Monday, 31 October 2011

The C Word

OK. So, I do kind of half despise myself as some kind of terrible low-rent Martha Stewart-Kirstie Allsopp hybrid, but, today when I went out to buy a fondue burner (seriously, I am a martyr to that fondue), I just happened upon one or two things and I may have bought them
I am suspecting very strongly that Martha Stewart would have got the marks out of that formica
to make Christmas presents with. Because, readers, this year, we are having a homemade Christmas. If you are wincing right now, then, rest assured I am wincing with you, because I am entirely 50-50 on homemade presents. On the one hand, if I get into the swing early enough that I make bits over the months leading up, it isn’t that much trouble, it is fun, and means I avoid the terrible Christmas Eve Shopping Trip of Doom, which always finds me standing despairingly in Waterstones at 3:59pm wondering whether to pay £14.99 for a calendar with hamsters on it. On the other hand, if I don’t get into the swing, the same time will find me in our spare room crying tears of neat brandy over a sewing machine and a bit of ric rac.
The pride of Lakeland Plastics. I love Lakeland Plastics and I want the kind of life where you know what to do with an egg poacher and put cedar in your wardrobe. I think Pam has cedar in her wardrobe
Have you noticed, in any book on thrift/ handmade living/ general eco-y-ness you ever read, they will tell you you will save money making homemade presents? Readers, here is the truth: it is generally not cheaper to handmake anything unless your normal point of reference is Harrods. Yes you can possibly save money if you craft things regularly and have equipment and lots of leftovers (and then use them rather than thinking, it is for xx! Xx is special! I shall buy cashmere!, even when xx is the window cleaner and you have only exchanged 3 words in the last 6 months) or start saving jam jars in March, but, if you get to November and suddenly have a yen to make people something where you have to buy equipment and there is a learning curve then trust me, it will cost you just as much money as if you had just gone straight to John Lewis and bought one in a packet (and then to the pub after).

It has always been my experience that to make something nice, you must throw one or more of the following at it: skill, money, or time. So, if you are going to knit someone a giant garter stitch scarf and you do it in cashmere, it will be beautiful and well-received but it will be extortionate, although, some people (and my own loved ones actually don’t think this, or if they do they disguise it well, well done family) think if you handmake anything you are cheap. Or you are doing it as a strange perversion of the competitive instinct which you should have satisfied by climbing the corporate ladder, not putting feminism back 30 years by floating about knowing one end of a knitting needle from another (no I don’t think this is the standard feminist view. But yes I have encountered it!). And to make things worse, we will soon be getting a slew of mad articles that will tell us to make things for Christmas presents that honestly no-one wants and which will require enormous initial expenditure on things like glue guns. So you see my moral dilemma.
Why, could that really be Stylecraft Special DK in a rather challenging colour combination? Might someone be in for a treat?
But, this is why I do it (when I have the energy). I genuinely like giving people things. I think often with the gifts we give it’s not actually about giving something someone needs (although, I am going to call out my own hypocrisy here, because for my birthday my parents gave me part of a shed. So, sometimes people do really need part of a shed), it’s a token to say, hello, Merry Christmas, I have been thinking of you. And with handmade presents you really have been thinking of them, and not for the 10 minutes it takes you to buy the hamster calendar in Waterstones and swear. And you know I love handmade things and think they are better, so if I am feeling generous I would rather give someone something that would be a treat for me. But does that mean it is a treat for them? You see, it is difficult. Anyway, homemade Christmas it is this year, for better or worse, and I have made a list and everything, which I will hide from Partner as if he found it he would be quite sarcastic. And if you will excuse me, I am off now to google food colouring paste because you would not believe the price of it. (At least I don’t need a glue gun).


GirlAnachronismE said...

I think a handmade Christmas is a brilliant idea! And the great thing about handmade gifts is that people know how much thought, time and effort went into them

Alittlebitsheepish said...

I love making gifts, despite the pregifting madness. Food gifts are super, they can be simple to make and don't clutter up the house of the recipient, they eat it and its gone (so you can give them more next year!). Cookie mix jars and chocolate truffles have gone down well, this year it is going to be raspberry vodka, yum!

Anonymous said...

Most of my gifts go through the post, so no squishy or heavy things and the recipients make things for themselves anyway. I love nice home crafted things very much indeed but sometimes people who just aren't very good at making stuff send stuff (not to me, I've always got lucky) that is just a bit hideous and then get sniffy because they were not received very well. They need to realise it should be of a certain standard to give (in my view at least). I just think it is important to match the gift to the person and think, would they like it? If the answer is yes then home made is the best; I mean a nice hand knitted scarf is better than a nice bought one. But if you can't make a nice one, then please buy it! I used to love my home made cardigans and dressed dolls when I was little purely because they were lovely.

The guardian article was funny wasn't it? The readers weren't holding back were they. As if anyone would want any of that tat! Blue Peter did better than that.

You are quite right about the cost involved. Not cheap at all!

Lisa said...

I did a handmade Christmas last year, and realised that some family members really would just prefer a gift voucher. Weird! So this year I am making things for the people who like having handmade things, and the rest I will buy from the store.

Anyway, good on you for giving it a go! I think one of the best things about handmaking everything last year was that I learnt a lot of new skills (and that is always good!) ^_^

AC said...

I usually love receiving homemade gifts, but I recently had a co-worker go on a rant about how much she hates them and how terrible they always are. It made me think twice about it...

Denise said...

My nerves couldn't handle a hand knitted Christmas this year. It's back to my old stand-by homemade fudge.