Instead of Stuff: The Gift of Handmade

Christmas is next week and I’ve just started thinking about what to give my family. This is in contrast to my sisters, who are so on the ball, a box of gifts for everyone in my family arrived on my doorstep the day after Thanksgiving. I kid you not. Their level of organization puts me to shame.

In past years, it’d be right about now that I start freaking out about what to get for my parents, three sisters, their husbands, and their kids. Many years, I’ve actually paid more for shipping than the actual gifts themselves, just in order to get them there in time.

I’m not freaking out this year.

I’ve started to see gift-giving differently. Not just for my out-of-state family, but for my husband and kids, too. And so, for the next week, I’m going to post about meaningful gifts, other than store-bought, packaging-laden stuff, that I’ll be focusing on in my own gift-giving.

First up is the handmade gift.

I’m pretty crafty, but if I had to handmake gifts for everyone, I’d have to do that Christmas in July thing, and then keep going straight through August, September, October, and November.

But I’m not talking about that kind of handmade.

Nor am I talking about what my friend, Leigh, calls “Loving Hands at Home”—those well-meant, but obviously handmade things that involve macrame or pipe cleaners or quilted fabric.

No, I’m talking about simple, minimalist things of beauty that are put together thoughtfully, with your own hands.

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The most beautiful example of this I’ve seen this season are these charming single-serve hot cocoas made by my friend, Caryn, and her equally charming kids, Avery and Jared. I love the look of the teensy canning jars, which I will definitely reuse for my bulk spices. And they’re made with the most lovely ingredients, like real cacao powder and chocolate chips (recipe on Avery’s blog, kidscooker.blogspot.com). I can just picture these three having a grand ol’ time at the kitchen table putting a batch of these together—one marshmallow for the jar, two for me, one for the jar, two for me . . .

Oh, and that centerpiece behind the hot cocoas is one I made from foraged eucalyptus bark, pine branches, a pine cone, berries, and other clippings I got without spending a cent this morning, on a walk with the kids at the park. If I were going to a holiday party, I think it would make a lovely hostess gift, don’t you?

Handmade doesn’t have to be time-consuming or cheesy. It just has to be an act of simple beauty.

What’s your favorite simply handmade gift? I’d love to know. I still have another week or so. . .