Not even a recession can stop the winter holidays. Still the frustration of not being able to afford great Christmas gifts can be great for many, especially since the winter season is such an important time to show appreciation and love through special, thoughtful surprises. Plus, having to resort to homemade gifts for even those on the giving side can seem unappealing and make many hearken back to the preschool days of shellacked pine cone Christmas trees and macaroni angels.
According to the National Bureau of Labor Statistics’ last report, the unemployment rate has crept down to 10%. While many industries reported no further job loss in November, artists – everyone from visual artists to musicians, actors and creative and freelance writers – continue to be unemployed at very high rates.
Since the economy first hit rock bottom in 2008, the National Endowment for the Arts has regularly reported that artists are unemployed at approximately twice the rate of other professional workers. In the fourth quarter of last year, 129,000 visual artists were out of work nationwide, which was 63% more than were unemployed during the same period in 2007. There will most likely be a lot of artists, musicians and writers panicking this season as they try to come up with both rent money and inexpensive holiday gifts for friends and family that don’t skimp on quality or meaningfulness.
The following three ideas for artists – coordinating a family project, recording a Christmas album with a twist or offering up artistic services – can provide a strong starting point for delivering creative gifts that can be personalized to anyone, even at the very last minute.
Coordinating a Family Project Can Produce High-Quality Homemade Gifts
An artist is often not the only creatively talented person in his/her family. Many artists, musicians, actors and writers come from long lines of other creative types. Artists with cousins, sisters, brothers or parents that are also creative – even when they excel in different media – can combine forces and create great holiday gift packages during the winter holidays. For example, siblings that are talented visual artists – particularly those with strong graphic design skills – can work together to create a calendar for immediate and even extended family members. The calendar art can be based on collections of family memories and even have birthdays highlighted to personalize it even further.
Printing the calendar can get expensive. Still, many printers are now following the green initiative and cutting costs by using recycled paper and different types of ink to save energy and dollars. Also, the more family members that are involved, the less the cost for each person will be. The act of designing a large family project will in many cases be a fun holiday gift all its own, which can eradicate the stigma that might be associated with other homemade gifts.
Recording a Christmas Album Can Be Fun … and Not Necessarily Produce a Regrettable Holiday Gift
For musicians, creative gifts can be as easy as having a software program like Garage Band or even borrowing a simple multi-track recorder. Most professional musicians own or know someone who owns a computer with simple recording software or a multi-track recorder and can use either of these to record his/her very own collection of holiday songs that can be given to friends and loved ones.
Recording a Christmas album can backfire in a pretty big way without a push far away from traditional and boring. As a suggestion, instead of playing or singing songs in a straightforward, traditional way, a musician might decide he/she really likes calypso music and build arrangements of holiday music around that concept. Enlisting the help of other friends or family members that are musicians to play other instruments can also help make the experience more fun for everyone involved and produce a richer recording.
Offering Free Work for Friends or Family Can Be Invaluable
One of the best ideas for artists that want to make family and friends happy during the holidays is to offer up his/her talents directly. Highly-experienced freelance graphic designers and copywriters, resume writers or editors often charge $50, $100 or even $150 per hour for specialized work, so offering services as a holiday gift can be a pretty extravagant idea when multiple hours or a specific project is involved.
Almost everyone has a friend with a business or personal website that needs tweaking, and a graphic designer can offer a couple hours of design work or a logo design as a very practical and welcome surprise. An unemployed or under-employed writer probably knows at least one other family member or friend that is also unemployed and can do a resume or biography re-write.
Designing memorable Christmas gifts on the cheap can be easy and fun for creative types and does not have to involve construction paper and scissors. Artists, musicians and writers just have to come up with ideas that reflect their greatest talents.