I'm that person that gives handmade gifts for Christmas (and birthdays, and pretty much every occasion that requires a gift). For one thing, crafting is something I can do to occupy my time and to keep myself entertained on days when I'm not feeling my best, and as a highly creative person who's always been drawn to the Arts, having a creative outlet that isn't as draining as some of my other creative pursuits (like dancing and acting) means I get to keep creativity front and center in my life (where I think it belongs) which keep my spirits up, and I get the added bonus of being able to create something from nothing, even on my worst days. Also, as someone who has suffered from a chronic illness since High School then got caught in the recession while trying to finish college, I've never really ever had much extra money for gifts - even all these years later I've been pretty much only lived paycheck to paycheck, so when an extra expense comes up, for me, making something is a nice, and sometimes necessary, alternative to buying something.
Not to mention the fact that I really think that giving something to someone that was homemade has something that something that was store-bought doesn't have. It shows that a lot of thought, time and effort went into the gift, as opposed to getting/giving something you maybe picked up as you were waiting in the check-out line as an afterthought.
Plus, in the post-Marie Kondo world, and in the eco-conscious present, I don't really want to give someone something that is just going to end up in a landfill (or encourage companies to continue to make useless crap that will just inevitably end up in landfills anyway by purchasing these useless items), so homemade gifts are a home-run for me no matter you slice it.
For the Christmas/Holiday Season I tend to make Holiday decor items as gifts -usually from up-cycled items if I can; creating Holiday themed things this time of year really gets me into the Holiday spirit and then I get to share that spirit with the people I care about so it's a win-win! I've given Holiday themed canvases, centerpieces, wreaths, door hangers, ornaments, candles, table runners, holiday themed or requested baked goods or a good hot meal (never underestimate the power of a lasagna or other freezable/shareable meal options!) - you name it, I've made it (or at least tried to), so if you don't know what to make, know there is no limit to what you can create! If you're short on ideas, I like to scroll through Pinterest, or perhaps you can dig into your hobbies for inspiration (do you like to garden- give seedlings or fresh produce! Like to cook - give food! Are you a talented musician- perform a song!) - the possibilities are endless and your loved ones will enjoy learning about your hobbies in addition to being proud of you and grateful for your gift!
Now that I've been doing this homemade gift thing for a number of years, the people in my life have not only come to expect homemade items as gifts from me, but they genuinely seem to enjoy the things that they get. I can't tell you the joy it brings me to go into someone's home and to see something that I've loving made for them proudly displayed, sometimes even years later, or to watch someone enjoy a meal or dessert that I've prepared especially for them.
As a busy adult with a chronic illness, I don't have much time or energy to give people, and I certainly don't have the resources to spoil them with fabulous gifts, but knowing that the things that I make for people are talismans of my love for them, and knowing that they are treasured as such, is a feeling that can't be duplicated.
I know a lot of people worry about being able to afford to give gifts or having enough energy or the means to spend time with loved ones during the Holidays, and I wanted to say that I used to be really self-conscious about my homemade gifts -especially when they were sent in lieu of my presence as opposed to with it. I worried my creations weren't good enough, that people would think I was cheap, or had no talent, or a homemade gift was worthless, or my cookies were crap, or whatever it was that my negative thoughts were trying to convince me of at the time, and it took A LOT of work to get over those feelings. I know first-hand that feelings of inadequacy and shame associated with gift-giving or your ability to make it to events can be really hard, especially at this time of year, but guess what? Now I'm PROUD of the homemade gift tradition I began AND all the reasons I started it. Yes getting to this place of acceptance took time and work, but I'm so proud of myself and so happy my little tradition took hold and is as appreciated as it is!
If you're one of those people struggling with what they were able to give or not-give this year, I hope my story helps you. The things I used to make didn't used to look or taste great, let alone store-bought, but they were still very much appreciated by the people that received them because they knew it took me time and energy to make them, and I made them for THEM. Now, several years in, my crafting/baking/cooking skills are very much improved and I honestly think my friends and family like to watch me improve in my skills as much as I like making things for them to enjoy -so if you're not great at making things right now, don't sweat it! The people in your life will still very much appreciate any effort you put into what you're making for them, and you'll feel so good about yourself when you create something (and you'll feel amazed as your skills start to grow!).
Plus, now that I've gotten pretty good at this whole homemade thing, I've had a few friends ask me to make things for them to give to others, and have paid me to do so. I've also taken that success a step further by putting some of my "just for fun" craft projects on my Etsy site- so now I get a few sales a year, and a little extra pocket money because I got over my insecurities and leaned into what I had available to give.
Think about it, the cost of some fudge or a cute painting may be low, but the love behind it is BIG and those feelings are what really matter in gift giving anyway! Plus, maybe you'll get better at doing some things you love, or learn how to do something you always wanted to do, and who knows, if people love what you make, maybe it can shift into a little side hustle -you never know if you don't try!
So if you're holding on to some guilt or shame over giving homemade gifts or no-gifts-but-a-hug this Holiday Season, please let it go, and know that you've put your love and energy (your most precious resources) into your gifts to spread joy and light with the people you care about- and there can be no shame in that, only love- and what gift is greater than love?
Happy Holidays, and love and light from all of us here at The FSC
Heather, FSC Founder