Creating a Handmade Holiday

My family started a tradition a few years ago that has changed my opinion on both gift giving and gift receiving. In our exchange, each family member is required to give a gift to one other person and will receive one from someone else in return.

However, this exchange varies from tradition slightly as each item must be handmade and must not exceed the cost of $15.

I do admit, the process can be difficult, demanding a lot of time and thought for a single gift. Yet, the reactions from the recipients are worth the the great amount of effort involved in designing these keepsakes.

Creating a present requires so much more thought and skill than simply buying one. It’s easy to shop for someone, but to make something for someone? It’s difficult and consuming, but that makes the product even more precious when it is finished.

Over the years, I’ve learned that a gift made by a loved one is much more exciting and meaningful than a gift purchased, and that a gift I’ve made for another is received the same way. I cherish what’s been made for me and I have no doubt that others do the same.

As always, I am anxiously waiting for our exchange this year. I’m in the process of sewing a pair of slippers, made from silk and felt, for my mom. And I’m secretly hoping that whoever has chosen my name will make me a new wine rack.

To begin this tradition in your own family, or to just save a little money and impress those closest to you, attempt a handmade holiday of your own. Whatever set of skills you have can be translated into a meaningful and and memorable gift. And when in doubt, a handmade card will always beat one from Hallmark. From the Chef: a batch of homemade gingerbread cookies using your family’s secret recipe or a savory spice blend for making winter stews From the Artist: your rendition of a beloved photo, or if you prefer a different media, a handmade mug to enjoy morning coffee.

From the Musician: a recording of a favorite piece played by no one other than you.

From the Hunter: hand-cut and wrapped meats from your most recent kill.

From the Writer: a story or poem describing a treasured memory or a hand-crafted journal to record memories not yet made.

From the Botanist: a terrarium constructed with the most durable of plants for those with even the brownest of thumbs.

From the Environmentalist: a handmade tote in a favorite color for carrying large loads of groceries home from the store and for preventing the use of plastic bags.

From the Traveler: share a piece your adventures. Did you learn how to make paella in Spain? Illustrate a recipe card and gather some of the ingredients needed to let your loved one experience what you did.​​

Grace Ebert

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