Warning: Stepping up on my annual soapbox...
By now, most of us in the blogging world have seen this badge, proclaiming a commitment to purchase handmade goods.
But how many of us really take it to heart?
Sure, we agree with supporting the handmade movement in principle - but will our friends and family (especially the younger ones) understand and appreciate it? And if they don't, is it our job to indulge their sometimes extravagant wish-lists? Is it our job to put our dollars to work for corporations instead of individuals?
I'm writing this as someone who has admittedly by necessity as much as choice, had to seriously cut back on gift giving the last several years. My husband's two open heart surgeries and subsequent cancer diagnosis, along with my own self-employment in a slow economy, have meant a fairly drastic income cut in our household, so we've had to get creative with gifts; tins of homemade cookies, soup mix in a jar, bottles of home made kahlua with illustrated labels, knitted scarves and shawls, felted purses and totes, painted pottery and treasure boxes, ornaments, and even recorded guitar compositions make up our gift-giving.
This year will be no exception, and while finding the time to create all these gifts is a challenge, I no longer struggle with whether they're appropriate or well received, and in fact, like it better this way, and find more meaning in the holidays as a result. Handmade gifts are filled with love and attention, with time and thought, and give me the warm fuzzies in a way a new sweater or bottle of perfume just can't.
Besides, a gift is just that - a gift; that which is given freely - and with love, not expectation.
Here are a couple I made last year, the top of an ornament chest for my sister, and a scarf and reader's wrap knitted for my niece and Mom respectively...
All of this said, what to do if you're not one of those people who's handy with a paintbrush or needle and thread? If you don't knit or crochet, and aren't Martha or Rachael in the kitchen?
Consider buying gifts from Etsy, eBay or other handmade marketplaces (of which there are no shortage, both online and in our communities!) Put your dollars back into the local economy, in the hands of artists and artisans, rather than in the pockets of department stores and mega-marts. I'm pretty sure their executives have large enough holiday bonuses without boosting the profit margin further.
But the single Mom who works a full time job and spends her evenings making jewelry, for instance, or the student who's supporting herself by sewing, the artist trying to feed his or her family, the retired couple needing to supplement their small income with a little woodworking business; these are the people who could use a bonus this year, and the people who will most appreciate our patronage.
I don't want this to sound like a lecture, and truly realize we all do what we can do. And however you celebrate Christmas or Yule or Hanukkah or Kwanzaa, whatever you give and however you spend, I wish you a joyous time of it! I just thought I'd throw this out there as a gentle (I hope, hehe) reminder that there are alternatives to the mall. ;)