There is an online pledge available stating that you will buy handmade items this holiday season. Now I think this is a great idea - not only do I make things that I would LOVE for someone to purchase as a gift, but it also helps to personalize the gift. However, I have not signed the pledge. Why? Because for the majority of people I want to give gifts to, there is nothing I can think of to get that they would want that can be handmade. And let me quickly add - no one on my list really NEEDS anything. Everyone is able to purchase anything that they need (and mostly likely the majority of wants as well!) so that is not even an issue. When considering items to give each person, I try to take into account what they enjoy, what they could really use, and what they would appreciate having. And for many of them, handmade items don't seem to fit in.
My mom, however, is always happy to receive handmade items, especially if handmade by me! For Mother's Day this year, I sent her a variety of things that I made for her, and she commissioned me to make a shawl for her this summer. I even had some ideas on what to make for her for Christmas - but while visiting over Thanksgiving, I found that she really needs a meat thermometer and a thermometer for her oven since her thermostat seems to be way off. She can easily afford to go to the store and purchase them herself, but I thought these would be the perfect things I could get for her.
My dad also appreciates handmade gifts, and I made an afghan for him a few years ago -something to throw over his legs if he wants to take a nap in his recliner. But he doesn't need anything, and really has very few wants. My great idea was to take a picture of my son and two nephews at Thanksgiving, print it, frame it, and give it to him for Christmas. What a great idea, right? Except, I never got the picture taken!! Trying to get the three guys together without one of my parents noticing and commenting on it was hard enough (and yes, I could have just told them what I was up to and quit asking questions!), and I kept forgetting! Last year I did get my parents a one year membership with Green Dimes and I may renew that for them. Not handmade, but something that would be of value to them (my parents could have wallpapered their house several times with the amount of catalogues they received!)
But in thinking about the pledge, I'm going back over my list, seriously researching ideas, and trying, really trying to come up with handmade items for more people on my list. My nephews will most likely get gift cards of some sort (which is what they ask for!), but my sister, and several friends, may find themselves recipients of awesome handmade items. I'm not sure if anyone I'm giving to this season reads this blog, but in case they do, I'm not saying anything else until after the holidays!
And now a story - rather sad, but it taught me a lot. Eleven years ago, my son had just turned one and Christmas was fast approaching. I was still married, and as usual, we had very little extra money for Christmas. At the time, we were giving to everyone in both families, so I sat down and came up with things I could make that I thought would fit in with each person's interests. My dad has a sweet tooth, so he got some homemade candy; the women got a variety of bath products that I put together myself, etc. I may not have been fancy, but I had really tried to match the gift with the recipients likes. More importantly, I gave of my time, since I didn't have the money - and my time was VERY valuable to me because it meant less time with my son (I was working full-time and he had been in daycare since he was 3 months old).
Needless to say, the gifts were not a hit at all! I don't really remember my family having much to say (and since they are my family, I probably cut them some slack and ignored them), but my in-laws were obviously not impressed. I think they felt if they had gone into debt to get me something, I should do the same for them! I was disheartened, but reminded myself I gave up time with my son to try to give them something they would use and enjoy - if I missed the mark, then I missed. Now that I'm divorced, I no longer worry about what that group thinks of me or my gifts - and this also plays in to my struggle with finding handmade gifts for my family. But at some point, I set a budget, come up with a list of things I think everyone would like, purchase them and wish them the best. I hope it is a good match, but if not - the world will not end! Maybe I'm getting old, but I don't care what I get for Christmas, or if I get anything for Christmas. My expectations have dropped as the years have passed - and so has my stress! I try to make sure my son enjoys the entire season - and not just the gifts he gets under the tree. And since he is with me for New Year's this year, I want to spend some time on New Year's Eve talking to him about what he wants out of 2008 - goals, things to work towards, positive changes in our lives, that sort of stuff. Hopefully this is a tradition that will carry us through his teenage years and into adulthood.
I hope everyone has a blessed, stressless, happy holiday season!