It’s over 100 degrees here in Las Vegas. Every day is a pool day, sometimes out of necessity just to escape the heat. So it feels a little odd to be thinking ahead to the holiday season, where cold weather abounds (yes, even here in the desert!). But we’re actually just less than six months out from the winter holiday season, which means it’s the perfect time to think ahead about any handmade holiday gifts or projects!
For many of us quilters and sewists, the holidays can be both amazing and stressful. If you have ever given any handmade gifts, whether a single coaster or a king-sized quilt, you may be familiar with the phenomenon of shrinking time. It really should be a law of physics: the amount of time you have to finish a sewing or quilting project will shrink as the holiday approaches and your patience vanishes!
That’s why we’re looking ahead now; to help avoid those all nighters hunched over your sewing machine finishing up a project, or to avoid giving the gift with pins still in it (and the need to take it back again to finish!). Don’t worry; we’ve all been there. But maybe this year we can do things a little bit differently!
Who Needs a Handmade Gift?
Who needs a handmade gift? Everyone, that’s who!
So that may not be the right answer, but it’s a good reminder that handmade gifts can be the right gift for anyone! It doesn’t have to be a quilt; you can also make placemats, table runners, bags, 3-d English paper-pieced vases, wall hangings, bowl cozies or hot pads. Homemade gifts also don’t have to be quilts; you can make cards, calendars, origami, quilling, knitted or crocheted items. Anything you make can be a wonderful handmade gift.
If you’re feeling inspired to go full-out for a handmade holiday season, here’s a list to get you thinking about who might enjoy a handmade gift:
- school teachers
- dance/music teacher
- school specialists
- troop/group leader
- mail carrier
- delivery person
- favorite barista
- favorite bartender
- school bus driver
- garbage collector
- rideshare drivers
What Are Your Holiday Deadlines?
One of the most important parts of planning ahead is to know when each project is due. It’s time to pull out your calendar and flip ahead to the holiday season. Don’t just limit yourself to December, flip back into October and November if you need to.
First, make sure your calendar is up-to-date with the dates of any holidays, work parties, church gatherings or any other time commitment that you know of. If you’re not 100% certain that an event will happen or don’t have a date, keep a separate list of possible obligations.
Second, add in any special family traditions you want to be sure to celebrate. This could be anything from baking cookies, to watching a special holiday movie together, or sending holiday cards. Penciling these in now will help ensure you have the right tools at the right time to fully enjoy your holiday season. Many times we’ll exchange gifts at these events, so it’s important to keep an eye on the dates.
Finally, you’ll use this above information to come up with deadlines as we move into the project planning stage.
Plan, Plan Plan
I’m sure you’re heard the saying: “Failure to plan is planning to fail.” That’s what we’re going to avoid here. Take the time now to plan out your projects. Not only does this keep each individual project in mind, it also gives you a chance to evaluate how much handmade work you’re taking on for this holiday season.
Want to print out and fill in a project worksheet as you work through each planned handmade project? Click here to download a free one-page Handmade Holiday Planning printable worksheet!
As you plan, think about and write down the information for each intended project. Don’t just keep this information in your head! Put it down on paper (or electronically) so you can refer back to it as you work on your holiday projects.
- WHO is it for
- WHAT are you making
- WHEN is it due
- Any special NOTES?
Steps to Completion
- Walk through the project in your head and write down each distinct step.
- Steps might include: design, cut, sew, stitch, piece, baste, quilt, bind, label.
- Don’t forget any finishing steps, like taking a photo for your scrapbook or writing a card to go along with the gift.
- Add your steps to the completion checklist
- Note any deadlines you want to give yourself for each step
- List out all of the supplies you need to get the project to completion
- If you already have an item, write it under supplies
- If you need to get an item, write it under shopping
- Be sure to pull your shopping lists together onto a master shopping list so you can keep your trips to the store to a minimum
Handmade projects always take longer than you think they will, so start looking ahead to the end of the year now. Avoid as much last-minute sewing as you can, so you can keep your stress levels to a minimum and be present in the moment.
Don’t forget, download your FREE Handmade Holiday Project Planning printable worksheet here!