Three Ways I’m Sewing and Saving this Christmas

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November starts the rush at my house.  Sometimes I get all my handmade gifts done by Thanksgiving (a worthy goal), but other times I’ll be setting up my sewing machine well into December.  As I sit down to make a list of the handmade elements I want to tackle this season, I thought I’d share some of my plans.

1.  I’m keeping my sewing “in house” this year.  Every so often, I like to give our extended family (and myself) a break from my amazing (or occasionally not so amazing) handmade gifts.  And some years, it’s ALL handmade.  I might still make a few stocking stuffers, but nothing too elaborate this time around.  Instead, this season’s sewing will be mostly for our own kiddos.  That means the pressure for perfectionism goes way down, and I have a little more freedom to experiment and try new shortcuts–because being a home sewist shouldn’t feel like a part time job.

2.  I’m reducing the Christmas wrapping for this year (and years to come) by stitching reusable Christmas gift bags!  (This will give you the gist.)  I never get the gift wrapping done before Christmas Eve, so it’ll be wonderful to have a nice stash of festive drawstring bags to tuck gifts in neatly!  Less mess, better for the environment, better for my stress levels, and better for our wallets considering how much of my fabric stash was handed down to me or purchased in the form of thrift store sheets!  (99 cents!)  I’m also pretty confident that with a good process in place, I can make a gift bag almost as fast as I can wrap a gift.

3.  I’m sewing pieces for my winter wardrobe.  We always have a lot of events during the holidays, and my closet is in such a state, that if I want to stay out of the stores, I’ll need to sew a few basic wardrobe pieces for myself.  Nothing fancy.  Mostly some hemming and a couple winter skirts.  The kids are becoming a little more self sufficient, and I’m feeling like I might just be starting to wake up from my frumpy mom phase.  I might even think about looking cute again!  (I know!  Right?!  I thought it’d NEVER get easier!)

So, what are your plans?  Do you have a timeline in mind?  Got a sewing buddy to keep you motivated? Good luck!

-Mac-

P.S.  Just in case you were wondering how my other son’s Halloween costume turned out, here’s the pic.  They were both SO proud of their super hero garb.  They didn’t seem to notice a single imperfection. 🙂

 

Holiday 2012 in review: What worked? What didn’t?

My family is still young.  Now that we have two kids, we’re just starting to develop some of our own holiday traditions.  Some of the things we tried this year worked great!  Some were flops.  I did a review in a private journal last year (and lost it), but this year I thought my Facebook and blog friends would enjoy a shared review!  Feel free to add suggestions in the comments!

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1.  Small tree!  This was a change.  My hubby just doesn’t like our big artificial tree, so we put up the three footer we got as newlyweds 7 years ago.  *awwwww!!!*

Conclusion:  It worked well, especially with our 14 month old.  Next year, as our boys start to make those adorable classroom ornaments, we might even decorate it!  (We settled for a garland this year… on account of said 14 month old!)  KEEPER!

2.  Staggered decorating:  I took the entire first week of December to put up decorations instead of exploding them all over the house the day after Thanksgiving.

Conclusion:  It was good for our souls to rest a little after Turkey Day, and it prolonged what is, honestly, my favorite part of the season!  KEEPER!

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3.  Advent Activity Calendar  Every day was assigned a reasonable activity to celebrate the season, most of which were seasonal necessities or scheduled activities like Christmas pageants and classroom parties.

Conclusion:  Might have worked if Captain America had made the connection between taking the little slip of paper out of the calendar and the activity we were to complete that day.  Also might have worked if we hadn’t been shut-ins–sick with the flu for TWO WHOLE WEEKS this December!  Can you even believe it?!  CHANGE IT!  Next year we may put one or two special activities on the calendar, but we’ll also do candy or trinkets.  Just. In. Case.

4. 12 Days of Blessing Marcus  This was great fun!

Conclusion:  I will probably do this again sometime, but not as an every year event!  I don’t think I’m creative enough to keep it fresh without things getting expensive and stressing me out.  CHANGE IT! I’m starting to get an idea of when the more important weekends of December hit for him.  I think I’ll try to channel my creative energy towards those weekends without a set theme or 12 day bracket.

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5.  Handmade gifts.  This year, nearly ALL our gifts were handmade by me.  Even for my children.  It seems like I go back and forth every year.  One year everything’s homemade and I get worried that came across a little shabby, the next year everything is store bought and I get worried that it came across a little impersonal.

Conclusion:  For a handmade holiday, things went far smoother than I ever could have hoped, but I still feel a little awkward about how some of my gifts turned out. ADJUST IT! I set and spent my budget based on a handmade holiday, I think next year I’ll “diversify”.    What I mean by this is to try pairing handmade with modestly priced purchased gifts.  A handmade journal with a nice ink pen.  A handmade coffee sleeve with a small gift card to Starbucks.   Christmas is all about strategy.  😉

TRADITIONS I WANT TO START

1.  Sending Holiday Cards  I love receiving them, but for the past few years we haven’t sent them out.  Next year, I think we’ll start sending a few, again.  I already have a great card design in mind!

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2.  Fitness Traditions  I guess I SORT of did this this year, but the timing wasn’t exactly what I needed.  Stephanie and I did the Jingle Bell Run on December 7.  It was a great way to start December, but I kind of used the fact I was training for a 5K as an excuse to shirk my other fitness habits, and still gained weight.  Then, it was the holidays!  I’m super inspired by the #MILEADAY crew that runs between Thanksgiving and January 1st every year.  But I think I need something that incorporates nutrition and strength training, too.  Let me know if you know of something out there.  Nobody wants lack of fitness to dull their holiday cheer.

3.  Personal traditions  A friend of mine shared a list recently of her favorite Christmas movies to watch–by herself!  And she makes a good point.  Just because my family is NEVER going to fall in love with White Christmas or Holiday Inn, doesn’t mean that I have to give them up!  Just because my hubby is bored to tears to go out and see the holiday lights doesn’t mean I can’t take the boys on my own, or even just go enjoy a peaceful drive by myself with a peppermint mocha and MY music!  In the words of Tom Haverford, “Treat yo-self!”  On a similar note…

4.  I need to write a letter to Santa  And let my poor husband find it.   When he started to catch on that he was getting 12 days of presents this year, I could see the sweat starting to bead up on his forehead.  Okay, not really… but maybe a little.  (Where’s the line I draw here before he reads this and I get into trouble?)  He already knows I don’t expect him to reciprocate.  He’s at a disadvantage, because he doesn’t read Pinterest or follow a million blogs.  In one day of girly blog surfing my eyes scan more clever ideas on how to give treats on the cheap than I could ever execute in a given holiday season, but in a month of manly tech blog surfing, well, all he sees are smartphones.  I think starting the season with a cleverly penned note would make things nicer for BOTH of us!

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5.  Christmas Day  I tend to put way more effort into the “season” and make the “Day” itself more of a rest day.  I think I might rearrange my efforts a bit going forward.  I’m realizing that just because I want to nap all day while the kids play with new toys, my over sugared/over tired little ones could use a bit more structure if I want to keep the day “calm and bright”!

What did you discover change or adjust this year?  Seriously!  I’m looking for tips!

And OH YEAH!  Merry CHRISTMAS!!!