Wednesday, November 4, 2009


Nah, this one's not about meals, so you can relax.

This post is about homemade Christmas presents. You know--the things you mean to carefully craft in love each fall, then deliver to your friends and family during the holidays? The things you might even get all the way to the "buying supplies" stage before the intentions labeled "best" run out?

Am I only talking about myself here? Please, someone pipe in and tell me that I'm not alone.

Gifts are not my love language. Mr. Blandings joked one day that they're not even my love accent. He really wasn't trying to hurt my feelings, but it did sting a little. As much as I know that I'm a bad gifter, I also know that some people are really, really good at it. And me? Not so much.

I'd love to be able to blame my mom for my lack of giftiness. My mom is the Poster Girl for all things GIFT. She gives, and gives, and gives--often well beyond her means, and always with as much flair and style as possible. All of her gifts are always presented with stunning bows (handmade) atop impeccable, themed paper (not handmade, but hey, everyone's got their weakness). And--like a good portion of my mother's wardrobe--glitter is usually a feature.

Glitter is absolutely not a feature in my life. Not in my clothes (which generally fall into three colors: white, brown, and black), and not in the gifts I give to others. As a matter of fact, my mainstay gift is time. You know--"Let's go to dinner!" "I'd love to celebrate with you over coffee!" and, of course, "How about I watch your kids for you so you can do something fun?" When time fails, there's always cookies. My chocolate chip cookies have covered a multitude of gifting sins, I can tell you.

My mother would be horrified if she knew that Mr. Blandings is actually responsible for the bulk of the gifting done by the Blandings clan. She'd also choke on her dentures if she knew that I save all those fancy ribbon tricks she taught me for times when I can't find a gift bag or wrapping paper with an actual pattern on it. Yes, truth time--I buy solid colored wrapping paper in neutral colors most of the time. Why? Because it's never inappropriate. Blue is perfectly acceptable for a birthday, a new baby, Father's Day, you name it.

I'm just practical. Or this is what I tell myself.

But this year, I'm trying really, really hard to think ahead and follow through on all of those great homemade gift ideas that I see floating around on blogs and crafty websites. The main reason for this is that I think my older kids would enjoy it. They love making things for others, and are at the age where they can turn out some very nice-looking stuff. The second reason is that finances at Casa Blandings are super-tight. Mr. Blandings is waiting on word of his second pay-cut for this year, which will quickly be followed by another one right after the new year. Add to that the fact that we're saving money for Bee's visa applications, passports for the other five kids, plane tickets to Kathmandu in February, and yes ... a homemade Christmas sounds just about right!

We have a relatively short list of folks that we give to at Christmas time. usually, the list is even shorter than we'd like it to be simply because we don't have the funds to send anything to the people we love but don't see. I want to remedy that this year. And I also want to use the gifts that we do give to really demonstrate how much love we have for those in our lives. The truth is, part of what makes me not-so-gifty is that it always feels so impersonal to me. I know that this sounds nuts, but deciding between the UNO game and the Bowling Dice tin in the toy aisle of my local supermarket just doesn't give me warm fuzzies.

But making something? Yeah, that does it for me. Putting my hands in wool and turning out a scarf allows me the joy of praying for the recipient with each stitch that rolls of the needles. Selecting fabric and putting together a simple apron gives me the glow of thinking over that person and her impact on my life. But I rarely do these things. Why? I have no idea.

So that's what I want to capture this Christmas, for myself and for my children. The spirit of giving. Who knows? Maybe I'll even post the processes as they take place at my kitchen table over the next few weeks. Until then, here are some of the best ideas I've gleaned from the internet for giftmaking with kids. Many can be done by the kids themselves. Others may require a good bit of mom-work, then the kids can add the finishing details. I'm planning on trying some of them, so if you're likely to be on my gifting list, WARNING! Spoiler alert!

And if not ... happy homemade shopping. :-)

Adorable elastic bookmarks
Button wreath ornaments
Treasure soap
Grocery Bag Dispenser
Sculpey Ribbon Ornaments
No-Sew fleece knot pillow
Gifts in a Jar
Beaded Icicle Ornaments
Pumpkin Pie Playdough (o.k., maybe a Thanksgiving gift?)
Birthday Banner (what mom doesn't want one of these?)
Crayon Cozies


Benny said...

So do those of us who *suspect* we might be on your gifting list get to make requests? Because there are some VERY neat ideas on there which I and my crew would be thrilled to be the recipents of. ;o)

And of course I'd love to steal some of them and pass them on to others as gifts, too.

Great ideas. And you are not alone. I always relish the homemade gift idea, but always fall through on really getting much of anything done. I feel like I'll do it more when more of my kids are at a helpful stage and not so many are in the distraction and deterrent stage... but maybe I'm just fooling myself.


Livin' the Dream said...

I'm right there with ya.

Whenever I happen to see or think of something that I know a loved one would like, I get it or make it and send it, even if it's some random, non-special day. Because when the Birthday or Christmas comes around, I'm stuck. I can't think of a thing. And I hate getting something just to get something for that special day. I'm really bad at gifts.

Liz said...

i love making my christmas gifts. here are my two posts from two christmas ago-

the boxes for the little boys and little girls were BIG hits!

Karla @ Ramblin' Roads said...

Great links! I'm definitely making some of my Christmas gifts this year. And I see some ideas on your list that I can put to good use. Thanks for sharing! I'll try to return the favor and post some of the ideas I have, too.

Michelle said...

Thanks for sharing these great links. I LOVE the elastic bookmarks. As a matter of fact, I've been trying to think of something my 14 year old could make to complete her American Heritage Girls' Creative Crafts badge. Though these are super-easy, they also look really inexpensive and yet practical and I think that they just might be an awesome idea for her! :)