Gift-Giving: Make or Buy?

A little over two months has passed since Christmas and I’ve had some time to think about gift-giving.

I’ve been wondering what’s better: make or buy?  Which is preferred by others: make or buy?  Does it matter?  Do people care?

Each year, we exchange Christmas gifts with a few friends.  At first, in the early years, it was mostly ornaments or Christmas-themed items.  Then, I learned how to make fudge.  I made batches and batches, sending gift boxes all around, and the die was cast.

The next year, some of those who had received a box started asking about it a month or so before the holidays and I just didn’t have the heart to disappoint them.  Fudge it was.

Gift-Giving: Make or Buy?

The tradition is so old, I have no idea how many boxes have left my kitchen; it’s become my signature gift.


Last Christmas was a different.  My free time was the most limited it has ever been and, well, making fudge is time-consuming.  Only three packages of fudge were mailed.  I feel certain those who didn’t receive their yearly stash felt slighted, even though they did receive a gift from us…a store bought token of remembrance.

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I felt tinges of guilt.  I felt like I had let people down.  I felt as if I didn’t meet expectations.  The thing is, I honestly don’t know if they cared one way or another.  Maybe they were relieved they didn’t get another package of fudge. 

FINALLY! Thank God! No more fudge!

Then, I felt ridiculous for feeling anything other than grateful that we could acknowledge those we love with something we hoped they would enjoy, instead of nothing.

This year, Christmas ’14, may be the end to the tradition altogether.  Of course, there will be gift-giving, a little something selected with each family in mind, just, maybe, no fudge.


The other side of this delicious coin is that it’s rare for us to receive anything homemade.  Folks are busy, dadgumit!

But this last year, one of our friends (Oh hai, Janet!) sent us homemade toffee for Christmas.  It was a delight!


When I opened the package and saw that lovely, chocolate, toffee goodness, I came thisclose to crying.  It was beautiful and delicious, but mostly I understood what a homemade gift meant.  That someone took the time to make something from their heart and kitchen, to send to ours, seemed extraordinary.

Long ago, there was a time when most gifts were homemade.  Slowly, as the commercialization of our beloved Christmas took over, to receive something homemade was looked down upon as tacky and cheap.  Today, we are back, full circle, to appreciating the time someone takes to make something with their hands, mind or heart; they are beautiful offerings with glad tidings of joy.

We’re a busy people.  For most occasions, it’s easier to shop online and get ‘er done.  Free shipping included?  No long mall lines?  Shopping in our pajamas?  Well, Merry Christmas to us!

Yet, when I saw that toffee I marveled at the gift that wasn’t in the box.  That my friend found us valuable enough to spend her time creating, was the bigger, the more valued, gift.

I instantly felt bad all over again for those who hadn’t received their fudge.

So what’s a gift-giving gal to do?

Make or Buy?

Either.  Despite my pangs of guilt, I say do what you can in the best way you can.

I can think of gifts from each camp that I’ve been thrilled to receive.

When I give, I try my best to offer a piece of myself and a thought towards the recipient.  Whether it is something made with love from my kitchen, or something purchased, I keep the person to whom I’m giving in mind.

Either way, I’m extending my heart to them; I’m saying, “You’re valuable/significant/important to me.”

Isn’t that what matters the most?

(the uprising from the fudge-neglected may offer their rebuttal in the comment section)



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  1. I feel guilt too if buying a gift and wondering if maybe they didn’t quite like it. I’m a huge fan of homemade gifts, especially something like this. My parents neighbors use to always bring us a whole box of different filled goodies at Christmas – it’s a very fond memory of mine.

    • I am a sucker for homemade, but gosh dang it, time is not my friend lately. I have less free-time. Folks are gonna be saddy sad this year.

  2. I love to make gifts! I also am generally low on time because of the crazy downward spiral that is Halloween-Thanksgiving-kid’s birthday-Christmas. So, I make where I can, especially with the little one involved. And then I do my best to find thoughtful, useful gifts for others.

  3. I have more time than money, but not a lot of either, sadly. I look back on our pre-kid, two-income giving and feel some pangs of regret. But I figure the family would rather have our two awesome kids in it than another tchotchke to dust or calories to burn. Right? (Or am I just soothing my guilt here?)

    • RIGHT! Seriously. When I was a younger mommy, I used to think that raising kiddos was all that I’d be doing forever…then, Boy magically grew up and (after college) suddenly, there was more fun money. I’d trade the fun money for more kiddos. SO there you go. You’re in a season, that’s all.

  4. This year I made all my kids’ Valentine’s, and imagine my horror when, ten minutes ago, my daughter brought me her entire bag of Valentine’s that she never gave out! I would have felt much better about buying those!

    • Holy Smokes! IF they don’t have specific names, you’re one step ahead of NEXT YEAR! Silver lining, I has them.

  5. I usually make most of the gifts. Here and now I will buy them though. I usually will buy when things are on clearance and add them to my gift closet stockpile. Then when a gift time comes around I just go to the closet. Gordmans had their after Christmas clearance and I walked away with over $200 in gifts for like $20. Haha.

    • Mrs. Tucker says

      I LOVE stalking the clearance sales for my gift stash. Smartest thing to do. You get high quality gifts at wallet lovin’ prices. Love your site’s name!

  6. Patti
    Thank you for the mention. I loved making the toffee this year. It was a first. I guess now that I am an empty nester I had the time to do it. My take….first and foremost, any gift is welcome and special because I know someone took the time to think of us/me. Second, I do find myself circling back to homemade stuff (Etsy anyone) looking for those things that are not mass produced. So the toffee was with that in mind. Simpler days and simpler things. Now having said all that, I have no idea if I will have the time next Christmas……

    • Mrs. Tucker says

      Listen, momma, you got me hooked and now I EXPECT MY TOFFEE! LOL. Not really. I mean, yes, really, but if anyone understands, it’s me. I wish I could knit…then you’d get scarfs. I wish I could blow glass…then you’d get, um, whatever folks make when they blow glass. As it is, I have no idea what this Christmas will bring. But, it doesn’t really matter when there’s love, right? ~coughTOFFEELOVEcoughcough~

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