Monday, November 29, 2010

A Home Made, Hand Made Holiday Here!

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.

I Took The Handmade Pledge!
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. ;)

♥ Carolee


Connie said...

Well said! I for one, will be cutting back this year and will be making handmade gifts too! I avoid the mall as much as possible - all year long. I hate going into town and will try to shop at Mom & Pop stores or online whenever I can :)

Dana said...

Carolee, I wholeheartedly agree (as you know) and support handmade artisans as much as possible when I'm not making things myself.

It's very difficult for some people when the message is constantly beat down the throats of the American public is that we must BUY to support the economy. It's a smoke screen and a viscous cycle... to think that you MUST go out and spend your hard-earned dollars on stuff to make sure Suzy and Johnny have a job. Yes, it does help keep some folks employed and sure there will always be those who must buy things from a store... but it's really a sad reality that consumerism drives our economic foundation. We must make a shift in our thinking and how we live in order for that to change. That's my soap box, so I'll save it for my own blog another day. ;)

Much love to you and yours this holiday season. May you be blessed with wealth beyond riches... :)


black eyed susans kitchen said...

Perfect post you know, I have been a support for artists for years now. I would rather receive a handmade gift than any other. I keep your husband in my prayers and an always delighted by what comes from your studio.
♥, Susan

Diane MacNaughtan * Dianie Mac * said...

Great post!
I purchased a few items from a retail store on black Friday, but 95% of the items I will be giving are handmade from the heart! In fact, my SIL and I have been working on items since last January, we get together once a week and have a splendid time. My non- crafty daughter asked me what I would like, I directed her to Etsy ;)
Speaking for myself, I would much rather be gifted a handmade item.

The box is beautiful, a true heirloom and so special because it was made by you!
The Scarves look so cozy and warm, who wouldn't be thrilled over one of those :)

Happy Holidays to you and yours Carolee!


Diane MacNaughtan * Dianie Mac * said...

Hey Carolee, I wanted to mention that a couple of years ago my hubby and I made some Kahlua for gifts, well the delicious beverage;) didn't make it out of our house, I think, instead of the Kahlua, we made cookies...
We are older, wiser and our bodies don't tolerate the stuff like it used too.. so I think it is safe to add to our homemade gift giving list :)


Deb~Paxton Valley Folk Art said...

Very timely post Carolee and I totally agree with you. My hubby and I have been giving crafts and kitchen gifts for several years now to our families and friends; most folks say they like to receive these types of items better than the last minute run to WalMart, buy whatever is on sale type of gifts. The kiddos are more of a challenge and I have to admit I have in the past done the run to WalMart (blush, blush) but this year they are going to get handmades from either Etsy or Ebay or Artfire. I don't make the type of crafts they would appreciate so I am going to take advantage of the skill and artistry of all the other wonderful crafters out there. Jump on your soapbox any time you like Carolee, I love your posts! Deb