Somewhere along the way, celebrating the holidays became synonomous with buying expensive gifts for friends and family as the primary method of demonstrating that we "care". It has almost become a holiday tradition to go into debt that is barely paid off throughout the year (if it's paid off at all), only to do it all again once the holidays role back around.
The point of celebrating the holidays is the company, not the loot. For the past few years, we have chosen to opt out of spending rediculous amounts of cash to tell our loved ones that we appreciate them. This year is no different. We will be giving gifts, but ours will be be of hand-knitted items, baked goods, homemade candles, and some of our honey crop from this autumn. We are also cleaning out our closests and storage unit. This is partly to make room for the new baby, but also to look for items that others may find useful to give as gifts, or to sell on Craig's List or eBay for last minute shoppers. We have made an exception for a gift for our son, and are purchasing a set of wooden alphabet blocks that are made in the USA of non-toxic materials.
We've set a limit of $150 to cover everyone on our list, children included, and it's a long list. So far, the biggest expense has been the yarn, coming in at around $70. Most of the yarn was made in the USA, but the choices were limited. I was unable to get the colors that I originally planned, and had to substitute yarns from different manufacturers. But I have what I need to make some thoughtful, handmade gifts.
Today, I started and finished a cowl, made from organic cotton. It is essentially a tube that you slip over the head and functions like a scarf, except that there are no long pieces that hang down and can come untied. The pattern itself was certainly a beginner level pattern. Now that I've made one according to the directions, however, it will be easy to adapt it. I've got a vision of a nice blue cowl with white snowflakes. Only this time, I'll make it out of wool so that it stays warm even when wet. We have plenty of January birthdays in our family, so I'll have time to play with the idea after the Yuletide season has passed.
The next knitted projects include a knitted cotton shower mit and some knitted lace-trimmed cotton washcloths. After they are done, it will be time to scour the internet for some good cookie recipes!
Live better, a little every day.