Ah, presenting people with stuff you’ve made for them – why is it rarely the joyous, altruistic act I anticipate when I plan the bloody things? What starts out as me being very excited to do something lovely for another person has a tendency to turn into a minefield of negative thoughts, any of which I could trip over at any time.
One of my favourite things to do for a gathering is bake something for it. Generally, this goes down pretty well, although I do recall baking for new neighbours and receiving the response, “Oh, you baked” (no exclamation mark).
The chief potential pitfall of baking is obvious: the recipient could hate it (possibly with good reason – when you bake a cake etc, you don’t get to sample it before you unleash it on the poor eater. Top tip: bake cookies, muffins, a tray bake that you can slice up beforehand – anything that can pass through quality control pre-handover). Baking disasters aside, there’s also the possibility/probability they won’t like coconut/banana/cherries/dried fruit. They may also have dietary requirements you are unaware of. I used to give scant regard to all that nonsense; I would make and bestow the gift in good spirit and the recipient’s behaviour after that is up to them. If they give it to someone else, throw it away, whatever, it doesn’t matter: better to try and fail than not to bother at all.
Last week, however, I made some Anzac biscuits for a barbeque being held on Anzac Day. Everyone else would bring meat and alcohol, right? I would provide dessert. Great, topical idea.
Only it was my first time baking in my new oven, so I wasn’t entirely sure how it would turn out. And it was a new recipe. And I got to the point of no return before realising that I was missing an ingredient. I ploughed ahead regardless, tested the final product, decided it was tasty and fabulous and packed the biscuits up in a tin for said barbeque.
The next evening, I handed over my wares: “I made Anzac biscuits!” (announced in cheery, nonchalant tone, omitting oven issues and absent elements of recipe).
“Oh, yes!” (correct, enthusiastic response from recipient).
...the forthcoming consumption of my dessert offering then loomed over me like an unopened letter ALL EVENING. Half of me was worried they wouldn’t want to risk my crappy biscuits; the other half was petrified that the subject would indeed be raised and everyone would have to make happy noises as they were force-fed.
The moment came. I compounded any latent suspicion by announcing that I didn’t want any biscuits, thank you very much, but everybody else filled their bowls (the Anzacs were complemented by vanilla figs and ice cream).
Of course, polite company that I keep, the mmms and oohs soon began. Not that I could really believe them, of course. I refrained from saying anything along the lines of “You don’t have to eat them if you don’t want to”, “Are they REALLY good?” or, worst of all, “Thank God: I didn’t know what I was doing with that new oven, had to leave them in for twice as long as normal and missed out the bicarb! They’re practically a lucky dip!”
The crunch (ho ho ho) came at the end of the evening. I had made loads of biscuits and asked – again, with extreme nonchalance – if they’d like to hang on to the rest of the tin.
The speed at which the tin was snatched up and affirmations emitted gave me my final answer: the biscuits were okay. Cue journey home (and rest of night, and next morning) sounding something like this: “I’m so glad they liked the biscuits. I’m so happy I baked. I’m really pleased I made the effort. So glad I did that. I love that they liked the biscuits.” Repeat ad nauseum.
Alright already! It’s only a batch of bloody biscuits! Nobody actually cares; they may have chucked them all away once you left, for all you know...
Oh no :(
Next time: the baby blanket I have made but not yet bestowed on parents as I’m worried they’ll laugh at it/hate it/laugh at it and hate it.