“I don’t want a handmade gift”

A few years ago I decided to make a gorgeous red poncho for my friend’s daughter as a Christmas present. I’d seen it in the book ‘Making Children’s Clothes’ by Emma Hardy.

red poncho

The poncho was meant to be a surprise but I needed to know her daughter’s size. Excitedly I rang my friend to ask her what size her daughter was. After some suspicious questioning on her part, she cottoned on that I was going to make something for her daughter’s Christmas present. She didn’t seem as pleased about this as I’d hoped. There was not even a hint of delight in her voice. After a short awkward silence she said to me “Can you just get her a toy?”

If we were in a film there would be some dramatic music right now, gripping the audience, wondering what would happen next. What would excited honourable friend, with good intentions say? Would there be an explosion? Would there be tears? Was their 19 year friendship about to come to an unfortunate crashing end?

No, none of these things happened, sorry to disappoint you, but this is reality, not the movies after all. I don’t even remember the toy I bought her, it wasn’t as memorable as the poncho would have been. But I was left very disheartened and not wanting to make things as gifts ever again. So much time, thought, care, love and attention goes into giving a handmade present, but if its not appreciated then what’s the point?

Three years down the line I have gotten over this experience. So after a request from my husband to make his goddaughter something for her 2nd birthday, I took the bull by the horns and I made her the ever popular Izzy top. After all, who doesn’t love the Izzy top?

floral Izzy top

Last time I made one I used a heavy cotton, but this time I went for a light polycotton with an unusual floral print. I tried it on Scout with a pair of jeans and it looked too cool for school. Scout really wanted to keep it and it did look great so seems like I’m going to have to make another one.

We gave the top to my husbands goddaughter last weekend and we received a generic group email to say thank you. Not exactly the response I was hoping for, and certainly not how I would have responded to a handmade gift or any gift for that matter.

I’m not upset by this but I am thinking I should just stop right now, no more handmade gifts. What do you think?

28 thoughts on ““I don’t want a handmade gift”

  1. Great story! 🙂 I’d say persevere with the wonderful handmade gifts, you just haven’t found the right recipient as yet! When you do they will be suitably thrilled (maybe tearing up slightly) and it will seem worth the effort..
    My mum gave many knitted/sewed/crafted gifts over the years; some people may have been secretly disappointed not to get a generic shop bought gift, but most were delighted and years later still talk to me about her creations and how personal and thoughtful they were..they’re a precious memory, lasting far longer than a forgettable toy..x
    (Ps the only time it didn’t work was when my mum tried to sew 12 yr old me a pair of ‘Levi’s’ dungarees, from green curtain fabric..not exactly the cool fashion statement I was hoping to make lol)


    • Yes, I suppose some of us are just fans of handmade and others couldn’t care less. I just need to know which ones are which.

      Thank you so much for your nomination. I am thrilled. It’s taking a while to answer the questions, make up some new ones and find some suitable blogs to nominate, but I’m getting there.


  2. Oh, how very disappointing! I’d say, don’t completely give up on handmade gifts, but choose your recipients sparingly. Only those who appreciate them, deserve them. If someone seems impressed by the fact that I sew most of my daughter’s clothes, I figure they are in the deserving category. Hope your next gift is met with appropriate enthusiasm!


  3. I like you decided not to make any handmade gifts anymore, except for my mom and kids. I think handmade gifts are often under valued which is really sad. But funny story, my sister in law just had a baby girl and I bluntly asked her if she wanted be to get her gift certificate at Zara or if she rather I make her a little outfit. I was pleasantly surprised when she said a handmade gift. It took me 6 months to make and gave it to her this weekend and she seemed really pleased. From now on I am just going to straight out ask. You can always send me a handmade gift! Super cute top by the way. And thanks for commenting on my little blog- I have loved discovering yours and I am your newest Pinterest follower too.


    • That’s a great idea, just ask them first. You can’t go too wrong that way. I’m intrigued to know what took 6 months to make. Did you sew a stuffed animal for every letter of the alphabet?

      Thank you, I haven’t been following your blog that long, but I love it. And I have just worked out that I have been following you on Pinterest for years, I think you were one the very first people I started following. I’ve only just put two and two together and realised you are one. Great Pins!

      I’ll make you a handmade gift if you make me one 😉


      • I would appreciate it. Thankfully most people I know seem to like it. We also give things that aren’t as permanent like jam for example. But there’s been a few flushes of new babies and I make them crocheted sheep for example. The cute factor seems to win. My mother has problems when she makes things for some people; they don’t always realise what’s involved in an amazing quilt!


  4. I’d say keep with the handmade gifts. Not everyone is going to appreciate them, but the love and time that you put in them benefits not only them, but you.

    Plus, some people don’t understand how to properly say thank you for anything. Don’t let it atop your creativity, or your thoughtful heart.


  5. No never stop but be choosey of who you do it for, make sure they are worthy! I have similar stories but for Christmas this last year I gave my cousin (like a younger brother) a quilt. He picked me up with tears in his eyes and asked what took you so long! It was worth every snub I ever got. I cried with tears of joy!


  6. I really enjoyed reading this post. I never gave any thought to someone not appreciating a handmade gift. I thought it was like a no-brainer. Silly me. It now makes me think…..hmm…how many people thought I was being a cheapskate for making a gift for their baby shower or kids birthday. I’m going to try to pay more attention to people’s reaction to my gifts, just in case I’m missing obvious clues.



  7. Pingback: Hands up for handmade | Needle and Ted

  8. don’t stop with the handmade. your talents are unique and you have a passion that is beautiful. I do agree with other commenters, however, that you just haven’t found the right recipient. sad reality that there are “right” people to make stuff for and that all people can’t appreciate handmade gifts that are as lovely and masterfully constructed as yours. I’ve actually gotten tired of store-bought things, especially for my kiddos because they aren’t unique and my kids don’t really need another toy, but a handmade, personalized treasure is one-of-a-kind and you can never have too many of those!


  9. I totally related to your story. I make handmade glass gifts ( jewelry, lamps , windchimes etc. ) but often I find their reception is less than enthusiastic and will likely never be used . Sometimes I feel like I’ve wasted my time but since I gave it with good intentions and love – I let it go. Years ago, I read a charming little poem about giving a homemade gift when you are nervous and proud all at the same time – worrying that they may hate it. I cannot find that poem anywhere but it would be perfect in giving my gifts when I am not certain that they would like it . If you have ever seen that poem, would you be able to send it to me please? Thank you so very much and keep on making your gifts – they are heirloom treasures I’m sure! Mare Black


  10. Crafters are doing something for themselves when they make something. Most people don’t want your handmade creations and it’s selfish to think they do want them. I’ve been the recipient of far too many unwanted blankets, wall hangings and knick knacks – off to Goodwill.


    • Hi Rowan, yes crafters may be ‘doing something for themselves’ when they make things, or they may not be, there are many different situations. But also it is perfectly fine to do things for other people.

      When you say ‘most people’ I assume that is coming from your feelings rather than your findings. If you have had far too many unwanted blankets, wall hangings and knick knacks then I understand where you are coming from and your disappointment.

      As it happens, the person I was referring to in my blog post has since asked me on numerous occasions to make clothes for her daughter (with payment). It has been many years since I wrote this post and my skills have improved somewhat. I can now confidently say that A LOT of people would like to receive a handmade gift from me because what I make is equal to and sometimes more superior than what you might find on the high street. BUT only the lucky ones (very lucky ones) will receive my handmade gifts 😉

      P.S. Had to look up your reference to Goodwill, we don’t have Goodwill here in the UK.


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