“From Scratch”

I’m not really what you would call a “Christmas Guy” when presents come up. My wife and I have 3 different family Christmases, along with several other parties that we go to every year. While I enjoy the food and visits, I feel both stressed and perturbed when it comes to presents for people – especially for the family. Both my wife’s and my own family have a set-dollar “secret Santa” exchange, where there’s an obligation to buy a gift of a certain amount. I have lobbied to rid all gift exchanges with my family, as I would prefer to just eat and visit.

I have two nieces, two and three years old. Like most kids, they have tons of toys, clothes and other “kid stuff”, and really didn’t need anything for Christmas this year. I wanted to give them something though, and spent a long time scouring the Internet looking for something unique. I settled on a “Minion” toque, which I thought was cute and not widely available at stores (that I have seen anyways). The main source of these hats were on Etsy, where people had handmade and put them up for sale.

My wife is a knitter, and is constantly making unique bags, hats, socks or other things. I’ve watched her do it, and although it seems super difficult, all it boils down to is making hundreds of knots in a specific manner. So, rather than paying someone else to do it for me, I decided to learn how to make the hats myself (crocheting).

Learning to crochet took quite a bit of time, but watching tons of youtube videos and practicing, I was able to (step-by-step) learn the necessary stitches that were needed to make my nieces hats. Rather than surfing the internet and watching Netflix, I crocheted and watched Netflix and made my nieces hats in the month of December.

Having this skill, I also made hats for my friends for part of their Christmas present. I found the whole experience much more rewarding than just going to the mall and dumping money at different stores. Looking at my nieces presents, the alternative to the minion hats I made for them would be a book or a toy, that (best case) would be enjoyed in a short period of time and promptly ignored. At least with the hats, one of us got something out of the present (I now know how to crochet).

Christmas leads to a bunch of waste – presents that nobody wants. The hats I made for my nieces and friends, I made with my own hands, learned a skill and will hopefully be worn at some point. I am currently looking for different “projects” for next Christmas that I can make for my friends. My main goal is to find something simple (so I can actually make something that doesn’t look like I made it when I was 8) but useful, and be able to learn something new while I’m making it.

Are you a DIY’er for gifts? If so, what have you made in the past?

5 thoughts on ““From Scratch””

  1. I love DIY projects so long as they are useful and look great. This winter I gave a few of them.

    Personalized cutting board $4 ea
    With some nice bamboo cutting boards from the dollar store, I was able to burn images into wood using my existing soldering iron. I finished them off by applying mineral oil bought from the pharmacy. The various images I used were initials, names, inside jokes, simple outlined images and outlines of pigs/food.

    Magnetic dish towel $5 ea
    Using new dish towels, I glued a strong magnet to a corner of the dish towel with a glue gun. I then took a piece of fabric to sew around it and into a corner to polish the look. It looked great and you can throw the dish towel to the fridge like spaghetti.

    Etched glass
    Using an etching compound from Michael’s, I applied it to various glasses, bowls and frames around the house. I cut out vinyl stickers with an exacto knife to do hand prints on glasses, baby feet on frames and names on bowls.

  2. I prefer experience gifts. My niece and nephew got a membership to our local zoo with an animal that they adopted and get to visit once a month.

  3. @ Goldeneer – Those are great gifts. I was actually looking at making end-cut cutting boards in the next little while. Adding burned images would really finish them off well.

    @ Melissa K – I would have loved that kind of gift when I was a kid!

  4. It’s great that you did that for your nieces, good for you. I’m sure the hats will especially be appreciated given the weather this winter!

    My sister knits socks for gifts from thinner wool (maybe called sock yarn?; it’s expensive but not bad if got on sale). She has a waiting list because everyone wants a pair! I made an advent calendar as an early gift for a loved one this year – I found lots of good ideas from a simple google and my relative told me that it was one of the nicest things anyone has ever done for her 🙂

    Good luck in considering your future projects.

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