All I Want For Christmas Is… Socks? How Cool Are Hand-Made Gifts?

By Anna | November 26 2013 | 27 Comments

It’s that time of year again, the time when magazines start urging us to make Christmas “even more special” by making a home-made gift. What could be nicer, we’re told, than making a unique pressie? Whether it’s a pair of home-knitted socks or a Liberty print hot water bottle cover, we’re often encouraged to delight our family and friends by turning to some DIY.

On one level, as someone who loves knitting and sewing and generally just messing about and making stuff, this is music to my ears. I love gorgeous craft magazines like Mollie Makes and Crafty, and I’ve always got a couple of arty projects on the go (whether I finish them all is another matter).

craft mag

In fact, I’m currently knitting a cardigan for my brand new baby nephew. But I’ve got to admit that I’m also a bit wary about making people presents. Because as all of us who make things know, creating a gift can take up a lot of time and effort. And there’s always the chance that at the end of it all, it’ll be greeted with a forced smile and an over-enthusiastic cry of  “Oh wow! Did you make it yourself?” Which will leave you feeling the urge to respond “Hang on, do you know how much work went into this?” Hardly the Christmas spirit.

And with home-made presents, there’s also the chance that the recipient will think it’s a somehow lesser offering. After all, most of us are just a generation or so away from a world where everything was home-made, whether you liked it or not. In that context, home-made isn’t bespoke and unique, it’s just cheap and second rate.

It’s like being a kid and praying for a Barbie and getting a home-made rag doll in a blonde wig instead. In this country, most of our families never had the luxury of seeing home-made gifts as a special treat. These days, of course, the materials needed to sew or knit an item might cost more than buying it in a shop – decent sock yarn costs around a tenner -  but you can’t exactly tell people, “Don’t worry, it’s actually quite expensive!” Also hardly the spirit of the season.


And of course, many of us have experienced receiving such dodgy gifts – the wonky jumpers knitted by a granny who’s not as good at it as she thinks she is, the scarf that’s bigger at one end than the other. We know it’s the thought that counts – and when we love someone, we’ll wear the scarf anyway. But we might find ourselves wishing she’d just given us a good book instead.

Of course, it’s always a lovely feeling when you make something and the recipient is thrilled by it – I made my sister a book cover from Grayson Perry’s limited edition Liberty fabric a few years ago, which did go down very well. But I do always worry a bit when I embark on a gift project. Although I think my new nephew will be fine with it. He’s only a few days old, after all, so he can’t be too fussy.

So are you planning to give some home-made gifts this year? Have you ever given – or received – a DIY disaster? And what makes a personal home-made gift really special?

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27 Replies to "All I Want For Christmas Is… Socks? How Cool Are Hand-Made Gifts?"

  • Claire says:

    I’ve never received a home made gift, but this year I’m making up festive treat boxes for my BF’s families just to give them something. I’m already worried about their reaction despite my BF telling me that it’s a lovely idea and they’ll be so surprised because they won’t expect anything I can’t but help having self doubts!

  • amberangel says:

    Oh Anna – how lovely you’re knitting for your new nephew – that will be cherished gift!!! To be honest, I enjoy knitting, but I’ve also gotten a bit older and wiser about it. Some people absolutely love hand knits and others detest it. So if it’s something that I want to put time and effort into, I make sure it’s what the recipient enjoys. It’s defo not a cheap option – recently knitted a fab blanket for my niece – it cost €50 alone for wool!!! But to me it’s priceless as I enjoy it so much.

  • Carky says:

    I received beautiful hand knit cardis for my daughter from my elderly neighbour, they are gorgeous and I also received a beautiful crocheted pram blanket from my friend. These are the presents that will be kept and remembered in my opinion as time and effort went into them. I’ve made lovely scarves for my sisters and mother over the years and lets just say all were not appreciated equally! And yes, good wool is not cheap!

  • annieapple says:

    I love homemade gifts- something yummy to eat or a lovely photo book maybe. I hated the jumpers my mother knitted for me as a child though because they were really itchy! If the good wool is the scratchy stuff then the cheap stuff will do me fine thanks!

    • Anna says:

      There used to be a lot of scratchy synthetic wools until recently, so today’s home made garb would probably be more comfortable!

  • (alex) says:

    I love homemade presents! Especially foodie gifts. I love making these and getting them as presents myself :)

  • Andrea says:

    I love homemade gifts! I have a friend who is the most amazing baker and I would be disappointed if I didn’t get my mince pie present.
    I always feel like a bit of love has gone into the dough, the stitches, whatever. But I think the key is that it has to be tailored to the person, a bit of thought has to go into it. Like I love the aul baked goods but a knitted scarf would leave me cold. Which would really defeat the purpose of the aforementioned scarf.

  • Nomes says:

    This is making me want to learn to knit!! I don’t think I’ve ever done home made Christmas pressies before except as a kid maybe, though I’ve made food for birthday presents a few times. I went to a friend’s birthday get-together a while back and funds were tight so I couldn’t afford to buy her anything decent, so I raided my cupboards and made her a strawberry cheesecake and a banoffee pie instead, which were appreciated just as much and I was all proud of myself! Some of my friends have made big, framed photo collages for each other for 21sts and the like and they’re class as presents.

  • OtherMary says:

    I love handmade presents but I’m not much into making them myself but I really enjoy searching Etsy for awesome handmade things.

  • thefrog says:

    I would love to receive handmade gifts but would never dare to give them. I know the work and love that go into making them (embroidery, silk painting and crochet are my thing) but I would be afraid people would think that it was just cheap.

  • says:

    I decided to become crafy this year, learned how to knit and crocket and bought a circle loom too… Made my friend a couple of cardi’s for her baby and she seemed to love them. Also made a few hats recently and they went down well too! I think handmade gifts are awesome but completely agree that you choose carefully who gets them as they are not everyone’[s cup of tea, and some people wont realise the hours you pour in to them.

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