Why 2020 should be a year of handmade gifts

Just like so many of you, I am gearing up for the holiday season and looking forward to the end of the semester. This year has truly been something else, so I am looking forward to using the holiday season (for me it’s Christmas) as a way to put aside some of my worries and focus on giving back joy.
While Christmas this year will likely be much smaller than I’m used to, I still look forward to giving gifts to those that I love. This year, though, I am prioritizing giving simple, handmade gifts. Not only is this approach cheaper (a perk for the broke college student), but it also is more meaningful.
I find that using my talents to create gifts for my loved ones, rather than just picking out an uninspired gift set from a big box store, is better received. The person knows that you put your heart (as well as a lot of time) into creating the gift, and that means a lot more to them. Most of us fall into the category of having all our basic needs met, so we don’t really need more junk. Getting a handmade, meaningful gift is the perfect way to offset our consumerism culture.
If you are crafty, there are tons of gift ideas out there for you to make. In the past, I have given my friends and family mittens made from old sweaters, knitted hats and scarves, decorated photo frames, hand-poured candles, and painted signs.
But if you are not crafty, have no fear: there are still ways for you to create touching holiday gifts. If you enjoy writing, you could compile some of your stories or poems into a book for someone. If you are great at photography, consider getting one of your prints matted or create a unique photo gift for someone using your art. And if neither of those is your thing, consider baking a batch of someone’s favorite cookies or try your hand at candy making.
If absolutely none of these work for you and you want to purchase your holiday gifts, consider shopping small. Local businesses can be harder to access this year due to COVID, but they need our help now more than ever. If you can’t find what you want locally, consider supporting artists on sites like Etsy rather than shopping on Amazon.
Another option is the gift of charitable giving. This can be great for the person who already has everything. Telling someone that in lieu of a gift, you chose to donate to a charity you know they care about in their honor can be incredibly meaningful, and I know I would appreciate the thought that goes into a gift like that.
In a non-COVID year, I would prioritize giving people experiences instead of things, but of course that’s much more difficult now. However, if you know someone would still enjoy getting takeout from their favorite local restaurant or safely supporting a paint-it-yourself studio, give them that. I’ll always agree with saying no to buying more things, and instead giving someone a memory that will last.
Overall, what’s important this year is prioritizing the people we love. Physical gifts don’t matter nearly as much as (safely) being with those we love, even if that means having a virtual Christmas. But when we do choose to exchange gifts, don’t put too much pressure on yourself. 2020 has been a crazy year, and we should just be celebrating getting through it.

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