get your holiday craft on: the mindful way

A guest post by Tara Swiger.

Despite shops hanging their Christmas decorations before Halloween and peppermint mochas tempting me on November 1st, the holidays manage to sneak up on me.

christmas yarn

Oh, I know they’re coming.

I just seem to forget the overwhelming urge to MAKE stuff will hit me around December 15th. Which is just early enough to give me the (false) sense of having plenty of time but just late enough to ensure I’m still knitting late into the night on the 24th.

This year, I’m trying to bring more mindfulness to the holiday crafting. I notice when I feel the sudden I could knit that for Joe urge and consider it carefully instead of jumping right into the project (or immediately dismissing it as impossible). My goal isn’t to cut out all holiday crafting, it’s to make it fun and full of joy (and peace)!

To join me, let’s start with paring down the gift list, getting real about what amount of making is possible (while respecting the space/time continuum) and then let’s turn the crafting into something full of holiday cheer.

Pare your list.

In past years, I’ve been ruthless about this. Some years I’ve only given gifts to my little brothers and my mom (my husband and I usually give each other “experiences” as gifts: concerts, movie-dates, and books, any time during the month of December).

My ruthless years taught me that I miss giving Aunt Sue something when we stay in her guest room for Thanksgiving. I miss bundling up tins of sugar-free cookies for my many (many!) aunts- and uncles-in-law. And I’ve learned that knitting a hat or sewing a Luke Skywalker cape for my little brothers (now 10 + 11) has the best return on investment as they use the gifts (and brag to their friends!) year after year.

If your list is long and arduous, take a good look at it.

We’re not cutting just to reduce the list, we’re bring mindfulness to our reasons and motivations by purposefully deciding who would really appreciate a handmade gift.

Who often compliments your work? Who is also a crafter (and thus, will appreciate all the hard work you put into it)?

Circle those that would adore a handmade gift and look at everyone who’s left.
Why are you giving them a gift? Is it mandatory?
Would they notice if you didn’t?
Is there something that would be more meaningful (a coffee date, bringing dinner to a new mom, a framed photo)?

By limiting your list to those you feel excited about crafting (or shopping) for, we’re ensuring that every crafting (or shopping) moment is purposeful and joyful.

Get real.

Now that we know who we’re crafting for, let’s get real about what you have the time, money and energy to make.

I like to do this by listing each (possible) project and all of the steps it would take to complete it. Then I look at my calendar and plug in each step with soft deadlines (I have a free mini-guide with worksheets to help you through this).

If your plans and gifts far outweigh your time (remember, you have to keep eating and sleeping!), can you make something smaller? Can you surprise them with something handmade for their birthday and give them something less time-consuming for holidays?

Even better: can you give them the gift of time and education and teach them your craft?

The goal is to keep your holiday seasons full of cheer and a little bit of realism in the planning stage will alleviate that last-minute cheer-killing panic.

Bring joy to gift crafting.

Knitting gifts

Once your crafting to-dos are on your calendar, it’s time to get crafting.

Instead of strapping yourself to your sewing machine for endless hours of back-aching stitching, what if the crafting was another enjoyable part of your holiday celebrations?

Put on some music or a holiday movie, pour some peppermint hot chocolate and set about making at a peaceful pace. Invite your friends (or young family members) to join you in the fun. Take regular dancing-around breaks (your wrists will thank you).

My favorite way to do this (and I admit, it’s my mom’s idea, we’ve been doing it since I was a kid) is to have a Cookie Party. We make roll-out cookie dough a head of time, all the cousins come over, and we spend the day cutting, decorating and baking cookies together. All the cousins go home with a tin of cookies and we not only fulfilled the holiday-time requirement with those family members, we also have a pile of future gifts to give!
Although my cousins and I are grown up and spread across the country, I’m still going to try to have a cookie party with any visiting friends and family during the holidays.

What will you do make your holiday crafting fun?

Tara Swiger helps artists and crafters build thoroughly-you businesses at Crafting a Business. You can download her Free Holiday Planning mini-guide and get weekly tips to build a sustainable business (and earn SparklePoints!)

7 thoughts on “get your holiday craft on: the mindful way

  1. I have had some ruthless years myself. I have my list paired down to just the essentials but yeah I do miss giving something to this loved one or that loved one. I live far from family so with each gift I create I have to also factor in shipping it and this makes “experience” based gifts (which I love) harder to give. This year I plan to take a good look and really think about what I should make and for whom and of course have fun doing it! Very timely post, I usually start my crafting right after Thanksgiving.

  2. My list is pared down to my parents, brother, and nephew. They’re the ones who love handmade stuff the most!

    My friends & former co-workers-also-friends go the “experience” route as well – we get together and bake cookies all afternoon, or we have a big movie/dinner/dessert group date. It’s so much fun and absolutely no stress!

    If anyone else pops up who I really don’t want to leave out, they get my all-purpose year round gift: bottle of wine with a pretty gift bag made by me. :)

  3. I try to make as much as I can — and it’s something I plan for though out the year. This year I will give a basket with (some or all of these things)– homemade vanilla and vanilla sugar (started in July) – Homemade laundry soap (powered) beta tested all year, the liquid works great but looks like snot…which isn’t great for gift giving. Homemade caramel sauce. Homemade granola. And stamped cards – I start these in the summer. I have a tight budget (single mom) so doing it this way also helps to spread the expense out for me too. And I have a rule – no new ideas after Thanksgiving – they will have to wait until next year (and sit nicely in my starred Google file)

  4. LOL — make it fun? My husband would say “Drink heavily!” but I just sit back and let it kind of happen. Luckily, I don’t have a ton of people to do for, so I can lavish a lot per person. Indulging in chocolate helps a great deal, too!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *