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.
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.
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 whipup.net, 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 etsy.com 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!