After making yet another shopping round to pick up a birthday gift for my daughter's seventh best friend in the world, I had a moment of clarity. I wished that my daughter was just a little bit weirder... a little bit meaner... and a little bit less popular. We forked over some serious cash to shower all of her best friends with birthday gifts. It seemed like every weekend we are handing over yet another fabulous gift in exchange for a penny goody bag and a fistful of cake. I appreciated that my daughter is so well-loved that every kid wanted her at their party, but the birthday gift bank account was seriously in the red.
Instead of making my daughter skip baths, don an eyepatch, and scream all of her responses to questions--which would probably only increase her popularity, seriously the kid is pure gold--we went a different route and opted to start handmaking all gifts.
While I expected to be confronted with angry parents frustrated no Barbie or Dora the Explorer dolls hid beneath the hand-stamped wrapping paper, instead parents and kids alike seem pleased with the efforts. To be fair, a lot of thought goes into the gifts which have included personalized shrinky dink necklaces with pictures or drawings of her friend's favorite animals, beaded name necklaces, personalized mini-scrapbooks, and mini-figurines and jewelry created out of polymer clay. We loaded up on materials with a Rex Art coupon and set up shop at the kitchen table. In fact creating personalized gifts has only made her a more popular birthday guest. All the kids want to see what she creates especially for them! I told you... the kid is pure gold.
In fact, the handmade route is so beloved that we're applying it to my daughter's own birthday party. We're picking up a few essentials with Pottery Barn Kids coupons, but most of the decorations are going to be handmade. She wants to decorate with handmade paper flowers and banners, and her guests are to make their own goody bags including the goodies to put inside. We've also requested that any presents brought be handmade.
The success with handmade gifts for the birthday kids led me to indulge in a little bit of grown-up present crafting as well. Instead of buying a bunch of generic birthday cards, I have been taking the time to design personalized cards for my family and friends. The response has been tremendous. We receive handwritten letters back for almost every single card sent. Store bought cards rarely elicited a phone call or an e-mail.
By trying to limit our spending, we actually stumbled onto a fun new way to give gifts. The bonding my daughter and I enjoy while making the gifts has only enriched our relationship. There is nothing like scrubbing errant glitter up to fuse a lasting mother-daughter bond. Moreover we get to avoid the bland shopping aisles in favor of creativity and togetherness, and that's the kind of gift that is priceless.*Consideration was received for the editing & publishing of this guest article. :)