‘Tis the season for holidays, family gatherings and, of course, giving gifts. On a college budget, expensive gifts can be hard to manage. However, some of the most sincere gifts often come with only the price of dedicated time. Craft-loving students share the homemade gifts they love to make and receive.
Handmade gifts are not only personal, but they also have psychological benefits. According to a 2018 study, crafting has been proven to improve cognitive thinking and general life satisfaction. Crafting gifts is also often better for those receiving the present; a study done by three marketing professors at varying universities found handmade gifts make a more attractive product because it is seen as to “contain love.”
Sophie Appelbaum, a sophomore studying early childhood and elementary education, agrees that handmade gifts are a labor of love.
“I feel like homemade gifts are more meaningful because you made them from your heart, and you thought of the ideas yourself,” Appelbaum said.
Appelbaum is well acquainted with homemade gifts, as she often gives paintings to loved ones. Appelbaum explained she gives them to family members and friends, noting her favorite painting was one she made for a boy she babysat.
“I made this little dinosaur painting with a volcano in the background for a kid I babysat, and that was my favorite because he loved it,” Appelbaum said. “He hung it in his room.”
Appelbaum understands the depth of gifts like that one, especially as her talent for painting was given to her by someone she loves.
“I learned how to paint because of my grandma,” Appelbaum said. “She would come to visit and she would teach all of her grandchildren how to paint. From an early age it started my interest.”
Sophia Lingrell, a first year grad student studying nutrition, makes a variety of homemade gifts each year and is also very familiar with the joy they can spark.
“A few years ago, when my best friend turned 21, I Mod Podged a bunch of mugs with pictures of us from when we were kids,” Lingrell said. “I've known her my whole life and I gave her a bunch of those mugs for her birthday, and they're the very cringy, awful photos of us from when we were teens or really young. It made her laugh so hard, and she still sends me pictures using them.”
Lingrell said she enjoys making presents for people by hand because it allows her to add a personal touch and create exactly what she wants to give to someone.
“I think that they are a lot more special,” Lingrell said. “Sometimes I have a very specific vision of what I want to make, and so I usually become pretty determined to make exactly what I want.”
Lingrell makes a wide variety of gifts for people, explaining that she loves to craft, and uses different mediums depending on the person. This year, she has already made personalized chocolate frogs and accompanying trading cards for a Harry Potter enthusiast, along with meals and recipes in mason jars to give to loved ones. She said she is even trying to learn how to make candles for future gifts.
As a nutrition major, Lingrell said she also loves to cook and bake and will follow recipes online to recreate iconic foods from shows or movies, such as the cake from Sleeping Beauty.
Lingrell said she uses any and all talents to spread some cheer. As a classically trained flute player, she typically plays for her family each Christmas. During quarantine, as a gift to family members when they could not be together, she recorded herself playing Christmas songs and sent them to loved ones for a virtual gift of the holiday tradition.
“It's what I'm inspired to do person by person,” Lingrell said. “It just depends. Making a ton of homemade gifts is very time consuming, so a lot of the time I'll do a mix, or in the past I've done a big homemade gift for everyone.”
No matter the gift, the personalized touch of a hand-made present is well beloved. Even Ohio University is getting into the homemade gifting spirit this year, with the university’s 12 Gifts of Ohio. Aside from online performances from the Marching 110, discounts and festive celebratory games, the website also offers several OU themed crafts, including Rufus’s OU paper snowflakes and OU holiday recipes.
Not everyone has time to make homemade gifts, and Lingrell noted that while handmade presents have a personalized feel, giving to loved ones is really most about showing care.
“I do think that it's more about if the gift shows how much they know you,” Lingrell said. “I think when a gift just matches who you are and what you like, that means the most of it – no matter if it's homemade or bought.”