Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Is it Gift Giving or....Gift-Card Giving??

Last night at book club, after we finished discussing our book, our discussion turned to the coming Holiday season and the rituals we all have for gift giving.

In our discussion, many of my book buddies were lamenting the fact that their family gift exchanges have turned into gift-card exchanges rather than gift exchanges Gift cards are less risky...they're a safer bet for a present and are certainly easier to purchase than the old-fashioned present. As a result, there seems to be this cosmic shift toward gift cards as gifts. Ugh.

I suppose that gift cards have their place, but the proliferation of their existence makes me wax poetic for the old-fashioned, hand-selected or handmade, gift from the heart.

My sister reminded me of a childhood memory when my bachelor Uncle bought a fancy negligee for his spinster Aunt and how the whole family hooted and hollered when she opened the slinky nighty. Or, when my Dad painted us each old wooden Army lockers and put locks on them all so we could hide our stuff from our siblings...

What happened to the gift from the heart? Have we gotten too busy to just stop and think for a few minutes what we could do for someone else that would be meaningful? One of the best gifts I ever got was a dinner party from my sister and her husband...they cooked, they cleaned up, we invited the friends and we had a ball!

And for me, after ten years, I still treasure the handmade buttons my niece Carolyn made for me out of fimo clay and sewed to a button card when she was about six years old because she knew I loved buttons...


AND the blue wrap that Carolyn knitted for me 9 years later that I wear all winter long.

Or the sign that Jack made from discarded "treasures" found on the floor of Home Depot that he made for Jim one year to hang in his garage...


He found the objects, he painted, he wrote, he nailed and then twisted the wire and I know Jim loves it.

Or two years ago when Jack made this Duct Tape Wallet from the Family Fun website...


Jack made one for his grandfather too and my Dad still loves to pull it out when he's out to lunch with his guy friends.

Personally, this Santa scarf is one of my absolute faves and it came from The Caroll Duvall Show on HGTV...


We must have made many of these scarves over the years and, the only change I would make, is to sew down rather than glue down the pieces if you really want it to last year to year. I wish I had a better picture of my Mom wearing it but blurry is better than nothing.


Which reminds me...One thing I wish I had remembered to do more of is to take pictures of the present-making process...and make those part of the present as well...


And then, of course, I wish I had more pictures of the giver and the receiver together like this one...


This blanket was made from two yards of fleece. The funniest part of this gift was trying to make the eye shades to block out the light...Believe it or not those spidery looking things were Jack's versions of Jim's eyeballs that we printed on fabric and cut out to sew on the outside of the eye shades...


So, I don't know about you, but I am re-committed to the idea of the personalized, hand-made gift. And lucky for me, I stumbled upon the STC Craft|Melanie Falick site where she is making available 20 different free patterns from her different publications. Thank you Melanie! And thanks to Betz White for telling us about it.

I have downloaded the PDF for these...for free!!!


And I've always admired these flower washcloths made from cotton chenille. I think they make a great gift along with some special bars of soap...


And if those ideas aren't enough, Betz White is hosting an online Felt + Stitch Holiday Online workshop beginning October 12. So check it out. I first found Betz through her book, Warm Fuzzies, which is chock-full of felted and accomplish-able projects which would make perfect gifts. I'm also a huge fan of her Cup O'Joe pincushions which she will be teaching to our Guild next Monday.

I'd love to hear about some of your most special gifts, whether given or received.

20 comments:

Carol said...

Wonderful post!! We are certainly on the same wave-length! I have been just thinking things up like crazy to make for Christmas presents this year. The washcloths you posted would be treasured by many on my list. Thanks for the links.

Yes, you are right. Those presents that the kids made for us are the most special. I still have a little car that Laurie made for her dad out of a walnut and buttons because he collects Hot Wheels, and so many other things.

Wonderful post!!

Carol said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Carol said...

Wonderful post!! We are certainly on the same wave-length! I have been just thinking things up like crazy to make for Christmas presents this year. The washcloths you posted would be treasured by many on my list. Thanks for the links.

Yes, you are right. Those presents that the kids made for us are the most special. I still have a little car that Laurie made for her dad out of a walnut and buttons because he collects Hot Wheels, and so many other things.

Wonderful post!!

Carol said...

Wonderful post!! We are certainly on the same wave-length! I have been just thinking things up like crazy to make for Christmas presents this year. The washcloths you posted would be treasured by many on my list. Thanks for the links.

Yes, you are right. Those presents that the kids made for us are the most special. I still have a little car that Laurie made for her dad out of a walnut and buttons because he collects Hot Wheels, and so many other things.

Wonderful post!!

Carol said...

OmGosh, blogger went nuts!!

I forgot to say that I HATE gift cards. Too inpersonal and undependable in these tough economic times.

Carol said...

OmGosh, blogger went nuts!!

I forgot to say that I HATE gift cards. Too inpersonal and undependable in these tough economic times.

Carol said...

OmGosh, blogger went nuts!!

I forgot to say that I HATE gift cards. Too inpersonal and undependable in these tough economic times.

black bear cabin said...

its a bummer when everyone resorts to gift cards, though i enjoy receiving one or two myself as long as there is something else to open too :) I love to purchase the item, then call the sender and tell them what i bought with the card.

I send my nephews gift cards every year for Barnes and Noble, and my sisters say they make a special trip there to pick out items with their card. She says it teaches them the value of the dollar, and they look forward to it every year....sort of like a family outing!

However, i myself, LOVE to create gifts for family and friends. I also enjoy picking just the right gift out for someone...but then, i always did enjoy giving more than receiving.

fun post...thanks for sharing!

Maureen said...

If you pass this around, perhaps more people wouldn't buy gift cards. In the past year or two, there was a report about how many gift cards don't get used. I no longer have the article but it amounted to millions of dollars a year of your money being kept by the stores. People lose the gift cards, forget about them, throw them out with the wrapping, or just don't have anything they want to buy with them. It was an eye-opener for me. I certainly don't want to give gifts to the stores so I never give gift cards! I've had a gift card in my wallet that I've had for three years and I keep forgetting it when I go to that store. I don't even know if they'll honor it now.

Dees said...

You are sooooo right! We don't take the time anymore to really get to know someone (even if they're close to us) and then ponder about what would really make them happy!
A great gift doesn't have to be material. A homemade gift is far more precious on any occasion!
I hope lots and lots of people read your post and get their gift-giving straightened out.

a2susan said...

The gifts I treasure the most are anything that my kids made me, or bought me with their own money.

For my "creativity group" that meets monthly for over ten years now, we do exchange holiday gifts. I always write a note to the 3 women telling them how much their friendship means, and that is my gift.

I love the Daddy Loves Naps blanket/eye cover set and the picture of Jack and "daddy" on the bed.

Susan

pam T said...

LOL, looks like Carol was really trying to get her point across!
Great post Susan. I think my favorite gift was when I admired a pair of boots at a store last year (right when I found out I had cancer) and Sam wanted to get them for me and Tom had to go to two different stores to find them because they were gone and I ended up being along when he bought them but he had sent me to a different part of the store when he paid for them... I was truly surprised by them when I opened the box. It just made me think that they went through so much WORK to get me something I really liked. You are right though, handmade things are SO special. I always try to make at least one thing for the closest people on my list.

Judy S. said...

Great post....again! I, too, have read the same article Maureen mentioned. Very interesting. Thanks for the great giftie link, lots of fun projects there. BTW, I love your new header. How'd you do it?

Sheila said...

Ha! It's that time of year when we all hunker down that first crisp morning and realize that we're staring Christmas down a very short tunnel. I just started knitting Annie a fuzzy green neck wrap - and a hat to go with, if there's enough yarn. Just have to work on it when she's not around, which is fitting it in with all the other things to do during the school hours. I can't get to your pictures yet, but will check back in tomorrow. Can't wait to see them! I bet they're fun, after reading the other comments.

Wanda said...

Oh Susan...it's like our lives have run a similar course in so many ways! I cried looking at your hand-made gifts and it brought back so many wonderful memories!! We grew up making gifts for mom and dad, grandma and grandpa. When we were really little, a seashell from Florida with magic marker smily face was normal. And as we got older, the presents got better. The "Dad's Garage" reminds me of a guitar man I made for my grandpa....probably in the early 70's. It's such a shame that no one took pictures of these treasures, made with so much love and care. My grandma still has many of them...like a keychain holder with everyone's name on it spelled out in noodles!!!! Thanks for the great post!!

pam ehlers stec said...

A terrific and timely post, Susan! I loved seeing the wonderful gifts that your family has made. This past week I began working on handmade gifts for the holiday season. I grew up in a wonderfully creative family and we've always exchanged handmade gifts. I usually make stuff for my husband's family as well even though they are more of the gift card giving crowd. My girlfriends always get handmade things. Last year I knitted those wonderful flower washcloths in cream, sage green and dusky purple and made soap infused with lavender for many of the girls on my gift list. I've got lots of ideas in my head for gifts this year and I'll try to post some on my blog later this week.

Allison Ann Aller said...

My stepniece made me a huge woolen scarf when she was just learning to knit...the wool is scrumptiously heavy and the green my favorite color. It weighs a ton.

I LOVE IT!

Lynn said...

We have a tradition in our house. We draw a name around Thanksgiving and the rule is the gift has to be handmade. We exchange on Christmas Eve and it is so much fun to see what everyone comes up with.

I wish I could hand make every gift I give. Sometimes though I'm not sure the recipient would appreciate it or think I am being 'cheap'.

Sabii Wabii said...

I love "Daddy loves naps". Too cute.
I also love your large photos...how did you do that with blogger?
Inquiring minds what to know...
Terisa

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