Why do we do what we do? Why do we spend so much more money and time making something for someone, rather than going to the nearest retailer and plopping down $20 on a trinket instead?
I personally have two reasons:
1. My mother told me some horror stories of shopping the day after Thanksgiving, one of which involved a hurried shopper pushing a wheelchair-bound customer into a wall to get them out of their way, all in the name of obtaining the best sale items. I decided then and there that if a gift wasn't handmade by me, it wasn't getting given. There have been times when people got a bag of homemade chocolate chip cookies from me, but they were made with love. One Christmas morning, the cookies were even warm...and who doesn't like warm fresh chocolate chip cookies? I guarantee they won't end up in the Goodwill bin...
2. The second reason is that when I make something for someone, I put a lot of myself into it. I have a couple of quilt tops made and stored, things that I made to try a new pattern and now what do I do with it, that kind of stuff. But I don't have finished quilts "in stock" for a random person (does anyone else have Justin Case in their closet?). I like to personalize the item, and while I am making it, I think of things that will appeal to the recipient and incorporate them into the quilt. For example, I recently made a quilt for a Volkswagen Club, the members of which are mostly classic Beetle owners. I quilted a likeness of the VW logo in the center (not identical tho - no copyright issues), along with a script of Ferdinand Porsche, the man who engineered the Beetle. Also included was 1945 (the year it was first marketed), "flower power", the words "rear mounted" and "air cooled" which pertain to the Beetle's rear mounted engine - many fun facts were FMQ'd as the quilting into the quilt. It was interesting and fun to do, and I know the ultimate recipient (the quilt will be raffled off this weekend) will love it. (I titled the quilt "One Day in Stuttgart" because that's where the Beetle was engineered, by the way - a little fun fact for next time you want to impress your friends with useless trivia.) That's one reason I do things like this.
I guess the most important reason though, is that when you do a job for financial reimbursement (and there's nothing wrong with that, we've all enjoyed paying gigs!), the money flows through your hands too quickly, but when you give someone something that contains your blood, sweat, tears, and (most importantly) your love, the look on their face when they first see it will be something you can revisit for years...long after that money is gone.
It must be that time of the month or something, I'm normally not this mushy!
So....why do YOU do what you do?