A little school friend of Pia’s had a birthday party today. It is a boy who I don’t know very well and I don’t know his parents very well either. I try to give homemade gifts whenever I can, and figured just because I don’t know them that well doesn’t mean I should chicken out and go the store-bought route, right? Why do I still have the handmade stigma hanging over my head, even after years of giving handmade gifts? Does anyone else feel this way? Is there an unwritten code of conduct about when and where handmade gifts are okay? Is there any occasion when a handmade gift is not appropriate? Oh, the twists and turns in my poor brain. Trying to figure out how other people will perceive things is exhausting.
Anyway. We went the homemade route. I first made one set for Pia as an after-school surprise (that topic will have to be a post of its own soon as it has become quite the issue around here) to see if the idea would be a hit. When it captured her attention for more than 10 minutes I figured I was on to something.
The idea began with the ubiquitous wooden clementine crate. Intended to be throw-away packaging, I suppose, but they are made of wood so they seem too good to throw away (and that last bit, my friends, sums up why my house is such a pit). So, naturally, I hang on to the crates thinking they will be good for something. And it turns out they are good for many things, but in this particular instance they are the basis for a fun little bean bag game: The Great Clementine Bean Bag Toss. Yes, it is just as noble and fun as it sounds.
I stitched up 15 bean bags about the size of clementines out of textured fabric that I had in my stash and filled them with dried popcorn and lentils. Jim designed a little rule book complete with scorecards. The rules are simple. Divide the clementines evenly amongst the players. Set down the crate. Take three giant steps back. See how many clementines you can get in the crate. It is simple. But bean bag games are fun. I think. And when they aren’t being used as bean bags they can be used in a play kitchen. Or to throw at people.
Now I just have to hope that I haven’t forever stigmatized Pia as the ‘girl who gives handmade gifts, ew’. And when she is 16 and yelling at me she will say “Mom! The reason I have no friends/Johnny dumped me/I didn’t get invited to the cool kid party/I don’t have a date for Homecoming is because you just had to make me give homemade gifts to my friends when I was five. Do you know how uncool that was? You ruined my life!” Or something like that. Alas.