Christmas is a time of giving and love. For many, the giving has overpowered the love and hidden the true meaning of the season.
During Christmas, we give gifts to show our loved ones we appreciate them and love having them in our lives. This is why we give. However, with events like Black Friday and Cyber Monday, we, as a society, tend to focus on buying the best new gadgets or getting a great price on those expensive toys. We focus more on what we are buying and not why. The expectation is to buy more and more each year and to continually up the ante.
Christmas doesn’t have to break the bank. You don’t have to give in to the commercialization of the holiday and spend hundreds of dollars.
According to a study performed by the National Retail Federation, Americans will be spending more money on gifts in 2018 than they did in 2017. A Gallup survey reports adults estimated spending approximately $885 on gifts this year. The study found 33 percent of people expected to pay at least $1,000 on gifts, 22 percent were expecting between $500 and $999 and 29 percent expected between $100 and $499. Only 3 percent of people surveyed planned to spend less than $100. It has also been shown that actual spending tends to be higher than the predicted numbers.
Christmastime can be especially stressful for those who don’t have much disposable income. It has become expected you must spend money to show your loved ones how you feel.
Personally, I work two jobs and work 50- to 60-hour weeks just to make ends meet. I also come from a larger family, so buying gifts for everyone was not an option. Last year, I began celebrating what my family affectionately calls “handcrafted Christmas.”
I took up crocheting a few years ago as a hobby and realized I can use those skills to create something extra special and personalized for those in my life. Last year’s gifts featured stuffed animals specifically chosen for each member of my family. This year’s theme was winter wear.
I was nervous the first time I gave out the homemade gifts, but my fears immediately melted watching my 2-year-old nephew hugging his stuffed dinosaur. Every member of my family loved his or her gift. My mother is planning on building a special shelf in the house to display the stuffed animals.
Sure — they aren’t getting the latest technological gadget or something fancy and expensive, but from my experience, loved ones would rather receive a simple but thoughtful gift than an expensive and impersonal one. It’s the thought that counts.
This year, I started planning and working in September. As of Dec. 13, I put the finishing touches on the last item. It truly was a labor of love, but that’s what matters most to me. It’s important my family knows how much I love them and what they mean to me. I will risk the swollen knuckles and tired fingers to demonstrate my appreciation.
That’s what handmade, homemade gifts say to your loved ones. It says you care enough about them to put hours or even days into working on a project you thought up specifically for them. Anyone can go on Amazon and order a gift, but it takes a lot of thought, planning and love to make something.
Even if you can’t knit or crochet, there are other options. In the past, I’ve spray-painted empty wine bottles and either put twinkling lights inside or stenciled an intricate design on the outside. If you type “homemade Christmas gifts” into Google, you get dozens of hits for do-it-yourself projects and crafty gift ideas.
If you received a handmade gift this year, please recognize the effort and love put into it. Don’t think of the cost, but rather how much it matters to whomever gave the gift to give you something special. That is where the real value lies.
Let’s shift the spirit of Christmas away from the commercialized craziness of excessive spending and back to showing your loved ones you care with something personal, even if it’s small and handmade.