Hassle-Free Handmade Holidays

Please welcome Dabbled’s special guest today, Rachel from the fabulous inspiration website One Pretty Thing!!

Hassle-Free Handmade Holidays

By Rachel Klein of One Pretty Thing

If you’re anything like me you think the same thing every year. “This year I’m going to make all my own gifts/bake the desserts from scratch/grow all the decorations myself! It’s going to be awesome!” It sounds so festive, so heartfelt. But how many of us actually have time to do it? It’s taken me a few years but I’ve finally got my handmade holiday system down to a science. A schedule of crafting and planning that starts in the summer allows me to create the handmade gifts that bring me so much joy, as well as save me money and stress in December. Sound overwhelming? New to handmade holidays? Pick one or two of the following ideas to try this year, then add another the next. I’m going to share ten hassle-free handmade holiday organizational ideas you can get started on now. I’m a Christmas girl, so these ideas reference that holiday, but are easily applicable to any holiday you might celebrate.

  1. Gather your organizational supplies! I like to keep an inspiration folder for each holiday on my desktop. My Christmas folder has lists of menu ideas, decorating ideas, and gift lists. Set your folders up in advance and you’ll be able to find that beach-themed Christmas tree picture later.I also like to keep a binder for each holiday. These are perfect for storing magazine clippings, a list of Christmas card addresses, and post-holiday recaps. Again, get these set up before the holiday magazines start pouring in and you’ll be ready. My Christmas binder has dividers for decorating, recipes, activities, card ideas and the all-important recap-what worked, what didn’t, and what I’d like to try next year.
  2. Putting up a tree? Decide on the theme now. If you know you want to put up a woodland themed tree, start searching for inspirational pictures. Pick out the handmade ornaments you know you want to make and add them to your crafting schedule. If you know what you’re looking for in advance, you’ll have time to search the craft store sales, yard sales and thrift shops. If you put up the same tree every year, get it out over the summer. Check that the lights are working and that the ornaments are intact. Make a list of what you need to replace and craft or shop sales over the next five months.
  3. Cards. Cards are a big one. Are you doing a photo card? Set aside an afternoon to flip through Flickr and get ideas for your photo session. Engagement pictures are another fun source for photocard inspiration. Making your own cards? Choose a design now. Buying cards? Buy them now, make sure your address list is up to date and set aside the first crispy evening to address them. Don’t forget to save the envelopes from the cards you receive. It’s the easiest way to update your Christmas card list. As for me, I’ll be taking our Christmas card pictures this summer, ordering my cards early and crafting handmade envelopes the first week of October.
  4. Most of my holiday hours are spent making gifts. Some years I like to make different gifts for everyone on my list, but most years I like to pick a theme and streamline. One year I’ll make knit gifts, another year art pieces. Think about what people would like, what they compliment you on, and what you wouldn’t mind doing for hours on end. Decided on an idea? Write out your list. How many hours will it take you to make each gift? Is it feasible? Break your gift list down. You have twenty weeks until Christmas. Can you make a gift a week? If so, write it into your calender and stick to it Resolve to spend a little time each week until you’re done. How wonderful would it be to have them all done by Thanksgiving? If I knit every night during The Daily Show, I’ll reach my goal no problem!
  5. What about food gifts? I love giving them and receiving them. Plan it out now. Decide what you’re making and give yourself a few months to perfect your process, take advantage of supply sales and decide on packaging. Some gifts, like homemade vanilla take months and require planning. Check out my Edible Gift Roundup for lots of great ideas.
  6. Speaking of food, start collecting holiday recipes now, then sit down early in the fall and go through them. Mock up your holiday menus so you have time to sprinkle the recipes into your everyday meals between now and then. Practice makes perfect, especially when you’re making something new. And if you know in October that you’re going to need three pounds of almonds and a bottle of Kahula, you can take advantage of sales. Super-organized bonus-plan freezer meals to have on hand for busy holiday weeks.
  7. Do you plan on decorating with natural materials? The gardener in me loves growing special decorations for the holidays. Forced bulbs, branch wreaths, bowls of pine cones-I love them all! If you’re planning on using a potted tree this year, research their care now and buy one before the seasonal rush. Planning on forcing bulbs? Start collecting containers now. How about those wreaths? Assemble your supply list now.
  8. Since I started blogging, I’ve seen so many amazing handmade advent calenders and I’m really excited to finally be making my own. It seems like a big task but not when you break it down. There are lots of advent resources out there, such as this one in which participants make one a day. Choose an advent calender, then break the project down into manageable crafting sessions.
  9. Summer is also a great time to make a list of all the supporting characters in your life-the coaches, dog walkers, day care providers and teachers. If you plan now you’ll have time to make them a heartfelt holiday gift. Make a list, pick a gift and schedule gift making sessions. Check out my Roundups of Gifts to Make and Keep on Hand for more ideas.
  10. Don’t leave out packaging! If you’re crafting all knit gifts or all painted canvas gifts, your packaging just got easier. If you have an inspiration binder, go through it and grab your favorite packaging ideas. Design your box or bag, gift tag and adornment now. Create a supply list. Schedule the necessary crafting sessions you’ll need to get it all done.

Remember, this list isn’t about doing it all. It’s about picking what’s most important to you and getting an early start. Incorporate handmade into your holidays in a way that is manageable, rather than waiting until the last minute. Happy holiday crafting!


Originally published Aug 2009