PUBLISHED: 7:01 PM on Wednesday, November 5, 2008
Handmade for the holidays
Already stressed about holidays gifts? Don't panic. Take a deep breath, count backwards from ten, down three sips of water while standing on your head and remember it is only November! You have almost two months to go before some kind of gift-giving holiday occurs. So, why not make the most of it this year and go handmade? It's easier than it sounds - and less panic-inducing.

Take the pledge

Illustration by Tanna Peters
  Whether you do it yourself or buy from local crafters, there are plenty of easy ways to give handmade gifts this holiday season.
It's a little daunting to start the holiday season pledging to make homemade gifts for everyone. I mean, we can't all be Martha Stewart. So why not join the 28,000 others who've committed to the next best thing? This season pledge to buy handmade. At, view the pledges of thousands of gift-givers who have gone handmade to support local artisans, help the environment, or just to save money. Not ready for all that commitment? Try a handmade gift exchange among friends. Then you only have one gift to make and since you're among friends, they're sure to love it!

Keep it simple

I am a procrastinator and a perfectionist, which is no picnic for my family. I find myself scrambling to finish elaborately schemed gifts each year. So I've learned to simplify. One easy way is to stick to crafts you know. If you bake, make cookie plates. If you knit, make a hat, not a pair of complicated socks. If you scrapbook, make a framed page, not an entire book. Don't know any crafts? Buy some fleece, grab a pair of scissors, and make oodles of scarves. Just remember, handcrafted items are appreciated, no matter how simple.

Find inspiration

The most common complaint I hear from friends and family about handmade gift giving is they never know what to make or how to make it. Here's the big secret: just cheat! Martha Stewart comes out with a yearly handmade gift-giving magazine. I got as far as page 5 last year and voilá, slippers for the whole fam! For free inspiration try, a blog devoted to "handcraft in a hectic world" with daily links to free projects and ideas. For local inspiration, try craft fairs, art galleries and even coffee shops.

When in doubt

Not ready to DIY? Employ one of the thousands of artists out there who are willing to craft for you! Finding them couldn't be easier. The online forum at is "your place to buy all things handmade." It is full of mini-shops created by crafters worldwide selling their handmade goods. Not only can you buy internationally, they also have a "Shop Local" feature. One click reveals D.O.R.K. Designs in Ketchikan makes cozy hats, while DeZeus deZigns in Sitka makes spiraling copper jewelry. In total there are 45 Alaskan Etsy shops to choose from. Not sure what to get? There are gift guides as well as searches divided by color and time period.

So, before the panic sets in, remember a few key points and you'll be fine. Just pledge to keep it simple by cheating and buying. And have a happy handmade holiday!