I started making all the gifts I give in 2011. The first gifts I made were a couple of cloth books and some really basic kids dresses that I gave to my nieces for Christmas. I decided in 2012 I would make all my gifts and from that point on I have ever since. Giving handmade gifts isn’t that hard to do. I thought I’d share some tips I have learnt along the way
Write A Recipient List
Grab a notebook and write a list of all the people you would like to make gifts for. I write a separate birthday list and a Christmas list. Occasions such as new births or Christenings I put on my birthday list or you could do a separate list. Items I make for Christmas charity hampers I add to my Christmas list.
Once you have your list of names write the gift you would like to make them next to each name. At first its ok to be generic such as writing soft toy next to a name but if you can be specific from the start and write the name and pattern next to each name it saves time. Once you have written your vague list of ideas then go back to each one and make the decision on what item to make them and where you find the pattern or what items will be included if you’re doing for example a hamper. Use social media like Pinterest to create secret boards so you keep links to webpages or upload your owns photos so you can refer back to magazines or patterns for gifts.
When your deciding on your gifts be realistic as too how long items will take to make or prepare. If an item takes 4 weeks to complete you won’t finish 15 of those in time for Christmas. Keep things simple. Its is better to make simple things and have them completed then to not have any item finished at the time you want to give it away. Items will always take longer to make than you expect so factor that in when your planning.
Make In Bulk
If you find a really simple project there is no reason why you can’t make that same item for multiple people. Change the colour for each person or just make enough in a batch and then decide who gets what later on. Cutting in bulk doesn’t take that much longer than cutting one or baking or what ever it is your making.
Look out for specials or sales, this is when you gift list comes in handy. Spotlight and Lincraft (fabric chain store in Australia) regularly have 30% storewide sales so with your list take advantage of the sales and stock up on any supplies that you need. Shop for craft supplies at op shops or discount stores. If your making food gifts for Christmas watch for specials on ingredients with a long storage life throughout the year and stock up or watch for items that you could present your gifts in or add to a hamper. The last couple of years Lincraft has had a 40% off sale after Christmas so just recently I stocked up on soft toy fill and a heap of other items I’ll need for 2015.
Shop At Home
Before buying anything see if you can source the materials you need from items you already have. Upcycle or recycle items, use scrap fabric you already have. Wash an old pillow insert and use the stuffing in a toy. Go through boxes you were given you never know what you might find, that old doily from Aunty Shirley might make a great topper for a jar of jam your giving.
Don’t leave things to the last minute give yourself plenty of time to complete all that you want. Life is going to get in the way of your gift preparation so plan out things so that you can be flexible and still get things done. I’ve written up gift dead lines and postage dates so items are completed on time. I plan out little tasks I need so when I sit down and sew everything is ready for example during the week I might wash and prepare the fabric so on the weekend it is ready to cut out and sew.
With a bit of planning making your gifts can be really rewarding. I still think I get more out of making the gifts than the kids getting them do. For me gift making is relaxing but that’s cause I spend that bit of time planning and organising my time.