The cost of the holidays is often the most stressful part of the season. Making gifts is a great way to show people you care with your time, rather than spending a lot of money. It may not even take more time depending on how long you spend shopping for the ‘perfect’ gift. People often appreciate a homemade jar of jam or a box of cookies more because you made it with your own hands. Plus, it’s much less likely that they’ll get the same thing from someone else.
If you are crafty or you’d like to learn something new, look for inspiration and ideas online. There are communities full of creative types out there sharing video tutorials, how-tos and even free downloadable patterns. Here are a few places to go to help get your holiday crafting started:
- Teresa Richardson’s Crochet Geek channel on Youtube has nearly eight hundred tutorials on every crochet project you can imagine, from snowflake decorations to an Angry Birds hat. Her explanations are very clear and easy to understand, even for absolute beginners. If you’ve ever thought of taking up crochet, her channel is definitely the place to start.
- Crocheters and knitters should also check out Ravelry, a knit and crochet community. Find patterns, many of them free, and connect with other yarn-y types to give your holiday mojo a kick-start.
- Instructables.com is an amazing site with tons of electronics projects and a few pages of Christmas ideas too. You’ll find things like how to make a six-sided paper snowflake as well as the more complex projects like making your own LED Christmas tree baubles.
- Make Magazine online has an incredible variety of project tutorials. I suggest starting with their craft section if you’re interested in sewing, jewellery making or felting.
- For sewing, check out Burdastyle. They’ve made the concept of open source sewing a reality with sewing patterns that you can download for free or cheap, as well as tons of great tips, tricks and tutorials in photo and video format. There are not just simple projects for beginners but couture techniques too if you’re looking for a challenge.
- If you don’t have a sewing machine, not to worry! You can rent one by the hour at Spool of Thread Sewing Lounge in Vancouver. They also offer classes if you need a little help getting started.
- Check out the blog Not Martha for recipes and inspiration for creative baking and housewares. Notable past projects: bacon bowls for salad and miniature gingerbread houses that perches on the edge of a mug.
- Last but not least is Working Class Foodies for down-to-earth cooking shows on a budget. Rebecca and Max show you how to make great meals and treats with simple, wholesome ingredients.
Get your kids in on the fun over the holidays! Potato stamp printing makes great wrapping paper or cards. Try making it a beginning-to-end learning experience by letting them come up with the design to carve into the stamp, as well as inking the stamp and doing the printing. Many of the above websites have great ideas for holiday-themed children’s projects.
Don’t worry if you can’t sew or you just don’t have time to make five kilos of fudge over the holidays: your gift can be as simple as a coupon or certificate. Try giving a service gift, like several hours of babysitting or house cleaning (or any other service you think your loved ones would appreciate). Use a template on your computer, and the certificate will look pretty and festive.
Craft Fairs in Vancouver
If DIY just isn’t your thing, consider buying handmade. If you haven’t been to a craft sale in a while, you should go: they ain’t your grandma’s craft fair anymore! You can find gorgeous one-of-a-kind jewellery, unique purses, hand-sewn stuffed animals, stylish knit scarves and quirky silkscreened t-shirts made right here in Vancouver. The wares on offer are as diverse as the people who make them. You can find lots of craft fairs in our event rundowns throughout the holidays, and our readers shared many of them with their holiday shopping picks. By no means have we tracked down every craft show in the region, however. There are dozens of great craft markets all over the city during the holidays, so watch for posters in your neighbourhood. They usually happen in late November and early December, so it’s not a place for last-minute shopping.
Handmade Holidays Online
If you don’t make it to any of the craft markets, don’t despair: search online! One of the best-known websites is Etsy, which is a great marketplace for handmade goods, as well as vintage items. There are thousands of people offering a mind-boggling variety of items for sale.
Whether you make it yourself or buy from a craft market, one-of-a-kind gifts are sure to please the people on your list. Buying from a local artisan or small business is also greener too – it’s like the 100-Mile Diet for the holidays!
What are your favourite handmade gifts to give – or receive? And where do you find inspiration for crafting over the holidays? Leave us a reply and let us know!
*Image courtesy of Spool of Thread.