Make, Don’t Buy Gifts

This is a woodworking-focused post, as they all are, but first there’s something I need to say:

I hate how commercialized Christmas has become.  There, I said it.  I feel a bit better now.

First of all, Christmas should not be about giving and receiving gifts.  I don’t like malls or their line-ups.  I especially dislike gift-giving just for the sake of gift-giving – not only is it wasteful if the recipient doesn’t really want or need it, but it can be costly too.  To me, Christmas is about being together with family and enjoying the season.  I enjoy the peacefulness that snow brings.  I enjoy looking at all the lit-up houses.  I enjoy the social gatherings.  I enjoy the music.  I enjoy the entire atmosphere of the season – outside of the malls.  One of my favourite musicians, singer/songwriter Anna Gilbert said it best in one of her newest songs titled I Don’t Want A Lot from her album simply titled Christmas.  The chorus goes:

I don’t want a lot for Christmas.
It’s true.  It’s true.
In my heart all I’m wishing for is
Just you, just you.
Snowy nights, pretty lights,
I don’t need that much to get me through…
I don’t want a lot,
But you.

A friend and I had a discussion a few weeks ago about marketing.  We were talking about niches, existing markets, and creating new markets.  I lamented that to be successful, you only have to find something that people will buy – not necessarily something that they need or even want.  I see it a lot of this at this time of year.  I’m talking about that little thing that would make a good stocking stuffer.  It could be the cheapest, junkiest, most useless novelty item but somebody will buy it anyways.  It’s the thought that counts, right?  We’ve got lots of things that we put little value on, but somebody *so kindly* thought that we might appreciate.  They’re probably tucked away in a box somewhere, if they haven’t made it to the garbage yet.

I’m not one of those who starts thinking about what to give as gifts in January, but I do like my gifts to be appreciated, treasured, and used or displayed for as long as they last (hopefully a long time, unless it’s edible).  That’s why I like to make my gifts.  I know anything I make myself will hold a special sentimental value.  A value that nothing bought possibly can, regardless of whether it’s a mass-produced gadget or a handcrafted item.  Also, each item I make is unique.  One-of-a-kind.  Most items I have only made one of, so the recipient has the only one in existence.  However, a couple I continue to make because they are quick and easy to make, require little in the way of materials, and are well-received.  I’m talking about pens and the carved tulips (there are currently three in existence).

Naturally, most of mine are made of wood.  I’ve turned pens and bowls.

I’ve carved flowers and other little things.

I’ve made small boxes.

I’ve whittled handles for (fill in the blank), all of which are fairly quick and easy for me.

A couple of the more labour-intensive things I’ve made as gifts include a cribbage board

and an extravagant dining table.

Yes, these are a little off the deep end, but they were for my friend Dave Kilpatrick who provides most of the wood I use (including the wood used for these two projects, naturally), so he deserved them.  He’s got something else coming this year but doesn’t know about it yet.  And I’m not telling.

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