The Dos and Don'ts of Handmade Gifts for the Holidays

Should you have a DIY Christmas?
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Last week I shared a list of DIY gift ideas to make for your loved ones, and today I’m going to tell you to do the complete opposite. Well not exactly, but take this as a warning to save your DIY gifts for people you think will truly appreciate your efforts. Nothing is worse than someone not appreciating something that you’ve invested a lot of thought, love, and time into, like a hand-knitted sweater or intricate embroidery. 

It's important to make sure that your recipient will value and enjoy your gift, especially if you opt to DIY. There are a few ways to do this:

1. Think about your recipient

Should you be giving DIY gifts this holiday season?

Who will be receiving this gift?

Are they someone you’ve known for years, and have they seen you making things for other people? Or are they an acquaintance that you’ve been assigned to during Secret Santa? If it’s the latter, you might want to think again about a handmade gift simply because it's a very personal thing to give to someone you don’t know very well. Not only will it make them feel more comfortable to get something less personal, but opting away from handmade is a better use of your time in this case. 

2. Do your research

Should you be giving DIY gifts this holiday season?

Make sure you know what that person really wants.

I once spent a month knitting a scarf for my mom only to have her put it in the back of her wardrobe and never wear it. Why? Because I had knitted it in a color that she didn’t like to wear, and that didn’t match her overall style. The moral of the story is: do your research to avoid disappointment. Don’t spend hours making something that your recipient does not truly want (even if she appreciates your effort).

3. Make it obvious

Should you be giving DIY gifts this holiday season?

Add ribbons, tags, bows; make sure that they know YOU made this!

If you’ve already made a gift for someone who does not know much about DIY, they might not understand the effort it takes to create something from your own two own hands. They might not even realize that it’s handmade! It's generally a good idea to write on the card ‘here’s a handmade gift from me to you’. Or even the simple change of saying ‘I knitted this for you’ instead of ‘I got this for you’ can help the recipient understand its value.

Bonus: plan ahead

Should you be giving DIY gifts this holiday season?

Be prepared for the worst.

I’m sure all of you have seen the ‘expectation-reality’ photos online. The nature of DIY is inherently finicky—you could run out of thread before sewing your last seam, or spill some paint where you don’t want it—so be prepared to have your DIY projects not turn out exactly the way you want them to. When factoring in the hectic mood of the holiday season, make sure that you have enough time to do your DIYs, or at the very least, have a backup present in place.

How do you DIY your holiday gifts?

So there are my tips and tricks for making sure that your holiday season is made better, and not more stressful, by making DIY gifts. And remember if there’s doubt it your mind, it’s probably easier to buy something and make something for next year. After all, the holiday season is for spending time with the people you love, which is impossible to do if you’ve got five more presents to finish on Christmas Eve. 

How do you DIY your holiday gifts? Do you have any guidelines that you follow to ensure you aren't wasting your time and/or giving someone something they won't like or appreciate? Tell us in the comments!

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