Ask Jono: Homemade Gifts For Boyfriends
Hi Jono! I've got a question (obviously) and was wondering if you could help me out! I've caught myself an awesome boyfriend, which is great and all, but I DON'T KNOW WHAT PRESENT I COULD GIVE HIM! I'm in college and thus super-poor and can't afford much, but one thing I CAN afford is yarn! I'm pretty good at knitting and crocheting, but... do guys like/not-hate-with-a-passion stuff like that? I got two ideas: a little platypus (his favorite animal) and two sushis with faces (an inside joke of ours). Should I go ahead and make them, or would he get them and think "Lamest. Girlfriend. Ever." and give it to his hyper-active kitty to tear into shreds when I'm not looking??
Oh Lordy. Sparkler, if your boyfriend doesn't like your cute homemade gifts, he is not a boyfriend; he is a boyenemy. If I had a girlfriend crochet me a platypus, I would propose to her. Propose that platypuses are the best, anyway. Romantic gifts are all about being meaningful, after all, because anybody can buy the guy DVDs or games or whatever—you're the only one who can get him gifts with that kind of emotional value to them. So my answer to you (and I hope it's not coming too late) is that your gift ideas are perfect and I absolutely guarantee that any non-awful boy would love them.
However, in the interest of also helping Sparklers whose boyfriends do not want monotremes, I'm going to throw out some other ideas for gifts to make (and avoid making).
Clothes can be tricky. The stereotypical thing you knit for someone is a sweater, but sweaters are hard, and they're also sort of a big fashion choice. That is, you might spend 40 hours lovingly knitting your boyfriend a festive yellow sweater, and he might say "Oh! This is g... greaaaat," while secretly thinking "This makes me look like a banana." Then one day he will tearfully inform you that it was eaten by piranhas. A yellow sleeve will be sticking out of the trash can behind him.
Something like a scarf, a hat, or even socks would be both easier and more likely to see some use. (I have it on good authority from a knitter friend that all dudes will wear a pair of comfy alpaca socks, even if they are bright pink and say HELLO I AM A GIRL.)
Just so you don't take this as a sexist recommendation, I have given food as a gift myself, although in my case it was to my mom, and it was bouillabaisse, which I do not recommend. ("Bouillabaisse" is French for "keep throwing increasingly complex kinds of fish into a pot and do not stop until you have destroyed the bouillabaisse or started a kitchen fire.")
Anyway, when you're giving food as a gift, it's all in the presentation. You can't just hand your boyfriend a lump of meat or a tray of brownies that has been burned into one giant inedible brownie, but anything with sufficient care put into it automatically becomes a good gift. Pinterest is rife with extremely cute cookie ideas that can easily be personalized for the dude in question, or you could just bake something with a heartfelt icing message on it. Is this so sappy that it would give a tree diabetes? Yes, of course. But that's pretty much the point of gifts like this.
If you don't knit, and food is off the table, there's still a ton of other stuff you can do. For example, if the two of you constantly chat online, print your chats out (most IM programs, and FB, keep logs) and bind them into a book. Or—because I don't think I've ever met a girl who didn't have a talent for scrapbooking—put together a romantic scrapbook, which serves to remind your boy of everything you've done together, lest he wake up one morning and forget that he has a girlfriend. Or decorate a picture frame and enclose the best picture of the two of you, lest he forget what you look like.
Personalized Online Stuff
If you insist that you can't glue stars on a picture frame without wreaking havoc, you can always get the internet to personalize stuff for you. For example, I recently used Spoonflower to print stuff onto fabric, which I then sewed into Homestuck-related golf club covers for a friend of mine (they are terrible and don't stay on golf clubs, because I am me, but it's the thought that counts). And maybe you can't even imagine saying something as lame as "I love you, here is a lamp," but a one-of-a-kind personalized lamp can decorate a form room pretty nicely.
If none of that floats your boat, well: you are a girl, think of something. Frankly, you should all be telling me your clever gift ideas. I once wracked my brain for what to give a girlfriend and settled on "uhhhhh... an extremely expensive skirt that doesn't fit." It was 100% useless. You know what she gave me? An annotated Chamber of Secrets, but all the annotations were her writing in the margins; silly footnotes about the characters, or me, or whatever. You could Google "clever gift ideas" until Google assumed you were a holiday-related spambot and you wouldn't come across that idea, because she just came up with it. And that is why, Clueless Girlfriend, you are totally not clueless, and a knitted inside joke about sushi is one of the very best kinds of gifts—it's meaningful on a personal level. If you do something customized, something that reminds him of you, he's definitely going to love it.