Aug 29, 2011

Holiday Gift Prep in August: Yes, We are Crazy! {Guest Post from African Kelli}

The holidays are coming! The holidays are coming! Did you hear me? This Paul Revere is alerting all knitters of what we already know – cruelly, August brings record-high temperatures and the realization that we are only 4 months away from the holiday season.

Bring on the guilt.

That’s right – guilt. Because each season I make these lofty goals of what I’m going to make from scratch, how I’m going to wrap them in recycled paper and attached hand stamped cards with perfect cursive greetings, and get them in the mail or delivered with plenty of time. Hell, I might as well admit this fantasy includes me showing up at the post in a gorgeous handmade a-line dress that fits me like a glove with homemade Christmas sugar cookies for all of my favorite postal workers.

Yeah. Right.

The reality has never come close. While I love to give knitted items for the holidays, my rule for such a gift is the recipient must have expressed some interest. Raise your hand if you’ve ever spent a $100 on organic yarn and 5 months of your life on a gift that you’ve never not once seen your friend wear? Yeah. I’m just not doing that again. Let those folks cruise the ailse of big box stores and wear cookie cutter winter wear.

(And if that doesn’t say Christmas spirit, I don’t know what does. I’m sorry. Did I mention the record-breaking heat? I’m a little punchy and unforgiving this week. Thankfully, I’ve got 4 months to work through it before Santa checks his list.)

So, what am I doing this August to make this process a bit more joyous and less burdened? Easy. I’m relying on Google, type A planning skills and thrift – all of which are contemporary Protestant Ethics. Especially the Google. Though shall have a good email account and use it accordingly. What? My pastor does!

Google docs are a gift; similar to word processing programs, they allow you to organize your information. The catch is, they also let you save and share it in the cloud. Meaning wherever you open your Google account, you can access your documents, and if you are interested, you can make it public. For a holiday wish list, this feature may not be the best idea to share with your recipients, but it may be a motivator for those in your knitting guild. Why not share what projects you are working on and encourage each other’s progress?

I have created my Christmas 2011 spreadsheet with columns labeled as following: recipient, project, supply (y/n), completed (y/n), shipped (y/n). I’ve got 35 people on the list. The majority of these folks will not receive a handknit. That said, it’s August and with enough planning I think I can get quite a few projects completed by the time we are putting up a tree.

A guide to getting your butt in gear:

1. Get a Gmail account if you don’t have one. Browse the docs features. Create a spreadsheet that works for your organizational style.

2. Pour yourself a nice cold drink. Ice tea? Fine. Margarita? Better.

3. Open up that closet/basement/Tupperware door to review what you have in your stash. Slowly but surely, categorize and organize the yarn you already have. Remember that thrift value? This is where it comes into play. If you’ve got projects on the needles you are never going to finish and you can use that yarn for another gift? Frog.

4. Hit the interwebs for ideas. I’ve got a lengthy list of projects at Ravelry just waiting for me to dig in. I like to pick one or two projects for the holiday and make several of the same item. (Future post about both my stash and selected holiday projects to come.)

5. Get going. Use the Google calendar to set some time goals for your projects. I start backward at December 20th – my postal drop dead date for the US, and go from there. Give yourself as much cushion as you can. It’s always nice to have one extra handknit on hand. The emergency handknit, so to speak.

6. Revel in your smugness. Because this type of organization, thrift and dedication to the craft is to be applauded. Stick with it and you’ll be thrilled with what you can produce by the holidays.

Now, about that margarita.


Thanks so much to Kelli for this amazing guest post! She's a peach for giving me some time off to enjoy my new little boy Owen!

Kelli Donley is a novelist, gardener and crafter living in Denver, Colorado. She blogs at:

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