A Meaningful and Handmade Holiday

A guide to making creativity an intentional part of everyday life.

| December 2017

  • Connecting with your children through handmade activities.
    Illustrations by Julianna Swaney
  • “The Creative Family Manifesto” by Amanda Blake Soule created a classic book to help you and your family live a more intentional life.
    Cover courtesy Roost Books

The Creative Family Manifesto (Roost Books, 2017) by Amanda Blake Soule dives into the challenges of raising children during our time. You can find advice on how to embrace life with a more simple approach and learn how to create meaningful connections along the way. The following handmade guide will allow time to relax, play and grow together. This following excerpt is from Chapter eleven “Handmade Holidays”.

Since you get more joy out of giving joy to others, you should put a good deal of thought into the happiness that you are able to give.  — Eleanor Roosevelt 

At the time of year that is most full of consumption, marketing, and consumerism, I find an overwhelming need to create moments and objects of ritual, creativity, and connection. In the midst of all the shopping and busyness that goes on around me, I feel full of a need to slow down, be mindful, and create with intent and purpose with my children. I strive as a parent to keep our holidays simple; meaningful; and full of love, family, grat­itude, and creativity. We work to make as many of the gifts we give as we can. This means that gifts are homemade and simple, but full of intent and loving energy for the people receiving them. When we make gifts for the people we love, we are able to think about them while doing so, and I believe that energy is received and loved in turn. We also try to keep our holiday decorations, celebrations, and events simple and natural, focus­ing on the gifts that the earth gives us year-round.

The holiday season provides us with an endless number of opportunities for creating with our children — and for instilling in them a love for handmade items. The activities in this chapter will give you just a few ideas on making holiday gifts for the ones you love, keeping the holiday celebration in your home full of creativity, and giving beyond the doors of your home to your community.

A Child’s Wonderland 

There aren’t many things more magical to a child than the lights, decorations, and warm feelings that come with the holidays. I remember the feelings of wonder I felt as a child, watching as what seemed like the whole world was transformed into a magical, holiday, winter wonderland. Now as a parent, I’ve had the joy of watching that sense of magic and wonder appear in my own children’s eyes as the holidays approach. While the fancy, elaborate decorations that we marvel at are amazing, just as amazing to me are the signs of a creative childhood during this time. Paper snowflakes covering the windows, paper garland chains hanging from the doorways, and Santa beards made out of cotton balls are all signs of children creating a bit of their own holiday wonder.

This holiday season, I watched my five-year-old son, Calvin, as he fully dove into the project of making his very own Winter Wonderland village. He spent countless December hours dream­ing up the plans for his village; laying it all out; gathering bits and trinkets to include; and making new things out of clay, paper, and anything else he could find. It was never “done,” but rather became an ongoing creative work in progress that belonged only to him. When he wasn’t making things for it, he would gaze into it and “try to imagine a way to get inside the village.” It became a creative expression and a form of creative play as well.


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