Being halfway through a toddler sized sweater the night before the gift exchange: Bad Idea.
Using yarn from the (every growing.. I think yarn breeds) stash: Good Idea!
Realizing the toddler sweater is more newborn sized halfway through: Bad Idea.
The gift exchange was on the weekend, and thank goodness the mom of that toddler is also a knitter. She understands gift bags that have balls of yarn and needles and a half finished sweater. It'll have to get ripped out and made a couple sizes larger, but now I'm no longer on a time line.
Making holiday presents is an excellent way not only to turn your hobby into something that will save you money rather than cost you money, but to combine your entertainment into something tangible at the end. There are, however, a couple of major pitfalls.
Leave enough time. If you are planning on spinning, dyeing and knitting a sweater for Great Aunt Betty who wears a size 5X, do not order the fleece on Dec 20th. The handmade present plan is great, but the stressed out manic RSI inducing all nighters are not great. Start early. January's a good time. Not the best plan for children's clothes (they never seem to grow as you expect them to.. a year is a long time to predict sizes), but adults or household items are fair game for being knit all through the year.
Make sure it suits the recipient. If you've made a whole bunch of packed full of sugar treats, perhaps that's not the best gift for the diabetic on your list. The hand made casual sweater might be beautiful, but the trend aware and extremely picky 13 yr old might not love it. The couple with the loft styled ultra modern home might not be the best people to give a very traditional lace tablecloth. When you have a hobby that you adore, its sometimes hard to remember that not everyone appreciates the results as much as you do. You might have no trouble not selecting something inappropriate from a store, but when it's handmade... You dont want all of your hard work not to be appreciated and shoved in a drawer.. or worse.. thrown out. It's heartbreaking.
So remember, leave plenty of time (It's only the 12th! Still got time for some mittens.. children's things.. socks.. just not socks for EVERYONE on the list!), and match the project to the person, no matter how much you adore it. I'll be over here, ripping out half a toddler sweater.