Making Christmas Presents: wait, is it too early?

I’ve decided, I want to make Christmas presents this year for everyone! Is it too early to talk about Christmas? I swear I heard a Christmas song on the radio the other day…

Anyways, I’ve never made gifts for people before, usually because I’m too busy sewing for me, or not sewing at all. I’m not the biggest holiday person either, I could just as easily skip the whole thing and hop a plane to somewhere tropical! (Wouldn’t that be lovely?) I’m also one of those people you see running frantically around the mall on Christmas Eve Eve, when they have the special open-till-midnight hours for the desperate last minute types. So this year, I resolve to be prepared!

(If you are my real-life friend or family – STOP READING NOW. Seriously. You’ll ruin the surprise!)

I really want to give handmade gifts for a few reasons:

  • It’s more thoughtful. It takes more time to choose a gift and make it, instead of just picking up a gift cards.
  • It’s one of a kind! There’s no chance you’ll be giving the same gift as someone else.
  • Money goes farther. I can make something for less than I would spend at a store, and it’s hard to put a monetary value on a handmade gift. Compare that to a gift card, where everyone knows you spent $25 on each person.
  • It’s more eco-friendly, especially if the gift itself is reusable! Think about things made in China: they came from an air-polluting factory, flown over on an airplane and wrapped in tons of packaging – all for a few minutes of entertainment.
  • People don’t need more stuff. There aren’t a lot of kids in the families, and the adults don’t need anything.

Here are some of the gift ideas I’m considering:

  • Kitchen goodies, good for party hosts and hostesses! Aprons, placemats, potholders, and reusable cloth napkins. Look at Stephanie’s super cute lemon napkins. Easy and cute, no? And a great way to use fun prints, that are too cutesy for clothing.
  • Cloth shopping bags. Everyone has to buy groceries! I could make some that are way cuter than the store-bought options, Christmas-themed or not.
  • Stuffed toys, for the kids. I don’t have kids, what age are they too old for a stuffed animal? Leave me a comment if you have suggestions. Again, no chance I’ll give them the same store-bought toy as someone else.

As for Mr. Sewaholic, I have a REALLY good gift idea for him. We’ve been watching Mad Men from the beginning and are totally hooked, so I’m going to make him a shirt with french cuffs, and buy a pair of vintage cufflinks. Yes, I’ve already told him, it would be too hard to fit it without him knowing! And he’s pretty excited. Guys have just as much trouble fitting their unique bodies as we do, so a custom made shirt is a big deal!

My friend Suzie wrote an upsetting post about making baby gifts for an unappreciative recipient. In the material world we live in, is this going to happen to me? Should I just not waste my time?

Do you make Christmas (or other) presents for your friends & family? Do they appreciate the gesture, or wish you’d given cash or giftcards instead? How far in advance do you plan, and do you get it all done in time? And, am I crazy for even considering making Christmas gifts while trying to launch a pattern line and work full-time?

45 Responses to Making Christmas Presents: wait, is it too early?

  1. Irene October 5, 2010 at 6:20 am #

    Are you thinking Christmas already?? Mind you, I’m always thinking presents. I know that most of my recipients are thrilled to get something made by me. Just one note of advice – keep things SIMPLE. Don’t fall into the abyss of despair by choosing projects that take too long to make, leaving the doing till too late, and assuming that you can finish up the night before. If you’re not done by – pick a day – go to plan B. Personally, I love any holiday, but I’ve learned that 1. you need a doable plan, 2. there are only 24 hours in every day, and some of those you do need for sleep.

  2. mandi coulter October 5, 2010 at 6:22 am #

    no it is the perfect time to start making christmas presents! we all definitley have enough “stuff” and handmade gifts are so much better than a generic gift card :) can’t wait to see what you make! i just did a christmas related post so i hope it is not too early to start blogging about christmas!

  3. S√∏lvi October 5, 2010 at 6:25 am #

    Ah, I didn´t realize its October! Now is the time to plan Christmas gifts, I agree. I usually make gifts for everyone, and it do take some time, but they are much appreciated and well worth while!

    Your ideas are great.

    If you knit or crochet, then mittens, scarfs and hats are great presents for Christmas. For sewing I say slippers. Slippers are great, they can be stitched up using some felt and hand sewing, I know that there are some good patterns over at Martha Stewart, actually! :-)

    Great idea about the shirt. Do you have a great shirt pattern you recommend, or do you construct it yourself? I have to say that the mens department for patterns is extremely depressing. Most of it is either a)PJ¬¥s or b)boring/ugly. So any hints and tips are most welcome! My darling is 2 meters tall, so finding good clothing for him is like finding the famous needle in the haystack… I have actually bought fabric to make pants for him, but I¬¥m still looking for a decent pattern!

    I havn´t got any kids either, so can´t help you with that one, sorry!

  4. julia October 5, 2010 at 6:27 am #

    No, it’s definitely not too early. I’ve made a bunch of presents alreay. This year, I will avoid the last minute panick attacks! But do consider carefully who is hand-made worthy and who’s not. Some people just don’t get it.

  5. Diane October 5, 2010 at 6:31 am #

    Oh, if you’re going to make all your presents its definitely not too early to start. I usually like to knit a few gifts and if you don’t want to be rushed and overwhelmed in December its a good idea to start now.

    As for giving hand made gifts, I say choose the recipients carefully. I generally only give handmade things to family and close friends. Some people just won’t appreciate the time and effort you put into a handmade item. Its hard to predict who these people will be so you may just want to ask if a hand made item is something they’d be interested in. I know that may spoil the surprise a bit but it’ll save you time and heartache. Or you can be a bit stealthy about it and talk about what you’re making and ask what they think of the idea.

    I have a knitting friend who likes to work on a project around the intended recipient but not tell them and ask what they think of the item in progress. If he/she admires it she knows she made a good choice. If the recipient doesn’t seem into she gives it someone else when its done. Not as easily done with sewing but you get the idea :)

  6. auzzi October 5, 2010 at 6:40 am #

    This is too funny… your description of yourself frantically buying gifts Christmas Eve suits me to a T and I too have resolved to make all of my own gifts this year. Weirdly enough, many of the things you are considering making (napkins, kitchen stuff, shopping bags) I am planning on making as well! As for the question of homemade vs. store-bought… my favourite gifts I have received over the years have been homemade things because they were unique and made with love… much better than anything you can find on Christmas Eve at Pacific Centre.

  7. Patty October 5, 2010 at 6:54 am #

    Christmas time! This year is the first year I’ve not been completely annoyed at christmas stuff already popping up in the shops – at least the fabric shops. You really need to have things available in advance to get it ready in time for christmas!! (not that christmas tree-themed fabric is necessary for christmas gifts!)

    I try to be very careful with handmade gifts – making sure I chose very, VERY nice materials and really going for the recipient’s taste. I love getting handmade gifts, but the flip side is the overwhelming guilt getting rid of an unwanted handmade gift (um, thanks for this afghan that used up all your scrap yarn!)

    I’ve totally used that knitting trick! Sneaky knitting is pretty easy around non-knitters, they can’t make heads or tails out fo what you’re working on!

  8. TMachan October 5, 2010 at 6:56 am #

    Ohh, I love Christmas! And it’s never too early to thinking or planning for. I think It’s a great idea to make presents, especially if they are useful (love the idea of grocery totes and aprons and dinner napkins) And in response to your friends ungrateful baby gift encounter (which the link didn’t work for me), how childish, if that happens to you, write them off for next year. Obviously they wouldn’t be happy with anything, and that’s not the point of Christmas anyways. You don’t HAVE to buy or make presents for anyone, and if you do, the recipient of your generosity should be grateful for any present, small or grand, bought or homemade.

  9. Tanit-Isis October 5, 2010 at 7:12 am #

    I’ve been thinking about sewing stuff for Christmas. Main stoppers: we’re not going home this year so I don’t know how many people outside the family I’ll even see, and sewing for people in the home is a) not possible to do by surprise, and b) they get random sewn stuff other times, so it’s not especially special. Apparently I should be more selfish in my regular sewing ;).

    RE kids:

    personally, as a parent, I hate stuffies. They rarely get played with, and the kids have WAY too many of them. That being said, the kids still like them even when Barbies, Bratz, and everything else has become way uncool. Not sure how much of that is the webkinz factor, though. :P Now… a stuffie that reflected the kid’s own style…that could be fun. Whatever it is, make sure it’s spectacular enough to stand out among the legions of store-bought ones they’ll already have. (not actually trying to discourage you… in my experience the kids have everything they could conceivably need, probably in triplicate.)

  10. Samina October 5, 2010 at 7:12 am #

    I couldn’t get to the link either, but I’ve had a couple of knitted gifts tossed aside. Now I only knit for fellow knitters or others who request knitted items & family that I know will appreciate my efforts. FWIW, I deem very few people worthy ;-p

  11. Suzie October 5, 2010 at 7:13 am #

    Hi Tasia – so many things to say to your post, I don’t know where to start!!!!

    First off, I’m super touched you linked to my post. I saw that TMachan said the link wouldn’t work and wondered why. Then I remembered that I had been feeling so bad about writing that post about my friend that I decided to delete it! The update to my escapade was that my friend randomly asked the other week if I had made the baby grows and that they were really cute. So I guess she just hadn’t ‘thanked’ me before because she was preoccupied with her new arrival! So needless to say I was feeling bad about getting so upset about something so little!

    So then my next comment would be – definately make your Christmas pressies!!! For one, you are an amazing seamtress so anything you make is going to rock and your recipients will love it! And you are totally right about the uniqness of the gifts – no worries that someone else will get them the same thing.

    Your present for your man sounds brilliant! If I were more accomplished at sewing I would definately make a shirt (or 10!) for my boyf as he really finds it hard to get a good fitting shirt. Great idea!

    It would be brilliant to see your progress/finished gifts, but I guess you can’t do that for fear the receivers will see!!

  12. Helena October 5, 2010 at 7:21 am #

    I’ve already done some of my Christmas fabroic shopping. My niece (1 year) is getting a stuffed animal and my cousins will get purses. It’s somehow easier to think of things for women, though (because I am a woman?) If I have time for more, after all I want to make myself something as well, I might throw in some grocery bags.

  13. Jessica October 5, 2010 at 7:38 am #

    I frequently make gifts, but only for people I’m sure will appreciate handmade gifts. One of my brothers-in-law, for instance, is not interested in anything I would make him, so if I get him in the family drawing, I buy him something. Same with my father-in-law, one of my sisters-in-law, and my brother.

    Kids can be hard, too, if they’re acquisitive, like two of my nieces. But, they always like doll stuff, and they don’t care if a quilt for their dolly is handmade or not!

  14. Nancy October 5, 2010 at 7:55 am #

    ooh ooh! Keep us posted on the madmen shirt. Can’t wait to see that!

    And I’m totally jacking your cloth napkin idea. I had never thought of making those. Cute fabric, environmentally friendly, super easy… love it!

  15. kathleen October 5, 2010 at 7:58 am #

    For kids, custom pillowcases with matching pajamas are always fun. Baggage tags, cloth lunch bags, silk pillowcases for a special girlfriend – those have been successful gifts for me in the past. My whole family loves home made gifts.

  16. Mary October 5, 2010 at 8:02 am #

    Now is a perfect time to start making Christmas gifts! I always make gifts for my coworkers and try to do a theme each year to keep it simpler. One year I made bracelets for everyone; last year I made little clip on hand sanitizer cases with my embroidery machine plus matching personal tissue cases (being a nurse it seemed appropriate with all the flu going around!) This year I am thinking tea totes with some nice teas in them with a mug, maybe some aprons and potholders. An embroidery machine makes for awesome gifts, and also makes you very popular with friends! :)

  17. Stephanie October 5, 2010 at 8:33 am #

    I did homemade Christmas presents last year for a lot of family.. and it did not seem to be a big hit. Which was a little heart breaking. I would agree with Patty and choose your receiptants carefully.

    I have two boys, age 4 and 2. Stuffed animals are tough as they get forgotten often and quickly. I know I enjoy clothes and car activities items. Examples would be tablet/coloring book holder that includes slots for crayons, My oldest loves dinosaurs, so I made him a 12×18 mat that has water and tree appliques that he can play with on top of his lap table in the car. The youngest loves cars so his has roads and buildings and he uses his matchbox cars. It zips around the three sides to hold on the little pieces in when they are not playing with it. This is by far our most used homemade toys.

    I don’t have much ideas for older kids as my son is the oldest in the families. Good luck.

  18. Greta October 5, 2010 at 8:37 am #

    My guy only wears Hawaiian shirts. It is his uniform. That is actually how I began sewing clothes: I knew he needed a wider variety, and on the tall side since the ones he had emphasized his protruding belly! I bought a bunch of fabric at an online Hawaiian prints store (that also has lovely Japanese prints)–since then they’ve switched their policy to 5-yard minimums (which I guess is fine for 2 shirts, if you want to make matching.) I’m always scouting for prints for him.

    My 12-year-old daughter loves the dresses and skirts I make, and I’ve even sewn her Build-a-Bear bunny a matching dress. That was fun! Some of the fabrics, llike yarn-dyed plaids, are quite cheap.

    My first sewn gift for my 4-year-old niece was a fabric book about our farm, using lots of tactile-fun and bright Kaffe Fassett fabric. I also make her dresses to twirl in (ideally with pockets!) I have a whole pile of corduroys waiting to be used for little girl dresses, for her or others I am lucky enough to meet.

    I just made my mom a T-shirt out of camo corn She always exclaims about the beauty of the Iowa landscape where I live, so now she’ll have something to remember it by.

    In short, nothing gives me greater pleasure than “sussing out” someone’s taste or beauty and choosing a fabric and style that will resonate.

    Things I hope I never receive: inexpertly embroidered pillowcases (too late), table runner. Never used a table runner in my life, doubt I ever will.

  19. Nancy H October 5, 2010 at 9:03 am #

    Make your presents! And it’s definitely not too early to start doing it–I’ve been sewing presents for my family and some friends for the last couple of years, and I always seem to be working pretty close to Christmas to finish the last ones. I’ve done the cloth napkins and shopping bags–people are still using them and thanking me for them. I’ve also done microwaveable heating pads, filled with rice and dried herbs, balaclavas, scarves, aprons, shrugs–all seem very much appreciated. I also have a friend with whom I exchange homemade food gifts–we enjoy getting to try out each others’ specialties. There are those on my gift recipient list who never receive a handmade gift, though, as they don’t seem likely to appreciate them…

  20. Kathleen October 5, 2010 at 9:11 am #

    My favorite gifts are the potholders and napkins that my Mom made me last year! I’m thinking of making pajama bottoms for everyone, should be fun. Matching colors by family, I’m thinking!

  21. Amy October 5, 2010 at 9:40 am #

    Oh my goodness, I love making presents for people! From about now until Christmas, presents take up all of my crafting time! I’ve just started a knitted aran cabled afghan for my parents (the link is here if you’re interested: and I’m in the process of finishing some Transformers fingerless gloves for my boyfriend, you can see them on my blog if you fancy a nose.

    I’ve almost always had good responses to my homemade presents, now that I’m a bit better at knitting and sewing people are more enthusiastic because my presents look reasonably professional. When I started giving homemade presents I was met with a lot of ‘oh…thank you…what is it?!’ which, although hurtful at the time, has given us plenty of hilarious stories to tell around the Christmas dinner table!

    Looking forward to reading all about your present-creating-exploits!

  22. A Sewn Wardrobe October 5, 2010 at 11:09 am #

    Last year I made my mother-in-law beach-themed placemats for their cabanna, and she used them all the time this summer (well, hopefully not just when I was there for dinner, hehe!). I’ll be making presents for the people I know will appreciate them, like my in-laws, who already have everything. I’m planning oven mitts for my MIL from the same fabric as the placemats, a tie for my FIL (Diana Rupp’s book has a pattern), a table runner for my sister-in-law (she had a store-bought one in her house, and I thought I’d make her another. I’ll probably use a pattern from quilter Denyse Schmidt – love her!).

    I spent a lot of time once making a stuffed bunny (from the Purl Bee’s website) for a baby shower, and the recipient did not seem too thrilled about it. I think she thought a homemade gift was weird (or cheap? It was, but not when my time was accounted for.). But I had made the same bunny for my cousin’s baby, and they positively adored it, and were devastated when the tot lost it. I guess you have to pick your audience.

  23. Amy October 5, 2010 at 11:19 am #

    I think these are great ideas!

    I was planning to make Christmas gifts, but then my husband told me that my sewing hadn’t reached gift-giving quality yet. He really put his foot in his mouth and tried to back-pedal, but the damage was done. Maybe next year…

  24. Darci October 5, 2010 at 12:33 pm #

    It’s never too early to start making Christmas presents!

    I made thoughtful, inspiring, beautiful presents for friends and family for ten years before I realized that making presents was STRESSING ME OUT, so I stopped. I also realized that we all have enough stuff, and I no longer wanted to give STUFF.

    Three years ago, I made sure that my besties and folks knew that spending TIME with them was more important than spending MONEY on them, and that from here on in, I was opting out of giving and receiving Christmas presents. Except for one girlfriend who refuses to believe that a meal/holiday entertainment/time spent together is enough, everybody’s complied. I’ve never been happier at the holidays!

  25. Tilly October 5, 2010 at 1:07 pm #

    Not crazy at all! I started planning my Crafty Christmas in August! Lovely ideas for the napkins etc.

  26. Lisette October 5, 2010 at 1:31 pm #

    I’ve tried to do all hand-made gifts in the past and I must say, I’ve learned my lesson! Not that I won’t do it, but that you have to start really, really early. I started planning in August, because I think of it this way: now that October has started I have only about 11 weeks to make gifts for 5-6 people. So two weeks per gift. I know I knit slower than a snail! So I have to be sure I finish a pair of mittens I’m doing by the end of next week. So if you’re going through with your plan (although with everything else on your plate you may have to be superwoman!) try that formula to decide what you do have time for and then stick to the schedule!

  27. Kat October 5, 2010 at 2:19 pm #

    I think it is definately time to start thinking about Christmas. I bought wrapping paper yesterday! I am so excited because this is our first Christmas since we moved out of home so we get to go buy a tree and all new decorations. I have made some presents before but not for Christmas. For mothers day last year I knitted my mum a scarf and I made my neice a knitted humpty dumpty for her birthday last year too. Not sure if I will make any this year but I better start thinking about otherwise it will be Christmas before we know it.

  28. quietandsmalladventures October 5, 2010 at 4:19 pm #

    not crazy but wow are you going to be busy!!! i love the idea of handmade gifts, but i’m not there technique-wise yet. instead, i’ll be watching and learning from you :)

  29. Erin October 5, 2010 at 4:42 pm #

    I’ve been thinking about present lately, too! I started doing handmade gifts two years ago when I was too poor to buy anything, but I did have tons of fabric sitting unused in my sewing room. So I made table runners for each household in my family and each one was different to match what I felt they would like. I was right on with each of them and I think they all liked them!

    Then last year I made everyone pillows. I had a lot of muslin, so I bought some poly-fill and made the actual pillows, then made covers for them. Also, that summer I had been experimenting with canning and gave everyone a jar of grape jelly. I think the jelly was the biggest hit, so I’m beginning to think the best gifts are consumable! This year I’ll be giving homemade food for sure. Haven’t decided what yet, though :)

  30. Zena October 5, 2010 at 4:44 pm #

    I’ve done small drawstring bags (e.g. for packing/storing shoes), as well as tote bags. Have never done clothes for Christmas.

    I sew quite slowly so that definitely limits the feasibility. I do better with food: cookies, jam, etc. For instance, my mom is always super-busy with work and doesn’t have time for baking, so I’ll put together a selection of Christmas treats.

    I refuse to buy wrapping paper. Last year I made furoshiki (Japanese wrapping cloths) using Christmas fabric (which I bought on sale in January) as a reuseable alternative to paper. I love furoshiki and use them around the house. In fact, I made a couple recently, which you can see on my blog:

  31. Red October 5, 2010 at 5:28 pm #

    I’ve been thinking about gifts for a while now! I’d like to make the majority of my gifts this year, as it may be the last holiday season that I’ll be living near family in the next five years or so. I’m feeling fairly confident about the amount of crafting ahead because I have a mix of knitting, sewing, and embroidery, so when I need a break from one craft project I can move to another. However, I’m in the midst of a rough semester in graduate school, so lots of my crafting may get pushed back to December when things settle down for me.

    Best of luck!

  32. Liz October 5, 2010 at 6:40 pm #

    It’s never too early to think about Christmas. Good for you. Planning early means you won’t be running around the mall on Christmas Eve this year! Your ideas sound great. Thanks for sharing with us.

  33. Tasia October 5, 2010 at 9:37 pm #

    Whoa! So many responses to this post, how fantastic! I read these throughout the day and have been dying to respond!!
    @Irene: Great advice! I tend to make things complicated all the time. Keep it simple – I’m going to keep that in the back of my mind when planning what to make!

    @mandi coulter: So true, we all have enough stuff! Glad I’m not the only one already thinking and planning for Christmas :)

    @S√∏lvi: I’m going to look for a vintage men’s shirt pattern – I wish I had one to recommend! I also have a library book out on shirtmaking, and they explain how to drape a men’s shirt I believe. So I could also try that, too!

    @julia: Good for you for ALREADY having made presents! You’re right about not everyone appreciating handmade though, I hope I make the right call when I give gifts!

    @Diane: Good point on choosing recipients carefully – a lot of you feel this way! I’m pretty straightforward though, if I’m really unsure I’ll drop hints and ask around. (that’s why I asked Mr Sewaholic already if he’d like a shirt made! before spending too much time and energy if he isn’t into it..)

    @auzzi: So true! It was Metrotown but close enough, it’s no fun being rushed and panicked at the last minute.. I love that you said your favourite gifts were handmade, that makes me happy!

    @Patty: Haha – I hope no one things I used up scrap fabric to make their gifts! (Better not use any remnants of projects I’ve blogged about, haha..) Very very nice materials – that’s a good point. I want people to feel special and like i thought about their taste and needs.

    @TMachan: It’s true, you don’t have to buy or make presents. And I’m not the most materialistic person AND I have a tiny budget. I just want to bring a little, thoughtfully made “something” for people this year. Not because I have to or because I feel obligated! But because I want to. (Hope it comes across that way when it comes to Christmas!)

    @Tanit-Isis: Oh no, I’m not discouraged! I just have no clue when it comes to kids. And, the kids that I would be gifting already have everything they need. It would just be a little something. It’s a valid point that stuffed animals are useless, I totally agree! I appreciate the honesty especially from someone who has kids and knows :)

    @Samina: I can see that, for sure! I don’t knit but have total appreciation for the time it takes.

    @Suzie: Ah, that’s OK! You must have taken it down recently though, I swear I wrote this post recently… I’m glad it worked out, too! I was just so upset for you when I first read it.. I felt your pain! I kind of want to share my finished gifts too… I could, and just not say who they’re for!? I have cool ideas and want to share them – especially so you can ‘borrow’ them if you want!

    @Helena: It IS easier to think of things for women, for sure! (Which is why my ideas seem to be household/kitchen/hostess gifts..) Purses sound like a great gift!

    @Jessica: Ah, that makes sense – I know there are some people or occasions where a handmade gift just doesn’t work. (Like the office gift-exchange, where it has to be a certain dollar value..)

    @Nancy: Of course! If you make napkins I totally want to see! I saw the idea somewhere else and love the idea – I’m all for anything that’s cute AND better for the planet.

    @kathleen: Silk pillowcases! What a great idea, I wouldn’t have thought of that.. I’ve been reading all over that silk pillowcases are better for your hair and for your face – less tangles and wrinkles. And it just sounds so glam. Thanks!!

    @Mary: Ooh.. I should test out the embroidered-letter-setting on my machine. Good idea!

    @Stephanie: The car mat sounds like a great idea! And kind of fun to make too.. Again, good to hear the stuffed animals are easily forgotten.. and the crayon holder, I would have never thought of that! I knew the people with kids would have some good tips and definite ‘no’s’ :)

    @Greta: Haha, thanks for sharing the ‘gifts I hope I never receive!’ Tooo funny. I also can’t picture myself using a table runner, probably because I usually take over the table with sewing projects. It’s a big enough deal keeping it clean to eat on.

    @Nancy H: Wow! It’s so great to hear you’ve made all these things – napkins, scarves, totes – and had great responses! You’re right, knowing your audience seems to be very important..

    @Kathleen: My mom always makes us pajama bottoms – for my sisters and I! Even though we’re not kids anymore, it’s still such a fun gift to receive. I made my guy pajama bottoms last year but for no reason, not for Christmas. Plus if you make a bunch think how fast you’ll be able to pump them out. Like a little gift assembly line.

    @Amy: Oh, so funny – ‘thank you, what is it??’ But those Transformers gloves are awesome – nice work!!

    @A Sewn Wardrobe: Oh nooo! that’s my biggest worry, is that I will look cheap. Except I am cheap – thrifty, I like to say! And it’s not that I’m trying to be cheap, it’s more that I’m trying to give thoughtful gifts without wrecking the bank account and I think I can make better gifts that I can buy, in most cases. Too bad about the first bunny but at least you know it’s not you, it’s them :)

    @Amy: Amy! Oh my gosh, I can’t believe he said that. I bet your sewing is totally fine for gift-giving. I want to share some easy gift ideas with you all, ones that don’t take a lifetime of sewing experience to be gift-quality.

    @Darci: Christmas itself stresses me out! Good for you for recognizing it and figuring out a way to make it work for you. Of course, time is SO much better than material gifts! Especially among girlfriends.

    @Tilly: August! Ok, you win for earliest planner. Your crafty get-togethers look like so much fun!

    @Lisette: Uh oh, you’re scaring me a little.. I wish I was superwoman! But sadly, I’m not! Great points about figuring out what I have time for, and sticking to a schedule. (That will make sure i get it all done!) I’m planning easy but cool gifts, not a lot of labour-intensive sewing. Hopefully I get it all worked out! Will keep you all posted :)

    @Kat: Oh how fun! It’s so much fun having your first own Christmas in a new place. Last year was Mr.Sewaholic’s and my first Christmas together in our place and it was so much fun getting into the festive spirit!

    @quietandsmalladventures: I’m sure you are there, technique-wise! I’ve seen some very cute dresses from you. Napkins and tote-bags and placemats are just as easy as a dress… Watch and see! (Gosh, I hope I haven;t just put my foot in my mouth.. as you see nothing Christmas-y until a mad blogging-and-sewing-gifts frenzy on Dec. 20th!)

    @Erin: Homemade food is a fantastic gift! I sew way better than I can cook though. Although, I have made some pretty decent holiday squares and cookies before. Also a great and thoughtful gift! I tried canning once, I did pickles and they turned into mush. (I was afraid the jar wouldn’t seal.. so I kept it in the pot a little toooo long. Oops!) Pickles are tricky, if you try them.

    @Zena: What a cool idea and totally eco-friendly! It’s amazing how much paper gets wasted at Christmas. I think at the big family get-together, the one with all the kids at it – they filled at least one big garbage bag of paper! Thanks for sharing!

    @Red: Thank you! Best of luck managing to make gifts and keep up with school as well.. it’s not easy!

    @Liz: Well, I might still end up at the mall but at least it won’t be for ALL of my gifts :) Part of the reason for sharing is so I have to do it, because I’ve said it out loud and on the internet.. all part of the plan :)

  34. Eline October 6, 2010 at 2:13 am #

    Hey Tasia,
    I’ve been reading your blog for a while and now is the perfect time to answer! Yes, I’m already planning my Christmas gifts (I’ve already made one and a half) and yes, usually I buy them very very last minute ;-)
    So, what am I making? For my sister a small handbag. I’ve got a very very lovely book and already made two other clutches/handbags from it. Here are the pics:
    And for my mom I’m making a cap like this one: (janis in tweed to be precise.) I’ve already made a ‘muslin’. A first version which is a bit too small, so I’m planning on making a second one, a bit larger.
    This finished cap looks so cute that I was thinking of giving it to one of my cousins (one of the younger ones of course). So that’s perhaps also an idea for a kid friendly gift..
    Good luck! And btw the napkins are indeed a great idea and the shirt is going to be one of a kind, I’m sure!

  35. purl2tog October 6, 2010 at 4:50 am #

    It is definitely not too early to be thinking about Christmas, especially if you are planning a project for it. I’m currently working on a Christmas dress for Christmas Day and possibly the Christmas parties this season. You can keep up with my progress on my blog Good luck with your projects. I’m sure everyone would appreciate them as you are the Sewaholic!

  36. Cindy October 6, 2010 at 5:26 am #

    Homemade gifts Here are a fee thoughts Stuffed animials are fussy and time cunsuming and will join an already large pill in there room. My girls love blankets they are easy and can be boats airlanes wraping paper or anything they can think of I find 3/4 of a yard is a great size hemed or doble sided. Girls love bags with paper and penciles. I love the note book covers of older kids. Hats are great there are some very trendy paterns to try

  37. Elle C October 6, 2010 at 6:51 am #

    First of all, it is NEVER too early to start making Christmas gifts. I always make any gifts early in the year so I can enjoy the season stress-free, If I don’t have a gift finished by mid-November I leave it for birthdays or Christmas next year.

    Second, I agree with many people here, choose your recipients carefully. Also choose your gifts carefully. Just because you can make something doesn’t always mean you should. For instance, I know someone who did a beautiful cross stitch picture for a wedding present and was upset because it wasn’t appreciated. INMHO, it was inappropriate for a wedding gift and it didn’t take in account the taste of the bride and groom. Last year at a work gift exchange someone who makes beautiful quilts made a quilted table runner for someone who is 21 and has an Ikea kind of style for her home, I think the giver thinks her work is appreciated by everyone because it is Art, well, not this time. I imagine the table runner ended up at grandma;s house or at a thrift store.

    Making gifts is/can be very satisfying, but I guess I am suggesting caution.

    As for gift ideas, for little girls, Barbie clothes are very appreciated (my niece had the best dressed Barbies in BC) and they also get rid of scraps of fabric, and PJ bottoms are quick and easy as well. This year my BFF who is always freezing is getting a snuggie made with good quality fleece instead of the crappy ones they sell. I love your grocery bags ideas, i may do that myself.

  38. Elle C October 6, 2010 at 7:06 am #

    I just thought of something else for kids, I have made a couple and parents have appreciated them. Here is a link.

  39. monkeysocks October 6, 2010 at 7:12 am #

    I’m totally in the same boat, would love to make things but am having trouble thinking of anything! As usual my dad is impossible, he just really doesn’t need anything ever! and my mum is an expert sewer so i would have to find something she hasnt already made for herself! i am considering making my little bro (who loves how I met your mother) a pair of suit pajamas like barneys

    as the daughter of an expert sewer, we often got hand made stuff as kids. my mum used to make me little outfits for my barbie’s, but also we got lots of stuff that allowed us to use our imagination. My mum made big mats that went on the floor with appliqued and painted pictures on them that became part of our games-swamps to jump over, car race tracks for the mini cars (totally agree with Stephanies idea, great for journeys!) sort of maps for playing with playmobil people bits of warhammers! and and an indoor hotscotch mat. On a less intensive-and slightly more fun note, the bests presnts we ever got werere dressign up clothes-not necessarily perefct little jesters outfits, but randim adults clothes, sometimes cut down a bit, sometimes not, silly things like pirate hats and long petticoats, long stripy socks and wigs and stuff. we also really loved some indoor tents my mum made, that hung off bunkbeds and desks (just have long strings and velcro attached so they can go everywhere) the boys had one one with lots of zips and spyholes, my little sister had a purple one with drapy bits and mine had lots of different pockets on the inside for books and sketchpads. my mum also made some great fabric painted mr men/misses tshirts that suited out personalities, i wore the little miss bossy one i got for my 8th birthday fro years until it ended up as a 90s cropped thing that wasnt really decent!

    alternatively you can make something christmassy and send it in advance as these tend to come out every year and people get attached to them, like the knitted nativity sets, jolly stockings or a reusable advent calender with little pockets for sweets, or special oversized Christmas day dressing gowns with big pockets for all the stuff that comes in the stockings!

  40. Misty October 6, 2010 at 2:00 pm #

    I make gifts for lots of occasions: showers, birthdays, Christmas, etc. Mostly they’re knitted or crocheted (I don’t sew… yet). No one has ever been disappointed in the gifts, and usually they’re much more appreciative of the handmade gifts than random stuff you can buy in a store.

    Of course, you have to tailor the gift to the person, but it sounds like you’re already thinking ahead about that. I think your family will really appreciate the gifts, but beware, once you start offering handmade gifts, your family will take that as an opening to request additional handmade items whenever they spring to mind…

  41. sallyann October 6, 2010 at 2:30 pm #

    I too enjoy making gifts but only for those who appreciate the time and effort that goes into a handmade gift. Last year I made bistro aprons for both men and women on my list which were reallyquite well received. JoAnn fabrics had some prints with chili peppers, fishing gear, and dice for the guys and for the ladies…well, anything goes. I just cut a rectangle of fabric 38 wide and 29 inches long, double folded and stitched the sides and hem and added 33 inch ties to each side. For the ladies I added a pocket with trim.
    This year I’m thinking tote bags and for the guys…still, thinking.

  42. Maria October 7, 2010 at 9:26 am #

    A few (well, actually it’s over 6 years, already) years ago, when I was a single mom and a student, I had very little money, and I made homemade gifts for everyone (I had a short gift list at the time). I told my family about it before Christmas, so they were warned, but I actually think they were really happy about the gifts.
    Now, there were no small children (except my son, and he probably got some Lego). My sister was 14 (very difficult age to make something for), but was/is a horse owner, so I made her a homemade saddle soap and some riding mittens, whch she actually loved. She came back asking for more of the soap(she thought it was better than the storebought kind). The men got sewn hats/fleece socks and homemade shawing soap. My brother (very trendy bachelor at the time) got a set of black place mats and napkins, with a chinese sign on it (I forget what it ment, but it made sense) that was matching his decor style. The women got some homemade lotion and mittens or socks.
    All the gifts were well recieved. But it was a lot of work!

    I wouldn’t recommend stuffed animals for the kids – they don’t really play with them. If you know they do the Build-a-bear thing, it would be great with an outfit. But I always try to give kids books or board games (bought!), I go to a bookstore sometime in November and get it done with (you could make a cute personal bookmark, though…)

  43. Monica (aka monnibo) October 9, 2010 at 2:11 pm #

    If you’re making presents, it’s generally thought that you’d start about now. I knit and have heard many terror tales about unappreciative recipients. I’d say that making gifts for the immediate friends and family is a great idea. I’ve made gifts for my BF, mom, dad, sister, and BF’s mom. Other than that, I don’t think the rest of my friends and family would appreciate the work that went into the item.

  44. Catherine October 11, 2010 at 4:59 am #

    I totally agree that you have to pick your recipients carefully but, for the right people, a handmade gift is wonderful! I received a knitted hat and scarf and a fabric scarf from my mother-in-law and sister-in-law respectively last Christmas, but they know I am a crafts-loving/thrift-loving person and am also ridiculously sentimental haha! The ideal handmade-gift-recipient! I recently bought for myself a lovely necklace made of 3 suffolk puffs/yoyos whatever you want to call them (!) with a vintage button in the centre of each, attached to a chain (this one is beaded, too, but they don’t have to be) and am inspired to make one for my mum (who is very much like me with ref to the above!) after she admired it when I last wore it. A great way to use some gorgeous fabric scraps and vintage buttons!!

  45. amber October 13, 2010 at 10:57 am #

    I definitely don’t think it’s too early to start thinking about Christmas gifts – especially if they’re homemade. I don’t have time this year to make gifts, but I am killing myself finishing up a batch of baby clothes for my two bffs that are due with their first children 4 days apart in December. The only reason that I’m going to all the trouble is that I know they’ll appreciate them and it makes me feel like I’m putting in that extra effort because I love them so much.