Thursday, November 5, 2009

Getting Crafty

This is my busiest period. With sixteen birthdays and three anniversaries occurring between September and January, and Christmas – with all its baking, cooking, decorating and gift-giving – squeezed in there, too, this season is downright frenzied. So, how do I cope?

Mainly, I don't do all the shopping during these months. That would overtax both our budget and schedule. Instead, shopping for gifts, cards and dry foods begins months ahead. In the case of Christmas-gift crafting, immediately after the holidays when seasonal fabrics, notions and decorations go on sale, is when I shop for next year's supplies. Their availability passes with the season and I like to putter at crafts throughout the year.

Birthday cards can be bought ahead, too. Years ago, I found a handy sorting calendar that enables me to take advantage of card sales, and keep them ready for delivery, or mailing, well ahead of their due dates. This lead-time also allows for creation of cards, when I'm inspired to do so. For this purpose, I keep my eyes open, throughout the year, for sales of remnant lace and ribbons, glitter, and decorative stickers.

When it comes to gift-giving, I use a similar tactic but for different reasons. As often happens when birthdays fall in summer or winter, many available items (like clothing, sporting goods, etc.) are very seasonal. By shopping for those gifts at other times of the year, selections are more varied. Also, when shopping ahead for gifts and cards, it's much easier to stick with a budget. Each month we set aside funds for gift-giving and, whether or not an occasion is current, we have money available for those "perfect gifts" when we find them on sale.

By far, though, Christmas poses the greatest gift-giving challenge. It strains the budget, the seasonal mood, and creativity – the latter, in particular, when every store seems to offer the same (mostly useless and cheaply made) merchandise. This is why I like crafting gifts months in advance: it eases the budget; it calms that holiday frenzy; and there's real opportunity to give unique and keepsake-quality gifts.

So, if you like to knit, sew, or scrapbook, and if you want to make Yuletide-themed gifts, this is the time to buy those yarns, fabrics, stencils, baubles, or stickers. You needn't hurry to create with them, either. These supplies will last the year, giving you plenty of opportunity to complete your projects before next winter brings forth a whole new crop of materials to purchase for the following year's holidays.