Crap for Christmas

Do you ever feel like Christmas is just an obnoxious excuse to buy pointless stuff for people who don’t really need it? I get the whole Santa thing, I’m a big fan of his and think there’s nothing wrong with an appropriate showing under the tree. But I’m talking about all the non-believer gifts we exchange. The lotions, the potions, the CD’s and the jewelry, it’s like an excuse to clutter up your vanity table with useless crap that sits around collecting dust until you get a chance to regift it.

A few years ago, myself and the girls in my husband’s family decided to opt out of the traditional gift exchange, and instead, decided to make each other hand crafted gifts. It doesn’t matter if it cost five minutes or five hours, our goal is to keep it cheap and original.

And I must say, this has been one of the most delightful traditions I’ve ever participated in. You wouldn’t believe the stuff some of these girls have come up with. Last year one of my SIL’s made the most darling birthday banner for everyone (there are six of us total). I don’t even want to think about how many hours she spent on it, but I appreciate every second.

Another one of my SIL’s took place mats and made book covers for our Relief Society manuals. She tied them with gorgeous raw silk ribbon, and her $7 gift looked like a million bucks. We’ve had calendar blocks andย  jewelry hangers, note cards and homemade heating pads. I’m currently slaving away at my own creation for this year’s exchange and I can’t wait to pass them out. (I can’t tell you what they are right now because some of my girls might read this.)

SO. If you have a hand crafted holiday gift idea, please please pass it along.

(Besides, I have a new craft room that I’m planning to unveil at the end of the week and it’s just begging for projects.)


  1. I lvoe hand made craft ideas. I have been crafting sock monkeys and hair bows for Miss Marley. You know I am excited to see your craft area!

  2. I would love to do this! As long as I still get the $100 Nordstrom gift card from my inlaws.

  3. THANK YOU. I have been feeling this way for the past several years…I’m totally over the crap. I have finally convinced my girlfriends to just go out to dinner together to catch up…our gifts always end up being “I had NO idea what to get you, so…..” and what we end up getting each other is the same boring crap you listed.

    LOVE the homemade gift idea. I might implement that with my extended family this year.

  4. That is a fun idea. This year my family is doing a game theme—we are supposed to give our favorite family game this year. I think it’s a good idea, cuz it’s personal and something we’ll use.

    • annie valentine says:

      Ooh, I love this idea. Do you do a theme every year?

      • This is the first year we’ve ever combined like this (we’re a mongrel mix of half and whole siblings), but I hope we keep doing it.

        • annie valentine says:

          We’re a mongrel mix in my side as well, but even after 30 + years we haven’t mixed Christmas. Good for you guys. (BTW, I’m an “ours”, are you?)

  5. Oo. What a great idea, to sort of make it “official” so it feels okay. I know I would 100% rather get a handmade thing…I’ve just felt nervous that others would rather not receive my poor attempt. Especially after last year and the handmade windchime debacle. Onward and upward.

  6. I feel the same way. We do exactly ONE gift exchange in our family and it includes drawing names. It makes Christmas lovely. ๐Ÿ™‚ I’m hoping to do a “handmade” christmas for the boys, but boys are hard!

  7. My husband’s family does something similar. This year (I hope none of my SIL’s read this) I made all the families “File Folder Games” for church. I made this a few years ago for them, and as the kids are getting older, I am giving them older games. Basically, it’s manilla folders with games inside to keep the kids occupied during the long hour(s) spent sitting on a bench listening to speakers. It has taken HOURS to put them together (about 50 folders in all) but it’s worth it!

    • annie valentine says:

      Bravo! What a fantastic idea, thanks for this one. I’m filing it away for next year.

  8. If I had a crafty bone in my body I would try to start that great tradition with my sissies. Alas, I stink at the crafting and have no craft room to get the juices flowing.

  9. promise not to tell any of my family? i printed pictures out of all my (and hubby’s) siblings families and glued them onto 2″ blocks that i painted black and then mod-podged the heck out of them. AND we drew names for my family and am making my sister beveled glass ornaments with her kids pics in them. and by golly, she better like them!

  10. I have to say I’m totally jealous of this tradition. H plans all year (I swear) what she is going to do. If I thought my husbands family would make a good showing, I would totally do it too. I am the craftiest one in the bunch and that is really, really sad.

  11. One of my good friends gives gifts like Jesus received: only three. The first one (Myrrh) is for the person’s hobby. The second (Franc-don’t know how to spell it and ain’t gonna look it up) is something handmade. Gold is a store-bought item that the person has asked for. I like the concept because it certainly does limit the “gimmes” that infest our children.

    • annie valentine says:

      We grew up with the “three gifts like Jesus” rule as well and use it on our kids, but I like that particular breakdown.

  12. What an excellent idea. I wish more people I knew would go for it.

  13. Hmm… I’d better not read any more comments or I might spoil the surprise! I sure wish I could be there this year. ๐Ÿ™ Thanks for the compliment on the birthday banners. Did you know I never got around to finishing my own banner? It’s just missing the letters. I kinda burnt out and never finished. I’m having fun working on this year’s gift!!!

  14. I’m doing paintings. Now I really can’t paint. But then I realized what does that mean? I can paint the way I would paint. So I hope they like what I do!

  15. Oh I love hand made gifts. They are the best. I only wish I had more time to do more of these type of gifts this year. With the move and getting settled I don’t have much time. But I am crocheting an aphgan for my daughter. I so look forward to reading your blog daily because you always make me smile!

  16. The crap for Christmas syndrome is totally ruining Christmas for me. WHY is it now all about the gifts, gifts, gifts……and some of the amounts of presents under a tree are mind boggiling (sp)
    Too much stuff —too much stress–to much debt

    Hand made things would be great, made with some thought behind it, the love put behind it. So much better
    Except for ONE small problem for me ———I am totally craft disabled.
    I just look at a glue gun and start to hyperventilate

  17. I’m am a visual person- I need to see pictures! Especially of that birthday banner! I could so make that! Please, please, pictures???