A handcrafted Christmas tradition
Handcrafted Family Christmas was conceived over lunch one day as my sister and I were reflecting how our traditional gift exchange had gotten way out of hand. That particular Christmas, everyone might as well have opened their wallets and passed all their money to the person on the right for as much thought and meaning went into the gifts that we exchanged.
We have a lot of diverse talents and interests in the family. We have people who sew, work with wood, cook, craft and otherwise create. The idea behind Handcrafted Family Christmas was to share those talents with each other. A gift made especially for the person who received it would have significantly more meaning than a Target gift card or something purchased sight unseen off an Amazon wish list. And, as a family, we could take a few steps back from the rampant commercialization that can suck so much joy out of the holiday.
While the inaugural handcrafted Christmas did have a few bumps (several people apparently landed on the same Pinterest post and made nearly identical men’s barbecue aprons, for example), it has become a new family tradition. This year, all three generations of my extended family will participate. Everyone, young and old, will create a handcrafted gift especially for the person whose name they drew.
Consider starting your own handcrafted Christmas tradition this holiday season. Whether you give only handmade gifts or incorporate just a few handcrafted elements into your current gift-giving routine, here are five do-it-yourself gift ideas to bring a bit more of YOU to your holiday gift exchange:
Five do-it-yourself gift ideas
1. Soup mixes in a jar
Mason jars filled with homemade soup mix, spice blends, or barbecue rubs make great gifts for for people who like to cook but don’t have lots of time on their hands. For a really spectacular gift, fill a big basket full of different mixes.
Write out the recipes by hand on note cards and attach them to the jars with raffia. I like to use pretty craft paper as backing for the recipe cards and to decorate the lids of the jars.
Get the recipes:
2. Beaded jewelry
Beaded jewelry projects may range in complexity from a simple bracelet made by stringing pretty beads onto elastic beading cord to an elaborate necklace using advanced weaving techniques. The beauty of making beaded jewelry as a gift is that even beginner projects yield unique and beautiful gifts.
The bracelet pictured above was made using a spiral rope chain weave. This simple technique can be used for single- or multi-strand bracelets and necklaces with or without accent beads for embellishment. Play around with different clasps and bead sizes and colors to create one-of-a-kind gifts for all of your jewelry-loving friends.
Directions for making a simple spiral rope chain.
Bead and Button Magazine is a great source of beaded jewelry projects for all beaders of all ability levels:
3. T-shirt scarf
Who wouldn’t love to have their favorite old t-shirts turned into a fun and functional scarf? This project requires minimal sewing skills and provides myriad opportunities for customization. You can use old concert t-shirts for a music lover or old fan gear for a sports lover. As an added bonus, this gift can be made using completely recycled and repurposed materials.
Directions for making a t-shirt scarf.
4. Christmas tree ornaments
If you don’t have time for a big project but still want to give a little homemade something-something, cute Christmas tree ornaments are the perfect choice. You can make a complete set of ornaments or give a single ornament as a small token of holiday cheer.
Clear glass ball ornaments are especially suited to handcrafted Christmas projects. They are relatively inexpensive and easy to find and can be used in a variety of ways, including the three different ornaments pictured above. For an extra-special handmade gift, package the ornament(s) in a personalized gift bag or custom gift box (see below).
Directions for making three easy ornaments with clear glass balls.
5. Custom gift packaging
Even if you prefer to shop for the people on your Christmas list, you can add a handcrafted element with custom gift packaging.
Handcrafted gift packaging can be as easy as personalizing a plain gift bag with foam stickers like these:
Or you can get really crafty and create a beautiful decoupage gift box using a recycled tea or cookie tin and leftover scraps of wrapping paper, like this:
Tin gift boxes are sturdy enough to package fragile items, like glass ball Christmas ornaments. You can use any size tin container you have on hand.
Directions for making decoupage gift boxes.
If you are giving cash or gift cards, recycle your old Christmas cards into these cute origami gift boxes:
These adorable little boxes are the perfect size to hold cash or gift cards, with a little room to spare for a couple of pieces of candy.
Directions for making origami gift boxes.
Do you like to make and receive handcrafted gifts? If so, share some of your favorite handcrafted Christmas ideas in the comments section below.