Last week I launched my 2007 Christmas Boutique, a virtual "store" where my family members (all 19 of them) could select their own Christmas gifts from the goods I had been making all year. As I said in my email to them all, "There's nothing worse for a handcrafter than to give a gift that the recipient doesn't want or like. It's bad enough to do that with a bought gift, but even worse, in my opinion, to spend hours making something that is a 'miss' rather than a 'hit'. It's embarrassing for everyone."
Here's how it worked. I gave them a url to go to, where they could browse through the photos and leave comments under any that appealed to them. I encouraged them to select more than one, and to feel free to pick any that others had already selected. This was not a 'first come, first served' scenario. I reserved the right to make the final decision, and figured I could make whip up another one or two items if any were particularly popular.
My goal was to (a) give people something they really wanted (b) learn more about my loved ones' preferences; after all, it's been 10 years since I lived in Australia and spent any meaningful time with them; some of them weren't even born when I left.
Well, my family embraced the idea with enthusiasm (whew!), and promptly cast their votes. There were a few surprises.
Children and grownups alike clamoured for the locked boxes, so I'll be scouring the op shops over the next few days for more wooden boxes suitable for this purpose. I've started knitting another beanie (index finger stuck awkwardly up in the air) and I'll try to make another couple of stupid sock creatures.
Nobody was interested in the batik placemats, which is fine, because I love them.
All in all, I am really happy with the response, and hope that my idea has reduced a little Christmas angst. Other handcrafters out there might like to try it!