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Gift Giving Tips

Whether you've made one gift or a dozen or more this holiday season, you and I both know how much time and love goes into knitting or crocheting for someone else. Whether your giftee has received a handmade gift before or not, you want to make sure that they understand how wonderful this item they're about to open is and how to take care of it so it will last far into the future. What can you do to help the giftee understand?

1. Make sure the gift is wrapped in a manner befitting the honor of a handmade gift. You've taken the time to make this gift, so take a little extra time on the gift wrapping. Don't just toss the item into a bag and put a wad of tissue paper on top. (Hey, I'm not judging--I've "wrapped" gifts like that before myself!) Think about the giftee opening the gift and how to make the moment extra special.

Get a box that is the right size/shape for your item (something that's not going to squish it but also that's not too big) and line it with tissue paper. Use more tissue paper to carefully wrap the handmade item. Perhaps add a holiday sticker to keep the tissue paper closed. Gently place the tissue paper wrapped item into the box. Then--and yes, I know you can get boxes that are decorative, but even so--wrap the box in festive holiday paper.

You could then put some ribbon around the box and add a bow, but how about something a little more related to the handmade item? Use some yarn instead of ribbon, and make a pompom (or group of pompoms) to use instead of a bow. Something that says this package is just a little different from the ordinary holiday gift. This package is something special.

2. Add a label to the knit or crochet item. You can get more general labels that say something like "Handmade with love" or you can get custom labels that have your name on them. You can get fabric labels, wooden labels, or metal labels. You can often find the more general ones in yarn shops or big box stores, and the more specialized or custom ones can be found online.

Here are a few places I found online that have labels available:
It's Mine! Labels for Life - offers several different types of fabric labels
Hand Made with Love silver heart charm
Hand Made with Love wooden tag
Handmade by X custom wooden tag
Want to make your own ribbon labels? Here's a really helpful tutorial for how to do it using iron transfer paper and satin ribbon.

3. Add care instructions. This is probably the most important part of preparing the gift. Sometimes people are afraid to actually use/wear the gift because they don't want to ruin it. Sometimes people don't know how to treat a handmade item and do ruin it. You want the giftee to both feel confident and comfortable using the gift and making sure to keep it in good shape. So what does the giftee need to know?

How often does the item need to be washed? A pair of socks vs. a hat vs. a cardigan probably don't need to be washed at the same rate as one another. Think about how often you wash a similar handmade item and about the giftee's lifestyle. How often will that hat truly need to be washed?

How should the item be washed? Is it a soak in cold water and lay flat to dry item? A machine washable (but on gentle in cold water) item? Something that can go in the dryer? To determine this, keep in mind the fiber content of the yarn that you use as well as where it came from. (For example, even if the yarn is superwash, items made from hand-dyed yarn really should be washed by hand instead of in a machine.)

Write out instructions for the giftee. Make this part of the gift just as special as the gift itself. Put it in a card or on a special piece of paper. Make it something that the giftee will keep so he/she will remember to look at it when it's time to wash the item. You could even add simple care instructions to the label that you put on the item. (Super easy if you make your own label or you can even get special labels, such as these wooden ones from Katrinkles.)

Not sure the giftee will actually pay attention to the instructions? Include a "coupon" (or series of coupons) with the gift that offers to wash the item for the giftee when needed. If you already wash your own hand knit socks, for example, it probably wouldn't be much extra work to throw in the giftee's pair as well. (This works better if the giftee lives nearby, but a super special item such as a shawl that needs blocking after each wash might be worth the extra time and effort to mail it back and forth.)

You can do a search for "printable hand knit care instructions" and you'll find a ton of templates you can use to print out and include with your gift. Here are just a few I found:
Printable Labels for Handmade Items
Laundry Care Labels
Free Printable Gift Tags for Your Handmade Gifts
Care Instruction Labels
This Etsy shop has a bunch of printable labels/cards/tags

Just remember that a handmade gift is extra special. You are giving it because you really care about the giftee. And make sure you're not devaluing the gift. (I recently saw a gift bag that said "Don't worry, it's not hand made," which really made me mad!) No matter what you've made, it's special. Make sure the giftee gets the full experience of the specialness of the gift they are receiving.

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