Saturday, December 24, 2011

Handmade Holiday Gifts... an Etiquette Course

Ahhhh! Spock!! I can't eat peanut brittle!
We've all received them, the handmade gifts that you can't stand. Hell, I'm sure that I've given them.  The fudge with the walnuts (and you're allergic to walnuts), or the crocheted blanket made with horrible acrylic yarn, or the handknit hat that is such an awful shade of yellow that there is no way it could look good on anyone - let alone you.

Now, you're a courteous person.  You understand the effort that went into the pair of handknit socks that Aunt Matilda made for you, right?  No?  Well, here, let me break it down for you: a really fast knitter can get a pair of socks done in about 20 hours.  HOURS.  That is a fast knitter.  Slower knitters take longer, and usually mess up more frequently.  This might not sound like a lot, but that pair of socks probably took the better part of a week or two to make.  For YOU.

That hideous blanket?  While, yes, crochet is faster than knitting, a blanket still takes a while.  Poor Grandma probably sat in the same position, popping Advils like candy in order to make that for you in time to give it to you for Christmas, as you neglected to come to the senior home to visit.  Way to go.  ;)  Also, she probably used the horrible acrylic because that's what her budget allowed.  Were you expecting cashmere?

There IS in fact, a etiquette to handmade gifts.  I hear all the time "I'm only making something handmade for so-and-so, because she is the only one who appreciates it."  How wrong is that?  Why is it so difficult for people to appreciate the things that are crafted specifically for them?  Is it because they are jealous that they can't do it themselves?  Is it because they don't understand the amount of time it takes?  (And yes, some crafts are faster - take a look at Etsy.  The shops that have more items are usually a faster product.)  Maybe they are so used to living in a disposable world that they just don't get that handmade is usually better and lasts longer.  I don't deny that a lot of things in big box stores are, in fact, hand made on industrial machines, but we're not going to get into the sweatshop debate here.

So.  What SHOULD you do if you get a handmade gift that just isn't, well, you?  First and foremost, be gracious.  Remember when you went to a friend's house for dinner and they had liver and onions?  Remember the "No thank you bite"?  The same rule applies here.  Say thank you (and mean it), even if you don't like the particular item, you need to understand the work, the time, the effort, that went into it.  Remember, this person made this for you, hoping that you would like it.  No one wastes their time on a gift thinking "Muahahahaha, I know they're going to hate it!"

After the holiday, and you're sitting on the couch looking at the said hideous throw, knowing full well you have no intention on keeping it, what do you do with it?  Look up local charities that accept hand made donations. Some do, some don't.  Some are picky on what types of items they take.  That blanket may keep someone on the street warm next week.

All in all, just acknowledge the time that it took to make the gift in the first place.  As crafty types, really, that's all we want.  A simple, "Wow, this must have taken forever!  Thank you!" usually will go a long way.


  1. I adore handmade gifts because I appreciate the time and forethought it takes the giver to make the items for me. Some of my favorite presents were handmade. I think there are people who lose sight of the the time and energy spent on handmade gifts, or sometimes they just want something store-bought. I don't understand it myself, but people are weird. I love your Etsy shop and I'm so glad to see that you're making such amazing things!

  2. I really enjoyed reading this!!! Thank you for sharing!I don't know if you meant to be funny but I cracked up and grandma popping Advils like candy!


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