I know. I know. You don’t have to say it….it’s WAAAAY to early to be thinking about Christmas. But my friends, if you subscribe to the idea that handmade and from the heart is the way to go for Christmas gifts, NOW is the time to start thinking about it. I don’t know about you, but beginning around early-November, our schedules take a dramatic uptick in general busyness. Of course there’s Veteran’s Day remembrances and breakfasts, followed closely by Thanksgiving and Black Friday. Not long afterwards, our little town holds “Christmas In The Village”, complete with a parade, shopping, and a free community dinner at our church. Then there’s Petunia’s band recital, a church play with it’s weekly practices and Christmas Eve worship. All of which I love and would hate to miss and would hate to miss, but there’s only so many hours in the day!
Schedules aside, in the past few years, my thinking about gift-giving has changed. Oh Lardy, it used to be that I would work myself into a frenzy trying to buy the perfect gift for everyone on the list; children, adults, neighbors, siblings, parents, cousins, sibs-in-Christ. And the older we/they got, the more difficult it became to buy gifts, especially with loved ones who live out of town or state and so the obvious thing to do was purchase gift cards. Then one Christmas, I kid you not, we sat down in the living room and exchanged gift cards with our siblings. That’s to say, we just traded them. I must have had the most ridiculous look on my face as the full impact hit me. We did nothing more than pass a gift card to the right and accept one from the left. (Close your eyes and visualize that.) The following year, things changed. Well, my attitude changed. My job as a dear sister and auntie wasn’t to make their Christmases; my job as a sister and auntie is to love them. And one way I can love them is to bless them with a little gift I made with my own hands, just a simple reminder of my affections.
So now, homemade gifts are at the forethought of my mind and my goal is to have 90% of the preparation done by Halloween. Which admittedly is a big task! I try to come up with new, fresh ideas each year as no one wants the same gift year after year and to which I can only say—God Bless Pinterest! Some gifts that have gone over incredibly well in the past few years included handmade, scented soap with a homegrown loofa sponge and crocheted cotton spa cloths, Anna/Elsa crocheted hats for my niece, homemade blackberry cordial, pans of baklava, jars of homemade maple syrup and so on. For this year, I’m considering baking extracts, blackberry mead, small quilted pieces, flavored honey, herbal tea blends and new scents of soap. If things go well and I learn to weave baskets, there may also be a small basket or two to offer. With the kids returning to school, I’ll use the lull to begin creating gifts and hopefully be finished well before my target date.
I’d like to share a trick with you that has served me extremely well in the past few years: a gift closet. So, memory isn’t one of my stronger points and invariably, I’m going to forget *someone* from my list and invariably, that person will show up on my door with a gift for me. Que c’est embarrassant! So over the past few years, I’ve built up a small collection of gifts that I keep on hand for just such an emergency! Some of the handiest items have been small 31 totes and Longaberger baskets, candles, coffee mugs, books, candle frames, lotions, stuffed animals and inexpensive games. A couple cute pieces tucked into a nice tote or basket make a sweet gift for anyone and you never have to worry about the person you’ve forgotten. At least that’s been my experience with a gift closet! Now is a great time to get started stocking your closet for the upcoming holidays. Don’t be afraid to shop markdowns and seasonal items….a quality gift is a quality gift, no matter when you bought it or how much you paid for it. Now get to it….it’s only 132 more days til Christmas!!!
Til next time, my festive friends!