I appear to have largely failed in my attempt to hand-make this year’s Christmas Presents. Don’t get me wrong, I haven’t been as large a consumer whore as in previous years, but only my Dad’s gift is 100% homemade.

I’ve managed to sneak little things into other peoples’ presents – some chestnut jam for M-, a hand-drawn card with a Morgan car on it for V- and various jams for other friends. And I’ve tried where I can to buy from independent sellers – I bought Mr. C-‘s cake from Misti, lovely little ethically sourced toys  for my nieces from peagreen, and a few bits for my Mum from the almighty entity that is ebay. The crowning glory of this year’s shop is my present for S-, which is not only a mightily awesome print of some Resident Evil 4 artwork, but it also supports Child’s Play – a US based charity, run by video game fans. Child’s Play aims to provide hospitals with toys for children stuck on a ward over Christmas. Some things the kids get to take home and keep, others are left there for the enjoyment of future patients. It’s a small thing, but I think it’s one of those small things which makes a tremendous difference and which most people don’t even think about.

In any case, I ventured onto the high street yesterday and wouldn’t have, but for my friend’s very poorly car. With grave resolve, the pair of us ventured into the heart of Cambridge and battled with the mass of other people, panic buying. Luckily, said friend and I are both somewhat pragmatic when it comes to shopping, so there was no unpleasant trawling through unnecessary shops and herds of hyperactive teenagers. Still, the whole experience left me feeling somewhat hollow and worried that I wasn’t doing enough for the people I love. Seeing everyone there with stacks of money changing hands and hugely expensive gifts being wrapped or put aside was a real eye-opener. This year’s most costly gift was perhaps the ‘little extra’ something for S-, in case his art doesn’t arrive in time for Christmas day. I can’t help but feel a cheap* as a result.

Much as I’d like to spend a fortune on the people I love, I simply can’t, and this year I feel that I’ve failed for not making more of their gifts as I’d originally planned to. If I’ve learned one thing from volunteering it is that time is more valuable than money, and I seem to have failed my family and friends in that respect too, not using my time to create something unique and beautiful for them. I just hope that the hours I spent trawling round the shops yesterday have yielded things that everyone will enjoy, or at the very least find amusing for a short while.

I have a plan to remedy all this for next year, though – a cunning plan, some might say – and it is one I plan to start on straight away… watch this space…

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*I’d like to think my DNA and upbringing excuses this a little – Sheffield born and bred, and Aberdeenshire raised.

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