Christmas: big businesses’ wet dream.
This year celebrants will gather by the thousands at the altar of big business, turning a blind eye to the documented abuses against people and the environment, nefarious political influence and outright deception that makes that new laptop or phone so cheap.
Ignorant consumption, even when done in the name of love, joy and holiday cheer, is odious. Here’s how to not let the holidays trick you into feeding the system.
Do it yourself: Handmade gifts with no middle man
Often when Christmas gifters take the making of gifts into their own hands, some of the screw-the-man practicality is lost. It’s difficult to find locally and ethically made supplies like yarn, wood, paint and fabric, with which to create personalized gifts for the lucky ones on your list.
But with a little creativity and foresight and Internet access, even the least crafty gifters can make customized heart-felt presents.
Luckily, handmade garlands are extremely popular right now. Generally used as a party decoration, this year garlands and pennant banners have transformed into playful everyday decor.
On a basic level, all you need to make a garland is a string and a bunch of pieces of fabric or paper. Cut triangles, rectangles, or half-circles from vintage sheets and sew them at even intervals to bias tape or a length of yarn. Find a cheap large paper punch at the thrift or craft store and dive into your mom’s dusty scrapbooking paper supply. Punch out a bunch of hearts or squares or circles and hand- or machine-sew them right down the middle, leaving two to five inches of thread between each piece of paper.
Packaging garlands can be tricky. Simplify the process by taping one end of a garland to the side of a mason jar, or similar large cylindrical object, and then carefully wrap the garland around it like a roll of toilet paper. Then wrap the whole cylinder.
2. Custom picture frames
Spray paint can be a cheap crafter’s best friend. Thrift stores are generally brimming with hideous picture frames, and by carefully spray painting them an unexpected color they are transformed from out-of-date uglies to kitschy pretties. Finish it off with a family portrait, vintage post card or hand-written love letter.
3. Green shopping bags
By sewing (or even hot-gluing, if you’re not the needle-and-thread type) closed the bottom of a thrift store T-shirt and cutting the sleeves and neckline to make the shoulders resemble handles of a bag, you can make a re-usable and striking shopping bag for those on your list still using plastic bags.
Since T-shirts are made from a knit fabric, they won’t unravel and the cut edges don’t necessarily need to be seamed. However, It might be beneficial to add some re-enforcement by sewing bias tape or any sturdy woven fabric to the inside of the handles and down to the bottom seam – as if there are suspenders inside of the T-shirt.
Remember this Sabbath
Handmade gifts carry a bad rap. Haunted by memories of that hideous hat knitted by Aunt Mildred or the hand-bedazzled jean purse from your sister in the 80s, it’s easy to be embarrassed by a desire to give handmade one-of-a-kind gifts.
Luckily, Craft Sabbath has you covered.
Craft Sabbath, a group of hand-crafting alternative artists based on the Wasatch Front, is meeting the holiday season with two boutiques, the second of which happens Dec. 12 from 1-5 p.m. at the Salt Lake City Public Library.
The boutique will feature items handmade by locals, and these aren’t your grandma’s crafts. From tie-dyed baby clothes to jewelry made by re-claimed aluminum cans and environmentally-friendly soaps, Craft Sabbath lets locals purchase high-quality handmade items directly from the people that made them.
“For us, Christmas isn’t about spending a lot on items at big box stores that were made in Chinese sweat shops,” Craft Sabbath organizer Meghann Griggs said in a press release. “It’s about making our own holiday with our two hands and old-fashioned skills that we have up-cycled into alternative art and unique gifts.”
For more information about Craft Sabbath, find them on Facebook or visit www.CraftsSabbath.com.