My stepfather never wanted anything for Christmas. Well, actually, he only wanted one thing; his mother’s creamy home made fudge, which she lovingly made and placed in a large jar with a ribbon on it each year. We’d all enjoy a piece each night after dinner until it was gone. How we loved that fudge, and couldn’t wait for her to make it again the next year. My stepfather said he hated Christmas, but he really didn’t, he just hated how commercial it had become. And, except the time he got me a hot pink bell style alarm clock, (I thought it was cute until I heard it ring) he rarely purchased gifts for people. Instead, he made them.
When I was young, I found this annoying. I wanted the new things I had marked in the Sears catalog, and I didn’t want to spend my time after school down in the basement making things. I spent many a night sanding pieces for the wooden trivets we made each year; trivets I have in abundance in my cutting board drawer. I must admit, they are attractive, and useful and I wouldn’t trade them for anything now.
Things changed when I moved out and started paying my own bills. Christmas is expensive, and the pain I felt in January and February as I robbed Peter to pay Paul, was real. There had to be a better way. I realized making thoughtful gifts for family and friends was the ticket.
As I set about finding nice things to make, I began to realize there was an unexpected reward. As I worked on each gift, I spent lots of time thinking about the person I was making the gift for, their wonderful qualities, and how much I enjoyed having them in my life. I have come to love making things for others and have made all sorts of things.
Here are a few ideas:
*I love making commemorative books filled with images and bits of writing—poems, inspirational quotes and little things I’ve written in a hand made book or a photo book from a company like Shutterfly.
*I fill Holiday Christmas mugs with hot chocolate, cute marshmallows, and homemade cookies or tea, face masks and home made spa items. Filling mugs and jars is easy and there are hundreds of thoughtful items that can be made or purchased to put in them.
*I’ve made simple embroidered table runners, and stitched Christmas ornaments from kits I find at the craft store, as well as going the iron on transfer route, for pillows and t-shirts. (You can buy printable iron on transfers, print your design (using your printer at home) and iron it on to fabric to make pillows, wall hangings and embellish clothing.
*Cookies, coffee cakes and breakfast rolls are also a favorite of my friends and family, I especially love to send along brunch treats so my favorite hostesses have something to serve overnight guests the morning after a big holiday dinner.
In lean years, making gifts helped keep our family budget balanced, and other times, I have done it for the sheer joy of making something for someone I cared deeply for. I found a rubber stamp that says it all: “From heart to hand and now to you.” Happy Holidays!