Thursday, November 14, 2013

Handmade Hanukkah

I decided to start a new tradition in our house for Hanukkah this year. This year I plan to give only homemade gifts, most of which I will make myself.

I don't mind how centered around gifts the holidays are these days. It's just a part of our culture that most of us have embraced or learned to accept. I loves me some good holiday shopping! Perhaps a little too much. I know that isn't what the holidays are about and I try to teach Lilly that it isn't all about the presents.

What I don't like is how greedy everyone is. I don't like the toy commercials and other holiday commercials that imply you are a bad parent if you don't get everything on your greedy little kid's list. Maybe it was different fifty years ago when the holidays were the only time of year when kids would get gifts. But these days people are constantly treating their kids to new toys, clothes, or electronics and finding reasons to justify it. When did this become the norm? It's ok to make a list of things you want for the holidays, but demanding you receive everything your heart desires should definitely land you on the naughty list. Remember YOU ARE NOT A BAD PARENT if you don't get everything on your child's list. Besides if you celebrate Christmas, you don't even get the credit for giving the best gifts. That jerk Santa does. He takes all the credit for all the hard earned money YOU spent and all the time YOU took picking out the perfect gifts while he kicks back sipping hot cocoa and stuffing himself with cookies. 
Above: Enormous Snowmen we made on Christmas Eve a few years ago when we were living in Missouri! This is one of my most favorite family memories :)

Lilly is still little and when we give her a sticker or a pencil she freaks out over it and gets so excited! I want to hold on to this as long as possible and to show her how lucky she is to be getting anything at all. Last year we gave her small gifts each night of Hanukkah. One night she got a candy bar. One night some crayons. One night a little Cinderella Polly pocket toy... I know one day she will see the holiday movies and TV shows, and see what her friends at school are getting and wonder why she too didn't get a power wheels Ferrari and her own 50" flat screen TV, which is why I want to start this tradition now.

To kickoff our Handmade Hanukkah I am going to give a handmade gift every night. In the future I imagine it will slowly dwindle down to one or two nights of handmade gifts. I'm hoping that starting when she is so young will be just the beginning of a meaningful tradition that will help spark her creativity as she creates some gifts of her own and helps her appreciate the time and care we put in to the gifts she receives.

Now I happen to be pretty crafty, which will come in handy, but I know not everyone is. Lilly loves the Disney Junior show Sofia the First. Sofia has an amulet necklace she wears and Lilly has been begging me for one! This is the first gift I plan to make for her. Andy and I have also decided to make her a shutterfly type photo book, but instead of just a photo album, we are writing a story about Lilly and using photos and her own drawings for the illustrations. Lilly also asked for a locket, so I am going to make her one. I just started making hair bows so I think one night I'll give her a few of those as well. I haven't come up with an idea for each of the eight nights yet, but I'm working on it!
Above: Sofia the First inspired amulet necklace I made. You can get it from my Etsy shop, the Banana Boutique

I know everyone isn't as crafty, but there are lots of ways you can start your own handmade gifts tradition. Maybe making and framing a photo collage, painting ceramics at a nearby studio (like Hands On Ceramics in Columbia, MO). Perhaps baking something is the way to go. There is always sewing or knitting... And a whole internet out there full of ideas! Craft stores like Michael's even have classes where you can learn to knit, make jewelry, or decorate cakes.

A few years ago we painted a pie plate together as a family for Andy's grandma. She makes the best apple pie! We personalized it and covered it in Lilly's handprints. When we gave it to her for Christmas she opened it and said "Finally! A gift I can keep!" Everyone else was like "Hey you aren't going to keep my gift!?" We knew what she meant though. That this gift was something extra meaningful. If we are going to take these holidays and make them all about gifts, we may as well make those gifts special and meaningful instead of spending tons of money on more junk we don't need.