Planning Your Best Handmade Holiday

We’re halfway through October, and I’m already thinking about holiday gifts. Making lists, considering supplies, budgeting (time and money). Not because I’m totally organized and like to plan and have everything finished early. Actually it’s because I make most of my gifts each year and I’ve found that if I don’t at least sort of plan now or sooner, there is no way to actually complete my projects on time.  Then I will be awake several nights in a row right before crunch time.  Because I can’t admit defeat and go buy a present at the 11th hour.


My family and I have been making handmade gifts and giving the gift of classes, activities, and tools for making for the past several years.  We were all getting lost in the stress of shopping and procrastinating and worrying about what to buy for each other.  We were buying dumb things late in the game and giving things no one needed or wanted.  It seemed better to just not bother giving a present.  So, we talked and decided that making things and finding ways to delight each other with unusual handmade items was far more fun. We get the fun and satisfaction of learning new skills during the year, challenging ourselves personally, and feeling really good when the recipient truly values the gift we worked so hard to create.

This year, I hope to expand this tradition to the greater Cleveland area by teaching anyone who wants to join in this approach. We teach workshops at the studio throughout the year on all sorts of skills like sewing, knitting, and leather craft. We’re adding a series of holiday maker workshops to the November and December schedule to teach even more skills and focus on specific types of gifts, such as beginner projects in knitting, sewing, and printing, to help you make this a handmade holiday season for the lucky recipients on your list. In our holiday workshops you can make hats, boot cuffs, ornaments, holiday cards, scarves, stockings, tote bags, and more. We’ll have workshops for kids and adults, because everyone can and should have a chance to make something special to give.

Some people have a stigma attached to handmade or homemade gifts.  Probably from receiving something poorly made or not well planned.  You certainly can’t expect someone to like a gift and value it simply because you made it.  We want to help you make really cool, modern, useful handmade gifts that anyone would be thrilled to receive and proud to give.

You need to really think about the person you’re making for.  What are they like? How will they use the gift? So they love or hate certain colors or textures?  For example, I love wool yarns, but my mom cannot stand wool against her skin, so I have to work outside my comfort zone and use non-animal fibers for her gifts.  I have a good friend who likes lots of colors, but really hates pale aqua tones.  She laughs everytime she sees my collection of aquas and turquoise, hoping those aren’t destined for her gifts.  

My hope is that you will use our workshops as a starting point.  I want you to come in, learn what you need, and then go home full of knowledge and inspiration to tackle more projects on your own. Of course, we do take you from start to finish on a project in our workshops.  But you also leave with new skills and understanding that will help you keep with your new craft or art. We can help you with recommendations for further reading, websites, stores and other resources to pursue.

Another thing that I have found fun with my own friends and family is to get a group together and knock out several gifts at once.  It could be as simple as wrapping presents together or as complex as holding several sessions to make everything on your gift lists for the year. You could organize these parties at your house or rent a space to help accommodate more people. We can even help you plan your own maker party here at our Cleveland Heights maker studio.

The key to remember is that your handmade gift is extra special to the recipient and is often worth more to them than something you buy at the mall.  Even though it may feel like it was no big deal to you, if you put your best into making it, they will love it.