Personal touch: DIY gifts that you can still make this month

WASHINGTON – Good gifts come from the heart. Better gifts come from the heart … and hands.

This holiday season, consider making a present for your loved one.

The folks at The Lemon Collective in Northwest D.C. have abundant inspiration to bring out the crafter in you. The shared creative space hosts workshops where participants can learn such skills as terrarium arrangement and hand lettering.

Sure, you can always buy a thoughtful item. But spending your time instead on a gift makes a project even more significant, said Lily Cox, a partner at The Lemon Collective.

“The way I like to look at the currency of gift giving is you have resources which are your money, which you can use to buy gifts, or your time, which you can use to spend on making something,” she said. “So part of what your friend is receiving when you give them a gift is the gift of the time that you spent on making this thing. So, it is a very personal thing.”

One tip though, before you take on a project: Don’t go for something overly complicated.

“There is a very funny rule in the crafting community … that you shouldn’t knit anyone you really love a sweater — especially a boyfriend. Because no one will ever understand how much time went into it, and they’ll never fully appreciate it,” said Holley Simmons, a co-founder of The Lemon Collective. “So perhaps not a full garment.”

If you’re intent on crocheting your way through December, a homemade gift can also be a budget-friendly option.

“This is also good for people that don’t want to spend half of their paycheck on friends and family, but still want to spread the love around,” said Cox.

Many people learn to craft from friends or relatives, and practicing those skills is often an exercise in remembering those individuals. It adds another layer of meaning to your handmade gift.

“When you make something, you’re sharing a part of you with somebody. Whether that’s your love of knitting that your grandmother has taught you — it’s a way for you to remember your grandma as you’re doing it,” said Simmons. “It’s super-personal.”

There is still time to learn a new skill, or practice an old one, at The Lemon Collective. You can sign up this month for a holiday wreath-making workshop, or go a little more modern and learn how to make a geometric wreath.

“Leave your inhibitions at the door when you come in here, and just relax into it,” Cox said.

“Just come prepared to have a good time,” Simmons added. “All of our classes are meant to be accessible to everybody, affordable, easy — we try to have everybody leave with something by the end of a workshop.”

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