I’m not huge on the secular, materialistic side of Christmas, but I do love to give gifts to those I love. Coming from a small single income, we began a homemade Christmas tradition early in our marriage. I began making my children homemade gifts instead of store bought toys when the oldest were just little ones. Nineteen years later we are still enjoying this tradition even though our family size has grown!
Creating a Homemade Christmas
If your kids are looking forward to receiving lots of gifts this year, there may be some grumbling during this transition. It will take extra work on your part to transition smoothly, but it’s worth the work! We have found that homemade gifts carry more love than a store bought one. I encourage thoughtful homemade gifts that the receiver would want and use. A homemade Christmas forces us to really think about who we are giving to and makes us take the time to create something meaningful. It teaches our children (and ourselves) to slow down and serve others whole heartedly. Gift giving is a great way to love others and think beyond ourselves. I try to remind my children that we give gifts at Christmas to remember to greatest gift of all time: Jesus! Now how do we pull this off with limited time, resources and so many people??
Putting the Plan into Action
First thing is to decide to have a homemade Christmas together. Get everyone excited about the possibilities! Everyone, not matter how small, can participate in this project. Next choose how the gift giving will be handled. In our family, because there are so many of us, my kids draw names at Thanksgiving. Each sibling will make one homemade gift for their “person”. This keeps it manageable for mom and the kids have time to focus on making one really nice gift. This has worked well for us over the years. I try to make something for each child, but they have been getting smaller and smaller each year with additional children. Last year I made the teenagers decals for their laptops and homemade treats for the littles. Don’t leave out the littles! We get them involved in the projects too! Below is the baby creating handprint art for his older brother. We still have this airplane treasure several years later.
Time to Get Making
Now the fun begins! We use Pinterest to find fresh ideas, but the goal is to make something that is meaningful and useful. I help the littles, but the ten year old and up don’t need much help from me. Every families budget will differ, but let the kids know up front how much help to expect from you. The older kids are responsible for any supplies in our family. They are welcome to use whatever I already have at home though. I love the creativity that is sparked as they rummage through my craft room. This does take up most of our December, but they are treasured moments and memorable gifts are made. Some years I started really early on mine, but the last few years I’ve been running like a chicken without my head! We are keeping it simple this year, but I’m excited to see what they come up with! Be sure to watch Instagram and Facebook late December to see what they came up with this year.
Here is a snapshot of some gifts we have done over the last few years. First up is a cloak I made my oldest son. He loves costumes and this was right up his alley. He still wears it all over the house. A younger sibling put together a herb garden kit for his sister. She was excited to have it and since we lived in Hawaii, she didn’t have to wait to plant them. My husband and I made Lego boards and a Lego bag for the two little guys. Still have these as well! This cradle was made by my husband for our oldest daughter around 2003-ish. It needed some TLC and was re-gifted to the youngest daughter in 2015. The blanket is homemade too. I’ve made many clothing items over the years for my kids. This was a pair of cool wrap pants that my middle daughter loved to wear around the house. Two years ago I made this weighted blanket for child number six. He still snuggles with it. Even after my oldest had moved out, she carried on the tradition. The first Christmas she was away, she sent me this fun wall hanging she had made. I realized that I couldn’t find as many pictures as I would have liked to share with you, and that most of them were things I made. But over the years the kids have made wooden building blocks, fixed up an old bicycle, hand sewn ball, name plaques, hair tie holders, journals, pen animals, playdough, watercolors, and so much more! It’s a tradition I hope gets passed along to my grandchildren someday.