Monday, December 03, 2007

Handcrafters' Holidays - Gifts

The wonderful women over at Sew, Mama, Sew! have invited us to participate in their Handcrafters' Holidays Blog Meme. I've enjoyed reading the responses of other people and decided to join in the fun. Sew, Mama, Sew! has broken the meme into two categories - Gifts and Traditions - and I will respond to the questions in two different blog posts, just to make it a little easier on myself. And so, without further ado, here are my thoughts on Gifts:

Do you have a favorite gift that you love to give?

~I really like to try and customize gifts to the recipient, so my favorite gift to give changes each year. Usually my favorite gift is a compilation gift - a gift basket, a kit of some sort, etc. Compilation gifts this year include a dress-up box for my niece, an Advent calendar for a friend, and a storybook/pajama combo for a soon-to-be two year old. My all-time favorite compilation gift was made two years ago. We made penpal kits for our then six year old niece and nephew. We included cool pens, markers, notepads, stickers, envelopes, and - the most special to the children - stamps.

If you're making gifts this year, what are you making?

~ What I'm actually making and what was on my list to make are two different things. The "want to make" list is much longer than the "am making" list. So far I have made an Advent calendar for a friend. It is pictured above. I borrowed the very excellent idea from Allsorts. I've also made a baby-themed wreath for the door of our church nursery, but, silly me, I forgot to take a picture! Oh, but it was fun to do. Miniature bottles, a rubber duck, a teddy bear, a train, some alphabet blocks - I had a great time making it. There are a few other projects in the works that I cannot mention for fear of alerting the intended recipients. I also hope to try my hand at this penny rug for the end table, Allsorts' Elf Clogs, and Montessori By Hand's Paper Clip Ice Skates for gift toppers. And hopefully a few wreaths for my own house. We'll see.

Do you have any good stories about handcrafted gifts you've given or received?

~ Andy and I received several beautiful handcrafted items as wedding gifts. A gorgeous wooden tray, a plate made by a master blacksmith, hand-dipped candles, a beautifully knitted blanket. We treasure them all. One gift, though, had us confused. It was a package of small, pink and white, crocheted...shapes. Had they been square, they would have been approximately 6"x6". We looked at them, studied them, turned them over in our hands, and could not figure out what they were. In our thank you note to the creator, we simply thanked him (yes, him) for his beautiful handiwork. We figured they must be kitchen linens of some sort, so we tucked them in the back of our linen drawer. One day I pulled them out and showed them to Andy's mother, who immediately pronounced them washcloths. You see, Andy and I were young and naive and still thought all washcloths had to come from a department store. I remember thinking, "Really, yarn washcloths?" I tucked them back into the drawer until one day, more than a year later, I fell behind on the laundry and ran out of washcloths. Having no other choice, I pulled out the pink and white wonders and washed my dishes with them. I've never gone back. They are fantastic! They work so well. They are still my favorite washcloths. Once they wear out, I'm going to have to make myself some more. And they'll have to be pink and white.

Do you have any great gift compilation ideas?

~Ooh, I should have read through the whole list of questions before I started answering. Well, as I mentioned before, I love giving compilation gifts. Here are a few of my favorite ideas:
  • a complete diaper changing kit (clearly this one is very recipient-specific)
  • a storybook paired with a related item. I'm giving Llama, Llama, Red Pajama along with a pair of classic red flannel pajamas. Other variations could include a storybook with a related stuffed animal, a themed quilt, or a movie.
  • a complete cleaning kit. My mother-in-law gave one to me for my wedding shower, and I gave one to my sister for her wedding shower. We included all sorts of cleaning and household supplies, and then wrote a letter using all of the names of the supplies. "Your husband may not always be Mr. Clean, but remember your Pledge to give him your All, and you will find that each day will Dawn with renewed Cheer and Joy." That sort of thing. It makes for a good, practical gift, and a great laugh at the shower.
  • a penpal kit, as mentioned above. Stamps, notepads, markers/crayons, pens, stickers, all in a school box.
  • a Wedding Survival kit. Not exactly holiday related, but still a fun gift. I gave this as a shower gift several years ago and included a small sewing kit, a pair of pantyhose, Kleenex, Tylenol, a miniature bouquet of silk flowers (in case the florist forgets the throwaway bouquet, as happened at my wedding), chocolate, and duct tape.
  • One of the best compilation gifts I have ever received was a New Parent Survival kit, given to me at my daughter's baby shower. My friends and family included Tylenol, magazines, tea, lotion, bath salts, and unmentionable things that recently pregnant women need but don't know that they will need, among other things.
  • a "Beach Baby" kit. For a September-born baby, we made a summer kit of things that would fit him the following year - a pair of swim trunks, sunscreen, tiny little sunglasses, and arm floaties.

In making this list, I realize that I don't give a lot of Christmas compilation gifts. I seem to give them more for showers and birthdays. Maybe that is because I am only giving to one person on those occasions, and thus have more time to devote to the creation of the gift.

Name one thing on your personal wish list.

~Joelle Hoverson's Last Minute Patchwork and Quilted Gifts. I have this book from the library right now. It is one of the best sewing idea/pattern books I have seen.

Do you make and sell things that would make fantastic gifts?

~Not yet. Etsy may be in my future. We'll see.

1 comment:

Sarah said...

Great gift ideas! I love the book and pj idea, some how I'm not that clever on my own...