Sunday, December 11, 2011

the tyranny of the gift list

there is a tyranny afoot in denmark. it's the gift list. families ask one another for a christmas wish list. and while it's all well and good to let those who love you know what you'd like, it seems that these lists end up chiseled in stone. not a single item that's not explicitly on the list will make its way under the christmas tree or into a christmas stocking. and frankly, that stinks.

it means that no one's going to get these gorgeous, durable, well-made, hand-woven tea towels or these beautiful one-of-a-kind knives. i've been participating in a handmade market this weekend and last and tho' many people pass through and look - and they especially stop and talk to the man who is making these beautiful knives - they're not buying anything. and i find it very frustrating. these are beautiful, unique items that no one else will have. and that's actually the problem. i heard a man say yesterday that he thought his son would love one of these knives, but he didn't dare to buy one because it wasn't on his son's list. it's not even that the knives are prohibitively expensive - they're well within a normal family christmas gift price range.

i despair a little bit about what to do about it. the handmade movement that is sweeping the world is definitely skipping denmark. it seems that if it's not over-designed, industrialized and exactly like the hansens next door have, it's not going to sell. unique, beautiful, one-of-a-kind items just won't do. and people are afraid to use their own imagination in buying gifts for their loved ones - they won't buy anything that's not on the wish list, even if they think the person might like it. i heard a man on the radio yesterday say that if his grandchildren didn't get their wish list to him in time, then they didn't get anything for christmas at all. can you believe that? he was so resistent to knowing his grandchildren and what they might like that he'd rather not give them anything if he had to think of it himself?

the wish list takes all of the fun out of gifts - both for giver and receiver - there's no surprise, there's no imagination, there's no creativity needed. and i think it renders the whole thing rather empty for all concerned. i'm not going to participate in it anymore. we have to start somewhere.


Jody Pearl said...

I've always had an issue with my SiL asking my children what they want for Birthdays and Christmas.

It negates the whole reason for gift giving to me.

If youre buying for someone you love, take a few moments, spend some time, take the time to actually look at the person and work out with a little imagination what you think they would like.

It's a challenge sometimes but isn't that part of the fun?!

For her eldests last birthday (16th) I gave her $50 and a handmade voucher for a day Op shopping - she was thrilled and we're going tomorrow.

rayfamily said...

I agree! I started doing handmade/locally made gifts about three years ago. I will pepper in some of the other stuff too (games for the kids etc). But a component of every gift I give is creative.

I think it starts with those who find it so important and rewarding. Then, their families and friends will talk about the amazing and thoughtful gift they received and it catches on from there. Having something special will become the 'want'.

Numinosity said...

That would really put a damper on gift giving for sure. As a vendor I would say that most of my sales are impulse buys some of them even being bought in the summer from my boot. Boo, Denmark wish list!
xoxo Kim

Lost Star said...

That sure seems to suck. Christmas is all about not really knowing what you are going to get. The little things that you are unsure about sitting under the tree.

This year, we got a bread machine. Asked for. So we have had that early, but everything else, from my folks at least, I have no idea what I am getting. Can't wait!

Kids write lists to santa here, but I don't recall ever doing this seriously. I would, now at least, always prefer something with thought, over something I choose myself. And I love handmade. And I think that most people do. Or, if they don't, they don't have a clue what they are missing.

Today I also got a cross-stitch of my first shoes. Almost exactly the same as my first (red) pair of shoes. So much love and care went into it, that it comes out trumps over any asked for gift.

DahnStarr said...

If you ask for it in writing and the 'giver' is required to get the item, can it be truly considered a 'gift'? To me, I think not.

All generations of our family have given handmade gifts whether they made it themselves or purchased from someone else. Those gifts are loved above and tend to out last the others. Unless of course, we eat them! That reminds me, I have to start making Krumkake cookies!

Helen said...

That's tough so well done for taking a stand.

It's really sad to hear that people looked at the handmade items but didn't purchase. How are the crafters whose craft may have been passed down from generation to generation supposed to survive against the big corporates....all because they are not on a list.

I hate lists at Christmas. One year a friend (who I kind of no longer see) emailed me a list of presents that her children would like and I hadn't even asked for it. She just sent it to me out of the blue. So I made a real effort to buy something that wasn't on the list. I was most offended.

To me Christmas is all about spending it with people you love, as the harsh reality is they won't be around forever. That should be the gift with maybe a nice crochet blanket or painting thrown in.

Sorry, this has really got me on my high horse.....just think it's so sad.

Eliane Zimmermann said...

strange, really strange. so there is no way of giving a real nice custom made thing because the person could never image there was really nice custom made thing... weird custom.