Like so many crocheters, knitters, and other crafters, I love to make handmade gifts for my friends and family for the winter holidays. I can express my creativity while making higher quality DIY gifts than I can usually afford to buy!
But, let’s face it. Every winter, countless crafters get overwhelmed by making gifts for loved ones. Some of us go without sleep, others get repetitive stress injuries, and still more just became annoyed with the demands of handmade gift giving. If your air conditioner is still blasting, those holidays may seem pretty far off, but today I’m sharing 8 tips for getting a head start on your gifts to make the winter holidays a bit more pleasant for you — and your loved ones.
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Spoiler alert: If you start your holiday crafting as early in the year as possible, you’ll have more time and you’ll be able to work at a more leisurely pace. You can also choose to make more gifts, or larger, more intricate projects, for the people on your holiday list.
Let’s face it. Not everyone appreciates handmade gifts. Other folks may not be fans of your favorite crafts. Trust me when I say that the holidays will be more fun for you (and for the recipient) if you focus your efforts on making gifts for those who will actually enjoy them. I call these folks “handmade-worthy” (or “crochet-worthy,” or “knit-worthy”) people.
As you think about all the people (and pets) you may consider making gifts for, narrow your list down to those who would actually appreciate a handmade gift! This may seem like a no brainer, but it’s the step most crafters forget.
Not sure who is handmade-worthy? Think about people who say kind things about your crafting, who are makers themselves, or who have worn and used previous handmade gifts.
Make a project list
Now that you’ve narrowed down your recipient list by removing those who aren’t “handmade-worthy,” make a list of the types of gifts you’d like to make for them.
Some crafters make variations of the same project for everyone on the list (like a favorite crochet scarf pattern in different yarns or colors) while others like to make a completely unique gift for each recipient. Remember that you should get to have fun while making gifts, so choose your projects accordingly.
Survey your existing supplies and your budget
I know I’m not the only one with craft supplies falling out of the closets! Go through your stash and compare it to your project list. (If your budget is tight or non-existent, you can choose to work backwards from your stash instead.)
If you have a holiday crafting budget, make a supply list based on the supplies you’re missing and your project plans.
Be realistic about your time frame
Overestimating the availability of time is the most common struggle crafters face when working on handmade holiday gifts. We’ve all done it! While we could theoretically make unlimited gifts if we had unlimited time, the reality is that as each week moves by, our holiday gift deadlines become narrower. (And, don’t forget you still need to eat, sleep, work, etc., so you don’t actually have 24 hours a day to craft.)
Be realistic about how long each project will take and consider revising your list based on the amount of time available.
Take frequent breaks
When short on time and facing crafting deadlines, it can be tempting to push yourself too far. But, be sure to take care of yourself. Take frequent breaks (every 30 to 90 minutes, depending on your craft and the intensity of your work) to stretch and rest your eyes/hands. This will help you avoid repetitive stress injuries.
Have a back up plan
Sometimes, even the best plans go awry. Have a backup in case you can’t finish your projects on time. This might mean putting aside money to purchase last minute gifts, or giving out project “gift certificates” or “I.O.U.” cards.
Get virtual support
You may find virtually working alongside other crafters on holiday gifts makes the entire process more fun and bearable! Look for holiday make-a-longs on your favorite social networks. For crocheters, here are two you may enjoy.
- Holiday Stashdown Crochet-a-Long 2016 featuring 24 free crochet patterns by 20 designers and great prizes from our giveaway sponsors, and
- 2016 Holiday Blog Hop with 17 free crochet patterns by 8 designers.