Friday, December 19, 2008

Handmade Holidays: Concluding Thoughts

I wanted to conclude this Handmade Holiday series with a list.  I'll call it the "Five Things I Value Most about Handmade."  Here it goes:

1.  Making and giving handmade promotes learning a new skill.  I, for one, have been longing to learn how to knit a cable, and this season's round of mittens and gloves gave me the opportunity to do just that.  Maybe it will be glass engraving next (inspired by Sonia Lucano), or making rag rugs for my house.  And the best thing about these skills?  They're practical!  They can be used for fixing and mending and recycling and upgrading, too.

2.  Speaking of recycling, the second thing I love about handmade is the process of turning something old or cast away into a new and unique item.  We throw so much away these days that it is nice to have a process to reclaim some of that waste.  Cheer #2 for handmade!

3.  Third, purchasing or creating handmade items is an investment in a "small scale" economy (as opposed to the very large scale one allegedly teetering on collapse right now).  When we make something, or buy something from a handmade seller, we are closing the gap between producer and consumer.  This smaller circle, in my humble opinion, makes us all more mindful of the craftsmanship, labor and true costs that go into the products we use on a day-to-day basis.

4.  Fourth, because the process of making handmade items tends to be smaller and less bureaucratic, opportunities for craftivism are often easier to find.  Handmade sellers and buyers alike are often passionate about helping others, and use their businesses and consumer dollars to create positive change in the other people's lives.

5.  Finally, last but not least, because the handmade process includes creativity and resourcefulness, it is often a very budget-friendly alternative to purchasing finished products from the store.  For instance, a throw pillow from Target might cost me $20 to buy, but only $5 to make (believe me--I've taken advantage of these savings many, many times!).  True--some handmade items actually cost more than what you can buy (mainly because of those true costs I mentioned in #3), but many of them cost much less.  And who couldn't use some extra money in their pockets these days?

So, apart from the obviously fabulous items we've been drooling over these past several weeks, and the very fun projects to sample ourselves, these five reasons listed above are the backbone to why Handmade Holidays has been so special for me this year.  

To read more on my "big picture thoughts" about Handmade Holidays, click below:

About what's to come:  Like many of you, I'm looking forward to some much needed vacation time in the next couple of weeks, and won't be chatting quite so much.  Next week I'm looking forward to posting some of the handmade photos I've been collecting this season from my projects as a collage homage to the Handmade series.
And I hope you'll check in the following week as I banter a bit about the coming New Year, post some resolution mad libs, and reflect on my "lifestyle makeover" in 2008.  

Until then, have a great weekend!

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