Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Home Made Gifts

This year in an effort to be a bit less commercial and more mindful (not sure if that's exactly the word I'm after) I'm trying to make most of our gifts for family and friends. Its a challenge.

Last Christmas the aim was to make half of the gifts. I didn't come close. The problem was that homemade gifts take time and thought. Its easy to hit the shopping centre and buy all your gifts in one afternoon. You certainly won't be making them all in one afternoon. Time is definitely a big factor, especially if you need to learn a skill to make your gift.

Is it cheaper to a make your own? That depends upon what you decide to make. My homemade pure olive oil soap works out at about $1.00 a bar. Buying a similar bar of soap would cost around $5.00. OK the commercial stuff looks a bit prettier - I didn't colour mine. I made a few batches and used essential oils to scent them. Wrapped up in coloured tissue paper they looked and smelt pretty good.

Some of the items I sewed cost about the same as buying the ready make item BUT this was largely because I had to buy all the materials - fabric, cotton, elastic, buttons etc. I've now got a bit of a stockpile so the things I'm making now are a lot cheaper as I already have the cotton and some fabric etc. Making it yourself means your gift can be unique.

Do people want to receive homemade gifts? That's the big question. What's the point of all your hard work if no one wants it? This really did worry me, would handmade be seen as inferior? I think the answer to this one is it depends on the recipient and what you make. Teenagers are the worst. They are into designer stuff, label stuff and electronic stuff. Chose things to make that you can make to a high standard and like any gift, chose something the recipient will like. I have one niece who loves the bright coloured clothes I make her, her sister wouldn't be caught dead in them.

My challenge this year is to try and make half of the gifts we give. A home made gift has more thought behind it. Home made is kinder to the planet - you produced it not some smelly factory in China. They also need to be practical gifts - something that will be used not just more stuff to clutter up homes. If its not handmade then the next best thing is to buy something from a cottage industry or fair trade.

The first thing to consider is probably - can I cut down our list of gift recipients? Some years ago we agreed that adults would no longer receive birthday gifts. Instead we send a card and call them for a chat. It works well. At Christmas time the adults give a gift to one other adult, we rotate the gift giver/recipient each year. Everyone receives and gives one gift.

The big question - what to make? There are hundreds of internet sites bursting with ideas. There are some wonderfully creative people out there. Visit your local craft store, many have samples made up to stir your creativity, borrow books from the library and while you're there see if your library subscribes to any of the many craft magazines available.

Remember to plan ahead, make something the recipient will like and make something you will enjoy making.

Have fun,

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