Christmas. It comes on December 25th, each and every year. It’s not one of those sneaky “4th Thursday” or “3rd Monday” holidays that can jump around on me, and yet I seem to be surprised by it come December 12th or so each year.
Whether you celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah, or something else entirely, the holiday season is the best time of year for making and giving handmade gifts like crochet hats and scarves!
I’ve struggled in the past with finishing everything, so I’m sharing my BEST tips for actually getting that entire project list done and delivered in time for the holidays. After you read it, you’ll have the tools and tips to make sure your to-do list becomes a to-DONE list- without losing sleep or (completely) neglecting your housework.
I’ll talk you through my best strategies for getting sh…tuff done below, but if you want to keep yourself organized as you read, sign up to get access to my crochet resources library with all the printables I talk about here:
1. Decide that Finishing Your Projects is NOT an Option.
My favorite thing to tell my kids when they’re feeling discouraged is a quote attributed to Henry Ford.
Whether you think you can do a thing, or think you can’t do a thing, you’re right.
You’re in the driver’s seat of your life- so if you want something to happen, decide to do it, and steer your course towards it.
You can do it. Just decide to!
That brings us nicely to tip number two:
2. Make Crocheting Easy
Take a look around your living room. Can you easily grab your latest crochet project? Or would you have to go hunting through two different baskets (in two different rooms on opposite sides of the house)?
Before I recently reorganized my living space, I was wasting SO much time petering around the house looking for yarn I’d lost, or a project bag I’d misplaced. Then when I finally sat down to crochet, I didn’t have very much time, or someone needed another snack or bedtime story. It was so frustrating!
Set up your home so that the choices you want to make are easier than the choices you don’t want to make. Then, you’ll have a much easier time making sure you get those projects done.
Now, I have a basket that holds my current project bag, my crochet planning binder (with my hat size checker on it!), my crochet supply case with hooks and yarn needles and scissors, a pen for taking notes, and a few knit and crochet magazines for inspiration. The only time I have to go hunting now is when I’m ready to shop my yarn stash to hook up a new project.
Set up a cozy crochet nest for yourself, and pack a handy crochet basket/bag you can tote with you to make crocheting easy.
3. Know Your Deadlines
You can’t expect yourself to be on time with your crocheted gifts if you don’t even know precisely when on time actually is. It’s impossible!
If your loved ones live thousands of miles away like mine do, missing a shipping deadline can mean a tough decision: do my nephews get their presents late, or do I bite the bullet and pay those exorbitant rush shipping fees? Missing the deadline can cost me big bucks- which eats into next year’s yarn budget!
Do you know when you need to finish that hat for your mother in law? What’s the last day you can mail gifts to your sister’s family who lives across the country? Will your coworker be attending the holiday party, or are they on vacation the week before Christmas?
Research your deadlines, and mark them on your calendar. (My Holiday Crochet Planner available in my Crochet Library has some popular shipping deadlines listed inside it to help get you started.)
4. Keep a Running List
When you have so many projects to keep track of, it’s easy to lose a few little P.I.G.S. (projects in grocery sacks) along the way. You’ll have a much easier time managing your crochet projects if you know what you’re working on.
Check out the Project Planner and Yarn Organizer Worksheets in my new Crochet Library! They can help you keep your ducks (or P.I.G.S.!) in a row.
5. Be Realistic
Story time. Three years ago, I set a goal with myself to finish gifts for everyone in my family. I managed a few for my mom, dad and brothers, but I totally skipped over making handmade gifts for my nephews and sister! Why?
Because I was trying to make them entire blankets! And I’d only started on them in November.
Now, I’m a pretty fast hooker (hehehe), but there’s no way I can finish three full sized blankets, plus two adult sized hat and scarf sets in time to mail them off the week before Christmas. Back then, none of my kids were in school at all, so I had much less time available to me to crochet.
It’s not kind or fair to expect yourself to magically spin straw into gold and then crochet it into a beautiful heirloom gift if you only have an hour a day to crochet with.
This year, I have a bit more time, but I’m starting out with hats for everyone, because I know I have enough time to complete one for each loved one on my list. If I have time later, I can go back and work on scarves as well, but I’ll do it knowing I’ve already done enough.
Assess your Project List you just filled out. (Grab it in the Crochet Library.) Do you have enough time to complete everything? Without losing sleep?
6. Start with a Quick Win
Psychologists agree that while getting your biggest projects finished first may seem smarter, it actually doesn’t quite shake out that way in real life. Here’s why.
One of the principles I really like from Dave Ramsey (yes, the finance writer!) is the Debt Snowball. Ramsey suggests that you should pay your debts in order of smallest balance to largest balance, regardless of the interest rates. This doesn’t necessarily make the most financial sense, but it certainly gives you a greater sense of achievement, and that endorphin rush can help you stay motivated for the long haul of larger sums.
So how does that relate to crochet? Well, I believe that one of the best feelings in crochet is weaving in that final end. There’s something innately satisfying about seeing your work all finished up. Try it, you might like it!
7. Stay Organized
Forgetting important details about your crochet projects means one thing: FROGGING! If you’re on a time crunch, it’ll be especially painful to have to rip-it, rip-it. And giving away wonky projects that changed sizes when you forgot which hook you were using just won’t do.
I’ve been there, and it’s no fun! That’s why I created my Crochet Project Note Sheets. I use them with my crochet projects so that I can keep track of what I’m doing while I design (or just crochet!) a project.
They come in three sizes, so you can keep them in whichever size project bag fits your project. You’d need more notes on a sweater than a beanie, for example, plus the sweater project would be kept in a bigger bag. I prefer the little ones, because I like to take my projects on the go!
Download the Project Note Sheet Templates in my Crochet Library so you never forget a detail again.
8. Batch Tasks
When you last made cookies, how many did you bake? I’ll bet my left boot you didn’t just make the number you ate that afternoon- you probably made a whole batch of them.
I usually make 2 or 3 dozen, but my mother in law Alisa is a pro. She makes giant batches of cookies three or four times a year, then freezes the leftovers. The same principle can help you with your crochet gifts!
If you mail all your gifts at once, you’ll save time driving to and from the post office. If you’re not using the Locked Loop Ends Method as much as humanly possible, you can also sew in all your ends at once. (Just be mindful of tip #4!) Blocking one item takes just about the same amount of time as two items, if you use a garment steamer.
And of course, I really prefer wrapping my gifts all in one session if I can.
What small tasks can you do in batches?
9. Minute to Win It
This tip is perhaps the one that helped me the most. When I first started crocheting, I thought of it as this time-hungry yarn monster that would swallow me alive if I didn’t have three hours and two cups of hot tea to share with it.
There’s certainly something to be said about devoting big chunks of time just to crochet. I would LOVE to have 3 full hours to get my yarn and hooks out and play!
But you’d be surprised at just how much you can get done in small chunks of time. Try it!
Now, I fit my crochet time in around my schedule, and even though I rarely use large chunks of time to crochet, I’m still getting more crocheting done.
What chunks of time could you be crocheting?
- Waiting in the after-school pickup line?
- Those few minutes before doctor appointments?
- Waiting on your casserole to finish baking before supper?
- While your husband is hogging the TV for sports? (Looking at you, Dave.)
I’ve even noticed that the short crochet sessions are better for my hands. My carpal tunnel symptoms have gone down now that I’m crocheting in shorter sessions, even though I’m crocheting more total minutes in the day.
This is my favorite on the go project bag. It’s small enough that I can grab it to go with me whenever I’m in the car, and crochet in the school pickup line.
Pack a to-go project bag to take with you. You’ll be surprised how fast your hats get done!
So which of these tips will you try first? Sign up here to get the password to my crochet library so you can download the printable resources I made just for you to keep organized.