How to give a handmade gift
Have you ever received or given a handmade gift? There’s an extra special something that gets sewn up into them and that’s why I love the idea of giving hand made gifts to very special people in our lives.
I remember making my dad a robe one year and then several shirts in other years. One Christmas, I made my mom a robe which was particularly hard to keep hidden from her (part of the fun). More recently, I’ve made a good friend a pair of flannel plaid PJ’s that he cherished!
All my gift giving had been positive until… the bunny.
I once spent several evenings making a stuffed bunny for my friend’s daughter’s 2 year birthday. They were a family who I knew valued art and things made by hand and their daughter went to the Waldorf school where wooden toys were the standard. The couple and their daughter were among my closest friends when I first moved to Spain and it felt very natural for me to make something fun and special for the birthday.
I went to the local shop and bought several fabrics for the body and clothes and sewed up the bunny complete with a fluffy tail and embroidered face. She was so cute!
Days later at the birthday party, the wrapping was torn off and the bunny quickly looked at and tossed to the side, never to be acknowledged again. I was perplexed and wondered why I hadn’t just gone and bought a made in China toy like everyone else. Why had I spent so much time and money making them something special? Then I thought, maybe they didn’t know it was handmade? Maybe they didn’t like it? Or maybe they were just overwhelmed with all the gifts?
Had I totally missed the mark thinking they valued handmade over Made in China?
I’ve struggled with this feeling because I didn’t give the gift to receive anything in return, so on one hand, the gift receiver is never obligated to do or say anything. But, if I’m being completely honest, I did feel a little sting in my heart after that party.
Fast forward several years and my husband and I have recently had 2 new babies born into the family: one our nephew Julian and the other his cousin’s daughter, Noa. When I was in Seattle my mom nudged me to make each of them a quilt. It’s a beautiful gesture and a practical thing to have – every baby should have a hand made quilt afterall.
As I was making the quilts, that heart sting creeped back in from one of the last times I’d given a handmade baby gift. Part of me didn’t even want to give the gift at all to avoid any possible disappointment.
But they’re both lovely gifts and deep down I do really want to gift them. So, I set out to think about the best way to give them that would express the love and care sewn in. Here are my thoughts:
- How do they know you made it?
I think this is especially relevant when you’re giving something at a party where there may be a lot of people and you’re not one on one with the receiver. I decided to attach a small note to each of the quilts telling a bit about the pattern and in the case of the quilts, how to care for them. I decided to attach this note to the actual quilt itself as opposed to the outer wrapping or in the card, so it can be seen before use. You could do this with any soft gift you give!
2. Presentation matters
I think of it as a gift giving ritual. Part of the experience for the receiver is the intrique and uncovering of the gift. I know this because I’ve been the receiver of a gift from my husband that wasn’t wrapped or really presented aside from being handed to me and while it’s still very thoughtful, I think some of the specialness is lost without the outer wrapping. My personal favorite wrapping is recycled brown paper with ribbon, sometimes cut from lengths of fabric with pom poms or tassels. I’d also like to try the no waste wrap style of Furoshiki where you use gorgeous fabrics to present your gift.
3. Add personalization
When my mom made our wedding quilt, she embroidered a little corner with a special message. Everytime I make the bed and see the corner, I remember the gift and how much she cares. I think you could also put a cute label on yours like one’s from Kylie and the Machine….her “Made With Love” or “Handmade with Love” could be super cute!
Ok, those are my tips. But I’m not an expert on this, so I’d love to hear your thoughts! What has been your experience with gift giving your handmades? Do you have any tips to add and share? Feel free to share below, or write me and I’ll update this post with your tips.
Happy gift giving,
I make a lot of baby quilts for friends at work. I worked with a male nurse whose wife was pregnant. I said would you like a handmade baby quilt for your first baby. He said no I don’t think so. I was so surprised but glad I did not make them one. I now ask everyone I want to make one for in case they would not want one!
Cathy that’s a great idea! Thank you for sharing that. And that is very surprising but better that you averted an unwanted gift 🙂
Thank you so much for your tips! On July 28th, I’m going out in a trip with my closest female friends of my life (mom, sister, bff’s, and my second mom!!!) and I am planning to include something made from me in the welcome gift. I will put in practice your recommendations. I’m pretty sure they are going to love it!
Oooooh! It sounds like you have something very thoughtful planned! Have a lovely trip, Marilyn!!!
Thank you, Christine!
Thanks for your tips!
I’d rather give handmade gifts in private, before or after the party.
Caring handmade gifts are the best but there are some people who don’t share this idea ,nevertheless you can still be thoughtful picking something cute or using some nice wrapping.
Thanks Carlota! That’s a great way to do it…in private where it doesn’t get lost in the party shuffle. Thanks for sharing!
Love your ideas!!! I don’t even sew, but this makes me think twice :-))
Thanks Bethany 🙂
Your quilts are so pretty! Thanks for the tips!
I’ve gifted a couple baby quilts that weren’t all that well received, and it does sting. I also donated a throw size quilt and never saw that the person received it so that also feels very odd. But I think there’s still a special pleasure when one recipient really loves their gift so I continue to gift. 💕
Thanks for sharing Kindra! It’s true – those gifts that are well received make it worth it!