Loving Hands at Sandringham

SDRandCo (88)
A handmade gift can go terribly wrong but it can also go wonderfully right . . .

Imagine you’re in love.

Everything is going so well and seems so perfect.

But you’ve been invited to Christmas at his grandparents’ house and need to get a gift for his grandmother.

The pressure is on . . .

Oh, and, by the way, his grandmother is the Queen of England.

I love the story about now-Duchess Kate, who found herself with this dilemma.

How do you impress the woman who has everything? How do you set the right tone, hit the right mark, choose the right gift?

Kate Middleton seems to have gotten it just right. She turned loving hands to the task and made her gift, chutney from her own grandmothers’ recipe.

According to the reports, Kate says she thought, “’I’ll make her something.’ Which could have gone horribly wrong. But I decided to make my granny’s recipe of chutney.” Kate was reassured when the chutney appeared on the table at dinner the next day.

It seems we can learn quite a lot from Kate’s decision and from Queen Elizabeth’s response.

From Kate we learn to trust our instincts. A handmade gift, done reasonably well, communicates differently than any purchased gift can. It speaks to a confidence that the receiver will understand the gesture and be moved by it. It acknowledges that gifts are about something other than cost. And it hints at Kate’s respect for and connection to her own family, to use her grandmother’s recipe.

From the Queen we learn that it’s important to use and enjoy a handmade gift in the presence of the giver. I think the handmade gift giver is often anxious about the reception of such a gift. Is it good enough? Will the receiver think the gift is tacky or that the giver is a cheapskate? Will the receiver understand the spirit in which the gift was made and given?

Kate Middleton took a chance and Queen Elizabeth understood and appreciated it. And from this, one expects, a certain kind of connection was made that should serve them well.

So, you, you with a gift for baking or knitting or growing beautiful flowers—trust your gift and make a gift of it to others.

And you who receive such gifts—use them and enjoy them in the presence of the person who did the making.

After all, if it works for the Queen of England and the Duchess of Cambridge, it can certainly work for the rest of us!

44 thoughts on “Loving Hands at Sandringham

    • It’s a really sweet story, isn’t it? And so reassuring, that people are people, no matter whether they live in a castle or a little 1950s ranch house.

  1. What a great story…I wonder if Kate ever made homemade cookies for the Corgis, what an impression that would have made!!! Oh Kerry, your stories always feel like a good of cup of tea!!! xo Johanna

    • She’d get HUGE points for making cookies for the Corgis! I wonder if she has thought of that? And I’m sure the queen would approve of your reference to tea . . . 😉

  2. I love this story! I give Christmas bags to neighbors that include homemade salsa, chilli sauce, Chex mix, cookies and fudge. They all look forward to their goodie bags every year and I better not leave out one item. It is nice to know they appreciate my effort!

  3. That’s a great story Kerri, what a wonderful solution to a really daunting task! I always have some moments of doubt when sending my creations out into the world – are they good enough, will they be received in the spirit they are given………. It’s an intriguing lack of confidence! I’m sure Kate felt the same way, right up until she saw her gift on the table!

    • I feel the same uncertainty when I give away things I made. I’ve been given handwoven towels to members of my sewing group on their birthdays. They’ve seen each other receive them, they’ve all loved them, and yet I am still nervous when each new person unwraps one! Silly we are but so human . . . .

  4. I’m a great one for handmade gifts. When my children were small, I always encouraged (aka ‘forced’) them to make prezzies for grannies, godparents and so ons. Anything from handmade sweets of doubtful hygiene to tie-dyed handkerchiefs. But the recipients were real troupers who saw their way to appreciating the efforts involved, and I definitely think it means more than running to the supermarket for a box of chocs. You’re very well informed about the British Royal Family by the way. More so than me!

    • I actually know very little about your Royals but apparently Kate was on our popular Today show and told this story. So there were news stories about it–Americans love this sort of homey detail that makes the royal family seem “just like us.” And good for you, teaching your children about the value of a thoughtful gift!

  5. Great story! I also think that a gift of something to eat, or plant for someone who has everything often works well as it can be appreciated but will not add to the clutter of belongings.

    • I thought it said a lot about Kate–such a sensible, self-assured solution to a tough situation. It made me like her, and like the queen for putting the chutney right out on the table.

    • Do you worry every time you give away something you made? I swear, I do. I’m very ego-involved, apparently, and desperate for the recipient to like what I made.

      • To a certain extent. If it’s food I could very well have eaten myself and they don’t like it, that’s an ‘ugh.’ If it’s a craft of some sort, I can worry as well, but it’s just a bit of regret if they don’t like it… I think I’m more invested in the food. 😉

  6. You’re right though….it could have gone terribly wrong! I always used to make gifts for people as we had so little money and I enjoyed the making. However, so many people didn’t know what they were getting (is that woven (cross stitch) is that crocheted (knitted)) that I stopped making gifts except for a select few who understood. Or if they didn’t know what the technique was, they were so thrilled to have a hand made item. My ego is involved and I do want a certain response – even though it shouldn’t be that way! ;-D

  7. Lovely post Kerry! I love getting home-made gifts – they are so special and I feel the giver has thought so carefully about the gift and what I would like. I really appreciate the thought and the time spent by the giver. I haven’t had the time to make things recently but I used to knit and crochet gifts for people. Always so nerve-wracking waiting to see if they’d like it!

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