Three French Hens, Two Turtledoves and … An Ugly Knitted Scarf

December 15, 2011 | By | Comments (4)

‘Tis the season for receiving handmade gifts you wish you never knew existed. Here is one reader’s situation: “One Christmas, my mother in law knitted me a scarf….

“It sounds mean, but I cannot fathom wearing it in public and she has never seen me wear it (because it’s pretty much never seen daylight),” wrote BodealaMode.  “Am I entitled to my own fashion sense, or should I take one for the team and just wear it once when she is around?”

The answer is YES, you are of course allowed to have your own style, and YES you should wear the scarf once for her to see it. I’m not sure why you think those two conditions are mutually exclusive.  The nice thing to do, if someone gives you a handmade gift that obviously took hours of effort, is to say thank you like you mean it. That requires you to display or wear the item long enough for the giver to notice. Subsequently, you may quietly dispose of it.

I understand your frustration, though. You also wrote that your mother in law “likes to make crafts,” which makes me suspect this is not the first time you were the recipient of a handmade gift you didn’t love.  If your house is filling up with unwanted macramé plant hangers, bright-colored woven gods’ eyes and felt-covered coffee cans disguised as Santa boots, it’s time to point her energies in a different direction.

Here’s one way to do it. Say to her, “I know you love to work with your hands, and you’re really talented.  I found a local senior center where the residents would love to learn to knit [or weave pot holders or arrange silk flowers in sponge-painted vases, etc.]. This year, instead of giving each other gifts, let’s help them out. We can go together to the center on Saturday—I’ll donate the supplies and you donate your skills—and offer them a holiday craft-making workshop.”

Did you ever get a handmade gift you hated? If so, how did you deal with it? Let us know.

(image from TheUglySweaterShop via flickr)