7 October 2009

Christmas gifts - what are you making?

It's that time of year again when I start thinking about Christmas gifts. I live in a tourist region and I was taught this lesson early - if I don't think about my gifts well before the school summer holidays start, forget all about going to the shops because it will be bedlam. Now I don't give nearly as much as I used to at Christmas time. I gave up on cards years ago and send an email full of family news instead. I gave up giving gifts to everyone except my immediate family and a couple of very close friends but this year, our family has expanded with the addition of two beautiful girls so I am thinking about gifts again - girls gifts!

A pretty apron is always a welcomed gift.

All through December when I'm at my voluntary job we deal with people trying to cope with the added pressures Christmas brings. I try to teach that going into debt to buy gifts isn't a good thing and usually results in stress and anxiety. Even though we're coming out of a bad financial period, I hope the lessons of frugality are not forgotten. Christmas is more about showing love and extending the hand of hospitality than it is about buying gifts you can't afford.

Appliqu├ęd tea towel made by my sister Tricia.

Our Christmas morning will be spent, as usual, cooking a free breakfast, cutting up fruit and serving muesli and yoghurt to several hundred people in my town. It's a way of bringing our community together for a special meal, talking with each other and connecting on that special day. This year our breakfast will be in our new building so it will be extra special. Last year over 600 people came, who knows what will happen this year.

Zakka's linen tea towels.

The cover of Zakka - with its quirky little squirrel tea cozy.

I have been looking in my wonderful Zakka sewing book for gift inspiration. Hilde sent me this book all the way from Germany, I use it frequently and often lend it to friends. I think I will make a couple of the Zakka linen tea towels this year. I also find inspiration online and these are fine places to set your mind working: The Long Thread, Soulemama's Advent Calendar, Kris Knits pin cushion, and Get Rich Slowly's list of frugal gifts you can make yourself.

Zakka's very cute clothes peg bag.

I haven't made up my entire list for this Christmas, I don't know if there will be purchased gifts, but I do know that dishcloths, bags, tea cosies, mittens, gift packs of green cleaning materials and maybe some Christmas fruit cakes full of dried fruits, nuts and brandy will feature in the mix. If you're out shopping, keep your eyes open in craft and knitting stores for free patterns. I picked up some great patterns for little Christmas gifts at Lincraft a few weeks ago. I found free instructions for knitted headbands, slippers, iPod bag, man's hat and fingerless gloves. All of them are easy, suitable for a new knitter and all are fast projects that you would probably already have enough wool to make up. Babs just sent a comment about the Lincraft site. There are lots of these How to sheets online with instructions for knitting, crochet, sewing, beading, scrapbooking and Christmas craft. Thanks Babs!

One of Lincraft's very handy free How to guides.

I'm always adding to my stack of dishcloths and they make a perfect small Christmas gift. I usually give mine with some of my soap but a pack of three, neatly tied with matching ribbon or raffia, make a perfect gift. My favourite pattern is the waffle weave which I originally found on Deb's Homespun Living blog.

Dishcloths on parade.

Over at the Down to Earth forum, Tammy has a great tutorial for new sewers where she shows how to make reversible napkins. And if you stay awhile browsing at the forum, check out the thread on What are you giving for the holidays? It holds a lot of good ideas, including ecoMILE's recipe for Vegan Gingerbread Cookies. That thread is already five pages long and not only will it give you some wonderful gift ideas, it's full of encouragement and support.

Zakka's iPod bag.

If you haven't already started, it's not too late, now is the perfect time to write up a list and start working on your home made Christmas. Try to use materials you already have and look around now for the odds and ends you know you'll need. One thing is for sure, when it comes closer to Christmas, the prices will rise and you'll end up spending more.

Have you made a list yet, if so, what gifts are you making this year?

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