I also love Christmas (see post on Fall…). I love twinkly lights and the smell of Christmas trees and baking cookies and drinking hot tea. I love Christmas hymns (though our church doesn’t sing enough of ’em to suit my fancy), and opening our home to friends and neighbors, and reading Christmas cards every single day. I especially love gift giving. Well, I used to love it, but the last few years have been tough, what with the baby after baby after baby syndrome going on in our family. It seems like I’ve either had no time or no money or no sleep to put much effort into our gift giving. One year we even found ourselves frantically driving around my in-laws’ city looking for a store–any store–that was open at 9:00 PM to finish up our shopping. Walgreens was open–and packed with other shoppers in the same predicament. Struggling with gift giving can outright ruin Christmas for me.
This year, we’re making Christmas. I find myself with some time (nine weeks til Christmas, folks), some regular sleep, but not a lot of extra cash. So, I’m making gifts for our relatives. We’ll still buy something for each of the kids. We tend to trend towards a book, a toy and some sort of clothing for each child. But the brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles, moms, dads and the rest of gang will be receiving something mostly handmade or homemade.
Now I’m not a crafty chick. I can whip up the most difficult dishes in the kitchen, but when it comes to arts and crafts…well, I have a closet full of unfinished, ugly projects hidden from view and memory. So, I spent time carefully selecting projects I thought I could pull off with limited skill and budget.
Right here, I’m going to ask you to stop reading if you are in my family. I mean it now. Read no further. Consider this paragraph akin to a wrapped gift with a tag stating “Do Not Open Until December 25th.” Don’t ruin your surprise and my fun!
For my step-dad, he grew up on a farm but doesn’t really have any memorable photographs of it. He inherited part of the land this year, so we drove out there a few weeks ago and I took several shots from the gravel road. They turned out beautifully and I was able to score an amazing frame with four openings at Hobby Lobby for nearly 90% off! Total cost was less than $15–including gas!
For my mom, she is caring for her aging parents and it’s been a rough time these last few months. I know it’s hard for her to see them as she does and wants to hold onto happier, healthier memories. So, my brother is sneakily (is that even a word?) collecting photographs of them out of family albums for me to scan and collate into a collage decoupaged onto an artist canvas. Total cost less than $10!
For my brother and sister-in-law, I’m making silhouettes of their girls. For a great tutorial, check here. I’m also making a freezing about a half dozen meals they can enjoy, as they both work long hours at full-time jobs. Total cost less than $25!
For my grandparents, they don’t want or need much. But, I’ve already prepared several containers of their favorite soup and muffins and frozen them. We will also be making them a paper wreath made out of the great-grands hands. They will love it, I’m sure. Total cost less than $10!
For my brother-in law, he lives in Boston (far, far from us) and I know he misses being a part of the kids’ lives. So, we’re sending him a care package in December with a promise to send another one every month of the year next year, filled with photos, homework papers, art work, baked goods and well wishes. Total cost somewhere around $6-$10 per month, depending on weight of package.
For my father in law, he wants family photos. So, he will be receiving framed photos not only of our own family, but of his three grown children. Total cost less than $15!
My mother-in-law has quite the extensive dish collection, but no real inventory of her wares. I’ve started discreetly photographing her dishes and plan to put the photos in an album with space for her to write notes about their history and the number of pieces in her collection. Total cost less than $15!
My sister-in-law and her husband are the hardest. They are in major transition now, so it was hard to come up with a “winning” idea. They are getting either fleece blankets or ready-made meals. I’m still praying about that one…Either way, total cost is less than $20.
Kids–we have several little ones to bless this Christmas between our own kids, friends and nieces. Each one is receiving a fleece blanket. Check out this post for great instructions. Total cost per blanket less than $10!
You can see that I’ve trended towards lots of photograph based giving. It isn’t that I’m an awesome photographer, but I am slightly handy with the lens and those are the sort of “no-fail” projects I can manage. What sort of Christmas can you make for your loved ones? I’d love to hear your ideas–might even “borrow” a few!