As the holidays are quickly approaching, questions arise about gift-giving etiquette. How much is it appropriate to spend on a gift? Should you get a gift for all of your professors or just your favorites? If someone gets you a gift, are you obligated to get them one in return?
The right way to get a person a gift is a yearly topic of debate. Everyone has their own experiences and thus their own expectations for how gift exchange should work and opinions about what is and isn’t appropriate.
It can generally be assumed that most of us will have at least one gift-giving obligation this holiday season.
One option that some may choose to explore is homemade gifts. Depending on the materials required, this choice could be more cost effective. For some, it also might make the gift more meaningful.
On the other hand, there is a lot more work that goes into handmade gifts, and they might require a certain level of creative skill. So, are gifts made by hand really worth sacrificing the convenience of store-bought gifts?
Store-bought is still sentimental
Here’s the deal — if you would like a half-baked card made out of a folded 8.5-by-11 sheet of brown construction paper with “Merry Christmas” scribbled in bleeding red and green marker, or if you want a dozen burnt and sunken cookies with their sugar still waiting in the measuring cup on the counter, then I’m your guy.
I’ve always found it incredibly difficult to make homemade gifts. As a child, I had these ideas for gifts of grandeur, constructed with masterful designs in mind, yet the finished product never lived up to my expectations.
One Christmas Eve when I was in middle school, my mom unwrapped my gift to her: a mason jar painted purple. That was it.
I think whether you’re choosing to make a homemade gift versus buying a store-bought gift, you’ll find there’s only one significant difference: time. Even now, the thought of crafting someone a gift seems unnecessarily stressful and time-consuming when I can simply log into my Amazon account and order gifts for my friends, dogs, parents and sibling all in one fell swoop.
I’m a college student. I’m busy. Between work, classes and late nights, buying gifts is the last thing on my to-do list. If I can save up gift ideas for friends and family throughout the year and order them all in one go, I save time and frustration that I can’t afford to lose at 2 a.m. on a Sunday night before a biology exam.
Homemade gifts are too time-intensive and cost the same amount as a store-bought gift would. If I’m able to pick out a thoughtful gift online or from a store, why bother consuming time and effort when it’s already consuming the last crumpled dollars in my bank account?
I think it’s a common misconception that store-bought gifts are impersonal. Just because I’m incapable of making someone a decent homemade gift doesn’t mean the gifts I buy are less valuable.
I mean, if you spend two minutes picking out a gift from the Target clearance section, the chances of it getting thrown away within two seconds are pretty high. If you take some time to buy a well-thought-out gift, though, the value is going to be just as high as any homemade gift. Plus, there’s no pressure coming from worrying about artistic ability.
If you’re worried about disappointing your gift receiver, I think you’ll find that asking what they want prior to purchase is a wise decision. Although the gift won’t necessarily be a surprise, at least you know whatever you give them will be put to good use.
Ultimately, if you’re giving someone a gift out of kindness or affection, they’re going to love it — even if it’s just a mason jar painted purple.
Homemade makes memories
You’ve heard it said thousands of times: “I don’t care what you get me as a present as long as it’s from the heart.”
Truth be told, they probably do care, but the holidays aren’t for generosity. The holidays are for practicality. For this reason, homemade gifts are better, as they are less expensive and show you care.
This holiday season, most college students do not have the funds to go to the store and buy their family members and friends gifts. On top of that, it can be stressful picking out a gift for someone because the odds of them returning the gift or hating it are never zero.
It doesn’t have to be anything elaborate. A simple homemade card is sure to make any relative or friend smile.
The best solution is to make a gift yourself. Your parents will delight at getting a hand-drawn Christmas tree because they’ll appreciate the fact you put in the time to get them something at all. Your friends will laugh at your hand-drawn Christmas tree because, unless you are actually good at art, it’s probably a little lopsided.
That’s what makes the holidays enjoyable. It isn’t in the elaborate and expensive gifts but rather the gifts that people can find shared joy in. The memories that come from the gift are more priceless than any store-bought item.
With this approach, you’re not only saving money. You are also saving time. It takes a few minutes to fold up a heartfelt card, and it spreads the joy of the season.
On top of that, you’re helping the environment. By opting to create gifts by yourself, you are cutting down on the plastic waste and manufacturing processes of large corporations, and you avoid buying into the overpriced consumerism of the holiday season. Perhaps that is the broke college student in me talking, but I will cut corners anywhere to save a dollar or two. Homemade holiday gifts are the solution here because they are easy and cheap to create.
You may be thinking, “But wouldn’t they rather have something they can use? Something of material value?” Well, if they’re a material girl like Madonna, then yeah, maybe they would prefer that. It’s ultimately your call because you know the people close to you the best.
The memory of making and sharing a homemade gift as well as the joy that sentiment can bring to those closest to you will be something they carry with them longer than a diamond ring or a car. Those things go out of style. They are nice to receive in the moment, but they are easily forgotten. Your words, your character, and the meaning you have to people won’t be forgotten as easily.
Homemade gifts are the perfect opportunity to exploit that meaning and give people gifts that can never be replaced. Make your loved ones feel bad about buying you something by making them feel loved and cared for with homemade sentiment.