Sunday, December 15, 2013

A Handmade Christmas: More Time than Money

This is our tree-topper angel. The tree is not up yet at our house.
Quitting my job just before Christmas was probably not a great idea if I planned to spoil my loved ones. However, it does mean I actually have time and enough spare energy so I can make at least part of our gifts.

Handmade gifts are actually a traditional part of a Simpson Christmas. My parents, especially my mother, routinely stretched their dollars by making things like toy boxes, tailored two-piece suits, hand-knit sweaters, sewing cabinets, name plaques, and watercolour paintings. We all benefitted from my mother's talents with needles and my dad's interest in wood crafts. (But most of the work was my mother's.) My late Aunt Betty created works of art with needle and thread.

Over the years, some of us kids (haha! It's been a long while since I called myself a kid!) continued the artisan tradition: one brother gave framed photographs, another gave caricature clay sculptures of each of us. (I have no idea where mine went, but it was me with a paint brush!) As I've learned different crafts, I've also created gifts like stained glass or beaded items.

I know that, in other families, home-made is a euphemism for "cheap," but it is part of my family heritage that I really treasure. Anyone who has ever crafted anything also knows that "cheap" is never applied to crafts. The likes of Hobby Lobby and Michael's make a very good business out of selling supplies.

This year, with my abrupt drop in income, I was already thinking about spending time and creativity rather than money when Emily came home from an afternoon with Katie and gathered all of us around. She proposed that all of us try to make gifts this year. It makes sense; none of us is flush with cash just now. I was on-board in a heartbeat. I'm not sure how my sons are taking it, however.

Fortunately, Pinterest is a fabulous resource for DIY-ers in search of ideas and instructions. However, there are a couple of pitfalls:
  • The Pinterest pictures always make it look incredibly easy. This is rarely the case. In fact, there are whole blogs and Pinterest boards devoted to "fails." Like here and here and here. (Go ahead and laugh at them. I'll wait.)
  • Just because you're doing the work yourself doesn't mean the gift is free. I learned this lesson a long time ago when I stopped sewing my own clothes because, day-umm!, fabric and notions are expensive!
For the past week, I have been gathering the supplies to make gifts for our family. I wanted each gift to have something "permanent" or lasting, like a container. Well, exactly a container, now that I think of it. Something pretty and useful. And I did not want to do any sewing, beading or hammering. Which pretty much confines me to the kitchen. I'm okay with that.

I can't share exactly what I'm making for whom, for obvious reasons, until after Christmas. In the meantime, here is what we have in the house so far. (I still have a couple of small items to pick up: butter and chocolate.)
Three bags full!
Those bags include the ingredients, containers and various trimmings. It all adds up to over $100, but it includes gifts for my hubby, all four of our children, and two of their boyfriends. (And lest my kids worry that they'll receive nothing but fudge for Christmas (hint: I'm not making fudge), each one will also receive a small-ish purchased gift.)

I will get cracking this week and will document my progress (including failed attempts) to share with you after Christmas. Wish me luck, if only for my kids' sake.

Bonus for pet-lovers: here's Santa's little helper, inspecting the supplies.
Note: picture has been colourized.
Scooter was shivering, so I put her coat on. She's not been a well pup of late. I'll write another blog post about that.
Scooter is a very well-behaved dog who does not tear into bags of goodies when she is not supposed to. At least, not while we're around. I will be sure to stash everything in a safe place before we leave the room.

To read more in this series, visit my Handmade Christmas page.


  1. I think it's a good idea. I'm doing the same for my gifts.

    1. I'm dying to know what you're making for WAde!


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