Homemade gifts have a sentimentality store-bought gifts cannot match


Photo by Victoria Dziasek

In today’s materialistic society, a homemade gift is special and warms the heart to both give and receive.

Riona Sheikh, Opinions Writer

The holiday season traditionally creates feelings of enchantment. However, with the holiday season comes the pressure to get gratifying gifts for loved ones. Typically, gifts fall under two vastly different categories: homemade and store-bought. Each category presents its own advantages in the gift-giving world, but in a materialistic society, a homemade gift is special and warms the heart to both give and receive.

A common tradition across America is constructing wish lists. Shopping from a wishlist is a foolproof way for recipients to receive items they definitely wanted. “The ideal store-bought gift should be something that the person would value and want,” sophomore Naisha Singireddy said.

The wishlist process appears simplistic and reliable, however, social media once again creeps into this seemingly non-problematic aspect of life. American materialism consumes much of the US’s current gifting traditions. Social media trends strengthen this culture by pushing categorizing lifestyles. 

A well-known example was the VSCO girl, a trend that primarily took place in 2019. The VSCO girl’s lifestyle was not dependent on personality but appearance and possession of material items. These objects could range from smaller things such as scrunchies to even puka shell necklaces or a specific brand of a water bottle. Following the VSCO rage that took over much of America’s youth came items like these taking over every teenage girl’s wish list

The VSCO girl trend’s link to the holiday wish list is not a coincidence – studies show a direct correlation between materialism in America and social media. Social media also provides a way through which goods can be marketed to users. Often, social media sites offer personalized advertisements for users to see as they scroll through. 

The advertisements – in bright, attractive colors – prompt users to feel drawn to the displayed items. This translates directly into gift giving: people often draw upon their own judgments, picturing the ideal gift as another gaudy, eye-catching advertisement glowing on the screen. 

Growing materialism may have caused the tradition of unique homemade, hand-crafted gifts to be lost. Sophomore Naisha said, “A typical holiday gift would be something on the person’s wishlist, probably something they have been wanting for a while.” This may not be consistent with the definition of a homemade gift, which is usually more personalized and sentimental. Still, some favor the sentiment. Naisha said, “I prefer homemade gifts because they have more thought put into them than store-bought gifts… it takes more effort to make something special with someone else’s interests in mind.”

The contrast in value between a typical gift and homemade gifts offers an interesting perspective. As material gifts grow more prevalent, it seems the value and appreciation towards homemade gifts have skyrocketed. Math teacher Laura Goetz said, “The best kind of homemade gift would be special. Something unique and nice between me and someone else. The fact that someone put all that thought into it… really means the world to me.”

Emotions are not the only factor regarding handmade gifts. Hand-crafted goods are often less expensive than purchasing a store-bought gift while still showing appreciation for the receiver. “I once had a student who had a mug with all these quotes that I like to say while I’m teaching written all over it and it meant so much to me,” Mrs. Goetz said. 

Handmade gifts bring individuals closer together. It is no secret that as the holidays approach, people connect with their loved ones. “When my kids were little…they’d make these clay sculptures that would be the ugliest thing but I love them because they were made by my kids for me,” Mrs. Goetz said. Knowing that someone put in the thought and effort to personally make a gift for their recipient can create a strong bond between two people.

Though modern materialistic culture may be preventing a clear pathway to the perfect gift, one thing is still clear: It is the thought behind the gift that matters. The holiday spirit is about much more than gifts, it is about appreciation and sentimentality. The best gifts would encompass the true holiday spirit. So when choosing between that shiny new teapot or a music box that plays a song you wrote, go with the latter.