I am one of 33,182 people who made the pledge to buy handmade gifts this christmas season. And I am proud to say that I did just that. I bought all my gifts handmade from etsy and the others are being made myself.
It was a lot harder than I thought it would be. This year, with the tough economy, we decided only the kids should get gifts, so this made my task a bit easier ... sort of.
I have one nephew and four nieces. Two nieces I don't know very well. One because she's not even two-years-old and the other because she is a step-niece, brand new to the family since October.
First on the list is Michael. He is twelve, in middle school and in that painful 'tween stage of life. He comes from a family of nerds, so he himself is one. He loves video games, D and D and comic books. He's finally become aware of popularity, so he desperately wants to look and be cool. Michael likes clothes with guitars and skateboards on them and has recently discovered the store PacSun and Hot Topic. *shudder* Michael is also an artist with a pure heart and soul. He is empathetic and sensitive. Spends his time coming up with art projects that he never actually does. Be it a drawing, sculpture or story, he doubts himself and his talents. Many of Michael's other friends are avid sketchers themselves, so he compares himself to what they do and has deemed himself useless when it comes to art.
Michael once had an idea to decorate a pair of white chucks with a viking ship. One side would have an empty ship, giant octopus tentacles would be wrapping all around it, crushing it and pulling it under the water. The source of the tentacles could be seen on the other side of the shoe, where the body of the beast would be visible. The other shoe would show a fleet of vikings rowing away from the carnage in little row boats. And there, behind the last little boat would be a single tentacle sticking up out of the water ... waiting for the survivors to row right into it's clutches.
AMAZING! Right? Ahhhh, he never did it! Michael tried and tried and tried to draw it up, but he never liked what he saw. It didn't look realistic enough. I tried to tell him, to teach him, to coach him ... that it's not always about how GOOD it is, but what it's ABOUT! The story that it tells! ACK! He never believed it like I did and so ... He still calls me. He still tells me all of his ideas and he still ... never ... does them. And it still breaks my heart.
One place where you see a lot of art with "character" is in graphic novels and comics, so when I saw that Etsy had a section with independent/homemade comics and zines, I knew right away I would find something for Michael here. And i did! From a seller called Jim 8ball
It's a pack of his five best selling comics and five best selling pins all stuffed into a cute little stocking ($6 w/shipping) . The art is really clean and tight, but I'm still hoping it'll inspire him to make his own comics. He's a smart kid with a big heart and endless imagination. Doing something like this would make him so happy ... if only he could get past his fears.
Next on the list are the two older nieces, Jaime and Riley. Jaime is older, she's eleven. Riley is younger, but those two girls are very close, so I decided to try and do something matching for them ... which in hindsight was ridiculous. They're two completely different little girls!
Jaime is super silly. She'll put on a show for anyone that'll give her two moments of your life. She'll sing and dance and do cartwheels and whatever else she can possibly fit into those brief moments. She's very smart, very clever, loves to draw. She's one of the most giving people I have ever met. I lived with my sister and these kids for seven months and Jaime would do my laundry and rub my back for nothing. She'll do anything to help out. She likes rock and roll things too. Her favorite color may be green, but she loves all the others almost as much. Her sense of humor will blow your mind. She says things most adults wish they could think of while at parties.
Riley is just a sweetheart. She loves horses and chasing my sister's bunny around the house. My brother describes her has girly, though I feel I have never seen this side of her before. Her favorite color is pink and has a notorious sweet tooth.
For them, I decided to knit little "scarflettes" that will be pinned together with little cupcake pins I bought from Bamfkat ($4.50 a piece w/shipping)
They'll go on these scarves ... one of which I still have to finish OH MY!
Next is my seven-year-old niece Julia. Usually she is the easiest on my list for she is QUITE the character. Don't let her sweet name fool you! Julia Rose likes monsters, zombies, bugs, robots, super heroes, comic books and video games. She's very shy and not quick to play with other children. She lives in her own world where she is either the Incredible Hulk, Luke Skywalker, or Nacho Libre. She has a strange obsession with collecting pins, but never does anything with them. Usually I just get her some action figure or a costume (all the better for pretending to be a super hero!) BUT, I made a pledge to buy handmade this year and while people certainly make action figures, you can expect to pay anywhere from $90-$250 for one. I did not have that much money.
So, Julia I found a HILARIOUS tree monster pin I know she'll love from Loveleigh Junk ($6.50 w/shipping).
Then, to go with the pin, I bought her a monster coloring book from Pickled Punk
I splurged on this one. It came to $10.45 w/shipping, but I know she'll love it and I really loved supporting this artist.
My niece Rachel is another hard one. She'll be two on New Year's Eve and is at that age where she doesn't quite play by herself, or really at all. She'll bang on things, but she's still in love with the idea of being mobile, so she runs. a lot. Her favorite thing is to play loud music and dance (yup. she takes after me!) One thing she loves, loves, loves are her stuffed animals. She has a few she loves more than anything and she cannot live with out at least one of them. Her father is obsessed with planes. He works at an airport where he fuels them and is slowly, but surely getting his pilot's license. Every time there is a sky in the plane, Rachel is the first to spot it. She gasps, squeals, says, "DADDY! DADDY! DADDY!" and then makes the buzzing sound of a plane.
So, when looking for a gift for little Rachel, i had wanted to get her a stuffed plane. These are actually pretty rare on etsy and the one that I did find was covered in buttons and very expensive. The store was Yoborobo and while I couldn't get Rachel that plane, I did find Rose.
I fell in love with her immediately and at $18 w/shipping, she was mine.
So, with everyone set with their own gifts, I decided to tie it all together a matching gift for all and Love and Sandwich had the perfect thing for me. I bought each kid one of of the below little monsters:
Michael got the Yetti with the beard, Jaime got the Yetti with the mustache, Riley got the pink Yetti and Julia got the "sad" Sasquatch. He's the one with on the far right.
So. That wraps up the kids. It took me a long time to find things that were affordable and suitable to their tastes and personalities. All in all I spent $87. That's $17.50/child. Not bad, huh?
My next project (besides finishing up that pink scarf for Riley), would be the ornaments I'm making for my Family. While we decided not to exchange gifts, I have a lot of shrink plastic sheets left over, so I thought I'd make some ornaments to give people anyway. It's not like I'm spending any money, right?
So, what do these ornaments look like?
Well, that's for another blog.