Friday, July 25, 2014

Christmas in July... Aka DIY Presents and a Big Family is Not for the Faint of Heart!

Are you appalled that I'm talking Christmas this early? Want to know something really scary? On a good year I start my present brainstorming list in January!

This is mostly because of the whole "big family thing". Add 15 relatives (parents, grandparents, siblings and their children.), my best friend, our Godbabies and their siblings (5), plus, you know, my own husband and children, and with only those essential people in our lives I'm almost at 25 people! (Oh yah, don't forget to add the 4 December birthdays in there!)  So don't panic. Chances are your list is much more manageable! Still, it's good to start early enough that the making is still fun, and not a last minute scramble. Just think I'm insane? Feel free to scroll to the bottom for some  kid present brainstorming cuteness!

So really, how is this not a completely insane idea? Some of my coping strategies are:

1. I don't put any pressure on myself to hand make a present for everyone. If I see something in a store that I think someone would like, I  buy it. If I'm running out of time, I go shopping. If I can't think of a good diy gift for someone, ditto. Last year we were at the end of Deacon's half-year of no sleep and I pretty much only made things for the kids. Christmas cards came from the dollar store and had one sentence and a signature in them. Deacon didn't have a stocking made for him. There were definitely some "oh well, that would have been nice" moments but I felt zero guilt over the things I didn't get to. Making gifts is a wonderful way to show you love someone, so would they really be happy if that object meant you didn't enjoy Christmas?

2. I group gift ideas. The grandparents usually get a variation of the same gift. Sometimes the parents get a joint gift, of similar things for both Mom's or both Dad's. The kids are usually grouped as well. One year I spent from spring to fall leisurely knitting/crocheting them all awesome hats (dinosaurs, owls, bunnies etc.). Sometimes I split them into smaller groups based on age, the older kids getting one present and the younger ones getting another. (Usually clothes. Under one or two they don't really need much else, especially if they're a sibling.) Sometimes I'll do something special for the Godbabies.  This way is just so much easier on both my brain space and supplies.

3. I start planning EARLY. I think that for me the brainstorming is one of the most fun parts. Especially now that I'm obsessed with Pinterest! I usually have a few pages in my notebook where I write out everybody's name and then as many good present ideas as I can think of. This gives me time to work on things as I find the time. It also spreads out the cost! When you buy supplies a bit at a time it's much easier on the budget. It also gives you time to find materials at a good price, if you have a supply list in your head.

4. Don't underestimate Kid Power! For the first time last year Sophie helped make Christmas presents. In a few cases this did mean more work. Sophie made cute little pirate-print cowls for her cousins that I sat down and helped her sew. We combined efforts for some of the others though. I bought plain wooden bird feeders that she painted, and then together we made hanging seed ornaments. This obviously took some work on my part, but not anything like the hours it would take to knit a sweater. On that note...

5. Don't pick projects that will take you forever! Unless you're a super fast knitter, or only have two people on your list, this may not be the time to make matching family sweaters. Mittens maybe. Sew an apron, not a coat. Write a beautiful letter or poem, not a novel. Bake cookies or make a spice mix, don't turn half a cow into jerky with a homemade smokehouse. (Unless of course you raise cows and have a yearly jerky making tradition.) Be realistic. Especially since anyone who doesn't practice your craft likely thinks it takes much less effort than it does. This is one of the dangers of making things yourself. Some people will be thrilled, others will think the scarf you spent weeks of your free time making took you an afternoon. Now, I do have exceptions to this rule. If you have someone very special to you who you know will appreciate something that takes longer than by all means do it. I often pick a larger project for Travis or our children.  Last year I had a special request to make a weighted blanket for one of our Godbabies. It took longer than any other thing I made, except maybe Deacon's sweater, but I knew he would use it.

So, as a reward for making it this far in my monster of a post, I'm now going to share some of the Pinterest ideas I have Pinned for the kids! Feel free to weigh in in the comments, especially if I make things for your kids!

How about fox socks? To wear while reading Fox in Socks?
Ravelry: Fox socks pattern by Laura Poikolainen
A free Ravelry pattern, found here.
Maybe a little suitcase?

Nr 152 :The Sidekick Suitcase Pattern
Pattern can be bought here.

I'm in love with this sweet little doll bed.
Doll basket made by Betsy, inspired by the tutorial (in French) by Mes petites bricoles here
Pinned here.

Maybe with a dolly to put to bed?

Remembrance Day Soldier Free crochet pattern
Pinned here.

Oh wait, you were picturing something like this instead.
Bunting Doll - Our prizewinning bunting dolls come in three sizes, so crochet just the right size for your little one! Skill level: Easy  Doll size: 6, 8 & 11" (appx)  Designed by Patricia Westbrook  free pdf from  I love these dolls.
Pinned here.

How about a game?
Mermag: Magnetic Figure Skater Toy DIY
Pinned here.

Let's not forget baby Hunter! This just stole my heart, but Jess would probably prefer a more gender neutral one. Or maybe crochet cowboy boots?
Sweet Hearts Baby Pants diaper cover - via @Craftsy
Pinned here.

I already know what Jess would like best though ;)

Bacon Hearts for Father's Day
Pinned here.

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