March 30, 2009
First off, I’d like to thank Livemom for giving me the idea of this blog post. She wondered about what to ask of guests coming to a birthday party. Can you ask guests to bring nothing? If someone did, would you follow suit?
My kids are by now used to the idea that all the birthday gifts we bring to parties are either handmade or second hand. We have a pretty decent repertoire now of things we can make the morning of a party and a few more too that take a little more forethought and time. We also like to give second-hand, and really like to hit the thrift stores in search of something special for the birthday boy or girl. It gives us an excuse to go to the thrifty (as we like to call it) and while there, in search of, we are spending good energy thinking about the recipient.
It took me a while to embrace the idea of giving second hand proudly. At first it seemed it might be perceived as cheap. It was my now 11 year old daughter who helped me get over that. She went to a particularly high falutin’ birthday party of a friend and her thrift store gift with a handmade embellishment was the hit of the day. Truly the birthday girl’s favorite. My daughter, then 8 or 9 exclaimed proudly, “and we got it at the thrift store!” This was to a family that never went to the thrifty and if they did it was ONLY to drop off. My identity revealed, though I was a bit embarrassed at the time, from then on I embraced it. Lesson learned from my daughter to tread the idea of second-hand proudly. And now that second-hand falls under the green umbrella, it can actually be considered somewhat innovative and definitely earth friendly.
For girls it seems so easy to come up with an entire list of handmade gifts. I have made aprons, personalized and stitched gift cards with a cloth carry-all, head scarves, embellished t-shirts, birthday prayer flags, pencil rolls, and lots more – all made with upcyled or recycled materials of course.
For boys it’s a little less clear what handmade things to make. The headscarf, letter-writing thing seems more girl oriented without a doubt. Of course boys write letters, but the stationary kit is definitely more girl-friendly. Slowly though I have created a boy repertoire as well – although admittedly my 9 year old son still would rather purchase the gifts than give the handmade. Something along the Lego, Star Wars line of thinking would be his preference but he’s getting there.
I stumbled upon a favorite one recently though that is easy to make and gets my son’s gift giving approval. Using discarded pleather upholstery samples, which we got from a deceased boat upholsterer and come in conveniently sized 3″x6″ strips, I make personalized snap cuff bracelets – cool enough for any girl or boy. We put the child’s name on it or some other personally influenced applique also made from a contrasting pleather strip, a snap or button closure, and voila, a one-of-a-kind birthday gift.
I’m compiling a list of my favorites, which I’ll run by my kids for their approval. I’ll put the list up here soon enough and break it down into a tutorial and/or a three-day project as well so stay tuned. In the meantime, I’d like to know, what kind of handmade or second hand birthday gifts do you like to give?