Unfortunately, the time is upon us. The time to give up so-called "selfish knitting" and start to plan out holiday gifts for loved ones. I find this especially hard because it's also beloved sweater weather and there are so many perfect designs being released. I have, though, found a few helpful tips for navigating the struggle.
Make a List... and Check it Twice
The first thing to do is to decide who gets a knitted/handmade gift this year. Did you just make socks for your dad last year (like I did)? Or have you realised that you've knitted something for every family member except your brother-in-law (like I have)?
The first year I started knitting, almost everyone I knew got something I made. The year following, I quickly revised that plan. It was exhausting trying to cram them all in! Plus, I was honestly still learning basic techniques at that time. So I now start to map out if anyone really ticks the box of needing a gift. (In fact, I'm trying to convince everyone to drop gifts altogether and spent quality time together instead, without the added pressure -- but that's a story for another time.)
Create a Timeline
You know you want to make a stuffed bear for your niece, but Aunt Susie had a hard year and a shawl would make her so happy. It's best to think of past projects, and how long they really took you -- this is the perfect time to get really honest with yourself. Have you even made a shawl before? Could you realistically finish one in a month, or just two weeks? Will you have time to do them both?
I physically map out my projects in my planner now, marking soft deadlines. I am the ultimate offender of hurrying to weave in ends in the car on the way to the home of the individual receiving the gift. Nothing is more stressful, and you've got to find some way to still block it!
Leave Two Weeks Before the Holiday Open
I have a small thing I do every year that seems to work for me; I try to leave a little free space open for a quick, last minute gift. I am not kidding - I do this every year, whether it's a quick hat for a nephew, or a garter-stitch scarf for my sister. If I know I can knit it fast, and probably with giant needles, I have a little breathing room to do this (just make sure you don't leave end-weaving for the car ride, as previously noted).
It is probably important to note that I don't always intentionally leave the time open, and I will remember that I've still not gotten something for someone (cue panic attack). I then hunt Ravelry like an insane human and try to knit at light-speed.
Give the Gift of Empowerment
Of course, rather than making the gift yourself, you can always gift a kit to someone you know who has always wanted to learn. Throw in some free lessons, a skein of yarn, a simple pattern, and voila! It's done. After all, there is that old adage of "teach a man to fish" and all that... Plus, it frees up the many hours you would have spent toiling over yarn.
Don't Forget Yourself
I think it's unrealistic to completely forget yourself during this time. I fully believe that if you plan well ahead, you can make sure to gift yourself a couple hours a week to work on something that you love. Maybe you can plan out the projects you'll cast on come December 26th. Maybe you can even gift yourself a mini-skein Advent Calendar (like mine, which is going on pre-sale today), and have something fun to engage with every day in December!
It is important to make sure that you’re going into the season being true to yourself and what you can accomplish. Even more important is to recognize the importance of time together. You do not need to feel an increased pressure to knit gifts for everyone! Or hey, if you really love knitting for everyone, do it! Or hey, if you really love knitting for everyone, do it!