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Tis the Season: Crafting Meaningful Gifts

December 15, 2017



Happy holidays, world, let your hearts be light and your days filled with wonder!


How many holiday cards have you read with similar messaging? As a Christian, I was raised with the traditions of Christmas. And those traditions abound, don't they? Songs, colors, foods, activities, there doesn't seem to be a part of December untouched by some kind of Christmas tradition. As is evident by Advent calendars, counting down from day 1 to day 25 of December. 


There's plenty to criticize when it comes to Christmas traditions. Pushing the idea of an aged man who delivers gifts all around the world in one night is one. As is gift-giving as a whole. 


I've spent much of life giving gifts because I felt obligated to do so. Gift to the boss who drives me bananas most of the year? Check. Gift to the overtly racist uncle whom I can't stand? Check. 


And what's worse, is that the gifts usually reflected that level of indifference. A cheap tin of popcorn for one, a generic gift card to another. Yet, when it comes to someone for whom I truly care about, I adore gift giving. Finding something perfect for them, wrapping it with care, sharing with them and knowing it's valued. Those are the ideals I want in my holiday season.


As I've grown, I've decided that I'm going to give gifts with intention, and stop phoning it in. So what does this look like in practice?

Moving Toward Meaning


Crafting isn't something I do with ease. I'm much better with my words and writing than I am with my hands. So when I decide to create gifts, I find ways to make things that are beautiful but accessible for anyone.  


I came across the idea of winter terrariums on--where else?--Pinterest.  Essentially, I worked with oh-so-talented sister to create these miniature winter scenes:


  1. Identify your desired terrarium containers. We found some great old vases in our parents' basement that added another dimension of personality to the project. 

  2. Purchase your succulents in a variety of textures and colors.

  3. Based on the space you have, start collecting the things you want to make your winter scenes. We used little animals from Michael's, ornaments from Target, anywhere we could find things that would work. 

  4. Pick up some cactus soil and charcoal for a base, and then add a layer of white sand. Make sure your succulents roots can reach the darker soil through the white sand. We mounded the darker soil and filled with white around to enhance the snowy effect.

Altogether, the price for a single terrarium was probably between $5-$10. So far, giftees have loved their little faux winter scenes. Several even copying the idea for their own gift list!


Another idea which I've started incorporating is sending cookies to friends and families who aren't nearby, or whom I don't visit frequently. 


I grew up in a house where holiday baking (yup, yet another tradition) was an all-hands-on-deck kind of affair. We churned out sugar cookies, sand tarts, molasses cookies, and more. The favorite, of course, was (and is) always the peanut butter blossoms, aka peanut butter cookies with Hershey kisses on top. 


As I discuss baking with others, it becomes more clear how this is possibly a lost art. People don't bake often. When I offered to make cookies for a friend, I thought he was going to jump over the moon with excitement. I picked up a tin, baked up some cookies, and dropped them off for him. Since I had extras, and the tins were so cute I wound up bringing home five instead of one, I packed up the remaining cookies and dropped them off for other friends and shipped a few.  Seriously, look up The Container Store cookie tins.


I usually choose people for whom I'm holding space, maybe due to a longstanding friendship or something hard which I know them to be enduring. At any rate, who doesn't adore fresh baked cookies?

A Cup of Kindness That We Share With Another


I truly adore the holiday season. I like the weather, I like the extra courtesies that flitter through the air, and naturally, giving gifts with love instead of mild, passive resentment. Creating things makes me want to put my whole heart into it. It feels like a part of me, more than a gift card does. 


What are your favorite meaningful gifts to craft for others?

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