Sunday, December 20, 2009

A handmade gift comes from the heart

My grandmother used to say “when you make a gift for someone, you give them a gift from your heart”.

In our family, we made a lot of our gifts to each other. Especially for grandparents, of course. That is a tradition that I’ve kept with me throughout my life. I don’t go into mass-gift-production and make things for everyone I know. Usually just a few significant people, different ones each year, receive handmade gifts. These gifts are expressions of how those people had touched my life at the time.

When I became a self-employed artist, most of the products that I started selling were things that I had originally made as a gift for someone. I still very much enjoy having somebody buy my piece to give as a meaningful gift to someone special. That, I believe, is why I have never had any problem letting go of my creations, even after I have put so much of my energy into them. It still feels, for me, like making gifts for special, significant people. Sharing my work with people who care is what makes my “job” worthwhile!

David’s grandkids know that I don’t want any bought gifts. If the kids (now aged 10 – 14) want to make me something, I’ll be thrilled. But not random “stuff” just so I can “have something to open” when the family gets together at Christmas.

One year recently, they all 4 made me frogs (I have a special fondness for frogs….) out of polymer clay. Wow! How perfect! Those frogs still sit watching me as I type on the computer.

Handmade gifts that are bought from the maker have a special significance. I see that so clearly now that I make my living making gifts that other folks give to each other. When I make something, it is an expression that comes from my heart. And then the buyer, having made a careful and thoughtful selection (my work is not inexpensive, after all), gives a gift from their heart to someone who is special to them. It’s wonderful! Now the gift comes from my heart, and from yours, to someone who is meaningful to you!

What could be more expressive of the holiday spirit??

Ok, on to the point of this post!

There are lots of ways to give your loved ones a handmade gift that comes from the heart. I’m not saying that everyone should buy one of my pieces to give as a gift (though I wouldn’t object!). There are so many ways that we can express that true giving and Christmas spirit!

Here’s a list of ideas: is an online marketplace for handmade work of all kinds, in every price range. Here’s my etsy shop:

There are craft shows and art shows at all levels in almost every town. Look around in your area, and you’ll find them.

Schools and churches also usually have holiday sales. Museums and Arts Centers, too. In our area the Arvada Center for the Arts has a sale that goes through this weekend:

Craft shops and art stores, often artists cooperatives, are

places to find handmade work by people from your local area.

Here’s the best one: Make your own gifts!!! You’re not an artist? I don’t believe it! You don’t have time? It’s not necessary to make something for everyone you know!

Just for a few significant people.

Try these ideas (and add some of your own):

If you’re a Woodturner, make ornaments, pens, oil candles, tea lights, vases, art pieces, bottlestoppers, Your skills will improve, and your family will love it! Start a tradition of making a new ornament design every year for everyone in the family!

Create a handmade card. Cutting, glueing, painting, scrapbooking, writing…. Remember, it comes from your heart!

Print out pictures that have meaning, and share them. My mother used to put together a photo collage of us kids for the grandparents every Christmas. David’s daughter puts together a calendar with pictures of the grandkids, and everyone’s birthdays.

Bake cookies, or make a pie, or jam, or whatever your culinary specialty is.

In my next post, I’ll share my gift recipes for this year.

Give a “coupon” redeemable for some kind of service that you provide. As kids, we used to do this a lot. Mowing the lawn, weeding, putting up Christmas decorations, taking someone out to dinner….. use your imagination (and your heart).

Share the love! Family and relationships are life’s true treasures!

Happy holidays to all of my friends and family!

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