CHRISTMAS SHOPPING IS IN FULL SWING!
My friend, Amanda, directed me to this petition (click the button on the left to go to the site) to buy handmade for Christmas. I absolutely love handmade gifts. I am beginning to hate retail shopping and the consumerism that surrounds almost every holiday we celebrate, particularly Christmas. For years I have gotten up early (like three am!) to be the first in line for the day-after-Thanksgiving sales. No more! I have taken the pledge!
There are so many wonderful reasons to give handmade gifts (either made yourself, or purchased). I won't reiterate them all here, but do check out the website. If you have never checked out Etsy, you must. A word of caution though: it is very addictive!!
I am planning to give my 5 year old a digital camera for Christmas. It is $35 and will be his main present. Though I will be purchasing it new, and it (obviously) won't be handmade, I think it is the eco-friendly choice b/c it will eliminate the disposable cameras and film developing, which he has enjoyed in the past. Other than that though, I will be giving homemade gifts -or- items purchased second-hand.
Here are a few ideas I am mulling over for different people on my Christmas list.
Children: -pumpkin pie play dough
-Book making kit
-Sock puppet kit
-Coupon book for different activities to do together (movie, museum, picnic, etc)
-Dinner Kits (basket full of pasta, french bread, block parmesan, sauce, bottle of wine)
-gift certificates (etsy, house cleaning, childcare, etc.)
-homemade cheese and a bottle of local wine
-Gift certificates (Ebay, car wash)
-Homemade Deer Jerky
Hmmm...that is all I have come up with so far. Any other ideas?
Each Christmas, my family draws names. We do this because there are five kids...plus girlfriends, my hubby, and our children...so gift-giving has become expensive. We have always had a $50 limit. This year, we have agreed to scrap that and do something less expensive and more fun. We are going to do a White Elephant with a $5 limit. I think it will be a hoot to see what everyone finds for $5 and it will be much more about the experience and time together, than the presents. We are going to use the money (normally spent on expensive gifts) to give to a charity or a family in need. I am really excited about it.
For more homemade gift ideas, check out Martha Stewart for some beautiful Christmas presents.
Above all, I want the gifts I give to be a true reflection of my love for the recipient. I want to really avoid the stress of "I have to buy xyz person SOMETHING!!!" The season of gifts should be a reminder of the gift of God's son, and with that, salvation. This year, I don't want Christmas to be about corporations making a buck...reeling me in with their slick marketing and their enticing sales and 2-for-1's. I want to spend more time reading to my children in front of the Christmas tree, baking, being thankful, paying it forward in simple ways, and giving out of a heart that is full of joy. It isn't easy and it doesn't come naturally, as much as I wish it did. It takes consistently being intentional, gently reminding myself of what my priorities should be. It is counter-cultural and it takes focus. However, I think it is worth doing and as the wife and mother of our home, it is up to me to set the tone. It is just another baby step in the quest to becoming more Christ-centered...more "other" focused in a "take care of #1 world".
What better time to practice contentment, generosity, and a lifestyle of simplicity than Christmas? While I do think it is important to give gifts, to spend time and effort and (sometimes) money on presents for the people in our life...I need to spend just as much time cultivating an attitude of cheerful giving so that the gift isn't an empty symbol but a true reflection of my heart. I think giving homemade gifts will help me do that. By nature, handmade gifts will require a slowing down, a thoughtfulness, a selflessness of time and energy. Whatever your gift giving method this season, I hope that it is a time of joy and renewal for you.
*This image from flickr.com