For my youngest child’s 5th birthday, I gave the best present ever: a beautiful, soft, custom-made blanket capturing handwritten messages of love from our closest family and friends.
It’s not often I can make a claim to such gifted gift-giving, but I do know a good thing when I see one, and Sentiment Blankets is exactly this. With the help of its creator Melissa Mellor, you can design and customize a lasting keepsake that makes tangible the love and support in someone’s life. These personalized blankets are truly a gift of the heart.
I chose to mark my child’s 5th year with our blanket, but any milestone or occasion will do – we are, after all, talking about an excuse to shower someone with love. It could be the perfect answer to the question of “What to get?” for that soul on your holiday list who is impossible to buy for, the parents or in-laws who have everything, a new addition to the family, a young adult who could use a little encouragement at university, someone going through a rough patch, or that person who always gives more than she gets, and just once, you’d like to get a leg up on her.
Sentiment Blankets makes it easy to go this extra mile for someone special. The process went like this: I asked about 20 people in our inner circle to handwrite or draw a birthday wish for our baby, collected the responses, sent them to Melissa, and told her a bit about my child. With these preferences in mind, Melissa provided several designs for the front and back of the blanket. I sent my feedback and we collaborated on the designs until I was happy and Melissa knew she could make a beautiful blanket. Melissa then did her magic behind the scenes, and a short while later I received in the mail a gorgeous, cuddly blanket complete with a lovely handwritten note (of course!) from Melissa.
From my core I can tell you: working with Melissa to create this blanket was one of the most meaningful things that I’ve experienced as a mother. Here’s where I struggle to communicate this with any originality, because the whole thing is so sentimental, and it’s so hard to be unique when you’re feeling sentimental about your kids.
When I decided to create the blanket, we were going through a transitional time as a family. My husband and I have positive, close relationships with our extended family, so we were not especially surprised to find support there. But when I solicited contributions for the blanket, it caught me off-guard completely to witness the depth of that support through the simplest of means: the handwritten note. From the youngest siblings and cousins, to the matriarchs and patriarchs in their 70s, we were engulfed in an outpouring of love for our child, and therefore ourselves.
This doesn’t surprise Melissa, who was inspired to create her first sentiment blanket when her sister was going through a transitional time too: a first pregnancy. Her sister lived far away, and Melissa sought a means to show her love and support that would transcend the distance between them. She gathered handwritten notes from the baby’s parents’ families and created a sentiment blanket, with one side dedicated to the parents to be, and one side dedicated to the baby. “Everyone was moved,” recalls Melissa. “I felt blessed to give it to her.”
Melissa knew she was onto something powerful, and Sentiment Blankets was born. “I really do see the blanket as an opportunity to connect with ourselves, put pen to paper, and create something that will hopefully stay with you,” Melissa explains. “Life can be hard, and in times of trouble, a sentiment blanket can remind us of the love and affection and adoration and support that we have but don’t always see in this crazy hectic world. If you don’t ask for that participation, you may not know the depth of that love.”
These comments came from Melissa, but she so precisely captured my own experience with the blanket, her words could almost have come from me. Here’s where the lack of originality comes in, or maybe it’s better expressed as a common understanding, because I think for those of us who choose to go through a process like this, the experience is similarly moving. It’s the reason why Melissa gets so invested with each blanket she makes: “I truly feel honoured that people would trust me to handle this very personal aspect of their lives.”
When my mother read the messages on her grandchild’s blanket for the first time, she teared up. (So, of course, did I.) My reserved brother-in-law made a point of coming over to me. “It’s a beautiful blanket,” he said. My sister-in-law may have summed it up best of all with just three words: “Everyone needs one.”
We really do.
If you are looking to do something amazing for someone special this holiday or anytime, a sentiment blanket really could be it.
You can splurge on this customized, handmade keepsake on your own, but the sentiment blanket also makes a perfect group gift. Remember to plan ahead because the design and production process takes approximately 3 weeks. Melissa’s FAQ page offers more info.
And then, at the end, you’ll have this tactile, tangible, tender memento. At our house, we call my daughter’s blanket her “love blanket”. She is only 5, but she understands what it is and why it matters. She can’t read yet, so when she received it, we climbed into bed and I read to her each of her “love messages”. She adores the blanket and knows it’s special, although she’ll only realize how much so as time passes. I am so grateful she has it.