There are few gifts more blissful to receive than a lovingly handmade item — maybe a sweater in your exact size and favourite colour, knitted by a grandmother who cares for you and wants you to be happy. A crappy handmade gift, on the other hand, is the worst. And yet, politeness requires you react to these two gifts in the exact same way.
If you are lazy, cheap, or maybe just a little bit evil, you can exploit this feature of human kindness as you plan holiday or birthday gifts. Your kid’s art teacher has been relying on this principle for years, by the way. It’s high time to unleash it on other adults who are expecting actual gifts.
The important thing is that, as you give the gift, you make it very clear that this gift is handmade. Really rub it in by personalizing the gift. Even if you’re making the same craft for everybody, explain to the recipient how you used their favourite colour or incorporated some interest you believe they have.
If you want to be really evil, take the personalisation a step too far. Knit their name into the hat. Create a painting for a specific, high visibility spot in their home. Give them “gourmet” homemade cookies with peppermint chunks if you know they hate peppermint. It’s a perfect way to mess with that cousin you dislike without giving them a way to hit back — just watch out in case they give you a similarly thoughtful gift next year.
But you don’t have to be any more evil than you’d like. Pointing out that a gift is homemade is simply a handy get-out-of-jail-free card to evade criticism. You can remind yourself of this as you lovingly knit a sweater that you fear might turn out unwearably wonky. Or you can remember this with glee on December 23 as you decide to just glue some shit onto a toilet paper roll instead of going Christmas shopping.