I’ve been noticing a real push to either buy or hand make gifts for the holidays this year, have you picked up on it? Well being a DIYer myself, of course I support this idea!

I’ll admit that I’m new to this whole holiday gift giving thing. In my family, we don’t really exchange a lot of gifts. It’s not like we hate each other or anything, it just never became a regular thing. Sure we got birthday presents, but beyond that we mainly celebrated events or holidays by going out to eat at a favorite restaurant. That was just normal to us. And of course there’s that whole we-don’t-celebrate-Christmas thing being Jewish and all. Gift-giving always caught me by surprise, and I never knew what to do when my Christian friends would give me a little something. Though it sounds really simple, it wasn’t until I was an adult that I realized I needed to participate in this social custom. No matter how many times I told them not to, my friends over the years would always get me something for the holidays. I felt bad being empty handed in return. It may be hard to imagine for those of you who have celebrated Christmas your whole lives, but I was largely unaware of the buzz surrounding this time of year. Think of it like someone in another country around the 4th of July.

To be clear, it’s not like I’m a total Scrooge. I often give “I saw this and thought of you” presents year round. I have been known to give someone something of mine on the spot, say if they asked me to borrow it or said they liked it (that is not an invitation to come over and say you really like my TV…) But that may be a cultural thing as well, in my experience it’s common for Jews to give practical gifts like socks, underwear…things you need (actually I think new boxers was one of the first gifts I ever gave my husband). The way I see it is that if you need it, and I have it and either 1) Don’t use it regularly or 2) Feel on some level that I could potentially part with it, I will give it to you. Really. I know it’s weird. I’m not gonna wrap it. It may not happen during Christmas. But it happens.

Look, I’m overcoming all kinds of gift-giving barriers here, cut a girl some slack ;) I just have to think about gifting more this time of year because it doesn’t come naturally. People plan for this stuff all year, making lists and such…and I frankly just don’t have that kind of training. Before I met and married my Catholic husband, I had never been Black Friday shopping. In the past 6 years or so, I’ve had my first experience with things like the Yule Log on TV (seriously, who came up with that?), decorating a real Christmas tree, an ugly sweater party, and opening presents on Christmas morning.

Between the “Secret Santa” parties at work and among friends, I gradually got the hang of present giving- although my wrapping skills are still marginal. But I still forget from time-to-time that it’s Christmas, so to say that I’ve made a few last minute presents in my lifetime would be the understatement of the century.

So basically what I’m saying is that I invented the Handmade Holidays movement. Ok, not really. But kinda. I’ve been waiting for this kind of legitimacy for years, people!

A handmade gift means someone thought really hard about what you’d like, then spent the time to make it happen. Even if you buy something handmade (versus making it yourself), you are supporting a local artist, a work-at-home mom, or another small business. I know people (myself included) who actually learn a new skill just to make the perfect gift. In many cases, handmade gifts become heirloom items passed down for generations.

During my search for other bloggers promoting handmade for the holidays (P.S. I do not know if this is an “official” movement or title), I came across this idea sharing event at Positively Splendid.

{Positively Splendid}

Check out HGTV.com, for some gift inspiration well as decoration and tree trimming ideas. And you know Martha’s on board this train too. So why not consider handmade this year? There are so many ideas online, it’s easier than ever to find inspiration or ready made items with sites like Pinterest and Etsy. Are any of you planning to make gifts? Are any of you completely weirded out by my gift-giving awkwardness?

6 Responses

  1. Teri

    I think you should on to your traditions rather than conform to ours!!! You would be a very treasured friend in my world. To give someone a gift from the heart (something you own but give generously) is priceless rather than coming up with something spur of the moment at a certain time of the year. (yes, I am Christian) I loved reading your piece and love the idea of a homemade gift giving. Thank you!!!

  2. mary fran

    Rachel…you make me chuckle! I think you’ve gotten the ‘gift giving’ thing down pat! It is all about “the heart”…giving because you want to and NOT because you have to! I have lots of Jewish friends…we always had my dad’s boss and his wife for Christmas Eve dinner…and we loved the “friendship” more than any gift—I guess that WAS the gift…sharing culture and stories and love.
    I love to make things for people too. I am going to check out some of your sites…
    AND…I always get my husband new undies and socks for Christmas! His mom always got them for him too…hehehe…
    Happy Thanksgiving!
    Mary Fran

    • Rachael Evans

      Thanks Mary Fran! I am always a little hesitant to share things of a more personal nature because I don’t know how people will react. But ultimately it is about giving from the heart and sharing stories…I love that!

  3. Lovely Crafty Weekend #134

    [...] Another week bites the dust, and it doesn’t feel like I got anything done! Plus we have been having some internet outages, hence the super late post. BLAH! I did start on my holiday gift making though, are any of you handmade gift givers? [...]


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