sew, and paper-craft, so you can use your imaginations until after the 25th, when I will share my creations with you.  It's been a lot of work, but it's been so much fun and it's given me a good excuse to indulge in some really nice supplies; all in the spirit of giving!  I've become a total yarn snob, so the recipients of my knit creations are getting very spoiled indeed!

While making your Christmas gifts by hand is a lot of work, there are steps you can take to ensure it's all a labour of love, not a panic inducing race to the finish (still-tacky glue will not mail well, my friends!) Based on my experiences this year, I have compiled a list of tips to help make your homemade holiday experience happy and organized, so that your handmade, heartfelt offerings will bring a warm smile for years to come (not to mention a round of "Awwww, that's so 2010!).  Enjoy!

Tips for Having a Happy (and Organized!) Handmade Holiday:
  • Have a plan - Know what you're making, who it's for, and what you need to complete it.  If, like myself, you live off the beaten path, keep a supply list going so that you can make sure you get everything you need when you go shopping "in town."
  • Be realistic - New to sewing?  Then perhaps you shouldn't attempt a queen size quilt for your mom.  Start with something smaller, like a decorative panel.  Short on time? Maybe only make a few gifts this year, or make one simple item (like an ornament) to include with your store-bought presents.
  • Consider logistics - Where is this gift going?  Shipping is expensive, so be sure to consider that when you are deciding what to make. A homemade bookshelf may not be the right gift to ship across the country.
  • Consider cost, both actual and perceived - While some homemade gifts are ideal for those on a budget (think bath salts, cookies, and homemade coffee mixes) the reality is that craft supplies aren't cheap.  So while you may think that hand knit cashmere bed socks would be your mother-in-law's heart's delight, the reality is that they would end up costing you upwards of $200.00 in yarn.  Someone who doesn't know the cost of yarn and textiles (and really, who except wool crafters and fashionistas does?) will just see socks.  Consider using a luxe version of a more affordable medium. (And for the record, my MIL would totally appreciate the value of cashmere socks!  Maybe someday!)
  • Have a support network - My cousin Ainsley (of Pattycake Manners) and I had a cyber crafting night last week, updating each other on our progress via email.  It was fun (read her post about it here) and it motivated me to keep plugging away at that evening's project so I'd have something to report.
  • A housekeeping tip (which will make sense if you read Ainsley's post, as well as this one by me) is to keep any beverages you are consuming in a travel mug.  If you attend a lot of group crafting activities, consider adding a travel mug to your bag of supplies.
  • Another housekeeping tip - When you are sewing or paper-crafting, tape a plastic shopping bag to the table next to your workspace, and sweep your clippings, corners, and threads into it as you go.  A greener alternative would be to move a garbage bin next to your workspace.

 So there you go, the Nestygirl's collected crafting wisdom for Holiday 2010!  I hope you find something helpful in my list to assist you in making your homemade holiday gifts a reality!

Happy December 1! Today marks the start of 25 days of Nesty!  I'm so looking forward to sharing my holiday preparations with you.  And to those of you following me on Twitter, I promise to be back soon!

Today is the first day of Hanukkah!  Happy Hanukah!!


  1. Great list, Cousin! And thanks for the mention! It was fun indeed.We'll have to do another cyber-date soon! Eggnog and decorating, perhaps?

  2. Great tips! I can't wait to see your creations!


I'm listening! I really appreciate when you take the time to comment, and I read every one!