This afternoon has been quite busy for me, I must admit. You see, I have 4 nieces and one nephew, and three of those are born in October – as well as my own daughter. And as a natural parent (and aunt), I’ve made a point out of only giving the kids handmade presents.
Well, there are many reasons.
Firstly, I would really like to teach them that gifts don’t have to be factory made, and that one easily can make things at home, with stuff one already has. It doesn’t have to be mass produced, and it doesn’t have to cost a lot of money. By giving handmade presents, I show them that this is possible – that grown-ups can do this too. You know, kids are really good at this stuff, but sadly, that creativity and that generosity is taken away from them as they get more and more swallowed up by our consumerism. It doesn’t have to be that way.
Secondly, too many kids have no idea where stuff comes from these days. They have never watched anybody who has actually made anything, and toys, clothes and groceries just kind of pops into the store shelves of and by themselves. And it may sound like a cliché, but children are our future. They need to be made aware that it costs a bit of effort to make things, and that everything has a source. Once they understand this, it will be a whole lot easier to explain to them the concept of pollution from factories and the energy that is used during the process of making any product, and that the closer we get to the source, the better for the environment.
They don’t need to participate in everything, sometimes it’s enough for them to run to and fro, or to simply observe that you are present, busy with your handcrafts. My daughter will frequently ask what I’m making and to whom, and she is very well aware of the fact that her mom can make anything from small teddy bears to clothing for her out of some yarn and a few sticks. Hopefully, she will remember, and know that she, too, can be creative as an adult.
I read in a Norwegian paper some 10 years ago now, that an average five year-old has about 500 toys in his room. Five hundred toys. How insane is that? Do the kids even know what they have, these days? In order for the kids to appreciate what they have, I think their items must be made a lot more personal than they are. I can still remember, to this day, the thrill and joy over some doll clothing my mom made for me and my sister one Christmas. I remember the color, I remember the texture, I remember everything about them. But most of all I remember that warm, taken-care-of feeling they induced in me. My mom made this for me!!! It was really something else. I really want that feeling for my daughter (and my nieces and nephew!) too.
Another good reason to make homemade gifts for the children, is all the chemicals you eliminate from their everyday life. This afternoon I made playdough for the first time, consisting only of food one can actually consume. I’m not sure about the taste, but at least it’s not a tad bit toxic to play with. And you know, it’s not for nothing that moth control products are something belonging mostly to the past. They’ve just added the chemicals needed to keep the moth at bay when they made the fabric.
Not to mention what it will save the environment if more and more switched to homemade instead of factory made. Can you even imagine?
It’s October, and it’s time to start thinking about what to make and what you’ll need if you plan to make homemade gifts for Christmas. There are plenty of resources online, but I will share with you what I’ve made in my so far very short carrier as a natural parent and aunt.
One year I made a set of pillow and duvet for three of the children’s dolls, out of some old children’s linen, an old sheet and some stuffing material. It’s been two years, and I can’t account for the other two, but my daughter still plays with hers.
I’ve crocheted a ball with a bell in it for a very young baby, and this year I’m knitting bibs of wool yarn for my nephew. I crocheted a tiny, pink grocery net once, I’ve sown a few handbags for the girls, and I’ve made a few doll hats, too. This year I’ll be adding to my daughter’s baby doll’s wardrobe by sewing this and that from a fleece blanket from IKEA.
I’m sure you can think of many, many other gift ideas for the children, and if you plan to make homemade gifts in the future, it might be a good idea to do some research, see what you can come up with and maybe even start collecting ideas, patterns and recipes either on your computer or in a binder for safe keeping.