I’ve always said that creating and giving a DIY gift can be a rewarding experience for the receiver. Can creating DIY projects also be a rewarding experience for the giver? Mark Frauenfelder, founder of BoingBoing, founding editor of Wired Online, editor-in-chief of MAKE magazine, and author of Made by Hand: Searching for Meaning in a Throwaway World, thinks it can. In his article written for the Huffington Post, The Courage To Screw Up: Why DIY Is Good For You, Frauenfelder proposes that the process of DIY is engaging, fulfilling, and beneficial. From his own DIY experiences, he has discovered the benefits which can make the crafter an overall better person.
Using your brain, working with your hands, and finding a unique meaning behind each gift makes it special not only for the receiver, but for you. We have a human desire to create, invent and improve. But we are contained in the idea that gifts need to be expensive, mass produced products. Our idea of gifts has become less about quality, and more about quantity. Instead of really thinking about what the person means to us, why we are honoring them, we try to minimize the risk in gift giving in hopes that it will be accepted. What does this say about the meaning of a gift? Shankar Vedantam has written a thought provoking article for the Washington Post about how we as a society have dispatched from the psyche of giving, Searching for a Sense of Meaning in Gifts. Vedantam states, “The idea of the gift goes back centuries. But gifts don’t mean the same thing today as they once did: For one thing, people have far more stuff then they used to, which makes getting a truly unique gift less likely. A lot more gifts also change hands these days, which makes it harder to put a great deal of thought into each gift”. He quotes Antonio Callari, an economics professor at Franklin and Marshall College, “The very idea of the soul of the gift has been lost. The gift has lost its character as a gift and become a product, a commodity”.
How do we fix this and make gift giving what it once was? We minimize the risk of gift giving and bring back its thoughtfulness by creating something from our hands and heart. This not only makes for a better gift, but makes us better people. DIYer, Desiree Campbell at the36thavenue.com, says “Keep in mind that handmade items are not just beautiful but special…I love to give them and I love to receive them”. Check out Campbell’s DIY tutorial list, 25 handmade Gifts Under $5. It’s hard to choose a favorite from her list (and I don’t think I can) but I plan to make these Cowgirl Cookies in a jar for my co-workers! We love getting baked goods at the office, and creating this DIY project will be a rewarding and beneficial experience for me as well! Yippie ki-yay!
You can watch Mark Frauenfelder talk about the benefits of DIY on The Colbert Report here.