Inside – Do you find yourself making gifts the hours before a holiday party? Stop the stress with these tips to make gifts, so you can enjoy this holiday season.


Last Thanksgiving, my family loaded up the minivan, and headed into the mountains for a visit with friends. Instead of enjoying the day-long drive through wild country, I watched a crocheted scarf and beanie grow at a snail’s pace – a last minute gift decision for my host.

Upon the dreaded arrival, my legs pulled me out of the seat as my fingers creaked to let go of the hook and yarn. It was so good to see these friends! But, my aching fingers knew I had a long night ahead to finish their gifts before the gift exchange.

Once inside their home, my project bag fell to the floor with a thud. I glared at it while it held the heavy silence of “I told you so”.

I asked myself, “Why.. why did I ruin this long awaited reunion with my stress-filled, unfinished gifts?”

This year, I’m skipping the stressful crochet-a-thon with a little pre-holiday planning, and these 4 tips to make gifts while enjoying the holiday season.

high desert yarn tips to make gifts that are handmade

Prepare + Plan for the Ultimate Crafting Season

First, you need decide on your BIG PLAN. Do you want to give everyone you know a handmade ornament? Do you want to make a hat and scarf set for each of your aunts? Are you going to “wing it”, follow your heart wherever it leads, even if it leads you to stay up late Christmas Eve trying to finish matching sweaters for the whole family?

Decide now what you plan to accomplish between now and January 1st. You can mix and match options, but I highly recommend not including the last one. Whatever you decide for your Big Plan for the upcoming month, you’ll need to start by cleaning and prepping your yarn hoard space.

Before we dive in, be sure to download the free printables.
They’ll come in handy once we work through the Tips to Make Gifts below.

Materials to Accomplish these Tips to Make Gifts

  • Big box or trash bag
  • Small project bags (like reusable grocery bags, canvas bags, or ziplock bags)
  • Project planner notecards (like this free printable)
  • Paper
  • Pen, marker or pencil
  • Time : about 1-2 hours

Pin these 5 Tips to Make Gifts to your favorite Pinterest Board!

high desert yarn tips to make gifts that are handmade

5 Tips to Make Gifts without Stress Crocheting

#1 – De-stash your Yarn Collection

Before you make any decisions on what yarn you’ll use for gifts this season, make the decision to get rid of some yarn. It will narrow down your options, and reduce your decision fatigue when you need to shop your stash. So, put on your favorite music, go grab that spare box, and start chucking skeins into it like you’re meant to be in the NBA.

Having trouble deciding if that faux fur skein that was all the rage a few years ago is worth keeping? Here are two questions I ask myself when I go through my yarn..

  1. Will I use it to make something for a friend in the next 6 months?
    • Yes – back on the shelf.
    • No – in the donate box.
  2. Do I adore the color, but don’t know what to make yet?
    • Keep it because you love it, but make a note that if you don’t use it in a year, then donate it.

Bottom Line – If you can’t remember why you bought it, or don’t love it, then chuck it in the donate box.

#2 – Make a list of every person you’d like to crochet a gift for this year.

Dream big, crocheter. Add your mom, your partner, or your son’s teacher’s dog, Millie, if it makes your heart skip a beat. Make this list as extensive as you want, because I will give you tips on how to whittle it down to what you can handle.

After your list is complete, spread the love! Mark off anyone who received a handmade gift last year. If you give the same sister, the same kind of handmade gift every year.. then, the special handmade quality loses some sparkle. Skip giving her a stitched-by-you beanie this year, and give it to someone else.

It’s not the money that makes a handmade gift, but it’s the time. Be honest with yourself about the time you have to make handmade gifts. If you only have a few hours each week, then keep your projects to small items. Hats, cowls, headbands, bookmarks, pot holders.. (shall I keep going?) are great projects to make with limited time. Bonus tip – crochet something small to add to a store bought item. Books + crocheted bookmarks are a perfect gift!

Last, quickly brainstorm a few gifts you’d like to make for each person this year. We’ll talk about picking specific patterns, and where to find them, later in this post.

high desert yarn tips to make gifts that are handmade

#3 – Dive through Your Yarn + Use that Stash

Grab the Project Planner Notecards you printed out, and a pencil. Each person on your list needs to have their own card. Go ahead and fill out that part of the cards. Right now, if you know what you want to give them, add that in Project + Pattern section. Leave it blank if you’re not sure.

Ready to shop your stash? Heck yes! Shopping your yarn stash will save you the time you’d take going yarn shopping. Also, it minimizes the decisions you need to make. Go get your project bags, so you can fill then with a Project Planner Notecard and Yarn.

Now, pick up a notecard to shop your stash with that person in mind. What color(s) do they like? What kind of item do they need? How can you bless them with your art this year? Once you find that delightful blush yarn with enough skeins to make a scarf for you Grandma, then stuff it and Grandma’s notecard in a project bag.

Bonus tip – if you think of anything special, like “scarf with puff stitches” or “pattern to match her favorite coat”, add it to the Project Planner Notecard.

high desert yarn tips to make gifts that are handmade

#4 – Pick the Perfect Pattern

Now, you’re at the point where you need to pick a pattern. We all start this part hopeful that the *perfect* pattern will rise to the top of Pinterest in the first search. In reality, we scroll and scroll and scroll until we’re doubting we want to make a scarf for Grandma in the first place.

Here are 3 Places to Find the Perfect Pattern
  1. Ravelryhttps://www.ravelry.com/
    • Go to your personal Ravelry Library. You probably have a favorite pattern in there already.
  2. Freebie Blog Hops
    • See a blog hop happening? Signup for the daily reminders, and diligently look for free patterns that fit your gift ideas.
  3. Get inspired from where the recipient likes to shop.
    • Making a hat for your teenage granddaughter? Browse the Target, H&M, or American Eagle (online or in store) to get ideas for current trends.
    • Need an idea for an outdoor enthusiast? REI, or Eddie Bauer are great starting points for inspiration.

HDY Pattern Roundups to find the *Perfect* Pattern

#5 – Set Aside Time

Now, all you need is time to crochet your handmade gifts. But, it can be difficult to find it when Halloween starts to stir. There are costumes to make, parties to attend, and pumpkins to carve. As you plan your week, set aside Dedicated Crocheting Time like you’re meeting a friend for coffee.

As a mom of two small children, my crochet time often gets pushed back until it’s been a week (or more) since I crocheted. Next thing I know, it’s December and I’m cramming in crochet-a-thons to finish Christmas gifts. Deciding at the beginning of the week when I will crochet is a tried and true method I use to keep my projects moving.

Take Action!

Now, you have the tips you need to organize your gift list, and not lose your mind this holiday season. Before you click off this blog post, be sure you have…

  1. Downloaded the Gift Making Master List + Project Planner Printable here.
  2. Pin this post to your favorite Pinterest Board to read through again.
  3. Share this blog post with your fellow maker friend.

The last bit of encouragement – START SLOW. Print off the Gift Making Master List and fill it out. You will start to feel the weight of overwhelm lift off your shoulders!

Thank you for reading + Happy creating,
Joanna at High Desert Yarn

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