Let’s Talk: Homemade Holiday Progress

The following is by editor Kara Fleck.

About a month ago, I shared with you guys some of my plans for homemade holidays gifts and what I hoped to get accomplished this year.  I said I would check in with all of you and we could compare notes on our progress.

So, how are things going?

I didn’t finish everything on my list before my self-imposed deadline of the first week of December.  But, that is okay, I knew that I wouldn’t.   Anything that isn’t finished, I have set aside for now (perhaps to pick up again for Valentines day or the Easter baskets?)

Over the years, I have learned that is it better for me and my temperament to set things aside if they aren’t finished by the first week or two of December.  This allows me to focus on the joy of the holiday season and not end up stressing out over projects and to-do lists.

While I didn’t get everything finished on my gift list, I did get quite a few things finished, in part because I shared the responsibility.  My family helped me to create and make gifts and it is true what they say about many hands making light work.

Under our tree this year are handknit sweaters and hats, dolls, peg people, playsilks, wooden blocks, magic wands, felt covered barrettes, bean bags, and some story stones.  And Jillian has been hard at work behind closed doors on a super-secret project yet to be revealed.

What fun!


This year we did something fun that I know I’m going to remember for next year and I encourage you to think about, too:  we participated in a stocking stuffer swap.

For our part, our family made 10 small handknit babydolls, swaddled in handkerchief sized playsilks.  Jillian and I worked on them assembly line style and really enjoyed this time crafting together.  We picked a simple, easy pattern that we knew we could duplicate in time to send off for the swap.

In exchange, we received 10 different kinds of small handmade toys for our kids’ stockings.  It was a lot of fun and a great way to trade for a variety of special, handmade toys. Plus, the cost was only our raw materials and the postage.

I’ll definitely be keeping my open for swaps next holiday season.

Baking and Decorating

And, now that the gift making is done, my family and I can focus on some of the other things we love to do during the holiday season: decorating and celebrating!

Did you guys see Tsh’s post on Simple Mom Friday about homemade holiday decor?  I think some string balls and a felted garland may be making an appearance at the Fleck house this season.

And the baking, we certainly don’t want to overlook holiday baking.  Topping my list are these cookies and this elf-sized family tradition.

Baby doll for LucyYou can see how I made her here.

Need Inspiration?

Still working, creating, and searching for ideas for handmade gifts?

Here are a few links to help you on your way, if you’re needing some inspiration:

Let’s Talk

I’d love to hear from you! Let’s compare notes:

  • What gifts have you had the most success in making?
  • Anything you’ve learned that you would like to share?
  • Anything questions or issues that have come up? Maybe a Simple Kids reader can help.
  • Have you blogged about your progress? Share your link in the comments.

Where do you stand with your homemade gifts? Are you still in the thick of things? Finishing up? Already done?

This post was sponsored by Oak Meadow, offering creative, complete, and well-rounded homeschooling curriculum to families since 1975. You can see sample lessons and find out more about their curriculum and school at the Oak Meadow website.

About Kara

Kara Fleck is the editor of Simple Kids. She is a small town mama, writer, knitter, bookworm, and hooligan. Kara lives in Indiana with her husband Christopher and their four children Jillian, Max, Lucy, and Amelia. You can find more of her writing at KElizabethFleck.com.

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  1. Kara, I’m nowhere near finished with my handmades and have actually decided to go in a completely different direction. I like to make each of my children a handknit hat every year, but they really need some warm mittens. So, I’m going to skip the hats in favor of mittens. And I’ve decided to crochet the remaining gifts I’m going to make. It will be much quicker than knitting them!
    Dee @trees all dance´s latest post: December 10

  2. Goodmorning!

    I’m still in the thick of it! We completed felted bouncy balls (the balls from Old Navy’s machines work perfect and are only $.25) for my son’s friends and classmates.

    I made story stones similar to the ones at Red Bird Crafts. http://redbirdcrafts.blogspot.com/2009/04/mouse-stones.html
    Super easy and due to time constraints I found some cute fabric from my stash that had characters on it. So we have frogs, giraffes, and Fancy Nancy stones. I added purple glitter to Fancy Nancy. This trip necessitated an outing to the beach on Thanksgiving day to get some perfect stones! What a treat!

    In November I started knitting and may have over-estimated my free time. :-)
    It started with a desire to honor my mom who is an amazing knitter and has made us all so many beautiful things. I’m halfway done with this one. http://www.knittingonthenet.com/patterns/scarfseafoam.htm
    I am also working on scarves for my son, husband (although my 4 year old let the cat out of the bag on this one!), and my dad (This one is not started… :-( ) I have completed one for my daughter. Here’s the link to that pattern. The one’s for my husband and dad are twice as wide. http://www.knittingonthenet.com/patterns/scarfcameofaggotst.htm

    Today’s projects include peeling and melting down our old crayons and putting them in candy molds, making Chex party mix for my husband’s staff and working on my favorite project. I am making a car track for my son out of black wool. I have a variety of pieces (straights, crossroads, corners, and even a circle loop. I’m zig-zagging the edges to create sides of the road. He’ll get this with a new package of matchboxes on Christmas morning.

    So yeah… I love this time of year! So many projects so much fun!

  3. Kara, I’m happy to say that I’m almost done! I have a bit of felting left to do and the very fast border to add to a shawl, then I’m done with 6 handmade gifts. I started in September this year and I think the thing that made the difference for me was that the last project (the shawl) was an “if I get this done in time” kind of thing that I haven’t felt a lot of pressure about. I did know that if I didn’t get started on it by Thanksgiving it absolutely wouldn’t be done in time, but I also had a priority on getting the other stuff done first. This kind of unspoken deadline worked really well for me.
    Erin´s latest post: Getting Ready for Christmas Daybook

  4. Love the stocking stuffer swap – what a great idea!
    Simple Homeschool – Jamie´s latest post: The Gift of Slow

  5. “Over the years, I have learned that is it better for me and my temperament to set things aside if they aren’t finished by the first week or two of December. This allows me to focus on the joy of the holiday season and not end up stressing out over projects and to-do lists.”

    Kara, thank you so much for sharing that – I feel the need to adjust my list because I am starting to feel that I STILL don’t have time, even with all the “slowing down”, to make all the things I wanted to gift out this year. I think I’m going to sit with a cup of tea and look at what I can just cross off! :)

    I just had a conversation with my kids this morning about how our pace somehow still doesn’t seem to leave enough room for “savoring” like I had intended…

    Sofia’s Ideas´s latest post: Reflection in My Eyes

  6. Sounds like it’s going to be a wonderful Christmas. :) I love the handmade stocking swap idea.

    We’re not doing a handmade Christmas, but we never have the traditional “plastic toy and present overload” type either. I went with a variation of the “something you need, something to read…” idea. Books, art supplies, thrift store finds and other treasures are under the tree for the most part.
    Alicia´s latest post: Unschooling graduate uses art to raise awareness for animals and the disabled

  7. I just barely got my Advent calendar done this year and the personalized stockings are still – very much – a work in progress :)

  8. Our handmade things are almost done after a lengthly list revisit. (I decided that learning to felt things was not a late in the year project…I’ll start learning in Jan for *next* Christmas!) The string balls are a super easy and lovely project…I made some years ago out of some hemp twine. They are very sturdy and we fill them with coloured shredded paper to match the seasons. An awesome idea I saw somewhere was using recycled wrapping paper from gifts, shredding it and using it to fill the string balls.
    Hope you enjoy your time decorating and baking :)
    Tanya´s latest post: In a rush daybookWednesday

  9. ooo how fun!! I learned that I need to start a little sooner so that I have more time to make more handmade gifts and put a little extra touch on them! I am almost done.. a few little fun things that if they don’t get done they don’t get done but they will be fun if I do :-)
    Lindsay @ BytesOfMemory´s latest post: Christmas Past

  10. Managed to knit/crochet small warm things for my aunts. Made some aprons (just need to sew on buttons). Some fairy/butterfly wings from playsilks we dyed. Made oreo bark with my son for his friends, but he wants it all for himself. Working on a three little pigs playset made from felted sweaters for my daughter that is the bane of my existence. Also making some laptop cozies for my husband.


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