The Christmas Story Deconstructed
We all remember the tragic pink bunny pajamas that aunt Clara made Ralphie in popular movie A Christmas Story, and I suspect most of us have received poorly handcrafted gift or two. But I promise there are plenty of nice handmade gifts that your friends and family would be happy to receive. And don’t worry, if none of these suit your giftee, you can always give him $20 in a generic Christmas card (lame!).
Cheap and Chic?
I first started knitting and sewing when I was in college. I’ve always had a natural interest in “creating” things and I love the customization aspect of making my own clothing. To this day, I’m still amazed that you can turn a ball of yarn into a sweater with two “sticks” (I mean seriously, how cool is that?!). Another part of my interest in crafting came from being a little bit broke. When I graduated for college I had a lot of student loan debt and not very much spare cash. Fortunately (or not so fortunately) it took me a a while to find my first adult job, so I had a lot of free time on my hands. In that free time I made many of the following homemade Christmas gifts:
Quilts/blankets: Yes, I understand not everyone is a quilter, but if you are, or you want to learn, it’s not nearly as difficult to learn as you’d think. You can get a basic quilting book from the library, or search the internet for patterns (u-tube has some great beginner videos). If you don’t have the time or the energy to make a quilt, making a fleece throw is really easy. A few Christmases ago I made my grandfather the Red Sox throw and pillow shown in the photo at the bottom of this post.
Mittens, Hats, Scarves: Even a beginner knitter and whip up a scarf in a weekend. The mittens above are one of my favorite patterns to make as gifts. In fact friends and co-workers who have seen me wearing them have actually offered to buy them. For twilight fans, they are inspired by Bella’s mittens in one of the twilight movies (I’ve never seen the movies, but bf is a big fan-strange, I know!).
Pajama Pants: Many folks learned how to make these in home economics class in high school (I actually didn’t take home ec, at the time I thought it was stupid-the irony that I now love to knit and sew). You don’t really need a pattern (if you have an old pair you can just use them as a measure), but if you want one you can buy one at Joann Fabrics during one of their pattern sales (they frequently go on sale for a dollar). I like to use flannel because it’s super cozy.Etched Glasses: Oh yes I did! I know, 1970 called and they want their etched glasses back, right? Etched glasses are cool and retro these days, who knew? I picked up a bunch of glasses at the thrift shop and used stencils to etch on monograms (it’s hard to tell from the photo, but the glass below etched is “M G” for my dad. I also found some cool football shaped glasses that I etched for my brother-in-law. I filled the glasses with packaged snacks, golf tees and lottery tickets, he loved them.
Christmas CDs: This one is a great last minute gift that’s quick and easy to make (and takes no real “crafting” skills). There’s an abundance of free Christmas music available on the Internet. I downloaded a bunch of my favorites, then burned some CDs and typed up a playlist. I decorated the covers with stickers.
Cookies, cakes and candy, oh my!: I love receiving edible gifts for Christmas, and I know other people do too! I haven’t done a lot of baking in the past couple of years, but I have very fond memories of making chocolates with my grandmother as a teenager. We experimented with different flavored centers (peppermint, orange, lemon etc.) and had a lot of fun. We also gave away chocolate dipped pretzel rods rolled in crushed candy canes-which were a big hit!
Do you like homemade gifts? What’s the best handmade gift you’ve ever given/received?
Image: Kevin Dooley