Birthday craft is probably my favourite kind of craft. It is crafting at it's best - all about the intention and the love! Designing something and making it with someone's special day in mind somehow makes the making even more fun.
Birthday craft also holds a special place in my heart as this is how I came back to making after a long drought in my 20s. I really wanted to do something special for one of my oldest friends for her 30th. Buying a gift just didn't seem special enough. As I was overseas at the time and didn't have access to a sewing machine I decided to teach myself how to knit. I picked out a pattern and started to knit. I made a shawl pattern called Birch - completely nuts! I had no idea that what I was doing was tricky. Luckily I didn't use the yarn the pattern called for - Kidsilk Haze which is impossible to rip out - but used what was available, a 4ply alpaca. I ripped that thing out four times and eventually finished it in time to gift it, mistakes and all.
So back to birthdays today - handcrafted gifts feature heavily in my house these days obviously. There is always a store purchased present or two but we each try to make the person something. And I have learnt over the years a few things that keep it simple and trauma free. Because noone wants a traumatic birthday.
1. The build up is almost the best part.
Months before, we start dreaming up projects the birthday person might love. We (the rest of the family) pick fabrics and patterns and start working towards the end date. There is all that thought and love and excitement for the birthday person who hears murmurings here and there, and for the gift makers themselves. LOVE IT!!
Remembering this is really helpful when we are faced with point number 4 below.
2. Birthday crafting is great for kids.
For my kids - birthday crafting (and crafting in general) gives them a feeling of empowerment. I love the fact that through designing things they think someone else will love they get to practice thoughtfulness. They get to spend time imagining making someone else happy. And then there is the incredible pride to know that they have made something that someone else truly loves.
After many years of doing this I now understand just how much time I need to allow to help them to make. I take what I think and quadruple it. Small people (sadly) can't be rushed .
This year for the first time my seven-er managed to do all the sewing on a skirt he wanted to make for the small. He is crazy proud as is his little sister.
3. Little traditions go a long way to make specialness.
Over the years we have developed some simple handmade birthday traditions that help make the birthday person feel super special from the time they wake up. We start the day with a birthday table - which has their brand new birthday outfit (a dress or shirt) as well as all their presents waiting for them in a pile - a bit like your own personal Christmas but without a tree.
The birthday outfit is a big big thing. They often have had some input into what they would like and they wear it on the day. I would guess that the words "birthday dress" or "birthday shirt" get said every second time they wear in over the next year. The gift that keeps on giving.
We always try to make a home made present of some kind. This year it was a rabbit. Please meet Sophie. She has a matching dress to her owner. And is much loved already. The lovely Anna made Sophie a matching rabbit quilt that has some of the fabric from Sophie's ears. So sweet.
Another super simple "homemade" thing we do is to print out (on our dodgy home printer) a selection of photos. Inevitably I end up doing this super late the night before, but no matter. All of them love it. I try to find photos they haven't seen before. Funny faces and double chins are always a hilarious winner for the other kids. And after breakfast we go through the wall - chatting about what was happening in each picture. So fun and so simple.
4. Find out what is important - and keep it simple.
Figure out what is really important and downsize when necessary - otherwise known as abort the mission. Obviously there have been the years where it has all fallen apart in the last week. When grand plans have had to be downsized at the last minute. Through this I have found out what the important stuff is to them. They need their birthday outfit. They need the birthday wall. Anything else including handmade presents can be left for another time. This lesson was super helpful - keep it simple and basic.
What crafty things do you do for your family birthdays? I'd love to hear....