This is my first post on crafting for the holidays. Over the next few months, I also plan to write some general holiday posts on my other blog Questioning my Intelligence and some Bible-based posts on my blog Transforming Common Days, for those who are interested.
The holidays are a hectic time. (statement of the obvious)
We want to enjoy peaceful holidays, but the rush and hurry and mile-long to-do lists leave us too exhausted to enjoy anything. (irony)
The expense of it all worries us and seems to grow each year no matter how we try to control our budgets. (Consumerism 101...who signed us up for this class?)
Happy Holidays! (more irony)
The first year I made Christmas cards, I decided to mass-produce a simple, embossed card with a single bow accent. Half-way through the embossing and before I'd tied the first bow, I said out loud so my husband could hear, "This is so boring!"
George replied, "So don't do it. I thought crafting was supposed to be fun."
"But I've already cut the card stock and ribbon," I whined.
"So what?" he shot back. "It's only paper and ribbon. You can use it for other stuff later."
He's mine. You can't have him.
Of course our crafting is supposed to be fun, though sometimes we could all use a reminder of this simple fact. For the vast majority of us, crafting is a hobby, a way to unwind after a busy day and a creative way to express ourselves freely and with the joyful abandon of small children.
Handcrafting should never be anything less than fun.
So if you're not having fun crafting or baking or decorating or wrapping gifts during the holidays, don't do those things. The world will NOT stop spinning if we send out store-bought cards or only put up a tiny table-top tree or don't hang lights outside our houses or don't bake a single cookie or plop gifts into pretty gift bags.
If our handcrafted Christmas doesn't fill us with joy, what's the point of it?
Your crafty challenge this season, should you choose to accept it, is to simplify your celebration to have all the fun without so much stress.
For some of you, this might mean no craftiness at all...a burden lifted! For others, it might mean doing everything crafty you've ever done before and more, but with greater intention and more joy. The rest of us will fall somewhere in between these two extremes.
Start your intentional Christmas planning with a Christmas notebook. You may use a pretty blank book like I do (I use this one), pick up a cheap spiral notebook at the grocery store, or create a file on your computer, tablet, or smart phone. The point is to have a single place where you keep your ideas and notes together from year to year.
Your Christmas notebook will be the place you plan your gift-giving, your crafting, your decorating. After the holidays, go back over your notes and write comments in the margins. "This didn't work." "Do this instead next year." "This was fun!" "Try doing it this way next time." "Never, ever buy the white wrapping paper at Hobby Lobby...it isn't opaque!" After several years of reflecting on what worked and what didn't, you'll feel much more confident about navigating the holidays and see solutions you might never have discovered otherwise.
For example, my boys enjoy making sugar plums, which are large marshmallows dipped in chocolate coating and sprinkles. We put them on lollipop sticks and wrap them with cello bags to give as gifts to other children and teachers. When we first started doing this, the boys were very small, and the job of tying on the cello bags fell to me. I tried using string, ribbon, and curly ribbon three years in a row, and each year, I noted that this was incredibly boring and time-consuming for 40-50 sugar plums and not much fun after all the fun of making the pretty things.
After re-reading my notes the fourth year, I saw a package of red pipe cleaners at Hobby Lobby and had an epiphany. Now, I cut the pipe cleaners into thirds, string a medium-size jingle bell on a piece, and use that to seal the bags. It's such a small thing, but it makes a big difference in that task of making sugar plums. If I hadn't re-read my notes before going shopping for the supplies, however, I never would have remembered how boring the chore was or thought to look for alternatives.
Your Christmas notebook is also an excellent place to comment on what you choose NOT to do for the holidays. If you decide not to put up outside lights this year, for instance, you can evaluate how that affected you and your family. If no one noticed the lack, make a note of that. If your kids cried Christmas Eve when they noticed the lights weren't up, make a note. If you felt that Christmas was not as bright for you without the lights, write it down. Your notes will help in planning for next year.
Remember that you won't remember anything unless you write it down!
I made the mistake of buying two Copic Markers (G43, G46) that I already have, so I'm going to give them away to some lucky random person who comments on this post before Sunday, November 3, 2013, at midnight, Eastern Standard Time. Just share with us what first steps you're going to take to make this a simpler, less stressful holiday season for yourself and your family.
Oh, and here's a card for today...a simple little Christmas card!
stamps: Papertrey assorted
accessories: Smooch red for ornaments, Corner Chomper