Making Gifts

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I mentioned how last Christmas our budget was fairly limited. We made a very conscious decision not to spend more than we had. Since we were making an aggressive effort to pay down debt and NOT use credit cards AT ALL and keep a balanced budget, there was no room to go crazy on gifts for our kids. And when you have five, that’s a whole lot of craziness.

(Don’t worry – their grandparents and aunties and uncles insured that there was plenty of Lego and Playmobil to go around.)

Instead, for our part, we purposed to have fun-filled stockings and to make them each a gift. I’d made gifts before — enough to drive my husband batty. But, usually these gifts were for other people. I’d never made gifts for my own children. But, the one thing that they each really wanted and asked for was something that needed to be made.

Corn bags!

Corn bag? A cloth bag filled with dried feed corn that retains heat when microwaved. It is excellent for warming you up on a cold winter night. And great in summer if you store it in the freezer.

A friend had given us one a few years ago. To be honest, I thought it was a little lame, even corny. (yuk, yuk, yuk.) I know that probably sounds ungrateful, but there have been gifts in my past to make me go, “Huh?”

Our friend admitted when she gave it to us that she thought it was a pretty goofy gift when someone gave one to her. She let it sit in a drawer for a year before she ever used it. I’m so thankful we didn’t wait a year! It was a most coveted item that first winter. Certain parents were even known to sneak it out of the beds of their sleeping children.
Last year the boys each really wanted one of his own. So, I hunted down fabric to match their interests and personalities and whipped up several, including a few extra for FishPapa and myself.

Everyone was extremely happy with his present. If you want your own cornbags, go here for a wealth of directions. The directions say to use any cotton fabric. Towels are a little more expensive, but they do feel pretty cozy.

I bring this all up to say, now’s the time to start thinking and planning about gift-making. You do not want to be crafting until every midnight that December holds. In fact, aim to be done with your projects by December One if you possibly can.

In fact, the first place I ever heard of “Christmas in July” was in a craft store. Now is the time when they get all their supplies ready. And if you plan to craft, now’s an excellent time to do so. There’s no rush, no stress. You have time to enjoy the process.

That said, help us think of some “knock-your-socks-off-clever-easy-to-make gifts!”

What have you made that really worked for you? Share the details in the comments section so we can all be encouraged and inspired!

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  1. The midnight crafter..that’s been me two years in a row! The first year, my son was born November 16…so I was a midnight NEW MOM crafter. It was awful. Part of the problem was I made so many food gifts, so they had to wait until fairly last minute.

    Not this year. No more food gifts…nobody ever told me if any of the stuff was good, or bad, or if they liked it. So, no more food gifts! My other crafts I have started working on now. And I do plan to be completely done with all gifts by December 1 this year.

    I’m doing some cross stitch…making a wreath out of scrapbook paper and embellishments, and a garland out of rope and holiday fabric.

  2. your friend’s story sounds just like mine, except for ours are rice bags. you can even add herbs or dried fragrant flowers to make them smell nice.

    As for crafts, I buy an ornament kit (usually after Christmas the year before) to get the directions and then buy supplies to make more. I have made bead and wire snowflakes, paperbag/iron on fabic snow people, folded wire ribbon stars.
    I usualy make 30-40 of them to send in christmas cards for the people we dont exchange bigger gifts with, as something to tell them we think they are special

  3. One year I made ornaments for every person in our extended family. I even painted special boxes to wrap my parents gifts in that they use for decorations at Christmas.

  4. I’ve got LOTS of plans for homemade gifts this year. For O (my 2 year old) I am making a baby doll cradle, baby doll quilt, baby doll diaper bag with accessories, a memory game, a couple of books, playdough, and maybe a frog and lily pad game. For her grandmothers we are painting aprons and kitchen towels, making photo ornaments, and making bath sugar scrub. For aunts, cousins, and grandparents we are making snapfish calendars (I’m not sure if that really counts as homemade!). I’ll also be making some type of candy or cookies for my dh’s coworkers. You’re right! I need to get started now!

  5. One year I did ornaments for everyone, another year I did cookies and jam for everyone and the big hit was the year I crocheted mittens for everyone it took me 2 months but I crocheted mittens for 12 people plus some for my 2 kids, that is 14 pairs of mittens in 2 months. This year I am doing cookies, jams, jellies and more food type stuff (not to sound proud but I am the best cook in our family and have requests for these items each year so they will be their gifts this year!) I will save money and make them happy too!

  6. I love scrapbooking and thru this hobby I have discovered that my kids love to read about themselves, especially from their parent’s perspective. So for each of my boys I am working on a more intimate album 8×8 size full of speical pics of them and words of wisdom–goofiness, love, affections, thoughts and prayers from me and their dad….I have a feeling this will be a gift they will truly treasure deep down and they can keep forever.

  7. I purchased a bunch of candy thermometers ($1 each) at Wal-Mart a year or two ago and then found some wooden spoons from the Supermarket. My goal was to make a small fudge recipe book and give it to all of my girlfriends with the C.T and the spoon. The C.T’s and the spoons are eagerly awaiting their debut. I even found a bunch of fudge recipes. SO… my idea is to make little Recipe books and give the tools in a cute Christmas decorated bag.

    I will DO it this Christmas!

  8. I’ve made quite a few gifts in the past. They weren’t always for Christmas, but some of them were!
    I’ll list a few of my favorites:
    No-sew fleece blankets…I made one for each of my nieces and nephew for their birthdays…they liked them so much, they made some for their siblings birthdays. They each have 2 fleece blankets now.
    Last year I made safety pin watches for gifts for my mom and sister-in-laws. They were really simple to make. Just beads, safety pins, stretchy string, pliers and nail polish to seal the knot.
    I have made little scrapbooks (for the recipient to add photos to.
    I’ve made wreaths and decorated picture frames.
    I like to make cards. My mom really likes it when I give her a set of handmade cards and envelopes.
    I have given food, but it usually was something I canned in the fall, like apple butter or green tomato relish.
    Well, I’m sure there are other things, but hopefully that gave you some ideas!
    Homemade gifts are great as long as they’re something you can do very well!