How The Holiday Season Boosts My Creativity

There are a lot of people who associate the holidays with stress - gift shopping, hosting, cooking, in-laws and so on. This all makes sense and is warranted; but when I see the holidays approaching I get excited for the love, the quality time, the thankfulness, and the groundedness of the season. The energy that surrounds the holidays truly fuels my creativity. 

As a creator, my love for crafting feeds my desire to design, and vice versa. I have a deep-seated love for making things. I will choose to spend hours and big money to knit a hat, when I know I can purchase one at the store at a moment’s notice. 

I love making gifts for people, and the holidays give my designer mind a great workout. Much like designing a website, I have to step outside myself a bit to create. I have to place myself in the user’s shoes and guess how they will interact with my creation, be it a site or a scarf. Websites require user stories and work flows. Holiday gifts require me to think, “Will my boyfriend actually wear this?” and “Remember, Erica doesn’t like wool.” Either way, I have to do my research.

Then, I can take steps to execute my plan. Whenever I create, I have an end goal. Sometimes it is more defined than others, but no matter where I end up, I have to take the steps to get there. When I design, I make deliberate, important decisions with every pixel and color choice. Knitting is stitch by stitch, and if I get lazy, a dropped stitch could mean ripping half of it out and starting again.

Any creator (and that would be all of us) can understand that there is this thing about the process. It begins with a metaphorical blank canvas, or in my case, a skein of yarn and knitting needles, and through ideation, discovery, and often, trial and error—creating something awesome at the other end.

Much like holiday shopping, the process has lots of highs and lows. But like my art professors told me, “You’ve got to trust the process.”

To spark the creativity of those who are less inclined to step out of the sweater box, here are a few of my favorite, little-to-no skill required DIY holiday gifts:

1. Body Scrub - Super simple and surprisingly cheap. Olive oil, kosher salt (or raw sugar), essential oils, a mason jar, and a bow. Voilà!

2. Finger-knitted necklaces - When you were nine, you probably knew how to do this. Bring it back adult style. Make it loop or get crazy and add a chain and a clasp. Learn how to finger knit here

3. Soup in a Jar - Lentils. Rice. Veggies. You just made someone’s winter day a little warmer. This could also be done with a cookie recipe, or even a custom spice mix.

4. Spray Painted Mugs - If you have ever painted before, you can do this activity. Give it a try.

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Kaela is a graphic designer focusing on user experience design at Startup Institute New York. After serving in AmeriCorps last year, she is passionate about using her skills to create positive social change. Say hello to her on Twitter, @kaela_gallo