Friday, November 26, 2010

Gifts: Does "Homemade" Equal "Cheap?"

How can you avoid the insanity of black Friday?  Make stuff!! I love to give homemade gifts.  I've been feverishly creating for the past month or so, and I'd love to show you what I'm giving this year!  But, many of my recipients are also followers so I can't spoil the'll all have to wait until AFTER Christmas!

I don't give homemade gifts because I am too cheap to go buy something, although I always have this feeling in the back of my mind that that's what people are thinking when they receive a homemade gift.  Maybe it's my own insecurity about giving something I've made...wondering if the recipient is just being nice by saying they like it. After all, they can't add "something Gretchen made" to their Amazon wish list.  So, I always find myself accompanying my hand made gifts with something store bought as well, which leaves me feeling like I've just undermined the value of my own gift and added to the home-made stigma.  It's all a little ironic when I think about it, because I know people around the world are paying for the things that I make on my website and in retail stores to give as gifts to others!

While making gifts may very well be a way to save some money, I have found that many times it really costs me the same, if not more, than what I would have spent on a store bought gift.  Especially if it is something that I haven't made in the past, that might require some materials and/or equipment that I didn't already own from a previous project.  One year I tried making soaps...they turned out okay but I found it wasn't really my thing and now all the supplies sit unused. (Which brings up another good point...thrift stores are a great place to find craft supplies from people who have given up on it!)

I guess in my mind, a homemade gift says so says that I thought about you not just in the instant that I grabbed something on a store shelf so I could cross you off my shopping list, but for the hours, days, and sometimes weeks it took me to create your one-of-a-kind gift.

These days, time is money.  Especially to me, a work-from-home mom, who could easily fill up all of my "me time" doing my freelance design work, for which I get paid by the minute.  Or a weekend doing a face painting gig...where I get $75 for one hour of work.  When you think of it in terms of how much money I could have made in the same amount of time spent working on a gift, suddenly the "value" really shoots up!  I mean, you can crochet an hour every night for a couple months to make an afghan!  Not to mention EASILY spend $30+ on the yarn alone.  I know certain color schemes go out of style, but I'm always so sad to see beautiful handmade afghans hanging in the thrift stores by the dozens for a couple bucks.  But I digress..

I'm not trying to bash store bought gifts.  It's really fun when you can find just the perfect thing that you know someone really wants or can really use, and like I said, I usually add something store bought with my homemade items. But, it does make me think, why couldn't I scrap the store bought item?  Or at least not complete some homemade gift and then rack my brain over what store bought item to "add to it" to make it a "better gift" that measures up to the dollar amount everyone else spent?  It would be really fun one year to just agree with the family to only give homemade gifts. You wouldn't even have to be artistic...think of the fun seeing everyone's creative sides come out!  Maybe you write a poem, or make up a song, bake something delicious, or make IOU's for an activity to do together!

I've always enjoyed giving photo gifts from sites like Shutterfly and Snapfish, and have even had a couple custom designed puzzles made for my grandparents.  These seem to be a nice blend of homemade and store bought...they carry the store bought price tag and perceived value but also the personal, one-of-a-kind touch of being homemade.  When I make something, I always like to add a little home-made tag to go on it as well.  It gives it that fancy gift feel like something from a store, and gives you a place to call out the fact that this was hand made by you and maybe even describe the process you go through to make it.

I guess my point is this: If you're a recipient of a homemade gift, don't assume the giver is just being cheap...take their investment of time as a great compliment.  And if you're giving homemade gifts, take pride in the fact that you are giving a gift that nobody else on the planet is getting from anyone else!  After all, years down the road, chances are these are the things that will really last and you'll want to hang on to for generations!


  1. Great post, Gretch. There are some people on my list this year who are getting all home-made. And one point about the cost in dollars, even if it ends up costing the same or more, the fact that I'm buying supplies over several months, spreads out the cost, so it does help financially as well. Can't wait to see what you've made this year!

  2. I agree, I didn't have time to pull it off last year (and someone commented that I was trying to "ill people" giving them braided rag rugs (?!?!!?!) so that got scrapped...but I'm going to make it a goal to do this year for holidays and at least half of the birthdays! and I'd buy your soap making supplies off of you:) I've always wanted to try that! :)



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