Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Make it a handmade holiday

Lynn asked me to post a picture of the doll I bought at the church Fete so here he/she is. I love the hair especially. He/she was $4.00

The legs and arms are just pieces of cloth knotted into feet and hands. I liked the striped pants and checked scarf on this one.

I had some art related ideas to jot down and realized I had no more blank paged notebooks so I used one I made over a year ago. It was the first one I'd made in this style of binding and was not suitable to be sold.

It is filled with Stonehenge art paper, covered with purchased handmade paper. The binding style I found on line at Teesha Moore's website.

Was there really an "old days" time when folks handmade their holiday gifts? Small and simple gifts unless one started creating them early in the year. There would be fewer gifts, but they would be handmade and full of meaning. Those who love to cook could pickle things, bake breads and cookies, the sewers and knitters could sew clothes, hats and mittens. If money is short, even an orange and some nuts in a stocking is sweet. If you think you can't make anything, there must be something you can do that others cant. You could give a gift certificate for services such as changing the car oil, repairing the storm door, cleaning the house a few times.

Yet our expectations around holiday gifts are so high-- expensive electronics are the popular items. Would a child be terribly disappointed to get a pair of hand knit mittens rather than a new-- whatever is "in" now-- I'm not up on that?

Why do we go in debt, in hard economic times, just to be able to present a false front of piles of store bought gifts? Truthfully in the past I have occasionally charged things on my credit card and spent a few months paying it off. At other times, I have given only handmade items. And at still other times I have bowed out of the whole thing all together. When I lived alone for 20 years, no one cared if I didn't participate.

I guess all this is in my mind as the day after Thanksgiving is a big shopping day for the winter gift giving holidays. It is also, news flash, now a National Day of Listening.

How about you? Do you have the intention of not succumbing to the buy buy buy mode and then succumb? Is it hard to resist creating a huge pile of presents? Sometimes there is such a difference between what our minds think, (keep it simple) and what we do (make it complex).

20 comments:

Dianne McNaughton said...

Dear Suki, I often make my own gifts, from chocolate truffles, my own Kalue liquor, table mats, crochet bags, lemon curd, fudge and biscuits. I love getting hand-made gifts, they are so full of love and attention. I also go to craft and pottery markets for gifts. I have a problem with going into stores at this time of the year, all the bright decorations flashing and blinking send me into sensory overload and I just want to get out as soon as possible, I feel exhausted after 20 minutes.
There is an award waiting for you on my blog!

Annie said...

I have in the past made many gifts and I have also gone into debt many times to buy gifts. This year I am making the trip home to Portland Oregon and that is costing me a pretty penny, so I am making cards and letting that be enough. I won't go into more debt this year. Love the post about the wells, it is fun to find something new to get excited about :-).

Teri C said...

That doll is so cute. Simple is good.

I do my shopping the easy way. Money! That way everyone can get what they want. How boring is that!

Britt-Arnhild said...

I so agree with you Suki about the art and pleasure of handmade gifts. I do love to creat, but I need to reorganize my life to get some more time.....

Cris, Artist in Oregon said...

I thought that was blaize when I first saw that dolls head. :)) cute
I just saw on GMA to beware of getting gift cards from places that are going out of business. Those cards wont be worth a dime. Another reason to make gifts.

WILSONART said...

Very cute doll!
We keep gifts pretty simple.
The only gift area I am tempted to over do is for Jack. Who has everything/needs nothing.

I am going to be doing 3 pieces of artwork for his playroom wall, (at his Mom's request) so it's more of a gift for her,ha!

CHEWY said...

Why do I hate Christmas? The pressure of giving the "right" gift. My Aunt, Uncle and Brothers now get some kind of a basket, decorative box or even a metal ice pail filled with condiments, teas, spices and canned food items. My nieces and nephew get cash.

sukipoet said...

Dianne, I got to craft markets too for gift. Or here we have "art tours" in fact there is one next weekend where you go into the artists' studio and can buy items and see where they work. You are so good to make such lovely gifts. Um. You know, I must be very English. I love lemon curd which I was introduced to by some British friends.

Annie you are giving the gift of yourself to you family. Hope you have a lovely time.

Teri, my folks gave me money as a gift for years. and I do so for my son. Then there are no shirts a size too small. No returns.

Britt-Arnhild, it is true handmade takes a good bit of time. My list this year is small so I am able to send some folks handmade items, small items.

Cris, a good reminder about gift cards. You know, they can also be wasted if the person you give the card to doesnt cash it in. I gave a massage gift card to a friend once. When, after maybe 8 months, she hadn't cashed it in, the massage therapist (a friend) let me use the money for my own massage so it wasnt lost but had it been a gift card to say a bookstore, I couldnt have done that.

Babs, I dont have a grandchild. I am sure if I did I would want to buy many wonderful things. I tend to think of holiday gifts as being for the children anyway. Three pieces of art...sounds glorious.

Chewy, cash is always a winner for sure. And I like the idea of gift baskets or buckets. No wrapping for one. the wrapping can just go on and on sometimes.

marianne said...

Well something to think about.....
My intentions are good so let see if I can stick to that.....
I love giving presents but I have to watch a budget as well.......
----
The doll is nice and so is your book Suki!

This weekend I will be in SF, so my last chance for USA holiday shopping.......Lets see if I am strong

soulbrush said...

i loved those days when all things were handmade, you never visited someone empty handed. sigh.... we have xmas every second year, and this year is our alone year...next year is with the kids and hopefully new grandchild. so, no spending, no doing, no fuss, no bother, no tree, no rubbish, no waste, i cannot stand waste!i am NOT a commercially motivated person,all the shop windows don't actually attract me...so there! i like plain and simple.

Blue Sky Dreaming said...

I'm leaving now to buy my one gift for Pablo...a leather jacket on a doorbuster sale. I can do this...just once and that is my present to him. I haven't decided my heart desire yet but I'm thinking maybe a new pair of glasses.I give my boys a gift card...it's mostly about getting together and sharing a meal and hopefully sharing ourselves.
I love hand-made gifts, actually any gift that is special to the person receiving. Your doll is adorable!

Blue Sky Dreaming said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
willow said...

I have become really good at bargain shopping and collect gifts all year to save for Christmas. My specialty is the gift wrapping and spend way too much time and effort on the presentation. :^)

Adorable doll! I love the hair and feet!

Lynn said...

Thank you Suki for honoring my wish. I love, love, love the doll. Love her coat and scarf, love the knotted shoes and hands, the rope belt, hair, face, etc. etc. etc. GREAT DEAL TOO!!!!

About the holiday gifting. My daughter and SIL limit us to one gift per kid. They have four sets of grandparents, a great uncle, etc. so they do not go without. And then they have me who makes them things all year round. At age 4 now they want toys from the store. So I pretty much let my daughter tell me what they are ready for and what they approve.
I know the kids love and appreciate their knitted dolls with outfits, and all the clothes and quilts, crocheted blankets, pillows, rug, I have made them. They tell me, "You made me this blanket before I was born...you quilted this, you knit this sweater for me...etc." So I feel appreciated and they do appreciate the handmade goodies.

We no longer exchange gifts with the adults.

We will be together with them for Thanksgiving. My daughter just emailed me and said come around 10:30 in the morning, we'll have family time in the park...dinner around five! A great day to look forward to. And we are wearing jeans! ;-)

katie jane said...

First of all let me say how much I like your handmade book. The cover is of my favorite kind of paper. I'm sure you have grander plans, but I love the cover as it is.

Secondly, I hate the commercialism of Christmas. When we were first married and the nieces and nephews were young and our parents were still alive, I used to always give handmade gifts, such as the needleworked general store from a previous post and usually a stained glass piece or painting. Since we have no children of our own, and both our families just keep gift giving within their own small family units, we will make a donation to the Humane Society and the soldiers overseas, sometimes the Salvation Army. Money seems so impersonal, yet we are hopeful that it goes toward a good cause and provides some comfort and needed relief for someone. We don't even exchange gifts between each other now, as we really have all we need. This year we are making improvements to the house (and hopefully I'll get a new camera.)

Honour said...

Dear Suki - I love this question. For years and years, I have tried to make Christmas more and more meaningful - and less about gifts. It drives me crazy that this season of "giving" ends up being a season of stress ... because of the appropriateness of gifts. I try to limit the costs of my gifts, or try to make them social justice oriented (i.e. proceeds go to a charity) or somehow biodegradeable (i.e. jams, cookies etc.). I guess it is just me trying to live out my values through my celebration of the season ... but not everyone sees it that way :) My 21 year old cousin did say to me the other day with a laugh " can we come over and make cookies this year like we used to do when we were kids? except let's make them regular cookies and not organic" -- so I guess those in my life have noticed my subtle efforts :)

annette emms said...

Hi Suki, I just found your blog and I'm so glad I did!What a lovely time I've had here. . .
Oh yes, I do so agree with trying to make celebrations less commercialised.

sukipoet said...

Marianne, I would totally be unable to go to SF and not buy some wonderful things. Or in fact many of the countries you go to. So many unique items. Hope you have a great time in the city where I left my heart.:)

Soulbrush, so refreshing what you say. This and your diet which I have been thinking about too in terms of adjusting my own diet. Shop windows though, in London? Iknow I would be hard put to go to a place like NYCity, London or Paris and not window shop and see the beautiful and artistic displays. Not that I would buy any of the expensive stuff. Malls however I hope never to go to again. Have a lovely simple christmas.

Blue Sky Dreaming, that sounds like a lovely gift. so useful too. And sharp. I agree with you, the best part is just gathering with friends or relatives and sharing ourselves. Since I dont expect any gifts for Xmas, as my bro doesnt give gifts, nor my son. And mom probably forgot her offer to get me an upgrade on my camera. If i could have a gift, humble...i dont even know at this point wht I'd want.

Willow, I used to do that too, gather gifts when I saw them thru the year, however now I give them when I find them so dont have that stash for the holiday. Beautiful gift wrapping is an art and it is such a pleasure to receive a gift beautifully wrapped. One of those ephemeral beauties like a flower. in the old days I always folded and saved all paper from holiday gifts to reuse, but no longer do that either.

Lynn you are welcome re: doll. I like the idea of no gifts for the adults. Relieves so much pressure. And one gift for the kids. Of course, yes, you are continually making and giving to the kids. they are surrounded by gifts and love. Lucky kids. have a delicious Thanksgiving. I like knowing you all will be wearing jeans. No dressing up here either in fact mom has been in bed for days and most likely won't make it out to the table though she gets dressed. The rest of us here are tres casual.

Katie Jane re: journal. I prob. wont alter this cover as I chose it myself. I love that paper too and it is cheap to buy. Re gifts: I think giving money to worthy causes is lovely. and your past history of giving handmade gifts is delightful. Hope you get yr camera!!!

Honor, that's a cute story about your cousin. I admire your attempts to stay true to your beliefs as you go thought these holidays upcoming. Sometimes it is hard and others often don't "get it." But in the end what really matters, I think, is to do what you (or for me I) feels is best for you. The others will adjust. And no doubt get oodles of gifts and sugar loaded cookies from elsewhere. Have a happy time. :)

ps HOnor, I agree so much too abt the irony of a season that is for happiness and giving ends up being so stressful. Gifts being part of that stress but for me also just family relations have often in the past been such a stress for me that for a number of years I did not attend family Thanksg or Christmas gatherings.

Welcome Annette and thanks for your comments. Be well, suki

Cestandrea said...

Suki, great post, and I love the doll, it is a bit like you:) and the paper journal simply looks inspiring! Love your musings about giftgiving, as I hate to participate in this yearly collective panical "searchforchristmaspresents" time... I plan to knit a scarf or two, and to make other little presents, perhaps a handbag for my stepdaughter, paint (I like to offer books too) etc.
love
Andrea

human being said...

simplicity... yes i've always voted for it...

the doll is so cute... especially because of her hair... my daughter's hair look like this doll most of the time...
:)