As someone who has taken the handmade pledge, I make a good-faith attempt to gift handmade whenever possible. Although this is has been my habit for many years now, I still find myself holding my breath every time I hand over that little handmade treasure. Many people don't realize that handmade gifts are the highest of compliments because of the hard work and the massive amount of love that goes into each gift. For me, it is like giving the recipient a little piece of my heart and I anxiously wait to see if they will treasure it or trash it.
Most people who have children know that you can usually rely on them for an honest reaction. While adults will spare your feelings, a child will be brutally honest about whether or not they appreciate your efforts. So when I made the choice to craft a handmade gift for my niece that will be opened along with a mountain of other name-brand-mass-media-battery-operated gifts the anxiety was especially high. Will my week worth of creating be lost in a sea of Disney and plastic? I am happy to know that it wasn't- not by a long shot.
G, my niece, has developed a fascination with food and cooking which has grown since my parents have splurged on cable T.V. While most children will request cartoons, G squeals with delight at the sight of Food Network. She recites recipes and measurements rather than nursery rhymes and would be much more excited to meet Rachel Ray than Hannah Montana. So it seemed obvious to me to spend a solid week crafting her favorite foods out of eco-fi, a felt-like material made from recycled plastic bottles. (Greatest stuff ever, really)
I took on this project without realizing that it would provide endless entertainment for both myself, who laughed aloud while sewing a life-sized plush corndog, and my family. I would have gladly spent the time to make these had it just pleased the birthday girl, but seeing how people react to the food still has me tickled. Who knew that a felt sandwich looks real enough to accidentally pack for lunch (my husband did this before I told him it wasn't real!), or that the remedy to the Monday blues is a photo message of felt bacon and eggs? The party paused when she opened her picnic basket full of food as everyone fought to peek inside or give a felt apple slice a squeeze.
In case there was any doubt, handmade enjoyed a major triuph this week. A very happy 4 year old has been waking every morning and asking to cook with her new "sewing food" and has to be persuaded each night to put it away for bedtime. My niece loved the gift and my family has been talking about it ever since. I definitely see a sequel to this gift playing out at Christmas.