Monday, December 28, 2009

None of us had to go to the mall

My family decided to have a non-commercial Christmas this year. The rules for gifts were:
1. Handmade - if not made by the giver, then all effort should be made to purchase directly from the creator.

2. Recycled/Upcycled - my mother found a Christmas Card I sent her 16 years ago and wrote a new note in it (below my old note) and sent it back to me.

3. Used - books, clothing, housewares or ephemera.

4. Reusable or recycled packaging/wrapping is encouraged.
I'm going to share some of the results of these rules over the next few days. Since this whole thing was my mother's idea I'm starting with this gorgeous basket she made for me.

In the center is a piece of cherry tree which unfortunately cracked, but I kind of like that about it.
My sister will be getting a similar basket also, but the flu prevented it from happening before Christmas. Sis got a box full of unwoven reed (she also got a not-quite finished sweater from me, poor thing).

Mom makes some amazing baskets and you can see more of them here. She probably wont appreciate the link, but she's talented and she needs to start showing off what she can do.

Keeping with the wood theme, Mom and Dad made sets of these coasters for all of us from slices of Black Walnut. I love them and they make me think that it might be time to buy a real coffee table...

Dad made me this lovely desk organizer. He's handy with the tools. He also made sis a long narrow spice shelf out of some old crown molding.

I'm trying to decide whether to keep it at home or bring it to work where I will find a way to use it every day.

We all received lots of small handmade things that mom bought at the Twist Fair (one of the best craft fairs I've ever been to. The next one is May 7 & 8, 2010 here in Northampton), the Snowfarm Sale (An Artist's seconds sale held over 3 consecutive weekends every November in Williamsburg, MA) and the Vermont Hand Crafters Show (I must try to get to this next year - mid-November in Burlington).

I think this whole exercise made us all think a bit more about what is really important to us. Not only the act of making things ourselves for our loved ones, but supporting artists and craftspersons in their efforts to live off their own creativity. The gifts did not need to be huge, elaborate, expensive things. Little thoughtful things that will make us happy. Like these lavender sachets Mom made. I will distribute them around my house wherever there is wool (take that moths). Months from now I'll be digging through a basket of yarn and the smell will waft out. I'll think about mom and how thoughtful she was to make them. How she knows that my yarn and woolly things are important to me. And that moths suck.

Stay tuned to see how my brother, sister and I interpreted the rules.


  1. ooooo! How much fun! Lovely basket that your mom made for you, and the coasters that your dad made. The organizer is beautiful! Can't wait to see how the rest of you interpreted the rules.

  2. I can't wait to see what the rest of y'all did! I love the basket and I too enjoy the aesthetic of the crack. Your mom rules!