Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Request for advice...

I have a bit of a dilemma for which I could really use your advice.  But first, let me provide some background information.

I challenged my siblings to a homemade Christmas this year.  Each of us has some pretty awesome talents and this would be an easy way for us to continue to play with our hobbies while providing quality gifts to all.  For years we've drawn names (with 6 siblings and now three of us are married... that's a lot of people to have to buy for), but none of us is rolling in the dough, shall we say.  Which, even though we draw names, has become more of a hardship than a pleasantry.  The difficult part is that some of us are perfectly content spending money on manufactured items.  The other aspect that I haven't been able to understand is why we don't do it by family.  Why not do away with the name drawing altogether?  But that's not the dilemma...

Anyway, I have decided that no matter what the others do, Mr. BB and I are making our gifts.  The problem comes when I consider my sister-in-law (SIL).  This young lady and soon-to-be-mother is not exactly appreciative of handcrafted gifts.  My brother (we'll call him... B1 for first brother) has asked for items for the baby who will be born at the end of October.  However, SIL has not indicated that as her desire and has already had two (yes, I said two) baby showers.  I made a lovely sweater set and blanket for the first baby shower (and one of my sisters made a blanket as well).  

Last Christmas, I had made my youngest sister, her family, and my parents quilted Christmas stockings.  Naturally, it took a lot of time and thought.  My other siblings were instantly envious and gave their orders to me immediately.  B1 and SIL were married the previous summer and when I asked if they'd like personalized stockings as well, the offer was declined.  "But if you'd like to make a set to keep at your parents for when we celebrate there, go ahead."  No thank you, that's not how this works.  

Given the unappreciative nature of said future-parent, I'm hesitant to even make this poor child the  first Christmas gift of a quilted Christmas stocking!  I am truly afraid that it would either be destroyed before the child could grow up or that it would be "lost."  I'm considering asking my parents to keep it at their place until the child is an adult and can make up it's own mind.  (That's dilemma number one - What should I do about that?)

Furthermore, I have been given her name in the Christmas drawing.  I go round and round with what I should do.  Should I go ahead and make her something that I know she won't like - or at the very least appreciate?  Should I collect some local products to promote my new state (as you know we moved and now live several states from B1 and SIL)?  Should I just say "to hell with it" and buy her a gift card that she can use anywhere?  Is there another option?

*Sigh* Please help.  What would you do?

PS (added Sept. 22, 2010): It's been noted that this post feels angry.  I'm stuck, not angry.  I don't want to treat her differently, but she's been difficult for me to become acquainted.  To be honest, I'm leaning towards a gift card that way my feelings won't be hurt regardless.


  1. Well you know we like your gifts, and B is completely lost without her pink blanket! Is there a certain store she likes to shop at? Perhaps if you could figure that out and maybe find fabrics that resemble things you find at that store she would like them? Sometime it is just about how the fabrics look, Mom loves to make things very vibrant and bright where as I like them mellow and neutral tones. She makes me things the way I like them then comes and sees them and says it doesn't stand out enough and she is going to make a new one. To which I reply no thank you I like this one just like it is! Sometimes it is also just about the look some like traditional and or country others like things more contemporary. Maybe you could do a stocking in stripes with a cream and a bright color then applique the initial on it, just a thought... Good luck!!

  2. I have actually been on both ends of this dilemma, so my rule of thumb is this:
    If you know the recipient does not appreciate the time and effort that goes into a handmade gift, don't bother making her one! Buy her a gift card and be done with it. She will probably like her gift more, and you will not experience the resentment you would have when your handmade gift gets stashed in a closet or donated to Goodwill. There are plenty of people who appreciate the love and talent that goes into handmade gifts, so save your time for them.

  3. I have to agree with Michelle. There are some people in this world that are just not capable of being appreciative of your time and effort. I say buy her the gift card and spend all the extra time you have making something for someone who will appreciate it.

  4. You can lead a horse to water...

    If SIL isn't into it -- save the time and talent for someone who can appreciate it.

    My general rule about gifting is that the gift has to be about the recipient. If, in her ill-taught mind, gift cards are where it's at then go for it. I do think a basket of local goodies is a fantastic idea, just make sure it's something she'd like.

  5. There's the rub, MOB.

    Thanks for the advice, everyone!

  6. I am in agreement as well with Michelle. Don't put your heart into something that will not be appreciated.

    As for the stocking, what about a little Christmas ornament instead? Cute, inexpensive, and if it gets "lost", it's not like you put as much effort into it as you would a stocking.

    Good luck!

  7. I agree with Michelle too, I gave one of my first quilts (twin size) to a good friend..... and not long later saw it wadded in the greasy trunk of her car. Ahhh, that was horrible, after so much work!
    I have lots of friends who would love even a small table runner or placemat that's hand-made; I now make things for them. And maybe you could suggest they change things next year!

  8. I agree with MOB in that gift giving is about the recipient. While I am disappointed in anyone who fails to value what I think of as works of art - gifts made by hand - it seems best to give her a gift card or something like that. I might also be inclined to ask her what she wants.

    As for the stocking, she may well appreciate the stocking for her child and then want stockings for the whole family that match. Having kids changes some things, I find, and suddenly handmade gifts from family can become much more precious.

    I have to confess, I was one of those people who didn't always take good care of the gifts others made for me. There was a period in my life when that wasn't my priority, when I was more careless than is reasonable. I feel guilty about it to this day (thinking now of a lovely needlepoint pillow that my Aunt Tweet made, for instance). People do change, though. So work with what you have, is my advice, but remember it's not set in stone.