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DIY Christmas: My First Attempt


Some time in November, I decided that this Christmas, I would only give gifts that either I made myself or were made locally. In other words, a more-or-less do-it-yourself Christmas.

I didn’t succeed, entirely. Some of my gifts were store-bought, and hence almost certainly shipped from overseas. (I live on an island, so almost everything is shipped overseas.) My girlfriend and I bought a tissue dispenser for her sister and her sister’s husband (it’s a nice tissue dispenser, okay?), an iPod dock for her other sister, and boots for her mother. As well, I bought a flash drive for her brother, a gift certificate for my Mom, and a Penny Arcade t-shirt for my girlfriend.

Note: the fact that this was purchased from Penny Arcade mitigates its long-distance shipping

However! Some of the gifts I purchased were locally made, including beer nuts for my Dad and dip for my Mom (purchased at a Christmas craft fair); flowers for my girlfriend’s mother; jam and a tree ornament for my Mom and a chocolate Chess set and two books by a local author for my Dad (bought at the Farmers’ Market); organic dog treats for my sister’s dog and my roommates’ dogs (also bought at the Farmers’ Market); and a sweater for my girlfriend, purchased from Model Citizens, which sells clothes that would have been discarded otherwise (though they are shipped from away).

I’ve railed sarcastically against the commercialization of Christmas on the blog before, but I’ve yet to unsubscribe from the annual practice of exchanging gifts. I don’t participate on religious grounds–I do it because it’s a fun tradition, and I’ve always done it. I see no reason to stop, if I can give gifts produced in an environmentally-friendly way.

But the truth is, giving only gifts that are locally made–by you or others–is hard, and time-consuming. I only made one gift this year. It was a book safe, and I made it for my Dad.

That there book safe represents hours of glueing and cutting

Clearly, next year I need to start making and searching for locally produced gifts months in advance, especially if I’m making several of them myself. Gifts you make yourself, while more ethical and meaningful, require much more effort.

6 Comments leave one →
  1. 12/29/2011 11:08 PM

    Nicely done, Jay! We still exchange some gifts in our family (immediate and extended) but one of the most meaningful exchanges we have is the one with my husband’s family, where we draw names a month or two before Christmas, and you pick a charity to donate to in the name of the person whose name you drew, based on their interests. It’s wonderfully surprising and creative, and this year the donations ranged from Democracy Now to a local food bank.

    • 12/30/2011 5:00 PM

      It’s Scott, not Jay! But thank you nonetheless :)

      That’s a great idea–I’d love to start that!

  2. 01/01/2012 7:28 PM

    OMG, love the t-shirt. I totally hate games I suck at. :)

    I think buying handmade, local items makes up at least somewhat for not being able to create as many gifts as you’d like. I try for the same, and year after year, I fail. I always manage to craft a few things, but not enough to replace bought gifts. Ah well. Aim high?

    • 01/02/2012 4:03 PM

      I think a lot of it has to do with lowering expectations among friends and family. I don’t think buying fewer gifts should be seen as cheap–I think it should be seen as an effort to create more meaningful gifts.

      I forgot to mention that my girlfriend and I also baked a few desserts in lieu of giving store-bought gifts.

  3. 01/05/2012 1:47 AM

    This is the very reason I have been an absent blogger of late. The lure of homemade gifts got me, it sucked me in and I was hooked. I did and thought of nothing else, for almost all of December. I managed to make most of my gifts, and filled in some gaps with used books and the like. One of my goals for 2012 is to plan this through the year so it does not feel so overwhelming. It is much more effort, way more!

    • 01/16/2012 11:58 AM

      Good for you, Sherry! I’m going to resolve to get an early start on next year’s DIY gifts, too. Though judging by this year, I think I may have to start some time in June to get it all done!

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