Thursday, November 17, 2011

our radical christmas

When I think of the Christmas celebrations we have already had and when I think of how many we will have in our family lifetime, I think, why not throw a little curve ball in there? Just for the heck of it, try something new and see how it flies with the troops. Not that they have a whole lot of say or anything. So, it didn't actually unfold in this linear thought progression, it kind of just sprung itself on me one afternoon while I was planning some crafting projects for my girls. Homemade Christmas gifts? I started seeing cute little games I could make, jewelry, a doll house someone made from recycled materials. Think bookshelves and old wood pieces not aluminum cans or  plastic bottle type recyclables, I mean, I don't want them turning into bums. Basically, I just saw really cute homemade Christmas gift ideas that cost a fraction of what popular commercial toys cost and knowing my girls, they would love some of these handmade gifts, especially if they knew it was made especially for them.

I'll be honest, the money saving aspect isn't a total stretch from the few years prior. Last year, I shopped mostly at the Dollar Store and 99cent store for their gifts. I bought puzzles, small games, books, and other fun things that cost no more than a dollar. I was able to spend more on food, decorations and myself other family members that I might not have been able to buy anything for. Besides, my girls are like most kids. They play with the dang thing for a few days and then it gets lost in the multitude of abandoned toys they hoard in their rooms to drive me crazy. If I only spend a dollar, I don't have to wince when something breaks, wondering if its the new $40 dollar Barbie Tanning Bed set I just bought (for the record, I hope that toy does not actually exist or we are in a lot of trouble as a culture). I have no qualms about throwing away a deflating ball or tossing a jump rope with a cracked handle.

Of course, the first year I went cheap Luciana's dad bought her two of every girl's top gifts. A Barbie Dream house and a new puppy. A PUPPY!

These days, a lot of people are defining the way their families are celebrating holidays, and Christmas seems to be the major one. Some people don't buy any gifts, buy one special gift, or find some other way to focus on the aspect of Christmas that is most important to them. Then again, some people just celebrate in the most traditional way possible and that is how I grew up. We had lots of awesome gifts and stocking stuffers every single Christmas up until, well, now that I think of it, my dad still tries to do it for us. Of course now our "toys" are quite different, so he usually buys us one special thing we want, or something he knows we can use. What makes it like the old traditions we had growing up, is that he still will give us a bag of stocking stuffers. It's usually a mix of our favorite snacks and candy. Having my own family, this is what I have been doing for the last 7 years of being a parent. I think all of the variations of Christmas holiday traditions are great. Whether you make your own changes to instill certain values, make it extra special, or have to make changes and sacrifices out of necessity, creating memories of Christmas traditions will never be forgotten. I love the holidays so much. Not because I get things or because I stuff myself silly, but because the traditions are so familiar and really do bring happiness to my heart.

 Tamale making is one of my most favorite family traditions. We start them young.

So, we are doing a radical thing for Christmas this year. We will be giving the kids nothing but homemade Christmas gifts this year. For some of you, this might not be so radical, but for us, it is. One of the reasons we liked buying extremely cheap gifts is because we love to watch the kids open gift after gift and get excited about the amount of gifts that are stuffed under the tree. Yes, we are probably instilling an attitude of entitlement and greed, but hey, what is the Christmas holiday without a few grinches? Of course, I'm joking. Our goal this year is to see the same joy every child gets when they get a present, but to hopefully give them things that can bring them joy on many levels. My mom made this, my dad made this. I should take care of this and keep this forever because it was made especially for me. Now, let's be honest, we are raising kids here, not aesthetic monks. I am sure we will hear at least a few complaints of the but-I-asked-for-this, why-did-she-get-that-and-I-didn't, why- do-you-love-the-baby-more-than-me, type complaints. And for the record I love the baby more because she can't talk back yet, obviously. But you know what? I can handle the complaints. They will end quickly. Soon after, they will be thumbing through the books we made, rearranging the furniture of their dollhouse, and asking for help with learning to the play the new game they got. It will all fall into place.

Talking Dad into it wasn't too bad. His eyebrows kinda moved in a funny direction at first, but then he started to see my point. Or maybe he just saw my determination. Either way, he's down with the plan. Although, he has gotten me to agree to have a few select items purchased still. I think he was thinking a good family board game or perhaps a new game for the Kinect that we have been putting off buying. Then I thought, we could make these our "From Santa" gifts. I mean, we all know elves don't "craft" anymore these days.

So, there it is. Our radical Christmas plans. This week I started the planning and a bit of the shopping for materials. I hope I can push myself through each project and I hope they all turn out nice. I will be sharing my progress and a few of the projects in case anyone else out there is looking for ideas, too. I have been scouring the internet and have found some awesome ideas and I am beyond excited to combine my new found love for crafting with my deep rooted love for bringing joy to my children's hearts. I'm such a lovely person, aren't I? Stay tuned, more to come!

Here are a few questions for you: What are your favorite go-to crafting sites? Do you know any great ideas that you would like to share for a homemade Christmas gift for children?


  1. I LOVE your idea of homemade gifts! I don't really know any crafting sites but I still have the doll my grandmother made me for Chanukkah one year if that helps!

  2. love the idea!

  3. What fun! My sister always did homemade gifts for everyone growing up. It is always a nice personal touch :)

  4. Thanks ladies. I'm pretty excited. Although, I have yet to start anything! I have so many ideas to organize!

  5. I think homemade gifts is a wonderful idea! We actually made Tamales last Christmas too!

  6. I love your idea and wish more people would do that. My family isn't really big on gift giving, and I consider it to end up just being a lot of "stuff."

    Personally, I would rather have something non-commercialized. Last year we still gave gifts, but we all did 2 bottles of wine. It was fun to shop for, because I tried to find inexpensive, but new wines that spanned the world. And, it was something that we all got to enjoy instead of something that would just collect dust.

  7. Homemade gifts are great!! They have such a special meaning

  8. I think that is a great idea! We aren't doing all homemade gifts this year but quite a bit and I am excited for it!

  9. I commend you on the Tamale making--great way to get your family just all hands and heart into making a great family holiday memory! Love this idea of making tradition. Looking forward to hearing more of your projects! Our family is fairly new and traditions I am realizing is something that a mom really has to put a lot of effort into creating! I thought thigns happened naturally you know? But I realized how much effort and time my mom really spent on making holidays special and memorable. :)

    I am following you through GFC--would you follow me back when you get the chance? If you like my blog :P

  10. 'The biggest shae is that doing this wonederful type of christmas is now considered "radical."

    We did handmade Christmas last year and the kids loved it. We primarily have a no plastic rule in our house, though some exceptions were made for legos & outside toys. Everything else is handmade from dolls to felted food, but my kiddos are a bit younger I think.

    And i second you on the Barbie tanning bed! Though I recently heard of tanning for minors being outlawed in CA.