Random Crafts of Kindness

The pile of waste outside just one house after Christmas

I don’t want my gift-giving to mean this

As some of you may know, I don’t ‘do’ Christmas. I don’t give gifts and I prefer people not to give me gifts for Christmas. Two years ago I wrote about the history of this decision and you can read about it here, but suffice to say that it has made the festive season much more enjoyable. However, I don’t want you to think that gift-giving is not an important part of my life – it’s just that now  it’s linked to friendship and inspiration rather than a religious festival that, actually, I don’t believe in. And anyway, let’s not kid ourselves – for many people these days, Christianity has nothing to do with their activities in December, it’s very much about consumerism and greed, driven by companies not individuals.

Before I get too cynical, however, I must return to what I really want to say in this post, namely that giving and graciously receiving are wonderful acts, made all the more special by thought and effort going into each action. When we decided to stop giving Christmas presents, we started giving random presents; ‘I saw this and thought of you’ presents; presents at any time of the year; presents that the recipients would really want and at a time when they would want them. This means that sometimes our friends don’t get anything for ages and then, like buses, two arrive in quick succession, but that’s just how it goes.

A little jolly chunky bag

A little jolly chunky bag, which I sent to a sad friend to cheer her up

As time has gone on, however, I find myself making more and more of these presents. Several people now have pairs of crochet slippers because they have admired them and, when I have had time, I’ve made some. Some people have bling string bags, some people have bath puffs… as the fancy has taken me to make them and give them as gifts. And, in the past year, I have randomly sent other bloggers little crafted gifts. Partly, this is paying it forward- in thanks for the knitted and crochet squares that I continue to receive for my friendship blankets (there is a second one in progress, following on from the masterpiece), but partly it’s just because I love being part of this generous caring community, who reach out to each other and provide rays of sunshine even though most of us will probably never meet. The sentiments that Pauline expressed in her post that I re-blogged earlier today really resonate with me, and that’s why I will be participating in both her Random Acts of Kindness: the one that I help instigate and the one for a person I didn’t ‘know’ until today.

As for the festive season… we will eat, drink and be merry; we will enjoy the company of those we love and we will give a donation to our favourite charity; but we will not fill the world with any more plastic waste nor will we fill the pockets of greedy corporations. How about you?

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  1. Hurray!!!!! I don’t really do Christmas either – it’s been a long story with most friends and family, if not supportive at least are no longer actually angry with me!! Great post!!!

  2. Bugger greedy corporations and don’t even get me STARTED on “middle men” (mutter…) but far from being a bah-humbug scrooge, I love to share the love, only homemade and simple, tasty, joyful and we spend time making everything ourselves. We are making a new Christmas tree this year because the old one got eaten by woodworms in the shed over winter. We are making our own Christmas decorations. I just picked up 3 of those wonderful balls made of wicker from a curbside “FREE” stand yesterday to tinker with to add to the mix. Both Stevie-boy and I are making very thoughtful and very special gifts for our kids this year that cost very little to make but that completely reflect their interests and on the day, we will eat an elegant sufficiency and there will be no waste, no leftoverers and no debt. I love our little Christmases and love to thumb my nose at big corporations that would have us invest a small fortune in the fib that is modern day “Xmas”. Bollocks to it I say, homemade and homespun is the bomb 🙂

    • Fran, you are the bomb!

      • Lol you stumbled on this answer late in the picture Ms Alys :). I do that all of the time, I just commented on a bloggers page about a scrumptious recipe that I found on Pinterest that led me to her page. I have been following her blog for a few years now and haven’t ever made the time to trawl her back recipes and there was this magnificent stallion of a recipe hidden back a few years. Sometimes you find things where you least expect them. Glad you liked my comment Ms Alys 🙂

        • I love all your comments, Fran. I’m glad I found it too, and I’m also glad that I’m not alone. Some of the best stuff is buried.

  3. I spent years ‘educating’ people not to send me cards at Christmas. When I lived [briefly] in the UK I was shocked by how many people sent out – it was like everyone who lived within a twenty mile radius and everyone else who you had contact with had to get a card. My fourth cousins second cousins aunt had to have ope or it appeared the world might end. There was also the large pile of ‘in case’ cards. If someone you weren’t expecting to sent you one you had to send one back. It was bizarre. I quickly discovered how to get off that wheel. I did not reciprocate and the following year I received less and the following year – none 🙂

    Like you I enjoy giving as the feeling takes me and I still love to celebrate birthdays when I can. But I don’t feed the consumer cow. I make. I recycle.

    My family is very small and we aren’t giving gifts this year – but some years we do. It’s the years when we get to be together that we have fun doing that.

    I have had a blast running give-aways on my blog and sending stuff out randomly when I can, just because I want to. To me this has been an increasingly delightful addendum to writing posts and making friends throughout the world.

    Great post – you are very talented with your slipper making and those bags – such a lovely way to cheer your friends up!

    • You are a beautiful soul, Pauline. I’ve tried to get away from sending out Christmas cards, and have significantly culled the list. I’m ready to be done with it entirely, Mike is easing his way in my direction.

      I too like giving consumable gifts for the holidays, and continue to scale back. It feels good.

  4. I stopped by to thank you for following my blog and to see what you are up to as well. I crocheted at one time but gave it up as other interests took over. I still enjoy seeing what others create.

    I love the Christmas season though I no longer consider myself a traditional “christian” I do love the festiveness of the season. I’m in agreement with the over the top consumerism of the season. I want nothing and need nothing . We love to get together with friends and neighbors, bake something good to share or if time has permitted, pass on something hand crafted. Our holiday is simple, delighting in doing for those in need and just being together when we can.

    I like your take on how the holiday should be and am in complete agreement.

  5. Anne Phillips

     /  November 23, 2014

    Most of our family have birthdays in the winter so this has always meant that we give gifts when we felt they needed or liked something otherwise they would not have had anything for 11/12 months of the year. I really like giving presents that I know will mean something to the receiver as well as the giver and try to be as thoughtful as possible. Most of the family will have at least one handmade gift this year and the others will be a mix of previously loved and new. I knew a woman, when my children were small, who used to count her children’s presents to make sure they had the same amount, regardless of the worth!! Now we have a young grandson he quite often gets little treats of pre-loved books, toys and clothes as and when we think he needs them or will enjoy them. I refuse to let commercialism take over any of our family celebrations as we are just grateful to all be able to meet up and spend time together. And don’t get me started on duty Christmas cards-took me years to wean everyone out of that habit with out offence being caused. My standard reply these days is that I will be making a donation towards one of my charities instead and furnish them with the details of the charity in case they have not heard of them.

  6. Like you, I’ve found so much more pleasure in creating gifts for family and friends as the need arises, or as whim dictates, than in keeping my giving to one specific day of the year, and I find the recipients enjoy these unexpected gifts so much more – especially if it happens to be on a dark and cloudy February day! 🙂

    My daughter says she gets many more gifts from me this way, too 🙂 Lol

  7. Excellent blog. I too have been weaning friends from giving Christmas cards and now only give pressies to No1 daughter and No1 son. Otherwise its presents as seem appropriate. recently a good friend gave me a knitting book out of the blue. It was amazing and just like she had read my mind as the timing was perfect. Thank you for re-enforcing the message and making me seem less of a freak! Moke xx

  8. Hand made and or practical gifts here. Eg I am giving my good friend a cutlery set and she is giving me a new slow cooker. ❤ I like cards though and they can be used to recycle or re-purpose.

  9. I haven’t “done” Christmas for years, it is a time of year I particular detest. It has come to embody the worst kind of consumerism and social manipulation. I treat it as a public holiday,

    • I’m so with you… we generally hide out at home and have some peace. This year we are going to hide out and have some peace with my mum as it’s her first year without my dad.

  10. This is a terrific post. I came looking for the link the to random act of kindness cooked up by you and Pauline and found this. It’s the perfect post to share in the link.

    I give gifts year round, when the mood strikes, but still give gifts at Christmas too. The time of year is stressful for me, but it’s more about other’s traditions, and less about my own. I finally had the courage to say no to too parties this year and found that the boys didn’t want to attend either. My husband did, and we sent him with our wishes for a good time.

    As an organizer, I deal with peoples unwanted gifts all the time. People are drowning in stuff, some gifts, some purchased but always in excess.

    Lots to think about here.

    • Thank you! I feel immense relief about no longer being on the gift-giving carousel. My intention is to have less ‘stuff’ in my life rather than more… being a squirrel at heart this is very difficult, but I am making progress slowly.

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