Wednesday, December 21, 2011

the handmade christmas dilemma

( I wrote this post last week but somehow didn't get around to posting it at the time.)

At this time of year I have lists. Many lists in my head. Things I want to make. Presents. Cake. Biscuits. Knitted coasters. There doesn't seem to be a beginning or end to this list. Where the time was supposed to come from I don't know. Some items have been duly ticked off the list. Advent calender done. Cards done. But the undone list is far greater. I have to confess that I've started avoiding christmas making blog posts. Kind of crazy when that is what I've been posting about too.  Don't get me wrong, I love christmas. But I think I'm suffering from a little case of christmas guilt. However, simple and guilt don't go too well in a sentence together.

I sit here typing at the end of a long day. Teachers gifts were baked. Wrapping paper stamped. Cupcakes for concert supper iced and wrapped. A rushed dinner and a school concert to attend. Dishes are piled in the sink and rice is all over the floor. I hear snoring in the next room and I'm tired. I haven't done tomorrows advent calender note. My mind is starting to feel numb despite the coffee.

Which makes me wonder if a handmade christmas is really making our lives simpler. Probably not. On one hand there is immense joy in seeing what a little time and creativity can produce.  For we didn't only give them stuff, but we gave them something made with our own hands, hopefully to be treasured by the recipient. On the other hand, these handmade items take time to make. Time that we may not have. Precious time that might have been spent with our family members.

I think what I'm looking for is a little balance. I need to know where to draw the line. Where to go the extra mile and make something, and when to fall back on something bought. In an ideal world we would have time to make all these handcrafted items. But we live in the real world where there is work to do, kids to take to school and houses to clean.

So I'm going to try to go easy on myself and do what I can do.  Knowing that time is precious, but should also not be rushed. Remembering to spend time on the things that really matter. Sometimes that doesn't mean making something. Sacrificing sanity for the sake of making everything is not worth it in the scheme of things.

This year the reality is that the handmade presents are a little few and far between. There were some, but time didn't allow me to do all I wanted. But what I did buy was from local small businesses, which I did feel good about. A little money injected into the local economy can't be a bad thing. With a few online purchases thrown into the mix, because you can't get everything in town.

I feel like a kind of load has been taken off. For now I can concentrate on getting a start on the christmas menu. Keep it simple, I keep reminding myself.

Does anyone else struggle with this handmade christmas dilemma?


  1. I hear you!! I usually love to make most of the gifts but this year it got all too much. We just had so much other stuff going on and I had to make myself step back and re-prioritise. I think it's more important to make sure the festive season is calm, happy and a time spent with family. If that means buying the gifts so be it!

  2. I hear you on all counts Tania. In my daughter's first year of school (last year) I just about lost it. Both of my kid's birthdays are in November. One was a Barbie Princess party. The other was a Toy Story party. Throw in 4 Kindy teacher presents, 2 school teacher presents, presents for about 60 children (I'm so against candy canes) and I just about fell in a heap in the lead up to Christmas. I did have a weekly schedule I stuck to this year which made things a little easier. I simplified the teacher's and children's gifts this year, opting for quick things to throw together. We've got a lot of second hand toys for the kids and a few store bought ones but other than that my only solution is to start in January. (And I say that every year.) Next year I WILL (I promise) make more handmade Christmas presents. Don't be too hard on yourself. By the way, during that frenzied lead up to birthdays and school break up, I too had more than rice on the floor, washing piled up high to the ceiling, we all ate pretty bad but we made it through.

    Thinking of you.

    Anne xx

  3. I idealise making my own handmade gifts for people... but reality (and my husband's wise voice) steps in, and tells me that I'd end up walking a fine line of my own sanity! So I bought handmade-by-someone-else. I'm happy, hopefully the recipient is happy, and the small businesses on Made It are also benefitting!

  4. Hi Tania, I haven't been reading blogs lately and funny that I decided to stop by on the day I did a similar post or perhaps one that answers your question :)Sounds like you have done a great job in getting out some handmade goodness. merry Christmas to you and yours. x

  5. I think you are finding a nice balance... it is a process and it can change from year-to-year.

    When I had fewer children (I now have 8) there were a lot more homemade items than there are now. We now have a mix of homemade, locally purchased, and bought online... while keeping it all quite simple.

    Merry Christmas. (Your blog header is lovely!)

  6. Love the Christmasy look of your blog! I had every intention of baking (a lot) before Christmas but im quickly running out of time. In my usual style im sure ill be up to all hours of Christmas eve! I certainly aim for a calm & stress free Christmas and if that means buying most things then im ok with that :)

  7. Well done even getting some things done in the midst of end of year chaos. We all need to be kinder to ourselves and remember that this time of year is about love, family and generosity. Do you know the KISS principle? keep it simple stupid! I'm trying to live by it at the moment and it's sort of working. Enjoy the next few days!

  8. You are right, Tania - there is a fine line between making it all and falling in a heap with too much to do.

    I think part of our dilemma here in Australia is that everything falls at the end of the year and in summer to boot - end of school year, Christmas, end of year work parties and so on, as well our busiest time of year with planting, weeding and preparing gardens for the growing season. Add to that, spending time outside until late in the evening cool and it's just too much.
    OUr northern friends are 'withdrawing' for the cold winter with shorter days and cosy crafting indoors and getting loads more creating time in the process. This recently struck me, as I was frantically making and baking between watering gardens, and I can see the positives to having Christmas perhaps at our southern Winter Solstice when it IS cold and there are less extra activities to be done.
    Having said that, whatever gets done is good and the rest can be bought -after all, most people buy gifts and would expect a bought gift, so go easy on yourself!

    Have a wonderful family fun filled Christmas x x x

  9. Be kind to yourself are but one person and there is only so much you can do and that is more than okay :)
    Christmas is about so much more than just's about love and coming together and at the end of the day regardless of what gifts you are giving it's the thought that counts :)


  10. I bailed and bought most of the gifts wrapped under our tree this year. I waited too late to go all handmade. Perhaps if I start in January for NEXT Christmas I will be more successful in going all handmade. Tomorrow will be my last day to create gifts by my own hands and I have just 5 left to make gifts... I should be able to handle that... I hope.

  11. It doesn't all have to be handmade by you! I think the thing we are all trying to get away from is an overload of consumer junk at Christmas, wanting to move to things that show love of the authentic and care for the earth as well as the person. But handmade isn't the only way to achieve it. This year I'm big on giving services - a voucher for a massage from a local masseur, tickets to the movies, tickets for the swimming pool, tech support vouchers, a facial at the local hairdresser. I made soap a few months ago for colleagues and friends. My daughter is "doing" Christmas for the whole extended family this year (I'm very impressed - first time she's taken on the mantle) and we're all bringing food. By sharing the cooking and keeping it simple, hopefully no-one will be overwrought by the day.

  12. I have really struggled with it this year. I have made one thing, I even bought the teachers gifts this year. I bought a beautiful hand made pudding this week too. I have just started soaking my fruit for the cake...that is cake and I'm ok with that....

  13. Agh - lists.
    Even though my hands itch to write one up - I resist.
    Life is so much more pleasant now.
    We can "busy" ourselves into ill health.

  14. I understand exactly where you are coming from. It can get a little too much at times and I think it is ok to be easy on ourselves, like you said we do have to do lots of other things too and fitting making in sometimes is just a bit too hard. So don't feel guilty it sounds like a you've found a good balance between making a little and buying locally. I think the only way to do all handmade is to start in I think around October which is all good to say but so hard to do, maybe next year I will try then;) Enjoy the festivities now I hope things feel a little calmer for you now. xo

  15. If I could have I would have... unfortunately the door staff at Foo Fighter, Avenged Sevenfold and Tim Minchin concerts don't accept homeade tickets.
    Thats what my boys are getting for Christmas.
    I AM cooking a turkey from scratch though. That has to count for something, surely?

  16. Don't talk to me about handmade gifts!!! Gosh we expect a lot of ourselves don't we....I'm only half way through my list and I think I'm going to have to plan a little trip to the shops tomorrow to fill in a few gaps....This may be my last blog visit for a few days now, so wishing you and your Family a Very Merry Christmas Tania. XO

  17. Yes, yes, yes! I feel exactly the same way. This year I have been really relaxed - more due to Christmas just suddenly appearing out of the blue, than anything else. I've found myself putting far less pressure on myself and just doing things for the love of it. It's been so much more fun. The list has been a lot shorter this year and I've even had time to have some spontaneous dinners with friends etc that norally would'vebeen over planned and prepared. Yep, the table may not have looked picture perfect but who cares. It's the company and the laughs we share that matter in the end. Not everyone got Christmas cards this year bt the ones we did do were really heart felt and thoughtful.
    I hope youfind time to relax and chill, Tania. It's a freaky time of year when all's said an done. x

  18. I agree with everyone else - I managed to bake some cookies, a batch of rocky road and two gypsy skirts for a four year old. I did also make my own Christmas cards - but a friend held an all day workshop in November so we mass produced them :) I too bought some locally made items to support local businesses and I'm okay with that.


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