Last year at this time, I was overwhelmed with whatever was happening in my life, and so I didn't spend much time thinking about making gifts. We ended up buying most of the things we gave, which isn't nearly as much fun for me as spending the time and energy making things. I like to give gifts, and I don't really mind spending the money to find something nice, but buying gifts at the store always feels less personal and a lot more spur of the moment. We go to the store with a list of people we wish to buy for, and then, we find things we think they'll like. I'm not much for shopping anyway, but the whole experience usually leaves me feeling drained, whereas the creative process involved in making something for someone is invigorating.
So, after the holiday, I spent some time surfing around on the Internet looking for ideas for homemade gifts for the future, things that would be easy to make. I found Martha Stewart's website where there were dozens of ideas for handmade things - some that were kind of chintzy (in an, "Aww, that's cute, but not terribly practical" kind of way), but many that were kind of nice. The list I liked the most was entitled "Gifts from Martha", and featured items that were made from things that were produced her farm - like a sweater from her sheep. I scrolled through the list, all the while thinking, I can make that. We have that. We grow that.
It was just what I needed to get those creative juices flowing, I started making a list of things that we produce here on our homestead, things we can make out of things we produce here on our homestead, or just things that we can make from bought, found and/or repurposed items, here on our homestead.
The list is divided into three categories: food we raise or grow; non-food from items we raise or grow; other gifts. There are at least a dozen items in each category. That's over three dozen potential gifts. Thirty-six plus unique and creative gifts from things we have, right here. And the list doesn't even include some other things I've thought of since I made the list, like an herbal tea blend I could make from things we grew and/or things we foraged, or the drinking glasses we can make out of repurposed bottles, because we have invested in some pretty cool tools over the years.
For the past two nights, my family and I have been working on making gifts for friends and family. Painting, cutting, punching, "un"sewing, melting, filling ....
In the days to come, we'll have some mixing, carving, scoring, baking, blending, grinding, gluing, and sewing happening and then some packing and mailing.
I never get nearly as excited about the shiny, new, store-bought gifts we occasionally give, as I do about the ones that we make (or even the ones we find second-hand at the thrift store or flea market), and this year, with the willing help of my wonderful family (who seem to be just as excited about the plan as I am) and my list, our gift giving - especially the part where we spend the evening listening to music and crafting together - will be an incredibly joyful experience.
Here's a sneak peek of one of our projects.
I was also inspired by the book Handmade Home by Amanda Soule, who is not only an incredibly creative person, but a real-life friend of mine. Her book was a gift to me from a dear loved one, and a reminder that giving of one's creative self is part of what makes a home ... home.