Handmade Christmas Gift Strategy

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"Smiling Girls Give a Man a Handmade Felt Boutonniere as a Gift," by Volkmar K. Wentzel. Look how they are all smiling and laughing! He loves it!

It’s the countdown to Christmas. Is there any other holiday that gives us a running score of how many days we have left? Jeesh. Talk about building pressure! I don’t know about you, but I am losing sleep thinking about all the things I want to make and do for the holidays and there is simply. Not. Enough. Time.

Every year, I say I am going to plan ahead to avoid this last-minute frenzy, and year after year, it seems more and more impossible. Why is this?

Well, in January, we’re recuperating, so it’s not going to happen then. February is a short month that involves a lot of perusing seed catalogs. March, April, May – spring is way too busy to think about Christmas. June and July, too much to do and the weather is too nice. August is garlic harvest, and Christmas is the lat thing I’m thinking about. September is busy curing & processing garlic and beginning sales. Everything in the garden is ready at once in the final push to successfully reproduce their own kind – and certainly, we don’t want to interfere with that! October is garlic planting. Overlapping September through November are more harvesting, preserving, and getting things tucked in for winter. And so the next thing you know, here we are, X days til X-mas. I don’t do the Black Friday thing, unless it’s supporting local crafters and growers. No, I believe in handmade from the heart, and so every year, I try to make everybody everything – which are two words that should never be used together.

Actually, we’re not in panic mode yet. There is still time to procrastinate. After all, we’ve had a pretty mild fall so far (unlike last year, when we got hammered with all that snow right before Thanksgiving), so you might still be able to pick up some ideas from the post I wrote last November: “Harvest Now for Holiday Gifts from the Garden!”   However, if your garden is pretty much a brown wilted mess at this point, I would recommend reading “A Procrastinator’s Guide to 20 Last-Minute Gifts from the Garden.”

But yes, we are quickly approaching that mid-December mark when you start thinking about the real meaning of whatever gives this time of year meaning for you – which means there is a great temptation to just ditch the whole handmade gift idea and just give hugs, which, quite frankly, are my favorite kind of gift and so easily returned.

But don’t throw in the trowel yet – after all, it’s the thought that counts, meaning, there is still something to be said for the concept of giving something you actually made, which represents giving a portion of yourself, to someone you care about – and the idea that the receiver will see it for the love behind it and treasure it forever.

I realize that with that last sentence, we are back to square one. I mean, creating – much less giving – something that represents your inner being? What can possibly do that? And treasure it forever? This is exactly why we paralyze ourselves. Seriously. We need to lighten up a bit.

Reality Check: To pull this off, we need a strategy.

  1. Keep it Simple. I don’t know what this means, so move on to the next idea.
  2. Pick the low-hanging fruit. I like this idea because it sounds rather orchard-like and since I’m short, it’s all the stuff that is easy to reach.
  3. Prioritize the rest. I’m not at all that good at this, because to me, everything seems important. Factor in that everything you think you can do is likely to take more time than you think. And that’s a lot of thinking thunk.

That’s it. How hard can it be?

Ok, now let’s take a look at what we’re really up against.

Here again, a 3-step process:

  1. Identify those things that need the most time. It doesn’t mean you actually have to DO them. But start thinking about what that means, and whether it’s something you really want to (or can) tackle right now. We’re talking feasibility studies here.
  2. Identify unfinished projects. I know, they’re hard to look at. I have a whole shop full of these, and each and every one is a little mini guilt trip that stares out from some nook or cranny. So the main issue here is figuring out which ones (notice the plural!) are most likely to get done. Completing even one of these gives triple benefit: you’ll have a sense of accomplishment, you’ll get rid of something that has been taking up space and making you feel like some kind of loser, and you’ll have a gift without as much effort, because part of it was already done. Someone will go, “Oh my gosh! How did you ever find time to make such a beautiful thing?” (for lack of a better word), and you will just give them a little Mona Lisa smile. Don’t you just love those moments? Yeah, I don’t know what they’re like either.
  3. Identify things that are not unfinished, they are just not fully utilized yet. Examples are dried herbs, canned goods, and anything you can still go pick in the garden and tie together in a swag or a wreath … that kind of thing. This kind of falls in the low-hanging-fruit category. Put a ribbon on it and you’re good to go.

Ok, friends – I’ve just shared with you my plan of attack.

Are we having fun yet? I think so. I mean, I don’t want to think about it too deeply, but I think so.

Over the next few days, I’ll try to find time to throw some more ideas at you, recipes, & my usual jumble of etcetera. But I’m kind of busy right now trying to finish things, if you know what I mean.


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