They Hate my Handmade Gift

5 Ways to Respond to a Gifting Fail

I’m the queen of hand made gifts. There’s just something about making a gift for a loved one and having them use or wear the precious item, remembering how you spent your time thinking about them and personalizing it just for them. That would be ideal if excitement came each time a hand made gift was unwrapped, but sometimes it ISN’T treasured (gasp!). If you gave a store bought item, then a gift receipt and a quick wink that says “please choose something else for yourself” is all that is necessary. With hand made gifts, I learned that not ALL of my projects are going to be show-stoppers, so I also had to learn how to recover from a lackluster review.

Before getting started on a gift, some guesswork can be eliminated. Most of my gifts are surprises but sometimes when I want to make the gift juuuuust right, I consult with the recipient about the color or style. For example, with my mother-in-law’s birthday placemats (here‘s that tutorial), I asked what colors she preferred. She surprised me by saying she wanted them to match both her walls and dishes! I showed her three fabric designs online and she chose which she liked best. It makes me smile each time she uses them when I eat dinner at her home (no, I don’t bother asking if she uses them when I’m not around). If they’re on Pinterest, that can be great for scoping our their style sense. Bridal and baby registries also provide great insight for preferred color schemes and themes for a hand made shower gift. Use your resources to minimize the risk of having a gifting disappointment.

When no gift receipt is an option, what’s a DIY-er to do? Here’re 5 responses when a handmade gift doesn’t spark joy.

Re-Do

“I’m so sorry the necklace doesn’t fit. Let me measure you now so I can re-make it to ensure it will fit you perfectly.”

This response works well if your materials can be easily disassembled and re-made. It’s not always a possibility.

Apologize and Smile

“Yikes, it looks like this scarf isn’t quite your style/color. Why don’t you try wearing it a few times and then let me know if you wish to have me make or buy something else.”

You acknowledge that the gift might not be exactly their style but it gives them the opportunity to try it out and see if it grows on them. It also leaves the door open to let them know you are willing to make them something else or find a gift that is more suitable.

Offer a Re-Gift

“If the placemats aren’t perfect, by all means, please give them to someone who can use them. I just want them to bring someone joy.”

This response gives the recipient permission to re-gift the item to someone else or donate it. They will not feel obligated to wear this item around you or display it in their home when you visit.

Give Hugs

“Hmmm… I want you to be thrilled with your gift. I just happen to have a big hug for you so you will remember that I love you and want this gift to be a token of our friendship.”

Reminding your loved one that you are open to making them happy will hopefully override the fact that the gift was a miss. We all make mistakes and nobody can resist a great hug, can they?

Humor

“Um… looks like you’ll be wearing that in the basement.” or “Yikes, maybe it’ll end up in your holiday bonfire.”

By admitting your gift was a miss your gift recipient will likely reassure you that it isn’t so bad. Smile and move on. Which brings us to….

You Are Your Own Worst Critic

Gifts aren’t always going to turn out perfect but you are still AWESOME! If you need a great reminder to go easy on yourself, check out 3 Things Quilters Should STOP Doing. Even if you aren’t a quilter, any DIYer can relate to these tips. Holidays can be stressful so take a deep breath and find the joy in creating these gifts instead of worrying if they will enjoy them. If this year is a disaster, there’s always next year. Happy Holidays everyone!


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  1. I had a handmade set of kitchen things, like placemats, mixer cover, blender cover, pot holders, napkins.. all made for my husband’s niece …all matched and the colors that she told me her kitchen would be. Upon her opening them… her mother, my sister in law, turned up her nose, and promptly said, you could have bought her something nice….. everyone else saw her do it and say it… a gasp went through the room…as she gathered them up and pitched them in the trash with the used wrapping paper.
    I didn’t know what to do, so I looked at the bride to be and said, I’m sorry, I thought you knew I was making you a gift… She didn’t know what to say either… her mother was like that… I don’t know if she took them home and used them or not… I walked out got in the car and waited to be taken home

    • Wow! There are no words for a person who is that inconsiderate. I’m so proud that you took the high road and it’s terrible your beautiful gifts and talents weren’t appreciated.

  2. The items I made at my sister’s request ended up in the bag for Good Will. Shortly thereafter, when my niece was pregnant, my sister called me to say my niece asked her to tell me she did not want any hand-made crap. So I do not waste my time and energy on them. They can be satisfied with getting nothing.

  3. I thank you so much for your well written article! The replies that you provided are something that I am going to need to memorize and add to my arsenal. I am going to start an online handmade jewelry business soon and will need to use those in some form plus more to react in an appropriate fashion. Great article!

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