Mama of 3. Founder of TodaysMama.com and Click Retreat, a photography and social media retreat for bloggers. TEDx: What?

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Stockings and Swaps

The shops are already far too crazy for my liking. The holidays are all about spending time with your family and being cozy right? Well this year I’ve come across a great way to do both these things while still crossing things off my list – namely the children’s stocking stuffers!

Mama of 2 Carrie Beachey told me about her handmade stocking stuffer swap and I was instantly enamored! A way to fill the stockings with handmade goodies, yet not blow ye olde Santa Claus cover by accidentally leaving conspicuous scraps lying around? Sit around on the couch crafting while the children play oh-so-sweetly at my feet? Only have to think of one or 2 items to make instead of 10? Yes, yes and YES!

I asked Carrie for the low-down on how she orchestrates such a swap…

Is this the first year you have been in a stocking stuffer swap?

I participated in a swap last year with 4 other moms. It was such a great experience, & I loved having different handmade gifts to give my children that I didn’t have to make or buy. I wanted to do this kind of a swap again so I decided hosted one myself.

How many people participate, what is an ‘ideal’ group size?

I was hoping to be able to get another 4 or 5 moms who would be willing to participate with me. I was blown away when I had 23 moms sign up from 3 different countries! This number has worked out well so far. We had 49 kids to make gifts for ranging in age from 1 – 12 yrs old.. Every mom made 14 gifts & each child will receive 7 gifts.

How do you organize your group?

When a mom signed up for the swap I asked them to include the names, ages, & gender of their children. Once I had all the children’s info, I made a master list of all the kids. Then I made a second maser list of all the moms. I figured out that if every mom made 14 gifts, each child could receive 7 gifts. So than I just took each child & assigned their name to 7 moms. I tried to keep kids in the same age groups as the children each mom had at home.

I set a deadline for moms to have the gifts finished by. They send all the gifts to me and once they arrive, I will sort through the packages & give the gifts to the children they are meant for. Then I will ship 1 package back to each family with all the gifts for that household. I also asked everyone to send $7 to help with the shipping cost of getting the packages back to them.

Do you have guidelines as to what everyone makes?

I didn’t make any guidelines as to what the gifts should be. I wanted each mom to have the freedom to use her creativity and to make the things they would enjoy giving. I haven’t seen all the gifts yet, so I don’t know if this will pose a problem. So far I’ve been really happy to see what peoples ideas have been.

You could definitely do a themed swap, say all the gifts should be a game of some sort, or based on a storybook, or something. I think that would be an interesting twist.

I was so excited and inspired by this idea that some local mamas and I have gathered together to do the same thing. With just 6 of us and no shipping involved it made it even more simple – each mama has 2 children so we have a list with each child’s name and age and make a small handmade item for everyone. While we are each making our goodies separately, this would also be a great excuse to get together for a crafty night/day/weekend with some girlfriends!

Below are some of the goodies made for our swap…

You don’t even have to be super crafty to be in a swap like this – one of the gifts I chose to make was sweet little hair ties for the girls. I simply bought a package of plain hair ties and sewed a pre-bought felt flower or ball onto each one. There are many wonderful tutorials for small handmade animals, dolls and other crafts online – the beauty of this swap is that you can crank out multiples of the same craft (saving you time and money!) instead of coming up with several different ideas for your child, and having to make them until the wee hours of the morning to provide the secrecy!

Some ideas for your stocking crafting:

Felt animals

Pipe cleaner dolls

Mini bean bags

Felt fruit

Tiny journals

Candles

Hair ties

Necklaces

Eye masks

Aprons

Fairy dust

Beads

Dreamcatchers

Doll clothes

Play food

Headbands

Small chalkboards

Fimo beads/animals

Reusable snack/lunch sacks

Doll house accessories

Hats

Softies

Fairy/wizard wand

Handmade soap

Gingerbread man

Homemade caramels

Of course you are going to require some lovely stockings for all these goodies to go in, right? I made my children each a simple (and small-ish!) stocking from felt and fabric scraps (instead of felt you can also use old wool sweaters that have been felted on a hot wash/dry).

Heres how:

-Draw template onto paper/cardstock (freehand or using a stocking/sock as a guide to trace).

-Pin template to 2 layers of felt/fabric and cut out.

-Pin the 2 pieces together, right sides out.

-Sew stocking together by hand (blanketstitch + embroidery thread), or using a serger.

-Measure the top of the stocking (the opening) from one side to the other. Then cut 3 strips of fabric three times that length.

-Sew the 3 strips together at one end. Braid the strips together and secure the end by sewing together.

-Stitch the braid to the top of the stocking by hand or machine, adding stitches to the end of the braid to form a loop to hang.

-Embellish stocking by glueing/sewing felt flower (you could also embroider a name on).

So what are you waiting for? Call up your crafty connections, email those blog-friends from around the globe and set up a group of busy elves to stuff those stockings with all kinds of homemade love.

Wishing you lots of happy stress-free, crafty holiday days this season!

Emily 🙂

Credits*

Felt strawberries made by Kristi of Giggles Down Under

Gnomes made by Clare Hall

Images in mosaic made by myself and Vicky Gibson of Everyday Beautiful, including totem created from this tutorial

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