My family started a tradition
a few years ago that has changed
my opinion on both gift giving and
gift receiving. In our exchange, each
family member is required to give
a gift to one other person and will
receive one from someone else in
However, this exchange varies
from tradition slightly as each item
must be handmade and must not
exceed the cost of $15.
I do admit, the process can be
difficult, demanding a lot of time
and thought for a single gift. Yet,
the reactions from the recipients
are worth the the great amount of
effort involved in designing these
Creating a present requires
so much more thought and skill
than simply buying one. It’s easy
to shop for someone, but to make
something for someone? It’s difficult
and consuming, but that makes the
product even more precious when it
Over the years, I’ve learned that
a gift made by a loved one is much
more exciting and meaningful than
a gift purchased, and that a gift I’ve
made for another is received the same
way. I cherish what’s been made for
me and I have no doubt that others
do the same.
As always, I am anxiously
waiting for our exchange this year.
I’m in the process of sewing a pair of
slippers, made from silk and felt, for
my mom. And I’m secretly hoping
that whoever has chosen my name will make me a new wine rack.
To begin this tradition in your
own family, or to just save a little
money and impress those closest to
you, attempt a handmade holiday
of your own. Whatever set of skills
you have can be translated into a
meaningful and and memorable gift.
And when in doubt, a handmade card will always beat one from Hallmark.
From the Chef: a batch of
homemade gingerbread cookies using
your family’s secret recipe or a savory spice blend for making winter stews
From the Artist: your rendition
of a beloved photo, or if you prefer a
different media, a handmade mug to enjoy morning coffee.
From the Musician: a recording of a favorite piece played by no one
other than you.
From the Hunter: hand-cut and
wrapped meats from your most
From the Writer: a story or poem
describing a treasured memory or
a hand-crafted journal to record
memories not yet made.
From the Botanist: a terrarium
constructed with the most durable
of plants for those with even the
brownest of thumbs.
From the Environmentalist: a
handmade tote in a favorite color for
carrying large loads of groceries home
from the store and for preventing the
use of plastic bags.
From the Traveler: share a piece
your adventures. Did you learn how
to make paella in Spain? Illustrate a
recipe card and gather some of the
ingredients needed to let your loved
one experience what you did.