We ended up making about 85% of our presents for others this year. This was a bit nerve-wracking (I always spend a lot of time in the planning phase, and then still end up staying up late for days on end making sure that everything gets done; I am not great at the incremental steps that could alleviate this issue) but for the most part, I'm really happy with the results. I thought I would share the range of items here, since I benefited from the willingness of others to share their own ideas.
The purposes of these projects were twofold:
First, I love the "spirit" of the holidays but I absolutely hate the consumerism and the ... weird sense of guilt that wanting to be generous but nearly always being too poor that seems to go with the season. Choosing to give in to that guilt is a bit like being a Scrooge with myself - so I needed something, a practice, to get me out of that mindset.
Second, I've spent this year getting rid of debt (still not done but so, so much closer than I was this time last year), and I didn't want to undo all of that hard, good work in a month of worrying that I wasn't able to get people enough and consequently overspending. These projects became a sort of meditation, in letting them be enough and enjoying the process of creating for the people I love - this is something (much better than guilt) that I'd like to pass along to my kid as part of his understanding of Christmas. Also, this enabled me to give gifts to people I adore but who I wouldn't normally be expected to gift (and I like being able to give when there's no expectation of return).
I made three categories of presents. A* tackled the BIG project for the kid (a fantastic play kitchen), but I tried to take care of most of the smaller projects, and I'm providing notes/recipes/places to go for inspiration below. (If you happen to be curious at all about the cost breakdown for any of these projects, I've done a ridiculous amount of recordkeeping and number crunching, and I'd be happy to provide sourcing information, too.) I'll be posting directions/reflections on these three types of gift in the next three posts (edited from what felt like a too-cumbersome listing all-in-one).