10 Steps to a Stress-Free Holiday Crafting Season

Crafting for the holidays is supposed to be fun — but so often our yarn balls turn into stress balls as we try to meet deadlines and get everything done. But with a little planning, you can keep yourself happily making as the holidays approach. Sounds magical, right?

1. Begin With an Intention

Intention setting isn’t just for yogis! Take a minute to ask yourself why you want to make handmade gifts for the holiday season. Make a list of the reasons, including ones that aren’t so charming. (“Because I want to impress my family” or “Because it’s what I’ve always done.”) Be honest with yourself.

This list of “why” can reveal a lot. You may discover you’re most inspired making holiday decor but don’t like crafting gifts, or vice versa. That’s all OK — you don’t have to knit or sew anything you don’t want to this year!

Once you’ve decided what you truly want to make, set a conscious intention to guide your crafting approach this season. This might be something like “I’m crafting to connect with others” or “I’m crafting to spread joy” or “I’m crafting for me-time.” There’s no right or wrong here. (Anyone crafting to avoid their in-laws? We see you, and it’s OK.) You don’t have to actually write down your intention, but a little note tacked up in your crafting space can’t hurt if you feel like it.

2. Make a Project List (and Check It Twice)

Now that you know why you want to make, it’s time to decide the what. Make a list of all the projects you have in mind, and the intended recipient for each one. If you’ve got big plans for tons of projects, it can also help to break your list into gifts and decor.

Once your list is ready, it’s time for some tough love. Review the lineup and look for anything you don’t actually want to make but feel obligated to; anyone who won’t actually appreciate your handmade gift; anything that stress you out. Pare down the list and eliminate anything that falls into those buckets. It can be hard, but it’ll be worth it for all the joy that comes with focusing on projects you truly want to create.

3. Select Your Patterns

Choose a pattern for every project on your list. Do this now — not later. It’s a bit of a pain in September, but you’ll thank yourself come December. Print out all of your patterns and organize them how you best see fit, or create a document with links to all of the patterns in one place.


4. Comb Through Your Stash

Digging into those yarn and fabric leftovers isn’t just smart, it’s creatively rewarding. Look at what you already have on hand and let your imagination kick in. All those scraps could have a whole new life as mini quilts, pom-poms and cute headbands! Plus, stash-busting for the holidays gives you permission to treat yourself to fresh supplies come January. Bonus!

5. Order All of Your Supplies

Now that you’re aware of what you have — and more importantly, don’t have — it’s time to stock up on anything else you need to complete your project list. Again, do this now before all the good stuff gets scooped up. A few things to keep in mind:

  • Order all the yarn or fabric needed for every project, including each color in enough yardage. (If you can, order more than you think you’ll need. You’ll find a use for extra, and running out is the worst.)
  • Make sure you have the hooks and needles you’ll need.
  • Check for extra notions or supplies, such as stuffing and toy eyes for amigurumi, floss for cross-stitch and batting for quilting.
  • Consider buying kits instead of stand-alone patterns, so you get everything you’ll need all at once. (They can be a real time-saver.)
  • Whether charm squares or fat quarters, using precuts will save you time on cutting. Plus, you get an assortment of fabrics that coordinate without ordering each separately.
  • 6. Organize Your Supplies

    Fact: You’re way more likely to power through your project list if all your stuff is right at your fingertips. So put everything you need for one project in a bag — include all the yarn or fabric, hooks or needles, extra notions and pattern in there. (If you didn’t print the pattern, write a note with its name and where to find it.) Make a bag for each project, then stash ’em in a safe — and visible! — place in your craft room so they’re ready as soon as you are.

    7. Set Deadlines On an Actual Calendar

    Prioritize projects that need to be done first, like gifts that must be shipped or decorations you want to put up this season. Next come the projects you absolutely want to complete this year. Remember to build a little breathing room into your calendar, in case things take longer than expected or you find yourself needing a break. After all, you can always be ahead of schedule!

    8. Get Social

    Crafty friends are the best, and there’s no better way to guarantee you’ll hit your deadlines than by planning social crafting hours with friends. Plan a few group nights early in the season, before everyone’s calendars fill up. Then cheer each other on through every hat, sock, sweater, scarf and quilt you make. Extra points if you include Christmas cookies and your favorite holiday tunes.

    9. Plan a Selfish Post-Holiday Project

    An important question: what are you going to make just for you once you get through making all those holiday gifts? Anticipating the fun of digging into a no-deadline project can be a good motivator when you’re feeling buried under a mountain of giftables. Scroll through your pattern library and see what sparks the most excitement — then get to making once your calendar clears.

    10. Make It a Judgment-Free Zone

    For many crafters, putting on pressure to finish is practically a holiday tradition. But cut yourself a break this year and remember: projects you don’t finish on time are not failures. They’re a head start on Valentine’s Day!

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