Tuesday, December 16, 2008

What NOT to Give

Occasionally people ask me for suggestions on what to get their nearest and dearest for gifts. Since I am an oldest child and full of opinions, I will share my hard earned knowledge of Gift Don'ts in the hopes of helping others.

Don't waste your precious sewing time on people who don't understand the value of hand made gifts. You know who they are. The kind of person who says when you give them handmade pajamas, "I can buy this at WalMart for $10!" Oh Really? Next year, lump of sewing coal for you! This person does not understand handmade. They do not DESERVE a handmade gift. They are the people for whom the cold impersonal Gift Card was invented.
Don't give gifts that are meant to improve the other person. This is only implies that the other person is in need of improvement. Also very few people enjoy being improved.
Examples of such gifts: Mr. Hunting Creek is a lefty and is, how shall we say, handwriting challenged. A kind person would say that this is not a flaw, but an advantage! It's like his own personal shorthand! He can make notes no one but Chloe on 24 can read! His own mother (!!!) once gave him a Calligraphy Kit. He was Not Amused. Other gifts in this category include giving expensive clothes one size too small to encourage weight loss, and diet books. Bah Humbug!

I once had a boss who read every self help book ever published. Every Christmas he would send the latest to our team as gifts. Even worse, he would write in the book, thus diminishing its resale/regifting value! If a person wants a self help book, they will buy it themselves. That's why they call them "Self Help Books" not "Somebody Else Help" Books.

Do you want to really spread Holiday Cheer?
A nicer present would be to offer to teach someone to sew, or help them sew something themselves. These would be people who have expressed a desire to learn, so you can both have fun.
For your sewing friends, you could make a sewing gift card. Or invite those friends to a sewing party at your home, with fun snacks, and all sew together and have a nice visit. You could make a nice little gift card invitation and package it with some cute notions, like pretty buttons.

Good gift example: my sister gave me some beautiful fabric and a pattern for Christmas last year. She had it all packaged together with a super cute pincushion shaped like an easy chair. This was much appreciated. (Of course I love that fabric so much I have not yet cut it, but that's not her fault.)

I have heard horror stories of mothers in law who gave Joy of Cooking to professional noncooking daughters in law, men who gave hardware store gift certificates to their nonhandy girlfriends, and all time best - a gift of cookies in which a couple had been sampled. I am not making this up.

The wrong gifts can ruin relationships. While in High school, I made a lovely shirt for my then-boyfriend. It was a thing of beauty. He gave me...a teakettle. We broke up not long after that, and I know now that our gift incompatibility was one of the reasons.
The Holiday season is fraught with Gift Pitfalls. If we have friends who don't like or understand homemade gifts, it's clear that we need to give something that they understand or make new friends.
I'm baking cookies and making ornaments today, and I know the recipients will love both things. I hope that your efforts are equally appreciated.
Happy sewing!


cidell said...

Awesome commentary with some genuinely good advice.

The Slapdash Sewist said...

"Lump of sewing coal" LOL Very funny. I was actually given that edition of Joy of Cooking for Christmas by a boyfriend one year...but it was the perfect gift for me. The ballerina figurine my mom gave me a couple years ago--not so much.

Lindsay T said...

Love the boss and the self-help books story. I once had a boss who gave everyone poinsettias. We were not allowed to take them home, and then he would inspect them and criticize us if he felt the plants were not thriving to his liking. I've never been able to look at a poinsettia in the same way again.

neighbourhood.gal said...

Excellent post! Very true about the handmade pyjamas for only $10 at Big Box King. Sewing in my basement is just not cheaper than sweatshops, sorry.