Thursday, 6 December 2012

Homemade Christmas Gifts

This year, I am trying to keep Christmas simple by making most of our gifts to the children. My husband is tasked with making a marshmallow shooter and miniature bows and arrows. He's also giving me some great ideas for our 9 year old's time capsule kit.

Other presents include a photo album for each child, with pictures from the past couple of years. I'm hoping to start a new tradition in this gift, and make a greater effort to photograph them doing various cool/fun/interesting/seasonally appropriate things throughout the year so I have a nice array of photos to print in November. Every year, they should have a retrospective of things they've done and how they've grown. I am not going to great lengths for these albums - they aren't scrap-booked or anything; it's literally just pictures inserted into ready-made slots in a cheap album. That'll do. The kids LOVE looking at pictures of themselves, and often accost me while I'm at the computer in order to flick through our digital files. Now they'll be able to look at real pictures any time they want! And in ten years, they'll have a stack of photo albums to treasure. In an ideal world, at any rate.

Starting from my youngest, I made her some slippers:

The tutorial is found here, on a blog I truly adore. That woman's creativity knows no bounds and her sense of humour is a treat.

I ran into a snag with these slippers which nearly made me cry. The ones pictured are my second attempt; the first set were made out of gorgeous satin, gold fabric that shimmered and seemed perfect for ballet-style dressing up shoes. Unfortunately, I was working from scraps and must have cut the fabric in the wrong direction because it completely unraveled at the seams when I tried to insert the elastic. At that point, the shoes were halfway made and it was very disheartening to have to start all over again.

In the end, however, I think it worked out for the best, because these new slippers are made from warm fleece which is entirely necessary in our house over the winter. Laminate wood flooring downstairs makes for very cold toes! My youngest is the only one in the house without a pair of slippers to pad around in, so as long as she actually likes to wear them (who knows with toddlers), it'll be great.

And no picture yet, but today I started on a needle-felted playscape, based on a story she adores called Come On, Daisy!. There's an entire series of Daisy books with beautiful paintings and an adorable duckling who gets into a bit of mischief, but always comes right in the end of course. I've started the playscape on a scrap of a green jumper, 12"x12". The plan is to create a watery scene and Momma and Daisy duck to live there. I might add a frog or two, and hopefully I'll figure out a way to make a felted cave or tree stump for the ducks to live in. It's all very experimental, but luckily the recipient is two years old and thinks everything I do is amazing! I really love to needle felt, so I'm excited. It's also a departure from sewing, and I've been doing a lot of that....

For my five year old daughter, I put together a sewing kit out of notions and fabrics that I already had on hand. My inspiration came from this cute tutorial. I didn't have all of the stuff to make the box (plus the font she used on her pdf file was REALLY hard to read, so I gave up on that real quick!), but I did have a zippered pencil case thingy with Hello Kitty plastered all over it. It already had the elastic holes that could be useful for holding more than just pencils and erasers, so I ironed some fabric to a bonding agent to stop it fraying, and hot-glued it to the front of the case.

(the ribbon thing is supposed to be a heart!)

I then just dug through my sewing things, and grabbed some cute fabrics and itty bitty thread reels.

The tutorial I linked to also had some ideas for a needle book and a pin cushion. They were cute, but I seek to simplify, and so I took some pre-cut hexagons in my stash, sewed them together and stuffed it. Viola! Pin cushion in 5 minutes or less.

The needle book was a bit trickier, because I don't have actual felt sheets on hand, but I do have a bunch of fleece. I tried to cut a square of pretty fabric and fleece but that took me several tries to get it right and the fabric got smaller and smaller.... Got there in the end! I sewed a tiny tiny seam down the middle of the book on the outside in order to encourage it to stay shut when lying flat. And that was it!

I'm going to make a little certificate/coupon thingy that entitles her to sewing lessons from momma. She is the type of kid who thrives on attention (I know all kids do, but she takes it to a whole new level), so this sort of gift will send her into fits of joy.

Interestingly, some of my sewing notions are really ancient. In the picture above, next to the thimble and thread, there is a white-handled metal hook thingie. I'm unsure what it is, but it MIGHT be an old-fashioned seam ripper? My nine year old was helping me put this gift together and we both agreed it was pretty so it needed to be added to the kit. But what is it actually for? Who knows.

The blue ribbon still has the price tag attached: 9d, which was 9 pence in old money. I don't understand British old money AT ALL. But it's fascinating that the ribbon went unused for so long, and now my five year old will likely cut it into small pieces and scatter it in the winds. Thank you for buying it so long ago, whoever you are!

This little girl of mine will also be getting a dream catcher, to catch all those bad dreams she keeps having. I don't have any pictures of it, but just imagine a spider web made by a drunk spider, adorned with random beads and feathers, and you get the idea. It's not my best crafting work, but kids are generous with praise so I'm not worried!

My son will be getting some cool books about a boy turned superhero, and the aforementioned marshmallow shooter.

My eldest, in addition to the time capsule kit, is also getting an artist's pencil and notebook holder. I found this tutorial, which made it seem super easy, and off I went.

The trouble is, I started the project at 11pm, when I was too tired to function, and didn't bother measuring anything accurately. The corners aren't square, and the outer fabric I used was this very pretty black velour that shifted under the presser foot of my sewing machine. Oh, and I didn't pin anything, either. Clever!

But it turned out ok.

It's very soft and tactile, which is fun, and I know for a fact that she likes the inner fabric because she recently used it to make a bag! The pencils are proper artist pencils with different hardness or whatever it's called, and there are a few extra pockets sewn in for her own custimisations. I made the flower on the front cover out of the lining fabric and used a bead in the middle to cover up the stitches. I'm really excited about this gift, because she loves to draw and is really keen to get better at it. Plus, it's one thing to be given a set of pencils and a pad of paper, but quite another to have a cute little home for them as well! Yay.

My husband - who doesn't read my blog so I can say whatever I want, haha! - is getting a leather phone case made by me (no pictures, but I should really do that soon), some deodorant scented with his favourite cologne (he's noticed it works! I'm sucking him into my hippy ways, one day at a time), and a cunning hat, NOT knitted by me. Because I am not a knitter. I mean, I know the basics and have made a few things in my past, but it's just not my "thing". Some of us are knitters, some of us are not. I am not, and that's ok! It means I can pay my friends to make me things and I can enjoy the feeling of handmade items without the frustration of losing count, dropping stitches, and messed-up tension. Hurray! And honestly, it's worth the money to not have to deal with all that hassle.

Most everyone else will be getting a card, or a photo album which will be sent to the grandparents.


As much as I love the idea of simplifying Christmas, making gifts is quite time consuming and stressful. I should have started earlier in the year! Something to bear in mind for 2013, I guess.

And yes, the kids know they are only getting a few presents this year. They are okay with this, and acknowledge the wasted money, time, effort, and resources that go into buying toys that get forgotten about by February and thrown into the bin by summer. When I asked them what they even got for Christmas last year, they couldn't remember! It's ridiculous how much stress I pour into buying them gifts when it is essentially dross a few weeks later.

So yeah. Few gifts, made with love, and hopefully useful and fun for longer. We'll see on that last point....

(I've also been making some gifts for my daughter's birthday, which is two days after Christmas! More to come on that on another day.)


Heather@Women in the Scriptures said...

We are doing home made gifts this year too. Though I am finding that it doesn't really simplify things because I feel just as stressed out about presents this year as before, because it is more work. But do love that I am so much more focused on others and thinking about what I can do for them. I have been knitting doll clothes for Rose and I love how much I think about her when I make them. It is a tradition we are SO keeping! Good luck on all of yours!

notmolly said...

We're going home-grown, too. It's a fun way, but it definitely takes time. I've got some sleeping caps in the works for the husband, a stuffed chicken and a giant hedgehog (both in fleece), some doll clothes, aprons, dress-ups if I get time... so much to enjoy! It's fun to hear all the little secrets being undertaken around our place!

Mortons said...

I have had great ambitions for home made presents for a few years now - it has never worked out. I have been quilting like a crazy woman the past few weeks but I still don't think things will be finished on time. I'm such a beginner to sewing and crafty things. Hopefully by next Christmas (I always say this) my skills will have improved, I won't be pregnant or sleep deprived and I will get home made presents finished on time. I absolutely love the idea of receiving something home made. Well done you, it all looks amazing! x

Raisin4Cookies said...

Heather - yes! I still feel stressed, but I am thoroughly enjoying the feel-good aspect of making gifts; it has definitely helped me hone in on what each person would genuinely enjoy.

notmolly - sounds like quite an array of gifts being made! Are your kids in on the act? I need to encourage my own children to do some crafting, especially the boy.

Mortons - go easy on yourself, hon! You are VERY busy at this stage in your life. I would never have even considered making all of our gifts 6 years ago, especially as I had my third child two days after Christmas! Now that my kids are that much older, many things that once seemed completely impossible are now totally do-able instead. :)

Zelda said...

we buy one toy for each then have some new book wrapped up and something homemade for them - they also have to make each other homemade gifts and they love it - these are the gifts they remember from year to year :)

Raisin4Cookies said...

That sounds lovely, Zelda. :)