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Don’t be THIS kind of gift-giver…

A chat about gift-giving

The holidays are super-busy and stressful. All that shopping! All that traveling!

And a lot of us crafters feel the added pressure of making handmade gifts for those that we love.

I know this is going to be a controversial post… but I’m going to encourage you to think twice before making handmade gifts for friends and family. Think about whether the person will actually want and appreciate the gift. Otherwise, you’re spending a lot of your time on a gift that just doesn’t work… trust me, I’ve been there!

A Story

My mom is over-the-moon excited that she’s going to have a granddaughter. Seriously. I think if she won a million dollar lottery, she’d be only 10% as excited as she is right now.

And she’s a keen shopper and bargain hunter. The trouble is that she’s purchased a number of items that are either just plain impractical for our tiny home. (for example, we don’t have space in our living room for a stand-alone bassinet… it’s already a room that doubles as my office and shipping room!)

I don’t want to sound ungrateful, but I’m going to tell you a truth about gift-giving: the best gift is one that the recipient actually wants or needs.


Otherwise, your gift becomes a burden for the recipient to manage instead of the bundle of joy you intended it to be.

You see, we often give gifts that we want to give instead of giving gifts that others want to receive. Keep reading… and I’ll tell you why this insight has saved me oodles of time this holiday season!

Let’s get honest about handmade gifts

A few years ago, I used to make handmade gifts for everyone on my list. Knitted hats, sewn stuffed animals, you name it. I spent weeks making gifts for everyone on my list.

I often made presents that I secretly wanted for myself, but I poured all of my energy into making them for other people.


And then I learned that not everyone wants a handmade present.

I was so hurt! How dare they not appreciate the valuable gift I was lovingly making!

But then I realized… I was actually being selfish by foisting my desires onto them! I love making presents, and it was what I thought showed the most love. But in reality, I was ignoring what people actually wanted.

Now, I only make presents for a very few special people who appreciate and want a handmade gift.

What’s the lesson?

It’s good news: you don’t have to kill yourself this holiday season making gifts for everyone on your list! If someone didn’t appreciate your hand knit gift in the past, take the opportunity to reconsider. Maybe they really would rather get a gift certificate to a book store.

And take all that extra time you save and make something lovely for yourself! You deserve it!



  1. Marie SAYS...

    You are right on target, Stacey. Thanks for this great article. We put so much love and time into our projects, let’s all make sure our beloved creations end up in welcoming homes (and that may very well be our own home)! Also thanks for the tip on the radio app, Stitcher. You have revolutionized my life by sharing this tip. I use it on a Kindle as well.

  2. Tami SAYS...

    Oh Stacy, I so understand what you’re saying, and respect that you said it. My brother and his wife gave me a bottle of wine every Christmas until I spoke up and told them that I don’t drink alcohol. This year I was making slipper socks for everyone, but wasn’t sure if my dad and my son would actually wear them. So, I asked. They aren’t getting them. Why spend the time and money if they won’t appreciate them? I knew my son would be honest with me, but was happy that my dad was too. I’ve gotten to the age where I don’t need “things”, and I’m trying to share that with others so they don’t waste their time just buying “stuff”.

  3. Mary SAYS...

    Hi, Stacey…what a timely and relevant post! I know exactly what you are saying. When I first started knitting and crocheting again, I was so excited and wanted to make hats, scarves, socks, toys and fingerless mitts for everyone. I learned the hard way that not everyone appreciates these things, and if they don’t wear or use them, they feel guilty.

    Now I only make hats for one of my brothers, who is genuinely enthusiastic about receiving them (and wears them!) He even describes for me the type of hat he wants next, so I can tailor his gifts to his specifications. 🙂

    Thank you for all the valuable tips and information that you give to us during the year, and have a wonderful and stress-free holiday season!

  4. So glad to see you tackle this delicate subject. I had the experience of making a quilt for someone that was later put out to sel at a garage sale. I was hurt beyond words. But I realized, as you did, not everyone likes what I like and money and gift cards are perfectly acceptable gifts in today’s world. All my crocheting now goes to the church, 18 Prayer Shawls, and over 80 hats and shawls for the shelter this year. Makes me happy and I know they are going to someone that will appreciate having something new and warm. Hugs

    • Oh, my goodness… a quilt! I can’t imagine how that would have felt to see it at a garage sale.
      It sounds like you’ve funneled your effort into something amazing… rock on!

  5. Stacey, I completely agree with you! I always put so much thought into making things for friends and family this time of year, and usually don’t get the excited reaction I hope for. I’m hoping that this year I’ll give myself a break and remember to give the kind of gifts that my loved ones will truly appreciate.

  6. Patricia SAYS...

    I do ask most of the time. And am overwhelmed with gifts I plan to make. And one will be very delayed because of the scope of it. But thete are some gifts I take a chance on. Last year I made miniature doilies and put them in shadow boxes for rwo of my daughters. I loved their surprised and they were so appreciative.

  7. s0nicfreak SAYS...

    I agree that you shouldn’t give people something they don’t want or that isn’t practical for them.

    But if people don’t want what I’m giving, then I don’t buy them something instead. If what they want and what I want to give don’t line up, then they get nothing from me.

    For example, if they want a hat, I’ll make them a hat. If they want a Calvin Klein hat, I’ll give them nothing.

    As I said in the lesson post, an unappreciative person is going to be unappreciative no matter what you give them.

    And sometimes what the recipient wants isn’t practical. My daughter wants a 2 foot tall Minecraft Creeper, but we have nowhere to keep it in our small house. I really hope no family members give her what she wants there.

    When I receive an unwanted or impractical gift, I am appreciative! I thank the person. Then I sell or return it and buy what I actually want. Or I donate it and it goes to someone that actually does need it. It is not about the gift – it is about the fact that the person went through the time and effort to make or pick out the thing for me. And even before I myself crafted, I knew a handmade item had so much more thought and time put into it! So even if I don’t WANT that item or can’t use it, I can appreciate what’s behind the item.

    I do try to give gifts that are actually wanted, but if by some chance I give a gift that isn’t wanted, I hope the recipient will do the same thing I would. Yes, even if that means returning a handmade item. Heck I’d even let them do an exchange for something in my etsy shop if they wanted!

    A side note: You don’t know for sure that the kid in the lesson post didn’t like the handmade gift! Don’t assume the kid doesn’t want handmade gifts because the mom was too rude to say thanks. That’s something about HER, not you nor your gift.

    • You make some excellent points!
      About my little cousin- I wasn’t assuming that he didn’t like the gift, I mean… who wouldn’t?!? 😉
      But it also is most likely true that he didn’t appreciate the handmade gift more than any other gift. And in this very busy season, I’m saving my handmade gifts for folks who appreciate that quality.

  8. knitminnie SAYS...

    I think we sometimes get so caught up in the give, give, give of this time of year we forget that there is a whole rest of the year. It is so nice to just surprise someone. I recall someone admiring a pair of gloves I had knitted and was wearing. I asked, “Do you really like them?” she answered oh yes and I would love have a pair for myself. I took them off and said, “well enjoy them.” Her jaw dropped and she profusely thanked me. I couldn’t get any better thank you. And guess what? It was November.

    • It’s true! The holidays are fun, but we have 360 other days 🙂
      I LOVE the story you shared! Thank you!

    • Theresa SAYS...

      I love this story! Random acts of kindness are the best!

  9. Cheryl SAYS...

    Great post, Stacey, and great points. I also discovered, the hard way, that not everyone appreciates the love and hard work that go into handmade items.

  10. Kathy Gould SAYS...

    Stacey, You hit the nail on the head on this message. You can’t ignore the elephant in the livingroom!!!

    Thank you for sharing, as always!


      • Mandy SAYS...

        I often feel that hand-made gifts are more about the giver than the recipient and some of the comments here support that theory. I would rather have a cherished friend or family member spend the time visiting with me that they would otherwise have spent making me an item that I don’t want or need. As the recipient of a hand-made gift, I often feel pressure and expectation from the giver for me to gloat and dote over their gift, even when it’s not something I ever would have wanted. Some here have commented about how rude ungrateful recipients are and I feel that it’s rude to give a gift with a large helping of ego and expectation about the reaction along with an extra side of judgment if it’s not the reaction you wanted.

  11. DeeAnna SAYS...

    I don’t think this post is controversial at all. I think it should be a consideration for all gift-giving. Gotta make sure you’re giving something the recipient wants and not what you want them to have. Makes sense to me! I get compliments on most of my gifts because I try to give my family and friends things that they have been wanting or fit their interests, etc. It works most of the time. xoxoxoxo

    • Thanks DeeAnna! When I’ve brought this topic up in person, some folks have said things like, ‘that’s being ungrateful’… and I can totally see that side. But, if we’re going to spend so much effort on making presents, I think it’s worth having a think about whether the person really wants it 🙂

  12. Rena Brewer SAYS...

    I read this and thought it interesting but just put the thought aside. Then I found myself thinking about it the rest of the night and the next day. I’ve redone my gift list with this blog in mind Stacey and already feel a load of relief – and my children and grandchildren would probably thank you if they knew! Thanks for the warning/suggestion! Rena

    • Oh, that’s so great to hear, Rena!!!

  13. luvrocknroll SAYS...

    I think my mom is unappreciative of anything I give her. I usually do a mix of purchase and handmade crafts for her Birthday. And for some petty reason a minor argument erupts which gets gradually heated and by then the gifts are in tramped on and in the trash. All my complex and meticulous paper origami and handmade dolls end up in the bin after I’ve spent weeks preparing and making them in secret in the small studio we live in (yes, we are poor). I’m even now in tears that my mom likes her expensive purchases and sidelines any of my gifts. My hand made paper doll which took me ages to make, was left on her shelf, the doll fell to the wooden floor by accident, and my mom threw it in the trash, why? Because she is a chronic germaphobe, God help you if anything falls to the floor, it’ll for straight into the trash, even clothes!
    You can imagine I was so upset I couldn’t sleep all night and the next day, I suggested she might as well throw away the handmade card I made her, and she did! She also broke a glass ornament in pieces, the gift I got her for her previous Birthday, which was out of my way to get from a specialist antique shop. She also threw away a large Orchid I got for her as well.
    I am very hurt and pissed off!

    Lesson learned: Not to handmake or give my mother any gifts for Mother’s day (which is another commercial nonsense), or for her Birthday.

    I’ll send her an e-card in future – that is it!!