Over at The Simple Dollar, a personal finance blog I read a lot & very much enjoy, there was a recent post about personalizing blank greeting cards with favorite song lyrics or poetry, thereby saving money and presenting the recipient with a truly thoughtful card. For me, and for many of the people who commented on this post, this was preaching to the choir: a great many people agreed with the writer, and others went a step further with their great tips on making cards from scratch.
However, I was surprised to read a few comments by people who said they prefer store-bought cards to handmade ones - that they appreciate the quality of manufactured cards and the effort it takes for givers to select them. This was upsetting to other commenters, who felt that recipients should value handmade cards more and not place restrictions on the types of gifts they will accept. This discussion is very interesting to me, and presents me with a lot to think about as I try to get my gift-giving challenge off the ground.
I love giving and receiving gifts, and am blessed with wonderful loved ones who always give from the heart. I do believe that a purchased gift, thoughtfully chosen and presented with love, can be as meaningful as a handmade one. Among the reasons I originally listed for starting my gift-giving challenge, I included "approach gift-giving more meaningfully and thoughtfully." If I am really to do that, I must carefully consider the recipient's preferences, tastes, and personality - and that means I can't just dismiss a recipient's preference (for store-bought cards, for example) simply because it's not to my taste. In other words, I can't just give the gift that *I* want the recipient to have - I have to give the gift that the *recipient* really wants or needs.
What does this mean for my handmade year? Well, I did write a few "cheats" into my guidelines, so I can resort to those when I feel it's appropriate. What I really hope I can accomplish, however, is a happy balance - a place where a recipient's likes and my crafting skills meet and result in a gift that is just right.