Simplicity by Choice

Off-Grid Living & Self-Reliance

Homestead Christmas December 23, 2015

We haven’t always celebrated Christmas.  In fact, it has only been in recent years that we even got a small tree.  A local shop owner saw our daughter admiring the little artificial tree. She and I  talked about how pretty it was, not knowing that the owner overheard us. As we left, he came out carrying a box.  He said that we had forgotten something.  To our delight, he placed the tree in our trunk.

The main reason for not celebrating was due to the holiday being so commercial. It was all about the gifts, not the religious story.  People routinely go into debt trying to buy the perfect gift.  It just didn’t feel right.

After having the kids, we made the decision to celebrate.  The compromise for us was that we limit the gifts.  We also teach the kids to make their gifts.  This one simple thing helps teach children to give of their time and talents to others.

The little ones are ages 9 and 7 years old this season.  With a little guidance, Little Miss chose a project to make for Daddy.  She wanted to make him something that he can take onto the truck with him.  It was a simple project to complete but very useful.  Little Man needed more help with his gift to Daddy.  Mostly due to his lack of fine motor development.  He had fun with it though.

Giving homemade gifts whenever possible has become a family tradition.  We also limit the number of gifts.  In doing this, the kids are much more appreciative of what they receive.

The Christmas tree has a few secondhand ornaments.  Gradually, we are adding handmade ornaments to it each year.  A new thing added to the tree this year also was battery powered little lights.  We found those at Hobby Lobby.

Having a simple Christmas has been a blessing. We can focus on the meaning of the holiday without all the stress and hoopla that other families face.  We can use it as a time to serve others and give of ourselves in remebrance of Christ giving of Himself for us.  It is also an opportunity to teach the kids that it isn’t all about than, but learn to enjoy the giving to others.

I love how we celebrate Christmas. It is so much more peaceful and enjoyable for our family.  I pray that others can enjoy the holiday as that celebrate with their families.

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Handmade Christmas October 6, 2014

Filed under: Crafting,holidays,simplicity — ourprairiehome @ 2:51 am
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Over the past few weeks, I have been busy with making gifts for the holiday season.  I am blessed to not only have Christmas gifts to make but a couple of birthdays in that season as well.  Yes, it can be a hectic and busy time of year.

I am loving the preparations.  As in past years, I am making the gifts that will be given.  Soon, we will begin to make the cards to be mailed as well.  It is one of the most personally rewarding things I have ever done.  I am crocheting most of the gifts this year.  I am learning new stitches and patterns as I go along.  YouTube is great for this.  I especially love the tutorial videos made by The Crochet Crowd.  With each video, there are links to a free pattern using that stitch.  In some cases, such as a darling little baby dress, you can find videos showing exactly how to make the projects.

I absolutely love the videos that the Crochet Crowd has posted.  Through them, I have learned and been gaining confidence to try new things.  I am making a blanket this year that is the largest one that i have ever crocheted.  Previously, I only made baby blankets with the largest one being crib size.  This year, I am making one that is double bed size.  Once done, it will be 95 inches square.  I watched the video for the corner to corner stitch pattern and am using that to make the blanket.

Other  gifts and projects are much faster to put together.  Everything from slippers, kitchen items, and winter gear all can be made quickly once you learn the stitches used.  A pretty afghan block made about 10 inches in size can be backed with fleece to make a thick hot pad.  There are numerous patterns for dishcloths that can also be used as a face cloth.  Made with a very soft cotton yarn, you can make a set of these to be used as baby wipes.

To make the baby wipes, measure the width and length of the container you will be using.  Recycled baby wipes containers work great.  Make a dishcloth the length and twice the width of the container.  Use a yarn that is cotton for best results as the synthetic ones are not as absorbent.  Fold the cloths in half and fill the container.  To use, cover with warm water and add a couple drops of baby wash to the water.  Allow the cloths to soak up the water before using.  Be sure to drain any excess water to prevent the cloths from being too saturated.

Here are some other gift ideas.  Among them are ideas that I plan on making but it will give you ideas to inspire.  One common theme through it all is that the gifts are easy to make.  In fact, you can even find ideas here that can be used as charity items to make and donate to a shelter or children’s hospital.

Winter gear and apparel: hats, mittens, fingerless gloves, scarf, shawl, leg warmers, boot cuffs

Household items: dishcloths, pot holders, placemats, mug wraps, blankets, pillows

Fun gifts: cell phone case, e-reader/tablet case, purse or tote bag, soft toys

Holiday items: stockings, gift bags, ornaments, table decorations, wreaths

These are just a few of the ideas that you can choose from.  Going to websites like Pinterest, you can do a search to find many other options as well.  Recently, I did a search for handmade ornaments and came up with hundreds of great ideas.  The kids and I will be making some for the tree this year and to share with others.  I love the idea of the kids making ornaments each year to save from one year to the next.  These will make a nice remembrance for them later as adults when they have their own tree.

Now that I have a good start on the gifts & ornaments, I am now going to start buying gift bags of assorted sizes at the dollar store.  I love buying brown paper ones that can be decorated with gingham or calico fabrics cut out in cookie cutter shapes.  It gives a fun rustic or homespun look to the packaging.  I got some ideas this past month that I will plan ahead for next season.  Instead of using gift wrap or purchased gift bags, I can always sew or crochet gift bags with drawstring closures or make a fun crocheted basket or tote to give the gift in.  These wrappings will be an extra gift to the recipient to use for other purposes.  I am especially eager to make the crocheted basket that was recently the focus of a challenge on the Crochet Crowd website.  I think that it will make a fun way to present a gift.  There are many great patterns available for making totes that would work well for gift bags too.  You can make the totes and baskets to be feminine for the ladies, use bright colors and fun appliques for kids, or use masculine colors to make a basket for the guys.

Are you planning to make handmade gifts or decorations for the upcoming holidays?  What are some of your favorite ideas?