7 Steps to a Stress-Free Holiday Crafting Season

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Crafting for the holidays is supposed to be fun — but so often our yarn balls turn into stress balls as we try to meet deadlines and get everything done. With a little bit of planning, however, you can keep yourself happily making as the holidays approach. Sounds magical, right?

1. Begin with an intention

Intention setting isn't just for yogis! Take a minute to ask yourself why you want to make handmade gifts for the holiday season. Make a list of the reasons, including ones that aren't so charming ("because I want to impress my family," or "because it's what I've always done"). Be honest with yourself.

This list of "why's" can reveal a lot. You may discover that you're actually most inspired by making decor, but don't like making gifts, or the other way around. That's all OK — you don't have to knit or sew anything that you don't want to this year!

Once you've decided what you really, truly want to make, set a conscious intention to guide your crafting approach this season. This might be something like "I'm crafting to connect with others" or "I'm crafting to spread joy" or "I'm crafting for me-time." There's no right or wrong here. (Anyone crafting to avoid their in-laws? We see you, and it's okay.) You don't have to actually write down your intention, but a little note tacked up in your crafting space can't hurt if you feel like it.

2. Make a project list and check it twice

Now that you know why you want to make, it's time to decide the what. Make a list of all the projects you have in mind, and the intended recipients for gifts. If you've got big plans for tons of projects (go, you!), it might help to break your list into "gifts" and "decor."

Once your list is ready, it's time for some tough love. Review the lineup and look for...

  • Anything you don't actually want to make but feel obligated to
  • Anyone who won't actually appreciate your handmade gift
  • Anything that stresses you out might be a better plan next year

Now considering these facts, pare down that list. This part can be hard, but it's worth it for all the joy that comes with focusing on projects you truly want to create.

3. Select your patterns

Choose a pattern for every project on your list. Do this now — not later. It's a bit of a pain in September, but trust us, you'll thank yourself out loud in December. You might want to print out all of your patterns, or create a document with links to all of the patterns in one place. 

4. Order all of your supplies

In case you missed it the first time, we'll say it again: you'll thank yourself in December. Here are some tips for stocking up:

  • Order all the yarn or fabric you need for every project, including each color in enough yardage. Shop your stash first and add to your shopping list from there.
  • Make sure that you have the hooks and needles that you need.
  • Check for extra notions or supplies, such as stuffing and eyes for amigurumi, thread for cross-stitch, stitch markers, blocking pins, etc.
  • If you can, order more yarn than you think you'll need. You'll find a use for extra, and running out is the worst.
  • Consider using kits instead of stand-alone patterns — they can be a time-saver.

5. Organize all your supplies when they arrive

You are WAY more likely to power through your project list if everything you need is right at your fingertips. Here's how to set it all up: Make one bag per project, including all the yarn (or fabric!), your hooks or needles, and any extra notions. If you printed your pattern, include it; otherwise, write yourself a note with the pattern name and where to find it and drop it in the bag.

6. Set deadlines on a calendar

Prioritize projects that need to be done first (like gifts that must be shipped or decorations you want to put up). Next priority goes to projects that you absolutely, definitely want to complete this year. Remember to build a little breathing room into your calendar in case things take longer than expected. (And if they don't, you can feel all fancy for being ahead of schedule!)

7. Now craft your little heart out!

Finally, you're ready to start stitching — the fun part is here! Remember that intention you set? This is the time to dust it off and recall all the ways that holiday making makes you (and those around you) feel great. Trust your project bags to keep you organized and your calendar to keep you on track. And yes, you will need to adjust along the way, and some stuff probably won't get made. When that happens, go easy on yourself. Isn't that the ultimate holiday gift?

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