During the Holiday season, we tend to weigh back and forth on what type of gifts we want to give. Do we want to one-click purchase something off of Amazon’s “Recommended Gift” list, or buckle down to spend an evening working with a new material and creating something entirely from scratch? Well, one option is certainly easier.

Fashion designer, entrepreneur, and EXPLO Alum Sarah Law suggests to never go the easy route. She says, in choosing DIY gifts, you aren’t only creating a more meaningful gift for your recipient, but it also makes for a more meaningful creative experience for you.

Every time you have a DIY project, you are putting down materials that you might not have worked with before... It’s a great way to have that explorative time to use your imagination, be creative, and have an open mind that can lead you to different places.

Having an open mind during DIY  is often aligned with how present you can be with your work. Jon Kabat-Zinn, an American professor and specialist in reducing stress, often talks about this state of mindfulness as paying attention:

On purpose,
In the present moment,
And non-judgmentally.

We can think about approaching DIY projects mindfully by paying attention to our material, creating with intention, and allowing for flexible outcomes. Mindful creation is touching, smelling, listening (and even sometimes tasting!) the material that we have in our hands. For Sarah Law, that’s in listening to what the material wants to do just as much as what you wanted to do with it. 

On purpose,
In the present moment,
And non-judgmentally.

The most important element of mindful DIY is to practice seeing the creative process as an impartial witness. When tackling work without judgment of self or its outcomes, we are less likely to create safe designs. Instead, we're able to take chances, fail, to discover in order to create something new.




Here are some really interesting (and some just fun) links that we have been recently indulging in to learn more mindful DIY.

  • There's something called the Ikea Effect, which goes on to explain the psychology behind why we love the things we labor on
  • "Being creative is not so much the desire to do something as the listening to that which wants to be done." — Annie Albers
  • From themes like "alternate universe portal Christmas Tree" and "Pacman Christmas Tree", here are 15 of (maybe the most) creative holiday foliage DIYs we've ever seen

  • Functioning as a gym membership for the mind, Headspace is an awesome mobile app that teaches mindfulness to digital burnouts (ringing endorsement: I use it every night to fall asleep)



  • Trip: After examining Michaelangelos and Rembrandts at the Isabella Stuart Gardner Museum, create your own inspired masterpieces at a Paint Nite Studio
  • Course: IFashion Design, learn from Sarah Law herself , where she'll mentor you in hands-on accessory design, visual merchandising, lifestyle editing, styling, and retail fashion. (Grades 10-12)
  • Workshop: With Final Cut editing suite, learn how to transform raw footage into a compelling film with your own thematic and stylistic choices in Film Editing
  • CourseUse a temperature-regulated water bath to perfectly boil an egg or heat a steak to your ideal doneness. Lots of hands-on messy (the good kind) experiments in Molecular Gastronomy (Grades 8+9)
  • Activity: Forget buying sushi in town — instead, learn how to make your own oshizushi, sashimi, and nigiri from scratch in Sushi Making to share with your dorm mates at dinner
  • In EXPLO Makerspace, tinker with 3D printers, sewing machines, paper circuits and littleBits™ as you explore the best tools and materials to bring your own ideas to life (grades 4-7)


P.S. Our application is now live! Apply before December 28 to receive an early bird discount. There is no fee to start your application, and can be revisited to complete at any time.

We also now have in-depth pages about each course offerings at Yale, Wellesley, and Wheaton for the 2019 summer!


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