Dare to Make It: Ready, Set, Craft!

comments (7) October 23rd, 2008     

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Jen_W Jennifer Worick, contributor
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Are you ready to take the dare?  Set up your own Dare to Make it Journal and get your craft on!

Are you ready to take the dare?  Set up your own Dare to Make it Journal and get your craft on!

Honestly, I’m a bit exhausted already by the idea of holiday gift-giving. And I usually love pinning down the perfect present for all my loved ones! As a full-time writer and crafter, it’s sometimes hard to wrap my mind around making things for myself and others when a deadline is looming. It’s far too easy to run to Target or order a bunch of crap online at the last minute.

But to paraphrase former First Lady Nancy Reagan, I’m just saying no! With the Dare to Make It challenge, I’m going to do my darndest to make all of my holiday gifts. And I believe you can, too. Here’s how.

Make a Plan, Man

First off all, you’ve got to plan. Approach the holidays and your hand-crafting gifts as if you are planning a wedding or another big event. Seriously. First of all, pull out your calendar and schedule out craft time; find two-hour blocks during the week and try to have a crafternoon on a Saturday or Sunday. Don’t wait to find pocket of time to pull out your embroidery. Treat your crafting as a real appointment, sacred time to be putting care, imagination, and love into your gifts. Find a friend who’s daring to make it this holiday season and make her your craft buddy during these scheduled times. I always find it helps to have a partner to help keep me accountable, and heck, it’ll be way more fun to have someone to chat with while you’re sewing another market bag.

Make a List and Check It Twice

Next, write down everyone to whom you’d like to give a gift. I keep an Excel spreadsheet and pull it out and update it from year to year. To that end, we’re supplying you with downloadable worksheets to get you started. Download the holiday planning guide. The first form will allow you to create a laundry list of every person to whom you'd like to give a gift. Then, we give you tools to trim the list and make it more manageable.

See, making the list is only the tip of the iceberg. The hard part involves crossing people off the list. I’m serious. Instead of making gifts for every friend, coworker, neighbor, kid’s teacher, personal trainer, and random passersby, consider instead organizing an experiential gift. Invite someone over and teach her to knit. Arrange a girl’s night out with your friends, spending time together over dinner in lieu of exchanging gifts. Make holiday cookies with your mother-in-law. Create new traditions as you downsize your gift list.

Is your list manageable? Further simplify things by deciding who gets a themed mix CD or a tin of Christmas cookies (from that afternoon with your mother-in-law) and who gets something more personalized. At this point, you hopefully don’t have more than 15 gifts that you are going to have to put serious thought and time into. Hopefully.

Inventory your Stuff
Before going insane, see what materials you already have. As part of the “Dare to Make It” challenge, try to keep your shopping supply list to an absolute minimum. To do this, you should not only brainstorm gifts around each person, but think about what you can make with your stash, tools, and various items around the house. Don’t be afraid to change your plan to accommodate what you have. Maybe you wanted to knit a red scarf for your dad but you don’t have enough yarn to do this. Instead, pull out your stash and knit up a striped scarf that includes red as one of the colors. Our second worksheet helps you figure all this out, with columns for listing supplies you have, supplies you can restyle, and supplies you will actually need to purchase.

Now it’s time to go shopping. Using our third worksheet, make your list and check it twice. Before heading to a shop, however, send out an e-mail to friends asking if they have anything on your list they’d consider giving up for trade. Make one of your scheduled craft times into a craft swap. Now head out to your neighborhood craft shops, grouping materials on your list by store (which, surprise, we did on the downloadable worksheet) to make your shopping outing efficient.

Now all that’s left is to enjoy the crafting process. We are daring you to make it, but we also dare you to enjoy every single minute of it.

Do you have any tricks for surviving the holidays, making easy gifts, organizing your time or your shopping list? We want to hear them all, including any success stories or even tales of tragic-comic woe.

In the future, you can find me at my website or blogs, Things I Want to Punch in the Face and Prairie Tales. My new book, Backcountry Betty: Crafting with Style, is in stores now.

posted in: , Dare to Make it Journal

Comments (7)

gramcracker writes: Jennifer, thank you...you my have preserved my sanity...inventory, spreadsheets,plans, etc.,etc. Just what I need to do. Our family decided for 2009 it will be everything homemade. My plan is to move in 2009...as I pack I can sort and inventory! I can hardly wait to get started!!
Posted: 11:10 pm on December 29th
pkmandell writes: Loved this article. It inspired me to create a spreadsheet indexing all my supplies and treasures and where they are stashed. I get very creative with the storage - roving kittens tend to destroy ephemera .
I also find that setting aside the time for crafting is the high point of each day and I usually go to bed pondering what other wonderful things I can do next.
Yesterday created advent calendar of mini hats, mittens and stockings strung on long i-cord- all from my stash of felted thrift store sweaters.
Posted: 5:47 pm on November 5th
fatewineroses writes: I really like this. I usually write up something very similar each year. There were a couple of things I didn't see on the spreadsheet that I always include: 1. Budgeted amount for each gift/individual, 2. The ACTUAL amount spent for each gift and 3. Suggested places to shop for the item/idea.

It really helps to keep myself organized and to ensure that I've gotten a gift for everyone that's on my list!

Thanks for the spreadsheets though. With a tiny bit of modification I should be able to utilize this with great results!
Posted: 12:44 pm on November 4th
Jen_W writes: soggs74: I can certainly try. Send me your e-mail and I'll try to send an attachment with a PDF file. [email protected]
Posted: 4:06 pm on November 3rd
soggs74 writes: Is there any way you could make the Journal thing into a PDF? My computer can't read it. :)
Posted: 6:29 am on November 3rd
granitatogo writes: This is really inspiring! I have so many materials to work with ALL OVER the house, really I have no reason to buy gifts. I'm printing our this article right now! I like working from lists and yours is a good one for how-to. THX!
Posted: 8:14 am on October 31st
MichaelaMurphy writes: Hey Jen,
These downloads are awesome and really pretty--thanks! I almost want to give Dare to Make it Journals to everyone this year!
Posted: 5:08 pm on October 23rd
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