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Friday, April 19, 2024

Give the gift of effort

The best type of gifts are the ones you make yourself


By OWEN RUDERMAN — opinion@theaggie.org


I’ve never been a very physically creative person. Sure, as an English major, I can craft a solid narrative, but when it comes to creating something tangible, I’m not particularly gifted. I’m sure many can relate; it takes a lot of effort to build or make something — a toy, a meal, a sentimental gift — all by yourself.

But the thing is, it’s precisely that effort which makes those things so great. I believe that dinner tastes better when you make it yourself and that getting an A in a class that was difficult feels better than getting an A in a class that didn’t challenge you at all.

I think this also applies to gifts. The best gifts I’ve personally received have been the ones that I knew took the person a lot of time and effort to create. For example, for our six-month anniversary, my girlfriend gave me a hand-crafted, completely original board game based on milestones in our relationship. It’s one of the most amazing gifts I’ve ever been given. It may not have cost that much money to make, but the time, effort and love that went into it are worth more than the individual materials.

That’s not to say that I hate gifts that aren’t handmade. I always appreciate when someone goes out of their way to give me something, whether it’s food, an item I put on my wishlist, a simple gift card or a wad of cash. However, I strongly believe that the best gifts are the ones you never explicitly ask for.

This is why I’ve begun to try my hand at making some of my own gifts from scratch. A while back, in anticipation of one of my anniversaries with my girlfriend, I headed down to the local craft store and bought a little wooden box, some paint, glue and stick-on letters and got to work on making her a jewelry holder. The end result was a little sloppy and definitely simple, but she loved it. She could see that I put effort and care into the box — something that a normal gift can’t express nearly as well. 

Overall, the price of the materials I used to make the box wasn’t even that much, and I feel like it meant so much more to her than if I were to simply buy something cute from Amazon for the same price.

Granted, there have been times when I’ve toed the line a little bit. For example, I wanted to get her something that was unique and represented our relationship but had no idea what I would make. I decided to go online and buy some items that could be customized. So far, I’ve given her a body pillow with a picture of me on it (we’re long distance, okay?) and an engraved photo locket. I think something like this, while maybe not as impressive as something handmade, is a little more personal than a regular gift.

Ever since I’ve tried to be more original and creative with my gift ideas, it’s been so much more fun to give them. I love seeing the reactions of people as they open my present and are totally surprised, almost in disbelief, that I’ve taken the time out of my busy schedule to make them a customized gift.

So if you have a friend, family member or loved one who has a birthday coming up, or you feel like you just want to give them a gift to show that you care, I highly encourage you to try your hand at crafting something personalized — even if you’ve never done something like that before. The best part is, it doesn’t even have to be good! No matter how shoddy, a gift you create yourself shows genuine effort, which is something money can’t buy.


Written By: Owen Ruderman — opinion@theaggie.org

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed by individual columnists belong to the columnists alone and do not necessarily indicate the views and opinions held by The California Aggie.