In the interest of full disclosure I really want to try to do Homemade Christmas next year. My son will be 23 months and I think it may be our last chance to do it before he’s old enough to get full-blown Christmas toy fever. I love the idea of having to devote thought, time and talent into a gift instead of just running into Wal-Mart and picking up a hand lotion gift set. Plus, it’s pocketbook and environmentally friendly.
I think everyone would agree that it’s fine to give cookies or some other yummy homemade treat to neighbors, casual friends and holiday party hosts. Baked goods in a festive tin or a decorated Mason jar full of dry ingredients for cookies or soup with the recipe card attached make thoughtful and affordable gifts.
As much as I love homemade gifts, there are some people who should not receive them. Kids don’t understand the thought and consideration behind handmade presents. For the vast majority of children, if it’s not on their Christmas list, they don’t want it. It’s sad but it’s true. Don’t set yourself up for disappoint by giving a homemade gift to a child aged 2 to 16.
It’s also important not to try to save money by giving away cookies or a small token of appreciation in lieu of a holiday tip or bonus. That’s like going out to eat and not tipping in order to save money. It is unacceptable. If you can’t afford to tip, you shouldn’t go out to eat. If you can’t afford to give a holiday bonus, you shouldn’t have the service or employee, or at the very least you should address it with them well before Christmas. People like housekeepers, gardeners, nannies, childcare workers and doormen are usually expecting some sort of monetary bonus at the holidays. It’s also nice to give an extra tip to hairdresser or nail technicians with whom you have a regular appointment.
If you want to dress-up a cash gift or make it seem a little more personal you can put the gift on a prepaid credit card or buy some of those cute “Santa Bucks” from a drugstore or supermarket (they’re just regular money with a Santa sticker over the picture of the president.). Once I received a jar full of gold Sacagawea dollars. It was a cute way to receive a cash gift. At the very least you could include a kind note or a picture of your family with the money.
As for other handmade presents, only you know if you are actually crafty and talented and are capable of making quality goods. I know people who are very artistic from whom I would love to receive an item they knitted, crocheted, painted or sculpted. Some people can make beautiful homemade candles, soaps or wood-worked items that would also make wonderful gifts. Think outside the box. Maybe you can bead jewelry, make a mix CD or create a personal calendar. Just remember, no one is going to love the Popsicle stick picture frame or handprint ornament your child made except you, your spouse and the grandparents. And not everyone is going to appreciate how special a handmade present can be – even a really great one. You have to know your audience and know your own talent and limitations.