One of the biggest challenges I anticipate facing this year is the question of what to do about gifts.
I love giving gifts and try to do it as much as possible, but there are some things that bother me about gift-giving culture these days:
1. First, I am really uncomfortable with "obligatory" gifts, where you feel you must get a person something for a holiday or event and end up buying them random junk because you don't know what to get them and can't show up with nothing. In high school, this obligatory present was often manifested in Bath & Body Works lotion gift sets (I think I still have a few of those lying around my parents' house).
2. I really don't like registries. Really, really don't like them. I understand that they are very commonplace these days, and that people put out registries with the absolute best of intentions in order to help out their guests, but they still make me really uncomfortable. (Sorry to those of you who love registries -- I know for some guests and celebrants they just make everything easier!). Partly this is because I think the best part of a present is the surprise aspect and the thought put into it, which you don't necessarily get with a gift off of a registry, and the other part is just feeling really uncomfortable with the idea of giving someone else my shopping list to have them go out and buy a specific item and wrap it up for me. It just doesn't feel genuine. So yes, no judgement whatsoever to those who are fans of registries, but I personally really don't like them.
(Above, my solution to my first gift-giving dilemma of 2013)
So this past weekend we had a family baby shower to go to, and I wanted to bring something that was more a little more personalized than a registry item, yet not something totally useless or random (like a re-gifted lotion gift set :) ). We knew we wanted to give them a gift certificate to a local hot tub spot (as the mommy-to-be has been sincerely missing her ability to sit in a hot tub for the past 8 months!), but wanted to bring something else tangible for them to open at the shower.
My solution was this diaper cake. I found a beautiful platter at goodwill, put a bottle of homemade wine in the middle (the significant other is an excellent vintner), and surrounded the bottle with approximately 80 eco-friendly diapers (well, as eco-friendly as disposables can be!). I then purchased a few baby bath items (sponges, wash cloths) and the Ernie cake topper (they love muppets) new.
Thus the present was part used, part homemade, and part new, which I felt was a good compromise. And the parents-to-be loved it, which made me happy.
I think that gifts are going to have to be somewhat of an exception to my rules this year. I will definitely try to utilize used and homemade items, but when used or homemade is not appropriate, or when I find something new that is perfect for the recipient, I'm not going to restrict myself, because I love giving presents and seeing the smiles on people's faces when they receive them :)
Basically this was just a really long post about a diaper cake, but I hope you enjoyed!