Thursday, January 08, 2015

Planning for handmade gifts

Three of our grandkids with a handmade gift from 2013
Yesterday Susan asked a question that I hope to answer with this post. 

She asked, "For your handmade gifts, do you usually make multiples of one thing for several different people, or do you make something unique for each person (such as maybe a knitted scarf for one person and a table runner for another, for example)? I'd love to make handmade gifts, but I'm wondering how best to approach it."

There are varying points of view on this, of course.  Many people would prefer to make something unique for each person.  Others feel that if you make multiples of one thing for a number of different recipients, then you can craft the items assembly-line style and thus be more efficient about it.

I've done it both ways.   Most often, though, it's a combination of both.  I might make several gifts alike for several different people, but then all of the others will be unique.  Other years, I'll do a lot of gifts alike, with just a few unique ones.

One downside to doing a lot of gifts alike is that it could become "boring".  I don't allow my grandchildren to use this word -- that's why I "whispered" it -- but it can become tiresome to do many of the same item.

Last year, one of the gifts I made for quite a few grandchildren was a crocheted scarf.  It was a very fast pattern and the fact that I used different colors of yarn for each one kept it interesting.  If you had a pattern like this for a relatively small and easy item like a scarf, it would be a simple matter to do quite a number of them.  I've seen some fantastic tutorials for scarves, both sewn and crocheted.

The felt play mat the children are inspecting above was quite a bit more complicated, and I made only two of these, as family gifts for the kids in each family to share.

This year, I made pillow quilts (some call them "quillows"; you are probably familiar with them) for all of the grandkids except the new baby. Again, the fact that different fabrics were used for each one kept it relatively interesting.  That and the fact that I was trying to do this as cheaply as possible!  That meant some creative piecing and lots of online shopping for sale fabric, batting, etc. as well as using twin sheets from Walmart for the backing.  This was a case where it was good to do many of the same item, since each quilt used half of a twin sheet.  It was also a case where practice in putting the project together was a good thing.  I never did quite get it down to a science, in spite of making nearly a dozen of them!
Josiah unfolds his M&Ms pillow quilt
Julia shows off her forest critters pillow quilt.
Really, I think it's up to the individual and what you think will work best for you.  I think my starting point would be to brainstorm about handmade gifts -- who to make them for, what they might like -- and then to browse Pinterest or your own craft idea files, patterns, books, etc. and get some ideas for what to make.  If it's an idea that lends itself to making in multiples, and you think you can sustain your interest in the process through a number of gifts, then go for it.  If you prefer to do something unique for each person, that's fun too. 

You may find, also, that as you give someone a unique gift, that someone else hints that they would like one of those next year!  That's happened to me!

Another thought, too, is that not all handmade gifts require crafting as such.  I've made Christmas memory books for my adult kids and their families, and I've made at least couple dozen of handmade cookbooks over the years.  Those require more computer work than actual crafting.

Tomorrow I will share a few practical thoughts about how I plan out my handmade gifts using timelines and such.  It often (not always!) has helped me get them done in a timely fashion.

Susan, I hope this is helping to answer your question!


  1. Thank you, Mrs. T!!! That did help, and I'm looking forward to reading how you plan your gifts!

  2. Lovely pillow quilts, especially the woodland critters one. I can crochet so am going to look for some scarf patterns to make for my sisters. Personal recipe books are so special, will need to update my computer skills a bit!

  3. Ladies, you are so welcome! I'm glad this was a bit of a help in beginning to plan for your homemade gifts.

  4. Lovely quillows! I made some one year and since I'm not a sewer it was quite a project but I was quite please with the results.

  5. Thank you, Luludou! Yes, I would imagine that not being a sewer would have made it quite challenging to figure out how quillows are put together. It had been years since I made the last ones and I really had quite a challenge refreshing my memory on how they were made. I had a pattern, but it was still difficult, to my mind anyway.


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