Prepared for Christmas: Blankets
By Tyra Baird
Now blankets may seem more like a wedding or baby gift than a Christmas gift and it also doesn’t seem like something that you would associate with being prepared. If you haven’t noticed yet, we like to think outside the box. A blanket is valuable not just for emergencies and disasters, but almost every shelter in place situation. It not only has the power to keep you warm when the power goes out, but it can be a valuable and comfortable shelter (as any tent building child can testify). So here are some options for the best possible blankets to give this season.
Mylar Survival Blanket
I have to admit I’d be pretty disappointed if someone left a Mylar blanket in my stocking, but this is still a very practical gift. While having a Mylar survival blanket is still a must for your kit, having something comfortable
and warm is still more important. Mylar isn’t exactly comforting or comfortable. However a Mylar blanket wrapped around another blanket can greatly magnify its warmth retention.
So what determines the best blanket? This is based on a few key factors
1) open spaces
3) perceived comfort.
This gives you a few options to consider for your kit.
100% Goose Down Blanket
One is a 100% goose down comforter. Be sure to get 100% goose down, not the alternatives if you really want the highest benefits. These are somewhat heavy and large and they compress rather well so they will need fluffing to be effective. Goose Down blankets tend to go on sale around the holiday’s so be on the lookout through the winter. They can still run $100 and up, but are a good investment.
100% Wool Blanket
Another option is the 100% wool blanket. Once again look for the real stuff. True wool contains lanolin which acts as a waterproofing agent against rain or snow. It can soothe the skin, but for some people it can be very much the opposite. If you’re planning on giving them as a gift, check and see if the person has any wool allergies or sensitivities. For some people (myself included) wool is like having sand paper on my skin. Wool does have some other impressive and important qualities that make it an ideal blanket though. Since wool can breathe it not only keeps you warm in cold weather but actually prevents sweating in warmer weather. However 100% wool blankets can be pricey so look at garage sales, wholesale stores and military surplus. I did a bit of research and found some here for $62-$140. However the best prices are military surplus starting at $20.
One of the best and cheapest blankets is the good old fashioned afghan. If you knit, crochet or know someone who does then you have scored. Their loose weave traps heat. Be sure to use a yarn that doesn’t irritate your skin, as some can be very much like wool. Once again look for sales and coupons on yarn to find a comfortable material and save money. Don’t worry if you can’t knit or crochet very well. This is the simplest project available, as long as you can count and keep your gauge you can do it. You can search www.youtube.com for countless how to videos to help you through your project. A woven blanket is a good alternative with the same benefits. A lot of photo gift sites (shutterfly, zazzle, etc) can create a special woven blanket with your photo’s on them, if your photo has a high pixel count.
Lastly there is the thermal blanket. Think of the last time you were in the hospital and you’ll know what blankets I’m talking about. These are lightweight but warm and comfortable, and usually inexpensive. They use a special weave to create spaces for trapping the heat similar to how the afghan works. You can find these in odd sizes at surplus stores for a good price. The other plus for thermal blankets is that layering increases their effectiveness even more. These can range from $25-60.
I had always assumed that fleece was the warmest. But fleece blankets don’t even make the cut on the warmth meter. However if you’re looking for something soothing, or a special blankie for cuddling kids, than a fleece blanket can’t be beat. Like the woven blankets, specialized photo fleece blankets can be created through numerous on-line photo stores. A small fleece blanket can be a great addition to any emergency kit to comfort a child. Fleece is super popular and can be found for really cheap during the holiday’s. It’s also a great option for no sew projects.
Quilts are one of my favorite homemade gifts. These are not just great for keeping warm but also for providing a sense of comfort and love that comes from knowing it was made with you in mind. A key factor in making a warm, quality quilt is the batting. Get a good high quality batting for the best insulation, a store clerk can usually show you the best ones with a great deal of know how and enthusiasm. There are a lot of different quilt varieties for a diverse array of skill levels. Rag quilting is perfect if you’re skill level is “I can stitch in a straight line.” A more traditional quilt can range from a simple sheet with batting that’s been tied with yarn knots, to an intricately pieced masterpiece. There are so many patterns and options available. If you want to create something special that not only keeps them warm but is full of love try a memory quilt. These can be as simple as using fabric from old clothes and blankets that are familiar to them, or using old t-shirts. If you’re using knit t-shirts, be sure to back each shirt with interfacing to prevent them from stretching. For kids nothing beats the built in entertainment of the eye spy quilt, which is perfect for cars and emergency kits. Eye spy quilts are simply pieced and are made with a conglomerate of prints and themes. Its an eye spy book you can wear and stay warm in.
For more ideas check out our Pinterest board “All Wrapped Up” for fun blanket ideas and patterns. We’ll keep pinning to inspire you for Christmas and beyond.