A Makers' Christmas

I know, I know, gifts are not at all the meaning of Christmas. But this year, I have to say they were one of my favorite parts. It's now January fifth, ahem, eighth (a mere four days to finish this post), and I wanted to share a little about them because they just made me so happy. The day after Christmas the baby came down with a nasty cold that stretched on and on, poor little guy, and one by one, each of the kids went down with him. The severity seemed to lessen with age but it still put a damper on some of our Christmasing plans. We're finally on the other side of it but we didn't get to really go out, do quite as much as we were hoping, or relax as much as we wanted over the 12 days. Thankfully, though, Christmas Day itself was just beautiful. So I'm gonna try to store that part up in my mom memory, rather than the crazy sleepless nights or the frustration of kids who should be able to but refuse to even TRY to blow their noses (seriously...is this a thing? What are we doing wrong?!). The 25th was a morning where God granted us the grace of very full hearts and a lot of joy...maybe to fill us up before the plague ahead ;)

We've always been pretty big into making gifts for each other when we can. It's sometimes a huge pain and I've had to temper more than a lot of my husband's enthusiasm and big ideas for them. I do love it in theory but, you know, sanity and time and blah, blah, blah. It used to be a lot more possible years ago to make lots of gifts. This year we had a fun compromise, though, and the boys more than came through on the homemade end of things. My husband dubbed it "Makers' Christmas." 

The older kids have been super into building and forging and have developed some impressive skills over the last year. So instead of us making something elaborate, we did a tool theme from us to the boys. The older four each got a large tool box with their name on it along with a bigger tool or set that was specific to their skill level and needs. Not only was this a great way to help them along and encourage their growing skills, it might just keep them a tiny bit more organized and a tiny bit less likely to fight over tools. Maybe? (A mom can hope, right?)

Inside each tool box were also some smaller supplies like nails, bits, sandpaper, etc. I mean, you'd want sandpaper for Christmas, right?! Behind him is an old power tool set that my husband refurbished and bought new batteries for that is now officially his and was his big gift. In the corner is part of the ($10!) set we got for the seven year old.

This one's not allowed to use the power saws yet so he'd been asking for a hand saw. Along with that he got a tool kit (that I actually won at our parish basket raffle, ha!) that came with a power drill, and a few hand tools. Similar to this one.

You'd be thrilled about a bench grinder too, wouldn't you? It hadn't come in to the store yet so I just printed a picture until we could pick it up. (FYI, for my plethora of readers who might be in the market for a simple bench sander, we got this one.) That was his big gift.

Ben got this adorable set and he has been so proud to have his own tool set.

While we didn't do our own making this year for the boys, the boys did a whole lot of making for the rest of us! It was weeks before Advent when they were already making plans and hiding away in parts of the house to work on their gifts.

I am SO happy with the shelves the boys made for me! I've been asking them for a while to replace the small antique drawer I was using as a makeshift shelf for our nature souvenirs. It was way too small and didn't even fit the space well. The husband helped them decide how to do it but the older two did the work.

I just love how they turned out. And now we have room for hopefully more family adventures :)

Our eleven year old made the shelves and my fourteen year old forged the brackets! He used metal that he salvaged from the old chicken coop that used to be on the property. How cool is that? I don't feel like the pictures of these or the next gift do them justice!

My older son also made me the rosary hanger I've been asking for for a few years now. The hooks are also forged and he put eight on for each family member. It made me so happy to hang this the other day!

I had to post this only because of the face. He forged a business card holder for my husband's work desk and it's so cool. I didn't get a chance to get a good picture of it, though!

Each of his brothers got matching forged cross necklaces. Raising a little Christian gang apparently.

My eleven year old made a building set for Ben. He used dowels and bored holes in wood cubes. Super sweet.

He also made this marble track component for his younger brothers along with a gigantic foam track made from insulation pipe that I didn't get a picture of and has already been banished to the basement. Marble tracks are a huge hit around here. The foam track allows them to now make loops and all sorts of crazy designs.

And the eleven year old made this sweet cross for my husband to hang from his rearview mirror. Each of the letters stands for a member of our family! How sweet is that?

David our 9 year old made a tool hanger for his older brother's forging tools.

(His wrapping! To Ben.  It's in the window seat.)
About a week before Christmas he also decided to make a camping set for three year old Ben.

He made it all out of cardboard and paint and a few other random objects from the house and it's so sweet.

Roasting marshmallows!

I have to admit, it turned out way cuter than I was anticipating when he first told me about his plans, ha!

All the boys and my husband worked on this play gym for Peter. We modeled it after this one on Amazon that was way more than I would spend on something like that! I did buy the toys from the same maker already made since it was actually cheaper to do it that way than buy the supplies to make my own. I picked these ones but there's lots of options (just be forewarned that shipping took a long time.)

We still have to fasten the legs together with rope or figure out some other way to prevent it from being pulled down. But he sort of likes it! For five minutes or so at a time anyway.

I had them use hooks rather than attach the toys directly to the bar. This way they can be taken down and used wherever and we can also hang other things up if we want (like this rosary from Manducat Rosaries that I won before he was born!). He's been all about needing to mouth everything so he's been preferring that to the toys he can't reach.

FYI, don't be fooled, there was also a fair amount of dollar store cra- err -gifts that they just had to get for each other that I've learned to guide and somewhat tolerate! Glow sticks are disposable, at least. But I just love that making each other things has become a huge part of our Christmas culture around here. I love seeing the ideas they come up with and even more, seeing them so excited to work on and give them. My nine year old even said a few times, completely genuinely!, that his favorite part of Christmas is watching people open the gifts he made for them. It's often a hard, intense, crazy life we've got here but it's things like this that give me glimpses that the work put in maybe really is paying off. At least in cool homemade stuff anyway ;)

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  1. This is awesome! I want my boys to come visit your boys and learn some of their skills!

  2. I love this so much - the camping set is the sweetest! There were some pretty awesome homemade gifts exchanged here this year, too.

  3. Beautiful! Especially the spirit of generosity!

  4. Absolutely LOVE, LOVE the boys gifts. What you and Brian bought them and what they made for each other!!! Precious and useful and impressive. It;s quite a pleasure to see how their talent and skill has grown
    If you lived here in Australia I'd commission your lad to make me a Rosary hanger....wonder if I could talk my boys into making me one..