I truly cherish these days home with the children. It is such a special time of year to slow down and reflect on the preciousness and joys of life. Something I feel all the more grateful for each day. Falling into a slower pace, spending more time baking, crafting, reading and eating fresh snow covered in maple syrup (a Leo and Lily special)! I find these special moments in life can bring such joy when our world is faced with such hardships. I somehow find the natural busyness of our household calming (and I don’t say that often)!
Over the years our family has taken on the tradition of making homemade gifts for each other. We still buy some gifts, but we’ve found that taking time to be together and work on surprises for each other and those we love is far more enjoyable and less stressful. It is a favorite time for us all because we’re working together and our time is centered around the family. I love seeing the joy it brings to each of the kids as they try and create something meaningful for someone they love. Sometimes we each make a gift for each person in the family or we pick someone we’d like to make something for and make sure it’s balanced so that everyone gets a homemade gift. We have found that this tradition has helped us all to think a little more about what you might like to do for someone else and not just about what you would like to get. Such a beautiful thing to cultivate is the heart of giving in this season. It helps us all feel closer to the reason for the season, the celebration of Christ’s birth and the gift that he’s given to us.
So, as you can imagine, during this time of year the house is a bustle with my little Christmas elves working on all their surprises. I can’t divulge all the clever projects the kids have in the works, but I can share some sweet handmade gift ideas of Christmases’ past and a few from the present!
There is a lot of wood working going on in the shop this year and rumor has it that our head shop elf is working on some wooden stilts for the kids! Leo has also told me that he has some special wooden serving utensils he is making me on the shaving-horse, but it’s a surprise!
Leo and Lily have made Vivienne handmade blocks that they sanded and painted. Lily sewed a beautiful bag to hold the blocks. Mike’s lips are sealed as to any other wood shop creations, but if you’re looking for some other woodworking gift ideas to make with your children, cutting boards and birds houses are a favorite around here – along with homemade Nutcrackers!
There has also been a lot of sewing happening in the house and rumor has it that I might get some new cloth napkins for the kitchen!
We’ve also been busy with some crochet and knitting gift projects. Leo and I have been working together to knit a hat for Vivienne. It’s Leo’s first big knitting project and he had all the best intentions of doing it himself, but as we move forward, he keeps telling me he can’t believe how much work goes into making this hat! So, he knits a row here and there and I have been asked to knit most of it, but he’s always there, sitting beside me for moral support.
There has been lots of crafting, painting, jewelry making, and even some homemade confections. Lily loves making homemade chocolates and for Christmas she is working on some special tins filled with her sweet treats including chocolate covered pretzels!
Lily and I have also taken on the challenge of making Vivienne a handcrafted Waldorf doll. We purchased a kit from Weir Crafts and it’s been fun, exciting and a challenge! Fingers crossed it ends up looking like a doll and that we finish on time!
Some other homemade holiday gifts we’ve enjoyed making over the years are beeswax candles, hand salves and lip balms, handmade journals, Christmas ornaments and framing favorite poems or quotes for one another.
As a special Christmas Eve gift for Mike and I, the kids are working on memorizing and performing ‘The Night Before Christmas.’ They have been gathering props and making their costumes and practicing their lines with excited anticipation for the performance. Tickets are being made and we’ve been told there is limited seating and free cookies for the first two guests seated! Have to love the creativity that springs from times during social distancing.
If you’re looking to give something homemade, but doing it yourself isn’t really an option, there are a lot of ways to support small businesses and purchase handmade gifts during these times. Some great ideas are buying from local small businesses in your town that offer shipping or curbside pick-up. Etsy is also a great place to shop small, handmade businesses. Purchasing CSA shares or gift cards to local farm shares is another buy local idea.
We also love giving books, to the kids and to each other. Giving a gift you can learn from is really a great gift. Games and puzzles are also another favorite gift to receive in our house. Everyone loves the gift of food! We do a lot of baking this time of year; homemade breads, cookies, quick breads, homemade soups in mason jars and fresh cheese or butter are all great gifts for neighbors, friends and family!
For it is in Giving that we ReceiveSt. Francis of Assisi
May the gift of Giving and the Joys of the Season fill your homes with
Hope, Love and Joy!