Monday, July 18, 2016

why handcrafted still matters

handcrafted handmade holidays gifts
This summer, I stayed with family in Portland, Oregon. My cousin showed me a grand ole time while I tried to not make more work for his wife who was already quite busy with three young children. Over dinner, she asked me about the kind of art I create. I encouraged her to open the hostess gift since my “art was inside.”

handcrafted handmade holidays gifts
Earlier she had tossed it aside while she made my bed. My heart sank as it sunk in that although my cousin, her husband, had insisted there was plenty of room for me to stay with them for the weekend, my stay meant that all five of them would be sharing a bedroom.

However, after she learned that the gift was personal, she immediately went to open it. I had carefully wrapped my gift in the same colored tissue paper and patterned washi tape I use to wrap all of my Etsy sales and added a hand sewn card on the top. (The card was a print with gold stitching around it.) Inside, she found a peacock apron, a patriotic cosmetic bag set, and a bar of French soap. (I did not make the soap, but thought it made everything smell better.)

As she marveled at each piece, I felt relief wash over me that I chose something that she liked and made my visit more welcome. I’m glad that I gave her more than just the soap.

Meaningful Handmade Gifts

In our “Buy Now” culture where we can get manufactured gifts delivered in two days from Amazon with a simple click of a mouse, giving and getting a handmade gift has become a rare phenomenon.

That’s why when I receive a handmade gift these days it is incredibly meaningful.

I always prefer handmade gifts over store bought.

cosmetic bag
see all cosmetic bags HERE
Maybe it was my grandparents’ influence over the years. They insisted on receiving handmade cards from me each year for every occasion to mark events. For my grandfather’s father’s day and birthday cards, I would include some handmade puzzles, or I would illustrate his favorite poems.

My grandmothers always loved my art on a card, and my mother still treasures the treats I send her from my CafePress shop, such as the glass cutting board, printed napkins, or the apron from my shop.

But, I know the reasons why many of us resort to store-bought gifts.

We’re too busy to handcraft something. We give in to gift cards since our loved ones “have everything anyway.” Or sometimes their wish list is so specific with must-haves, we feel they would be disappointed with a handmade gift.

Whatever your reasons for running to the store for all gift-giving occasions, I’d like to convince you to try something new this year. Find the joy in creating handmade gifts from the heart!

Here are just a few reasons to give it a go:

handcrafted handmade holidays gifts
1. {Your} Time is Priceless

Although finding the time to create a handmade gift might be the very reason that’s holding you back, it’s also the very reason a handmade gift is priceless. Your time is valuable and when you give your time to create a handmade gift, the result is very valuable to the person who receives it.

2. Truly One-of-a-Kind

There’s not a more economical way to give a truly one-of-a-kind gift than creating it by hand. For that person on your list who has everything, a handmade gift is the perfect option. It offers the ultimate in personalization, because you can hand-select the perfect colors and elements for each recipient.

handcrafted handmade holidays gifts
3. Environmentally Friendly

Most, if not all, handmade gifts you could think to give are better for the environment than store-bought gifts. The carbon footprint of your gift is reduced because it wasn’t made halfway around the world, it wasn’t transported to a retail store, and you didn’t need to spend hours traveling to and from the store to complete your shopping list. Some handmade items reuse materials that you might already have on hand, increasing the green value of homemade gifts.

womens aprons
see current aprons for sale HERE (for cooks and crafters)
4. Save Money

Most of the time, you will spend less money when you give a handmade gift, but its ultimate value is higher due to the time you gave to create it.

5. Handmade Gifts become Family Heirlooms

I am not sure I remember anymore who gave me which crystal platter for my wedding as I received so many and they all blend into each other. But I definitely remember special handmade gifts like the baby blanket given to me by my grandmother’s best friend or the sweaters she made for me and my children. The blanket and the sweaters have been lovingly stored away while the onesies and outfits from Baby Gap went to the Salvation Army years ago.

Handcrafted for the Holidays

handcrafted handmade holidays gifts
Are you ready to create your own handmade gifts from the heart?

This fall, I am launching a course called Handcrafted Holidays where I have invited nine other artists to teach handcrafted goodies that you can use to decorate your home or to create as gifts for the holidays.

All the gifts can be adapted for Christmas or Hanukkah (or any other occasion). Since we are still creating the course, I would love your input.

Please tell me what you’d like to learn about making handmade holiday gifts by completing this survey. Since your time is valuable, everyone who completes the survey will be entered to win the Handcrafted Holidays course for free. There will be one lucky winner and no purchase is necessary.

click here to take survey and enter for your chance to win the class for free

In Case We Haven't Met Yet...

handcrafted handmade holidays gifts
Hello! I'm Miriam Schulman and I create mixed media art to tell stories. I also teach other people how to craft their stories with art. I give them the techniques they need to get the results they desire which brings more joy to their lives.

My art has been published by Somerset Studio, Art of Man and the New York Times among others and collected by an international audience. When I'm not working on art in my studio, you'll find me in a museum spending time with friends or family. Explore my art at or join the fun at

Let's Discuss!

How do you feel about giving or receiving handmade gifts?