Sunday, November 22, 2015

The Ultimate Handmade Gift Guide

As a child I would have trouble sleeping in anticipation of what I would find under the tree on Christmas morning.  Would it be that tennis racket I asked for, or a new bicycle. I wondered what my sisters would receive, and would my gifts be as good as theirs. (I'm not holding back here on the honesty!)

But BY FAR the most memorable gifts I have received or given throughout my life have been handmade. My dad was a stock broker in 1987.  I know some of you remember "Black Monday," but for those who don't, I'll just say that my parents were struggling financially that Christmas and the next. My parents were excellent about sheltering their children from their stress. My mom made us amazing hand-sewn denim jackets from old blue jeans. They had tuxedo-style lapels, cuffs, and waistbands that buttoned. These were COOL jackets--especially in 1987.  She also made us denim skirts from old jeans. When I wore both the jacket and the skirt, I felt like a style MACHINE! 

Cabbage Patch dolls were also all the rage in the '80s, and my mom made us hand made dolls that resembled the popular toy. I still have mine and have passed it down to my daughter. 

I don't remember much else I received for Christmas during those years, but I have vivid memories of the gifts that were handmade for me.  

Handmade gifts are the way to go. I've compiled a list to support my claim: 

Why Give Handmade Gifts?
  • Handmade gifts are more memorable to the recipient (as I established above).
  • Handmade gifts can be highly customized to fit the specific wants and needs of the recipient.
  • You'll often save money making rather than buying.
  • You can avoid the crowds at the mall. 
  • You can truly put your heart into the gifts you give.
  • Your gift will be one-of-a kind--so truly priceless. 
  • Purchasing handmade gifts can benefit those in need.

Below is the Ultimate Handmade Gift Guide.  I have divided it into 6 categories: 

Gifts For Her
Gifts For Him
Gifts For Teens
Gifts For Kids
Gifts for Humanity

Gifts of Humanity is my favorite section. I have made a list of charities that sell handmade gifts, the purchase of which will directly benefit those who made the items in the form of food, housing, education, and job training. Either I have, or someone I know has worked with each of these charities directly. You can trust that your support will be used effectively. 

Now, onto The Guide!

Gifts for Her
Get a few measurements from the recipient (or their significant other), a couple yards of jersey knit fabric, and a couple hours. She'll LOVE the cute and comfy finished product!

This is my top sewing post, and for good reason. It takes very little time and the results are fabulous. These look great layered with a long-sleeve under or a cardigan over. 

Yes, you can make these cute shoes by hand! They take about 2-3 hours to construct, and will be forever remembered by their recipient!

I was a pattern tester for this simple dress and liked it so much that I made a second for a wedding I was attending. I receive compliments every time I wear it, and so will whoever you make one for!

Gifts for Him
I made some of these for my husband. He wears them a TON. Does your guy play basketball? Soccer? Flag football? These are great. You can make them for a fraction of what they cost at the store, and you can choose a color that he'll love. 

Does your husband's wardrobe need some updating?  I have you covered with this alteration tutorial. To my knowledge, this is the only tutorial of its kind on the internet. (This may be as much of a gift for you as for him!)

This post links to directions and gives advice on making your own alcohol stove.  The link at the end of the post for the V-8 stove tutorial was done by my son. This is a great handmade gift for a son to give his father.

Gifts for Teens
Someone gave me one of these when I went to college and I used it a ton! We all know that teens value their sleep. Why not help them make it more sound?!

This ancient art form can be used to make clothing, accessories, and decor.  Make the trendy tie-dyed item for them, or make them a kit to do it on their own--they'll love it !

This simple tutorial teaches you to turn an ordinary t-shirt into something teenagers will love. Contrast sleeve tees are in style for boys and girls, and this method will work for long or short sleeve t-shirts.

This was one of my first tutorials, and it is still a favorite. Whip one of these up for your teenage daughter or niece in a trendy fabric, and she'll love you forever!

Gifts for Kids
I made one of these for each of my kids before a big trip and they were wonderful! They are also great as a quiet activity to take to church or meetings where children are expected to sit still. 
This is a gift that would be truly cherished by the children who received it. My kids look forward to filling out the activities on the chalkboard and turning around the numbers each day to see what part of Christ's life is highlighted.  

I was a pattern tester for this adorable hoodie. My daughter wears hers regularly. The pattern can be used for sizes 2-16Y, so you can really get your money's worth out of it. Make one for every girl you know!

This is the perfect gift for the girly-girl. Whip one up in a couple hours using some fun knit fabric. She'll love it!

Gifts for Humanity
I am friends with the founder of this awesome non-profit. From the website: Through the sale of African Promise Beads, Ugandan women are empowered to become heroes in their communities, providing for their families and supporting orphaned children’s education and nutrition through their skill and productivity. 
I own several necklaces, bracelets and earrings from APF, and I have given them as gifts to family and friends. They are truly works of art, and knowing their purchase is doing so much for those in need makes the gift even sweeter. 

We have all heard the horrors of sex-trafficking around the world. Daughter's Rising is a non-profit dedicated to helping victims of this awful practice regain control of their lives, as well as empowering at-risk girls through education and training. 
The purchase of the jewelry, scarves, purses, and other beautifully crafted pieces will support this important effort.

I recently participated in a project with World Vision and my women's ministry to set up basic housing needs for 6 refugee families. This faith-based organization helps thousands of children here in the United States as well as around the globe who are impoverished, orphaned, enslaved, or abused. They provide what they need. Any way you can give to this organization will help children. And isn't that what the spirit of Christmas is all about?
Okay, so this isn't a handmade good. But I wanted to share this amazing charitable opportunity I recently learned about.  From the site: "AmazonSmile is a simple and automatic way for you to support your favorite charitable organization every time you shop, at no cost to you. When you shop at, you’ll find the exact same low prices, vast selection and convenient shopping experience as, with the added bonus that Amazon will donate a portion of the purchase price to your favorite charitable organization. You can choose from nearly one million organizations to support."  Pretty great, huh?

Whether or not you use any of the links I have listed here in my Handmade Gift Guide, my hope is that this post will get us all thinking outside the crazy crowded holiday mall shopping, and help us to instead focus on the love we should feel for one another as we give. 

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for sharing these great tips with us at Merry Monday. You gave me many great ideas.