The best gifts are free . . .

. . . or at least personalized

By Roxanne Fleischer

A Snicker’s Mobile is a shoe box sized cart on K’nex wheels that can be pulled towards the owner with a handy little string anytime he wants a candy bar, which is what it would hold.

It was invented by juniors Katie and Rachel Griffith when they were nine years old, for their grandmother, who happened to have a sweet tooth.

“She loved it,” they recalled.

Perhaps it was the thought and time put into this homemade gift that made it such a success. Or maybe it was the Snickers bars at Grandma Griffith’s fingertips that made it so appealing. No matter the reason, the Snicker’s Mobile was a great gift.

It is often hard to figure out what makes a good gift. Does it mean more if it is free or simply because it is personalized?

“From and for the people you care about most, free, handmade gifts are definitely the best,” said sophomore Kara Constantine, “but for people you don’t know that well, it’s hard to personalize gifts for them.”

It’s true that handmade gifts, if time and effort is put into them, can mean more to the receiver than an expensive gift because it means the gift comes from the heart of the giver.

“Homemade cookies mean a lot when made especially for you, and the only cookies you’ve had recently are mass produced Glar cookies,” said Constantine. “You can’t buy homemade cookies unless you pay someone to make them for you.”

One of Constantine’s most memorable gifts was a photo album from her grandmother with pictures of her and her mother. Constantine’s grandmother also added funny poems to the album that she had written herself. It was a fairly inexpensive gift but with a lot of emotion put into it.

Making gifts is not always an option, especially if the giver lacks confidence in his skills of making and baking. Luckily, personalized gifts can be bought too. Many gift shops specialize in one-of-a-kind gifts.

The Magnolia House in Union Mills just outside of Westminster, sells these types of gifts made by local artists. Jaqui MacMillan-Stewart, co-owner with her husband Chris, has said of her merchandise, “We look at all these beautiful things that we get in here. We never know what we are going to get.” And this is what makes these gifts more personal; there are no two pieces alike.

“I think some people are tired of seeing the same old things that you can get almost at any department store. What makes our shop different is that people can find things that aren’t as usual” MacMillan said.

The Magnolia House had a holiday open house on December 8 and 9, offering door prizes and refreshments to the holiday shoppers who were looking for something different.

A great gift does not require lots of money or fancy wrapping, but it does require lots of thought and should be wrapped with love.