Letter from the Editor: Homemade for the Holidays
It seems obvious that I'll be making the majority of my Christmas presents this year. But I'm learning that's not something to take for granted. I'm discovering how rare a talent it is considered to be able to make things, and how few people believe they could too!
Often I find myself socializing with a group of professionals – people in finance, medicine, law, education. When they ask me What Do You Do, I find it hard to explain. “Well, I make stuff. And then I take pictures of it, and write about it and tell you how you can make it too. And I help other people who want to do the same.”
The amount of admiration I receive for knowing how to “make stuff,” overwhelms me. It seems like basic life skills to me, nothing too impressive. The fact that people whose work I admire could be envious of mine is not just flattering, it’s telling. While DIY is a natural way of life for me, there are still millions out there (loose estimate), who have yet to discover their own hidden hand-crafting talents.
For example, I was recently scouring Chinatown for some interesting feathers to use in my Feathered Headband Instructable, when I struck up an interesting conversation with a shop owner. She didn’t know where to find feathers for sale, and was wondering what I needed them for. When I explained the project, she expressed amazement at my ability to make something. By myself. With my hands. Maybe this comes from spending all day peddling cheap merchandise direct from China (which is an accurate portrayal of this particular shop), but she was so impressed with the idea of hand-crafting things, that she invited me into the back of her shop, served me tea, and even gave me a tiny jade dragon to keep (since Dragon is my Chinese zodiac sign). What a turn of events!
I finally realized just how impressive hand-crafting is when I learned from my mother that she and her friends are exchanging only hand-made gifts this year. It suddenly struck me how big a deal that really is! Not only is DIY a way to overcome feeling beaten down by the economy, it’s a way to share something personal with the people you love. It’s a challenge to yourself to stretch your imagination and learn new skills. The value of the gifts you make will far exceed anything you might have bought in a shop (even with Black Friday sales!). And you know what? It’s not hard. It doesn’t have to be. Make cookies, or candy, or cake in a jar! Make a lovely zippered case with no sewing experience needed! Write a letter – by hand. Make a coupon book redeemable for chores and errands. You know what your skills are.
But how do you convince someone who doesn’t think of themselves as handy or crafty or creative that they really are? How do you let them know how much more treasured a hand-made gift is than something store-bought? My question for you is: How will we spread the DIY movement this season? Who can you convince to make their gifts this year?
And, oh yeah, what are you gonna make?