Today is the day I start planning and making Christmas presents for next year.When I started making gifts in June last year, I thought I was totally on top of things, but I did not give myself enough time. I found myself at the end of the season frantically buying supplies and completing projects (and adding last minute projects!) and I ran out of time to come up with good ideas that didn’t use anything new.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I didn’t do a terrible job. I made several gifts out of my stash of supplies. I made a large blanket for my brother that did require yarn purchases, but still met my rules because I started with stash yarn and only had to buy some additional yarn to complete the project. But I could certainly do better.
First, here is the list of projects that did fit my rules:
- A scarf for my dad made with stash yarn entirely (I didn’t get a picture of this one)
- My brother’s blanket–all colors started with stash yarn, but I did have to supplement that a bit. However, I did say buying supplies to finish a project would count for my purposes
- A set of 10 coasters for my mother made entirely out of stash yarn
- The Christmas tree collage for my aunt, made with supplies I had on hand when I started the challenge
- A set of ceramic plates for my cousin using the plates I finished up from my pottery class last fall (didn’t get a picture of these, either)
- An ebook for each of my kids to read on their Nooks
And here are the things that didn’t quite meet the challenge:
- Makeup and nail polish for my daughter
- Magic cards for my son
- Munchkin game as a family present
- Scarves for a couple of my friends–I had my daughter sew them, but I did buy new material rather than upcycling old tshirts as originally intended (again with the no pictures–it was a busy time at the end of the holidays, finishing gifts just in time to give them)
Overall, I think I did pretty well. The majority of the gifts I gave were handmade, and I don’t feel too bad about the ones that were new. Makeup is even sort of meeting the rules, because it is consumable. The games are something I should have made an exception for, in retrospect. Anything that encourages the children to spend time NOT watching TV is a good thing, in my book. And at least the scarves were made by me (because I made the girl that made the scarves, 😉 ).
I do think I could do better next year, though, if I start planning now. If I had started with a better plan for the gifts, I wouldn’t have been adding things at the last minute. I am still at the beginning stages of planning, but I will definitely need to have a plan in place soon. I hesitate to say that it will be a complete plan, because things always change, but I want to have at least a framework by the end of this month.
Am I the only one crazy enough to start thinking about this now?
If I were buying new things for Christmas presents this year, I would have bought this for my friend Mandy, who loves both nutcrackers and Star Wars. I held strong, though, and left it on the shelf!
Christmas is 34 days away! Time to take stock and kick into high gear on my remaining projects!
- 3 crocheted blankets
- 9 crocheted scarves
- 6 crocheted stocking ornaments
- 18 small pottery plates
- 1 pottery Christmas tree
- 4 crocheted spa cloths
Projects in progress:
- Two crocheted makeup bags – crocheting is done, they just need buttons sewn on
- Button Christmas tree collage
- Pottery magnets
- More pottery Christmas trees
- More pottery plates
Projects I would still like to do:
- Coffee mug cozies
- Homemade lip gloss
- More ornaments–both stockings and snowflakes
- One more crocheted blanket
- Lavender Sea Salt Scrub
- Finish a shawl I started for last Christmas
- Crochet some coasters
- 1 more crocheted scarf
What do you think? Too ambitious? How are your handmade projects coming?
I spent much of this afternoon working on pottery glazing–I had forgotten how many pieces I had ready to be glazed! These will go a long way to finishing my Christmas presents without buying anything new. I glazed a platter and 18 small plates today–and that is probably not even half of what I have at the studio waiting for me to complete.
Before I did that, though, I took my daughter and a friend out for brunch. We had a great time, and it was a nice way to start the day. I made them laugh hard, which is always fun.
I went out to dinner with a friend tonight, and now I am tired but ready for the work week. Fun with kids, pottery, catching up with a friend–that’s a good day!
I feel like I write this post, or some version of it, all the time. Even though other people seem to have this reuse/recycle thing down, I struggle with it mightily. It is just so much easier to head the the craft or hardware store to buy supplies! You can get exactly what you want! I do like working within the constraints of only using what you have available, but sometimes I have a clear vision and no patience to wait to find the things I need.
I already talked about some ideas in my last Buy Nothing New Christmas post, but I have been thinking further, and I wanted to document these ideas as well. Only the first idea below is really new to me, but I like the idea of pulling these together under the BNNC concept.
My son and I have been working on Arduino a bit. I bought some kits and a soldering iron this summer, and he was very enthusiastic for a while, but it got put aside. I have to confess, I haven’t encouraged it as much as I might because those electronic parts are expensive! I found this great tutorial on Make for salvaging parts from old electronics though, and I am inspired to at least investigate.
I have been determined to go to Habitat for Humanity’s ReStore for a while now, but I just haven’t made it. Part of my problem was that the original store in our area is closed on Sundays, and Saturdays just seemed too busy for me to make it out there. The new store is open on Sundays, though, so maybe I will make it out there soon!
I find my yard to be a great place to find craft supplies, as suggested in this post on free supplies. I do have a lovely birch tree with peeling bark and a creek with many natural supplies, but I have also found many non-nature supplies there, like the lawnmower-chewed DS game and the metallic square I used in the mixed media painting at the top of this post. I know where the game came from–my son dropped it and could not find it until after lawn mowing day–but I have no idea where the square came from. I liked the look of it, though, and saved it. It was just what I needed when I did this piece.
- I really want to do something with all the outgrown children’s clothing I have in my basement–either T-shirt yarn or a denim blanket or possibly some other idea I haven’t come across yet.
Does anyone have other creative supply ideas I am missing?
Since I stumbled across the concept of the Buy Nothing New Christmas, I have been thinking about how I could do this, and if I really want to completely forego new things in my gift giving. I found an interesting webpage, Buy Nothing Christmas, that helped me think through what this concept means to me, and what I would like to get out of it.
To me, the point is not to save money, or at least that is not the main point. The main point is to get out of the disposable mindset of our culture. The level of stuff our society produces is simply not sustainable, especially if you are giving any thought to raising the standard of living for third world countries and for poor people all over the globe. The waste produced by one household is staggering to me–4.4 pounds per person per day, or 1600 pounds per person per year.
I don’t want to opt out of gift giving, though. I love giving gifts and I think it provides an important social role, bringing friends and families together. I just want to be a bit more thoughtful about how I do gifts. I am also a bit hesitant to take on a project with strict rules. I have a problem with perfectionism–it often leads to an all or nothing mentality where you either do something perfectly, or this is no point to trying at all. I think that sort of thinking is detrimental to actual change. For instance, if everyone was able to cut down on buying just a few new things, it would have a much larger impact than a small handful of people foregoing new things entirely.There is benefit to doing something even if it isn’t technically *all* that could be done.
With all that in mind, here are some guidelines and tips I am going to use to buy less new things this year.
- Making things is the best gift in my eyes; I will try to make as many gifts as I can
- Any supplies I already have don’t count as new, although I may have bought them new originally
- Consumables don’t count as new things: restaurant gift certificates, tickets to events, and food (especially ingredients for something I make) can all be bought new
- Upcycle Exchange is a good local source for used craft supplies–thanks for the reminder, Hilary!
- I will be checking in with friends who make gifts to see if we can trade supplies or possibly even finished products
- Goodwill is a good resource; have been thinking about going to the dollar store to buy mugs, then crocheting cozies for those mugs, but I could find mugs at Goodwill, I am sure.
- My first thoughts will always be to reuse something I already have, trade with someone else, or purchase something used, but if I have a great gift that needs a small purchase of something new to complete it, I will not get too upset over that
What do you think of the Buy Nothing New Christmas concept? Is anyone else attempting it this year?