Twig + Tale Storytellers - Giving the Gift of Imagination

Storyteller Martha Middleton, a mother to two young children and a primary school educator, is joining us to share some thoughts about sewing gifts for children.

When gifting handmade, Martha's focus is on creating items that encourage and support open-ended play. Give a well-made, versatile, creative gift, and watch the magic of a child's limitless imagination! 

As the holidays fast approach, it is only natural to start thinking about gifts. Gift giving can be such a fun and rewarding act, but it can also be a source of stress and anxiety. I like to start my planning early and avoid the last-minute stress, as much as possible. That being said, I'm certainly not immune to late-night hours, sitting at my sewing machine, trying to finish up those last-minute gifts or adding those so-important final details to a project.

When planning gifts for my own children or other children in my life, I tend to gravitate towards gifts that both suit their personalities and provide opportunity for open-ended play. These usually aren't the super flashy toys with bright colours, lights and sounds. And as such, they don't always get the biggest and most excited reactions, depending on the child. But they are the gift that allows the imagination to blossom; they invite thought and creativity. They are the gifts that provide endless opportunities for hours of outdoor fun.

The wonderful thing is that children are naturally curious. They have an innate curiosity about the world around them, testing boundaries, touching, controlling, creating, exploring, wondering. Part of the magic of childhood is the ability to get lost in the world of imagination and discovery. What begins as children's games are part of the development of thoughts and attitudes, towards learning new ideas and experiences. They can teach crucial social skills, such as communication, empathy, perspective-taking and problem solving, as well as the confidence to keep discovering. Through imagination, we can explore a range of things, some that are familiar, and some that have never been experienced before. 

I try to have this guide me in the gifts that I'm planning to make, find or purchase for children. It always makes me smile to watch how much fun they have, playing with boxes and gift wrap before even getting into the actual gift, and how often they'll come back to the boxes with the most creative projects. My own children won't even let me recycle empty toilet paper rolls. Those are for crafts!

As my children are getting older, they are taking on a bigger role in gift giving for our extended family, teachers and friends. Similarly, we discuss interests, what they like or find special, their favourite colours, etc. Then they get to work. They get so excited to be creating paintings, ornaments, toys, etc., each personalised, with someone special in mind. 

I have been working on a special set of Twig + Tale Wings for some children in my life. I've tried to gear each set of wings to a specific child, creating something unique to them. I have created a set of beautiful, sparkly woodland fairy wings. They dance and glisten in the sunlight. They are fun, beautiful, creative and whimsical. I have also created a complimentary yet contrasting set of dragon wings, equally striking, yet tough, strong, and athletic. My hope is that both sets of wings will invite fun and imagination, both together and individually. I hope that they are a catalyst for the most creative and open-ended games!

Some advice, when it comes to homemade gift-giving:

  • Keep a holiday "to-do" list. It can help to prioritize gifts on your list and add some deadlines, to help keep you on track.
  • Start early, allowing you to take advantage of early sales, bargains and thrifting for supplies. If possible, try to spread the costs out, rather than carry the burden all at once. 
  • Set realistic expectations. Holidays can be a very busy time of the year. Make sure that you're present for the important stuff, without putting too much pressure on yourself. It's pretty tough to do it all. Handmade gifts come in all different sizes and forms. Even a small handmade gift can send a strong message.
  • Know yourself and recognize how you deal with stress. Allow plenty of time to complete anticipated projects and show yourself some grace. 
  • Take care of yourself. Get enough rest, drink lots of water, eat healthy meals and know your limits. Remember that it's probably you putting the pressure on yourself. 
  • Remember to enjoy the process. It can be easy to become overwhelmed, but it's important to remember the why of gift giving and how much you really do love creating! Gift giving is a special way that you are able to share your talent with others. 

If you're looking for some perfect gift ideas, Twig + Tale has a wonderful selection of patterns for thoughtful gift giving. Whether it be an Alpine Hat, Rainhaven Overalls, Wings, Leaf Blankets, Dolls, etc. - "Simple, nature-inspired [patterns] nurture imaginative play [that] will be treasured for years to come." Watch for a newly released e-Book, Giving - 6 simple projects to stitch, that has beautiful, creative patterns that can be completed in a reasonable time frame, this holiday season; a perfect canvas for special embellishments with embroidery or appliqué. 

See more of Martha's work here


Read more articles from the Twig + Tale Storytellers here