Handmade Christmas

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November 30, 2012 by Meg G.

Well, folks. In case you didn’t get the post-Halloween commercial message, it’s time to start thinking about the holidays.

Pardon me while I get all theology nerd on you, but I’m not a big fan of rushing into Christmas. Advent is by far my favorite season of the year. This weekend, we’ll get out our Advent wreath, our pinks and purples, our homemade Advent calendar, and my grandmother’s handmade Nativity (minus baby Jesus, of course!).

Nativity

Grandmom’s Nativity – she made it herself!

Yes. That is an Advent Tree dressed in pink handmade peace cranes and purple ribbon.

Yes. That is an Advent Tree dressed in pink handmade peace cranes and purple ribbon.

Why do I love Advent so much? For me, it is a period of preparation, slowing down, reflection, and waiting “in joyful hope.” With the flip of the calendar page and the occasional snowfall (in New England anyway) comes a desire to hunker down, cozy in, and be more intentional about tending to my interior life. Advent nudges* me back toward my journal, my praying in color doodles, and more intentional living. (And by nudges I mean gives me a swift kick in the pants!)

Snow in New England

Winter makes me want to hunker down with a hot cup of cocoa -OR- go for a swing at the kiddie playground!

IMG_1652

Providence, 2010

Cooking, baking, and working with my hands is something of a spiritual practice for me, too. There’s just something about creating a whole out of disparate parts that draws me into myself and then back out again. So, I suggested to Heather that we have a Handmade Christmas this year, because it seemed like a genuinely awesome way to spend Advent.

For the last few years, Heather has made our Christmas cards using a hand-carved linoleum print. It’s a really neat process – one that I haven’t been brave enough to try yet – that involves creating your own stamp out of a piece of linoleum. Heather took a printmaking class a few weeks ago and I can’t wait for her to show off her newly refined skill in this art form.

2011 Christmas Cards

Last year’s Christmas cards

This year’s gifts will be simple and (mostly) handmade by us. We’ve got quite a list of projects ahead of us, but we’re well on our way!

We already made a big batch of vanilla extract. Our bottles arrived a few weeks ago, so we’ll create a label and fill up these adorable little things with yummy vanilla goodness.

Bottle

Next up on the list is some liquid hand soap, courtesy of The Farmer’s Nest via Pinterest. I’m still working on my first batch – I’ve had a few hiccups along the way. But after much searching, I finally found a suitable pump for the vintage bottles we’ll be using to house the soap. I’ll post about that project when it all comes together, so check back later!IMG_2713Soap making

If you are looking for a site with lots of easy handmade gift ideas, I highly recommend From Scratch Club’s Edible Gifts section. (Yes – the same folks who host the book club that I won’t shut up about.)

If you’d like to take some classes or learn a new skill, recipe, or art, there are lots of places you can look. In the Northeast, I’d check out City Chicks BostonFrom Scratch Club Academy in the Albany, NY area; Zea Mays Printmaking in Northampton, MA; the Learning Connection in Rhode Island; or the Worcester Center for Crafts here in Worcester, MA.

If you’re not feeling particularly crafty, but want to support makers and artists, there are a gazillion craft fairs this time of year. Try Eat Boutique’s Holiday Market in Boston, Craftland, Festival Fete, or the Foundry Show in Rhode Island, or stART on the Street in Worcester, just to get you started.

And then, there’s always Etsy! (Where you can purchase the screenprinted banner below.)

Handmade by Have & Hold Design

Handmade by Have & Hold Design

Heather surprised me by signing us up for a holiday greens demonstration at Sprout, a florist across the street! So that’s where I’ll be tomorrow morning, warm cup of coffee in hand.

However you choose to spend the next month or so, I hope that it is full of creativity, warmth, and handmade goodness! Enjoy!

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