I don’t know what’s come over me but this year I decided a DIY Christmas was the way to go. So armed with only a glue gun and a dream (and a blank Pinterest board) I set out from the Thanksgiving break with a plan to make all of my family’s gifts!

While part of my motivation was the crazy spending spiral I traditionally fall into this time of year, I also made this choice as a way of spending more time with friends and family and less time looking for a parking space at the mall. To this end, my DIY adventure has been a success but I’ve also learned it’s just as easy to go overboard with the knitting and the baking and that there is definitely such a thing as too many felt flower head bands. It’s somewhere around 14…

So where exactly is the line between Do-It-Yourself and the Target dollar bin? I have a few thoughts that usually help me figure this out:

1) What is the benefit to making this item myself?

Do I actually value this benefit? For instance, if you’re making someone a baby blanket the benefit may be that this child will now have something he or she associates with you. Or maybe the benefit is that while you’re making the blanket you get to reflect on your excitement about this new baby and all the hopes you hold for him or her. If you could get the same feeling from a Baby’s ‘R Us blanket then maybe store bought is the way to go!

Or maybe you want to make your own hand soap because the idea of all the chemicals lurking in the soap you currently use keeps you up at night! Great reason to go for it! But if you already sleep easy and genuinely don’t worry about these kind of things (as much as Doctor Oz may try to guilt you into it…) then you can skip the hand soap! I mean making it, not using it. Definitely use it.

One of the benefits you come up with may involve cost and if that’s the case:

2) Do the math.

If you’re making something solely because it will cost less you may be surprised to find you will spend just as much money or more on a DIY project.

Something to consider is if the items or ingredients necessary for one project can be used for something else. For instance, I have one major pantry item that I use in something like 90% of my projects and recipes. And that item is my beloved coconut oil! It costs more than other oils but I use it in my cooking, lotions, balms, butters… the list seems endless. Point being, it’s so versatile that it’s worth the investment.

3) Do I have a friend or know a local business that makes the kind of thing I’m looking for?

I’m big on sharing skills and talents within a community. So if I want to gift someone a personalized drawing or the best raspberry muffins ever, I outsource these things to my talented family members and friends. With DIY projects my end goal isn’t self-sustainability but rather the learning experience. So when I can, I like to call on the creativity of others!

And last but not least…

4) What can I realistically do with the amount of time I have?

Starting on one scarf a few days before Christmas is a fine idea. Trying to get sweaters made for the entire family (no matter how heavy the Pioneer woman’s guilt may be…) in the same timeframe is what I like to call wearing crazy-pants to a crazy-party in Crazytown.

Along the same lines, I like to make the DIY stuff as family-and-friend-inclusive as possible since again, for me, the real value of these projects lies in how my time is spent.


Thanks to the internet we have an endless amount of ways to access inspiration every minute of every day. To avoid full-on overwhelm, it might be worthwhile to figure out the logistics involved before jumping into a project head first especially since the last thing we want during the holiday season is a glue gun related meltdown (pun completely intended.)

So here’s wishing you and yours a wonderful, low stress holiday and a bright start to all of your adventures in the new year!



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