A Christmas Dilemma

Yesterday I went to a Christmas craft fair and had my first vin chaud (literally ‘hot wine’) of the year so now I’m starting to feel a bit festive and realised I haven’t posted for a while so here’s a quick catch up.

It’s difficult, when you make things yourself, to buy things at a craft fair.  It’s easy to think ‘well, I could make that’ and some people actually say it and, having done a couple of craft fairs myself, I can tell you that it’s one of the most annoying things to hear.  I want to say, ‘yes, but will you?’  ‘Do you have the equipment you need to make it and, if not, are you going to go out and buy it just to make one thing?’ ( whilst smiling politely and saying worse things under my breath).

Anyway, I managed to buy a couple of things that I won’t make myself even though I could.

Firstly, this lovely wreath made out of loads and loads of pieces of Christmassy fabric.

I don’t have much festive fabric in my stash and, if I did, I wouldn’t be cutting it up into hundreds of pieces.  Sometimes, there are people with more patience than you and, since I know the lady who makes these, I was glad to support her.

One hobby I started but didn’t finish is needle felting but I really would like to give it another go one day.  So, I couldn’t resist this little mouse, complete with appropriate French attire who will go on my tree as I always like to buy at least one new tree decoration each year.

I usually harvest some mistletoe from a small tree at the top of our garden but, this year, it doesn’t seem to have appeared so this seemed a good excuse for another felty festive purchase.

Last time I tried needle felting, I couldn’t even make a round bead properly so I’ll be on the lookout for a workshop or something next year and maybe, next Christmas, I’ll be able to say ‘I could make that’ – though not out loud of course.

Anyway, back to what I have made myself.  Having dislodged the cats from my Nature’s Walk crochet squares which were laid out on the dining room table for ease of joining, they are now all joined and the first two rows that set up the edge for the fancy border have been done.  I think I’ll do the rest on my lap when the cats are outside.

They have now found another work in progress to impede so I still have another two sides of my F2F quilt to bind.  Look at that face – would you have the courage to move her off?

At least that’s forced me to try to finish the new shirt I’m making for Mr. Tialys’s Christmas present.  Despite having made this same pattern recently, I’m having trouble with the sleeves.  Last time, I set them in and finished the inside seam on the overlocker/serger.  This time I wanted to do a felled seam as it looks more professional.  The sleeve cap is quite large on this shirt, compared to the armscye, so it’s quite difficult to set it in without puckers anyway, let alone trying to fell the seams too, so it’s causing me some problems and I keep finding other things to do to put off tackling it.

(edit:  nothing wrong with the pattern sizing at all – it was me, matching the wrong notches!!)

Speaking of Christmas gifts, I commented on Kate’s post today about gift giving- although I sort of went off topic – and would be interested to know your thoughts on something.  I love giving hand made gifts to friends and family it gives me a lot of pleasure (and hopefully them) and also gives me a good excuse to make more things.  None of my family live nearby and most don’t appreciate hand made items anyway – with the exception of my daughters who are already drowning in blankets and quilts – so it’s generally friends who end up with the results of my efforts.  However, some (non-crafting) friends I usually go for a pre-Christmas lunch with have a ‘no gifts’ policy and have asked me not to surprise them with anything this year.  I only ever give them hand made things – not shop bought – and I’ve explained before that I don’t expect, or even want, anything in return. I try to give them useful things too – crocheted cloths or cleansing pads, fabric baskets, make up bags, last year it was knitted cowls, as I know not everybody wants blankets or cushions or even quilts.  This year I was going to give them little fabric baskets filled with foodie things – home made lemon curd, chutney, quince spread and bombay nuts.  But now I’m not 😞  I sort of understand that they might feel they have to reciprocate but, in previous years, I’ve been very insistent that they don’t.  Now I feel sort of offended.

What do you think?  I’d be interested to hear if  you think I’m being over sensitive.


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  1. #1 by katechiconi on December 8, 2019 - 12:10

    You know my thoughts… gift giving and generosity of the seasonal variety are one of life’s pleasures. The fact that they don’t want to bother with gifts (ie, the faff of – horrors! – thinking about someone else and purchasing something suitable) should not force you to desist from the pleasure of making and giving. It’s completely understandable if they don’t want to give anything, but they shouldn’t be imposing their decisions on you. I say this as a seasoned giver-to-charity at Christmas for the past 10 years or so. I buy gifts for no-one, but I don’t force others to do the same as I do. I satisfy my gift-giving urges at random throughout the year, and strangely, no-one seems to feel any compulsion to either reciprocate or protest!

    • #2 by tialys on December 8, 2019 - 17:47

      I do find it odd that people can’t accept a gift at face value. I really do believe ‘it’s better to give than to receive’ although don’t tell Mr. Tialys that as he does buy me rather nice gifts occasionally 🤣

      • #3 by katechiconi on December 8, 2019 - 18:01

        I’m with you, but I’m also not averse to offering my nearest and dearest an opportunity for creative giving. The Husband doesn’t actually buy, but he does encourage me to visit the fabric shop for indulgence purposes, which I feel amounts to the same!

      • #4 by tialys on December 8, 2019 - 18:28

        That could definitely work!

  2. #5 by craftycreeky on December 8, 2019 - 12:47

    I love your craft fair buys, especially the mistletoe – you can buy cotton/wool balls so I might just try this next year! I know what you mean about giving gifts and not expecting anything in return, I once made a friend a little something at Christmas as a thank you for all the lifts she gave me over the year, the following year and thereafter she bought me a present, which somewhat negated the thank you! I’ve made some bags for two ladies this year who give me a lot of lifts, hoping they don’t do likewise :-/

    • #6 by tialys on December 8, 2019 - 17:50

      Maybe it’s like Kate says – it’s the giving of gifts at Christmas that make people feel they have to reciprocate. If it’s at random times as ‘thank-you’ gifts, there might not be the same pressure.

  3. #7 by nanacathy2 on December 8, 2019 - 13:12

    I wouldn’t dare move your moggy either! Your blanket looks great, and good luck with the shirt. I love your craft purchases, and I am very guilty of seeing things in craft fairs and thinking I could make that. Don’t think I have ever said it out loud. As for giving hand made gifts. After years of seeing how some recepients treat my offerings, I now only give to people I know will like my efforts. I wouldn’t give to your luncheon friends because clearly for what ever reason they don’t fall into that category. I think that a long time ago you were my secret santa and I have to say I still get a great deal of pleasure from the bag you made me. I now give gifts throughout the year when I see someone or I might post a surprise parcel to a grand child, that way there is no pressure on me to finish something by a specific time. I bet if made one of your surprise baskets up and sold raffle tickets they would all buy them! Fund raise for the twilight dogs! Just an idea.

    • #8 by tialys on December 8, 2019 - 17:54

      To be fair, I don’t think they are making a comment on the quality of my gifts – a couple of years ago, for example, I made them zipped make up pouches and I’ve seen them in use. I wonder if they just don’t like the pressure of feeling they have to reciprocate despite me insisting I don’t want them to. One of them only makes home furnishings for herself and the other doesn’t have a crafting bone in her body so they would have to buy me something. I will stop though because I don’t want to make anybody feel uncomfortable.

  4. #9 by tinaor on December 8, 2019 - 13:37

    Your blanket looks great. Your craft fair purchases too – oh so true not to say ‘I could make that’ in front of someone selling something they’ve made themselves! It is difficult at craft fairs though – indeed, in my head I am often saying ‘I could make that’ !!! I, like you, tend to buy something that I actually can’t make! As for the ‘no surprises please’ from your friends – that’s a difficult one – yes, you are ok to feel offended – but maybe you’ll have to rechannel your gifts in future. I remember the year my own sister said begrudgingly ‘oh, yet another handmade card …’ – I was totally offended, thought she’d probably hated all the cards I’d gifted her over the years! So, she’s never had another one. After I got over it I told myself ‘well, she’s the one missing out’ – and I stand by that years later. It is a shame your friends won’t get to enjoy your makes. Ooh, here’s an idea – have them all over to you in the New Year and serve homemade chutneys and nibbles – what do you think?

    • #10 by tialys on December 8, 2019 - 18:08

      Well, I have a French friend who will appreciate the edible goodies and, although she was going to receive some anyway, now she will just get more.
      Sisters can be cruel. My youngest sister often finds (or makes) little things she thinks I might like. Our tastes are somewhat different but I really appreciate the gesture and would never tell her if I didn’t like something. On the other hand, she hasn’t got much of a filter and is quite blunt so probably wouldn’t return the favour. 🙄

      • #11 by tinaor on December 11, 2019 - 12:37

        I like the comment about the filter – I have a friend like that. We get on, I know what she says is what she means but it’s not always supposed to sound harsh – needless to say, some people don’t stay friends with her because they can’t work that out!

  5. #12 by claire93 on December 8, 2019 - 14:11

    hmmmm the eternal question of gifting or not, handmade gifts. I’d also feel slightly nose out of joint, at the “no gifts” rule because I always feel the fun at this time of year is in the giving, not in the receiving. Having said that, I did check with my sister first about a home-made present before I made & sent as I was unsure. Basically said “if I made . . . would you appreciate”. To which she replied “yes!” – just as well since she’s my only sister and I wouldn’t have liked to have to disown her!
    Your CAL blanket is looking gorgeous! Mine hasn’t seen any progress since can’t remember when. I’ve been too busy working on dolls clothes and xmas présents.

    • #13 by tialys on December 8, 2019 - 18:12

      Claire – you are a gift giver extraordinaire and it’s obvious it gives you a lot of pleasure.
      I think, if it’s a gift that will cost you a lot of money, time and effort to make, it is probably best to check with the recipient, preferably without giving too many details away. I would never again make a quilt for anybody who hadn’t asked (nay, begged) me to.

  6. #14 by Ann on December 8, 2019 - 14:37

    Ah presents, so complicated… I’m with the others who recommend not giving them anything, even though we know your heart is in the right place. For whatever reason, they don’t share in the joy of gifting. Maybe seeing what someone else has the talent to do makes them feel inferior because they can’t do it too, maybe they just don’t care for handmade items, or maybe they’re downsizing and don’t want to add to the pile of all.the.things. It’s not easy, but just accept that everyone is different and look for their positive points instead.

    • #15 by tialys on December 8, 2019 - 18:16

      Yes, they are very good friends so this wouldn’t make a difference to that. They have made a conscious decision not to ‘do’ Christmas presents which is fair enough and the last thing I want to do is make them feel uncomfortable so I’ll just wait for their birthdays which appears to be an acceptable gift exchanging occasion.

  7. #16 by Wild Daffodil on December 8, 2019 - 15:09

    Oh gosh, I could write a book about my disastrous gift giving and not gift giving history – I have found the whole thing very stressful – now i keep gift giving to a minimum and never at Christmas – apart from making something silly for each of my grandchildren every other year and taking part in our family Secret Santa for the adults (only one gift to get) again every other year. On the years when I don’t do Christmas I go away on a lovely peaceful solo retreat.
    If people actually say they do not want anything it seems wrong (to me) to go against that. We are all different! Christmas carries such ‘weight’, how about making gifts for some other festival like Easter when they might be better received.
    Good luck!!!

    • #17 by tialys on December 8, 2019 - 18:18

      True – I think it’s the ‘Christmas’ aspect that is troublesome.

  8. #18 by Lynda on December 8, 2019 - 16:41

    When I see the lovely things you make I have to wonder at them saying “No, no more”. However, knowing how long it takes to make the lovely things you do, and the care you put into each item you create, then I would just cut them off. Period. No comments to them. Then make the lovelies and sell them in your shop. I’d imagine that those who purchase them must really love them. Wouldn’t you agree?

    I once made decorated gloves for the ladies I worked with at a Christian Preschool. I tried to make each pair according to the recipients personality. Only one loved hers and wore them every day on the playground when it was cold. The rest, I assume, gave them a toss. And one, the witch, looked at hers and said: “What’s this supposed to be!?” and tossed them onto the counter with what I could only characterize as disdain. Ironicle, as I had made hers with some very lovely beading in her favorite colors. I wanted them to be elegant, as she had impressed me that elegance was a part of her character….

    • #19 by tialys on December 8, 2019 - 18:24

      I’m going to be fair to them (only two are involved) and say that I don’t think it’s the gifts they don’t like but the (imagined) pressure to reciprocate and, as neither of them are crafty people, it would probably mean them having to buy something. I’m getting over it a bit now.
      As for your story – that woman sounds neither elegant nor very Christian. You must have been so upset – I had a little tear in my eye when I read it.

      • #20 by Lynda on December 8, 2019 - 18:38

        I am glad you are feeling better about it. ❤
        As for "that woman" (TW) I can tell you that if you asked her she would have adamantly told you she was. Nevertheless, Dena, the cheerful recipient, more than made up for TW by wearing her gift on every cold day. She and I often wore things for the Littles because it made them happy! We often heard, "Teacher I like your [fill in item]". And that will put a smile on your face any day. ❤ ❤ ❤

      • #21 by tialys on December 8, 2019 - 23:02

        I love a happy ending. x

  9. #22 by CurlsnSkirls on December 8, 2019 - 18:11

    Oh, dear, can’t think of any answer to your query that hasn’t already been given; but they have all given me good food for thought. That cat does look permanently situated. I don’t blame her! 🎄🤶🏻

    • #23 by tialys on December 8, 2019 - 18:30

      She’s been off now for at least an hour and I still haven’t done any more work on it. Do you think I might be using my cats as an excuse for my procrastination? 🙀

  10. #25 by thecontentedcrafter on December 8, 2019 - 18:55

    Don’t be offended, it’s their loss, just find two other recipients for your lovely gift selections. Random giving to complete strangers can be a load of fun too. If it were me though I would talk to them about it, maybe a bit later when you have gotten past feeling insulted and genuinely want to know their reasons. Talking moves us past assumptions into understanding and deepens friendships I find. I’m one of those people who think out loud ‘I could make that’ but then usually go on to have a conversation about the fact I wouldn’t – by which time I’ve actually decided if I ‘need’ or ‘want’ the thing on offer which is the decider 🙂

    I’ve failed Christmas miserably this year – due to a glitch in the energy cycle nothing has been sent out despite my early start on cards and little gifts and global posting for Christmas has long since closed so that’s that really. All that means really is a return to random gifting for no particular reason during the year – and that’s quite a lot of fun too.

    • #26 by tialys on December 8, 2019 - 23:12

      Yes! I had a conversation with the felt objects lady and realised she was a woman I’d heard of who runs crafting courses so asked if she’d do a needle felting one. So, watch this space.
      Thinking Out Loud? I do that too. Is it the same as Talking to Yourself?
      I probably won’t mention the gift subject with my friends unless they bring it up first but I won’t be holding it against them in any case as they are very nice people and good friends – even if they are prone to looking a gift horse in the mouth 🐴
      I have also been remiss with sending out cards this year. I usually give my U.K. cards to my husband to ferry over on his commute for posting locally but I forgot and, when he comes back next week, he’s here until after the New Year. I might have to resort to the dreaded e-cards. The French don’t bother with them much so they won’t notice.

  11. #27 by Dartmoor Yarns on December 8, 2019 - 19:57

    That’s a lot of catching up. Blanket is looking good. Worth all the swearing joining all those squares together. Loving the shirt fabric. Lucky Mr T!
    IMO life is too short for needle felting – however I think there are times when it’s the best craft to get the effect you want, so I’m not completely beyond doing it. Not only that, I’m looking at your mistletoe, thinking maybe I could make some felted mistletoe – but not this year, which pretty much echos your comment about thinking we can make what we see at craft fairs. Mind at least I have the equipment.
    Love the mouse and the wreath. Lots of patience and time needed for all your purchases, which makes you very wise to buy and not make IMO.

    • #28 by tialys on December 8, 2019 - 23:16

      I’m happier about the shirt now. I realised I was trying to match the centre notch at the top of the sleeve cap to the wrong place on the body of the shirt. No wonder it wouldn’t fit. ‘Just’ the side seams to do now – which I will do as felled seams – then the cuffs, the dreaded buttonholes and it’s finished. I want to try to get it done and wrapped up before he comes home on Friday so he doesn’t see me working on it as I wanted it to be a surprise for Christmas. I must try to focus.
      I did stab at some roving for a few days a couple of years ago and I can’t say it thrilled me but some of the results I’ve seen do, so I might persevere.

      • #29 by Dartmoor Yarns on December 9, 2019 - 12:57

        You’ve got 4 days – you can do it.
        look forward to seeing some marvellous felted sculptures.

  12. #30 by magpiesue on December 8, 2019 - 21:30

    Seems to me that by now you are over the issue with your non-gifting friends so I’ll not address that specifically. I did have the thought that maybe you could find a charity in the area who would truly appreciate your skills and generosity. A people shelter, for example, would love to have the extra food items! I love the idea of raffling off the baskets of goodies too, to raise money for your elderly critter foundation. Kudos on getting those squares together. That’s going to be such a lovely blanket. You already know the quilt is cat approved. 😉

    • #31 by tialys on December 8, 2019 - 23:22

      Thanks for the ideas Sue. We do hold craft fairs periodically for the elderly doggies and, when we do, I contribute things for the raffle, tombola and for sale. We’re only talking about two friends here – I do have others who have not expressed an aversion to receiving gifts so they will find a home somewhere over the period of festivities. In fact, we just received an invitation to a friend’s house for Christmas drinks next weekend and she will definitely be receiving some goodies as a hostess gift.
      Joining the blanket was a bit of a struggle but I’m looking forward to tackling the border now. At least, now the squares are joined, I can get it off the table and work on it in more comfort.

  13. #32 by The Snail of Happiness on December 8, 2019 - 23:02

    Like Kate, I don’t give Christmas gifts, instead giving a substantial donation to charity each year. However, I love making and giving gifts at other times of the year. Do it randomly and it avoids all the perceived need for reciprocity and you get to enjoy the giving.

    • #33 by tialys on December 8, 2019 - 23:44

      It sounds as if random is definitely the way forward.

  14. #34 by Kate on December 9, 2019 - 10:56

    I have rarely received handmade presents, but the ones that I have, I cherish – paintings from children I used to work with, a Christmas card from a pupil and a cross stitched card from a friend, which come out every year. A hand made advent wall hanging that is hanging on the wall now, and a quilt that was made for my 18th (over 30 years ago!) that my posh Gran made for me. It’s a log cabin in purples and greens, hand pieced and quilted, and I feel I’ve studied every stitch. When Gran went to live in a care home (in her nineties!) I made her a placemat for a small table by her chair. On the next visit, I noticed it had tea stains on it from spillages ( she had lost nearly all her sight). Being very low down in her affections, or so I thought, I didn’t think she liked anything I had made her. I had taken a vibrant quilt to show her, all in oranges and gold and with bold African prints, and lots of quilting for her to feel. She just wanted to tell me her news. I nipped out to speak to the care home manager to find out how she had really been doing, because Gran was always on the bright side even if she was feeling rotten. I looked in to the social room, and there was the quilt being taken round to all the old ladies. The care manager told me Gran sent anything I made round the care home, nurses and all had to have a look, and she told me the things Gran said about my quilting, which I am so happy to remember, now she has passed on.
    I think feeling offended is fine, because it’s about the feeling behind the making that I think should be acknowledged with good grace. It might take one to appreciate one, but I don’t think it’s hard to understand the gesture, even if the receiver isn’t a maker.
    I hope you keep making things, you’re very good at it (I especially loved your dogs!)
    Sorry about long reply, hope you have a lovely Christmas.

    • #35 by tialys on December 9, 2019 - 11:47

      Don’t be sorry – I like long replies.
      I love the story about your Gran. I had a similar experience with my Mum. I made her quite a few things and, although she always seemed quite pleased with what I gave her, I wasn’t completely sure whether or not she really wanted them but, one day, one of my sisters told me that she was fed up with hearing about how talented I was and what lovely things I made. So, I found out in a roundabout way that my gifts were appreciated which made me very happy – even though my sister wasn’t 😉
      You sound as if you are both the ideal giver and receiver of hand made gifts so it’s a shame you don’t receive more – you’ll have to find some more crafty friends.
      A very Happy Christmas to you too.

  15. #36 by PendleStitches on December 10, 2019 - 18:37

    Love the purchases. I love needle-felted items but will never try to make them. Not enough hours in the day!
    As for the gift giving, I’m somewhat bewildered. Whilst I don’t make for many people in my life (they are either more than capable themselves, or completely not the sort to appreciate handmade) I find the insistence on no gifts rather the antithesis of the season. Whatever happened to good old-fashioned grace and manners? I’m offended on your behalf!

    • #37 by tialys on December 10, 2019 - 19:43

      It does seem a bit ‘Christmas is humbuggish’ doesn’t it. I find, living out here, many of my ex-pat friends took early retirement so are living ‘modestly’. Mr. Tialys still works so I’m in a different boat. However, I don’t buy them gifts, I make them, which is completely different and they could always do the same – it wouldn’t have to be sewing or knitting, it could be jam, cakes, or surplus eggs or stuff found in junk shops (they know I like vintage things), etc. Still, never mind. To be honest, though I love them dearly, I think there might be a bit of lack of imagination rather than lack of funds behind it all.

      • #38 by PendleStitches on December 11, 2019 - 13:24

        I completely agree. I think we’re so conditioned to consumerism that handmade or thrifted is somehow seen as “less than” rather than the opposite. I have a retired friend who always gives thrifted gifts and they are the most delightful packages to receive. What she lacks in funds is more than replaced by a magical skill in finding just the perfect item for each of us in the Coven (our little group of crafty friends). We treasure her gifts. And her, of course! 😉

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