Yarn Life

How to Plan Simpler Handmade Gifts This Christmas

December 4, 2018

Today we have 11 tips for crafting with intention this Christmas! Written by our Creative Director, Beth: who is trying reeeeally hard to not knit EVERYTHING this year… (Hopefully. Haha.) Read on for some ideas, and we hope your Holidays are wonderful! 😀

So I’m pretty sure I’m becoming one of those “Christmas People.”
Yeah, I didn’t think it would ever happen to me,
In fact, I think my 16-year-old self would throw me some maaaajor shade right about now.

But I am. I admit it…
I like Christmas music. I like Christmas baking. I LOVE making gifts.
I’m a Christmas person!
I’m Christmassy as heck, and guess what?

Yeeeep, it’s all yarn’s fault.
(*please tell me you imagined me saying that in a Barney Fife voice.*)
Yeeep, because of yarn, I gotta start planning Christmas gifts before Halloween even hits!

Everyone is busy making their costumes, baking spooky cookies, listening to Monster Mash,
and I’m like…
“Okay so when is it socially acceptable for me to start chatting about my Christmas knit-list?”

Seriously, when you are a knitter (or any kind of maker), you have to start preparing early!
And that’s ok! Because you’re excited to start early!

But… we all know, handmade gifts can be a slippery slope.
As Christmas season gains momentum,
it’s easy for your holiday “to-make list” to
s n o w b a l l.
And suddenly, it’s Christmas Eve, and instead of cuddling up to “It’s a Wonderful Life” and basking in the glow of your beautiful tree, …you’re madly knitting a scarf that you know you’ll never finish in 8 hours, and kicking yourself for not knitting FAST ENOUGH, FURIOUSLY ENOUGH, FANTASTICALLY ENOUGH!!!

I’m here with my crafty-bestie Ashley to say: ENOUGH IS ENOUGH!
Time to reclaim the JOY of handmade this holiday season.

We’ve put our heads together and made a list (and checked it twice)
of how we’ve learned to avoid Christmas burnout, while still making beautiful handmade gifts for our loved ones!

Ready to reclaim Christmas as a maker?
Let’s do this!

xx, Beth (with brainstorming help from Ashley!)

How To Avoid Handmade-Burnout at Christmas


Like literally, I like to make something small. Handmade gifts are inherently special and I don’t need to make the biggest, grandest item in my Ravelry favorites to impress my family members. In my experience, a simple home good or stuffed animal is treasured as much as a wearable item!


It’s important for me to control the scope of my project, because it’s SO easy to fall into the “give a mouse a cookie” trap…

For example, I just crocheted 2 kitchen towel holders as gifts: one for my Grandma and and one for my Mom.
…and when I finished, I thought: “Hmm, I have supplies to make 4 more of these, so I need to crochet 4 more… oh, maybe I should make dishcloths, too…”

And all of a sudden, my simple gift had snowballed. And it wasn’t fun anymore.

Once I stopped and considered what I’d actually enjoy making, I thought… “you know, my Mom and Grandma are going to be delighted with what I already made. I can always make them more after Christmas.”


Sometimes when I really feel like my handmade gift needs a little oomph, I pair it with something store-bought. For example, I knit a few dishcloths and am pairing them with some store-bought pot holders. (Obviously I’m really into dishcloths, LOL.)


Ashley and I like to choose projects we already know how to make. Learning a new skill can be overwhelming when working against a holiday deadline, so make sure to choose projects that have a low chance of becoming a frustration!


Variety can help avoid a feeling of burnout! I like to take a minute to think about what I already enjoy doing, and how to make that into a gift. Some fun examples:

  • bake something
  • write a love letter
  • make a photo collage
  • learn a sentimental song
  • dye a silk scarf
  • draw a picture
  • arrange flowers in a pretty vase


I always fall into the trap of wanting to make something for everyone on my Christmas list. And while that’s very sweet, it’s just not realistic!

This year, I chose to focus on knitting for 2 people: my husband and my daughter. (Okay, granted, I’m also knitting very small home goods for 3 other people, but that’s it! Haha.)

It’s been very helpful to me to limit the number this way because I can slow down and truly enjoy the knitting process. I can always switch it up next year!


We like to take stock of what materials we already have on hand before making a list of potential handmade gifts. Buying new materials can quickly become expensive, so shop from your stashes first to see if you already have the perfect yarn to cast on with. It might even be a fun challenge to make gifts solely with materials you already have.


This might sound silly, but I have a big pile of Christmas gifts in my closet that are already wrapped and labeled. Wrapping as I go just helps me feel like I can get some traction and really appreciate what I’ve made so far!

It’s kind of like cleaning your kitchen as you bake, instead of having to face a big mess at the end.


Every year since I learned to knit, I’ve been knitting on Christmas Eve. And it sucks. SO, this year I’m going to choose a knitting cutoff date BEFORE Christmas. (I’m thinking maybe the 20th.) If it’s not finished by then, it needs to wait until someone’s birthday!


The Pinterest culture of “quick and cheap DIYs for EVERYONE on your list” can get overwhelming and it definitely devalues handmade. …And you know what? I find it super annoying. Because NO ONE needs a plastic dinosaur that’s been painted gold and has a cactus sticking out of it.

Handmade gifts — REAL handmade gifts — are special! So I hope I never fall prey to the idea that making ALL my gifts will save money and be better for my family.

It’s not fun and it gets impersonal and all the materials add up fast. Pinterest is LYING. K? …Moving on, hahah…


This year, I intentionally chose a selfish-knitting project to keep on hand for days when I’m feeling overwhelmed by holiday obligations. I might even wrap up the finished object for myself to open on Christmas 😀 It’s silly, but I think it would be an adorable gesture of self-care!

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