Recently, a dear family member decided that she wanted to have her celebration of life BEFORE she died. Her reasoning was that she wanted to enjoy the fun. And, it made perfect sense to us--because she's just that kind of amazing lady. So, off we went to Denver.
We were staying with Uncle Andy and Aunt Lynn, and it was our first visit with them since they moved into their new house. Naturally, we wanted to bring them a housewarming gift. But what? This is when I defer to my three rules of housewarming gifts:
1. I often think of this quote from William Morris, the English designer and artist who is strongly associated with the English Arts and Crafts Movement:
"Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful."
Of course, I am also sort of an efficiency nut, so I always try to "kill two birds with one stone." Why not give something useful AND beautiful?
2. Handmade means more. It's true, handmade items have a bit more spirit in them and I firmly believe that we humans tune into that. Giving a handmade item also implies more thought was put into the gift. My disclaimer here is that I am talking about well-made items. Unless you are a sweet kiddo just mastering his/her craft, messy, poorly constructed items might imply the opposite of thought. Luckily, if you aren't that crafty of a person, there are ample craftspeople around you, making really beautiful, useful items--and it's perfectly acceptable to select one of those. The handmade nature of it will still be appreciated.
3. Beauty is subjective. Right? Sure, there are things that are considered universally beautiful, but when it comes to someone's house, they most likely have a specific style and taste. Know what that is. Before getting them a gift, talk to them casually about what the house looks like, how they are decorating, the features that they love about it, the colors they are using. This will help you find something appropriate or if you are having something custom-made, it will really help you dial it in so that the recipient will find it to be the most useful, most beautiful, most perfect gift ever!!! They will just feel the love in that gift.
I am sure the suspense is killing you. What did we give Uncle Andy and Aunt Lynn? Luckily, we know a guy who makes cool, artful, concrete stuff. We gave them a cheerful sunflower planter to go with their warm, joyful, tidy house!
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