November 14th, 2008
As we move into 2008′s extended holiday period, more than a few families are wondering if there will be a Christmas this year. Sure, some retailers are going all out to stay open long enough to see if anybody’s buying this year, but with consumer credit at a virtual standstill, international trade languishing on the docks and jobs being lost by the thousands every week, it’s a no-brainer that this Christmas isn’t going to be ‘the usual’ consumer spending orgy of Christmases past.
Presuming that your family still has a home, can heat it, and enough income to put food on the table, there are ways to have a festive, meaningful Christmas without going further into debt and without ending up with cheap Chinese junk that nobody really wants or needs.
The best thing you can do for your family is Make Your Own, and involve the kids! We save old Christmas cards in a box in the closet, pull them out around Thanksgiving and use them, plus various saved papers, made papers, trims, sequins, glitter, buttons, studs, etc. to make brand new Christmas cards for the people in our lives. Scissors and glue, a paper cutter, maybe some cutsey hole punches and lots of odds and ends, these cards inevitably get saved by every Mom, Grandma or other friend/relative who gets them! And kids are especially creative in this area. Sure you’ll have to clean up the mess, but a great time was had by all.
There are schedulers, list-keepers, budding writers and artists in just about every family. So another great gift are notebooks, journals, sketchbooks and schedulers you can make or buy. My friends over at Casual Keystrokes have compiled a worthy list of the best of the best journals, notebooks, sketchbooks and schedulers available online, some of them offer great deals and discounts.
If you really want to put some ‘self’ into it, the ideas and designs of some of those items Keystrokes suggests can be used as models for do it yourself gift projects. My grandson learned how to make leather bound notebooks in school, has really turned it into an art form. He collects old used leather jackets from Goodwill and other thrift shops, and recycles that leather for bindings. The neatest looking ones are patchwork of different kinds of leather, bound together with leather glue (can be purchased at a craft supply store).
Paper can be bought or made, but making can be fun. Did you know that you can make fine paper from collected dryer lint? Frugal Living offers the recipe and details on how to do this. Fine handmade paper bound in a fine handmade leather bound book can be the most delightful gift under the tree for anyone who loves to write, doodle, or keep meticulous notes.
You might be surprised at how useful that dryer lint can be to the dedicated crafter. PlanetPal offers recipes and instructions for how to make lint paper mache and lint clay as well as lint paper. And if there are very young ones on your Christmas list, there are some great patterns and instructions for how to make stuffed animals and dolls, and that dryer lint makes great stuffing too!
There is also the tradition of “Hobbit Presents” that some families find so fun. This is the practice of re-giving a previous year’s gift to someone else. When it’s unwrapped, the family can remember where it came from, who has enjoyed it, and who gave it to whom. These sort of gifts need to be more substantial than cheap plastic stuff from China, but quality items handmade with skill and care make great Hobbit Presents. Pride in craftsmanship is something children miss out on too much these days. Teaching them, encouraging them and helping them learn to value such things from themselves and others won’t hurt them a bit.
So it’s November. Get busy!!!