18 September 2008

A homemade Christmas

Carl Larsen painting, Christmas Morning, from Carl Larsen gallery.

Christmas has the potential to undo all your frugal efforts throughout the year. You hear that "ho-ho-hoing", you see the advertisements with the warm and fuzzy family around the Christmas tree with stacks of gifts under it, you start thinking that maybe you should get your credit card out and buy gifts for the 30 people on your list.

Listen. Christmas isn't about the gifts, it's much more significant than that.

Now more than ever there is a need to cut back and save. Gone are the days of extravagant gestures for your best friend's brother, you don't need to give to everyone. A few years ago I stopped sending cards and giving a lot of gifts. Now I usually give only to my close family members. To the rest I give a warm and sincere wish for a wonderful Christmas, sometimes I invite friends over for a Christmas drink, sometimes there might be a small homemade gift. What we do give is our friendship, we share the events of the past year and we look forward together to what will come in the new year. There is a lot of good will, my friends know - really know - that I love them and they know that by my actions and words, not by the gifts I give.

It requires a bit of soul searching to cull your gifts list and you need to be kind to yourself and know that you aren't being selfish or mean. What you are doing is making your life better, you are sticking to your budget, living true to your values and you're not falling for the commercialism that is now so much a part of Christmas that we can't see the forest for the (Christmas) trees. It's probably a good idea to tell your relatives and friends that you'll be breaking with tradition and not giving as many gifts as you did in the past. If you really want gifts to be a part of the day, maybe you could have a secret santa with your family so the cost is reduced but gifts are still exchanged.

I think many of you will be surprised to find that some of your family members will be relieved that someone decided to stop buying gifts for everyone. It's not just making it easier for you because your actions will have a flow on effect by reducing the expense of Christmas for all of them. Besides, all gifts should be given in the spirit of love and not just because they are expected.

I love receiving homemade gifts. It shows me that someone has put time and effort into my gift. If you decide to give hand made gifts you should think carefully about what that person would like. There are certain gifts that many people like - such as the ever popular homemade soap, candles, chocolates and truffles, preserves, chutney and jams. If you're a knitter there are many small projects that could be created on the needles, and sewing is another pathway to many wonderful gifts. To help you along the way I've found some wonderful links to give you some ideas. I have absolutely no doubt that there will be many more ideas in the comments. So have a look at my list and add your ideas so we can all share what we know and help others towards a homemade Christmas.
I hope a few of you will be working towards a homemade Christmas this year. If you are, now is the time to start preparing. You'll need to make a plan now and start on your projects so there is no last minute rush to have gifts finished. And don't forget to add your suggestions in the comments. :- )

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