Holiday Shopping: Arts and Crafts Style

I hope that none of you were lured away from the safety of your homes this past weekend by promises of door-buster savings and midnight deals. The idea of standing outdoors in line for hours to buy the latest fad in toys or to convince myself I was getting the best deal on a television set has never had any appeal to me — nor, I suspect, to you.

Not that we don’t enjoy a certain kind of shopping. Show me an antiques mall or even a garage sale with more than just Gerber-stained baby clothes and a broken bicycle, and I’m lunging for my turn signal. The same also applies to eBay, appropriately labeled ‘the nation’s yard sale.’ I’ll search for a few key items and if one pops up and passes muster for me, I’ll place a bid or click the Buy It Now button.

Fortunately for many of us, our list of people for whom we actually shop for during the holidays and birthdays has grown shorter, and even then they no longer look to us for key essentials. Instead, we have the luxury of watching for unique items, the strange and the unusual. Rather the risk buying yet another shirt, coat or blouse that is the wrong size, style or color, I leave that to them, and instead go looking for something they might never have bought for themselves.

While I’m not sure if it works for everyone, my own collecting instincts have often been activated by a gift. Once it was a 1917 Arts and Crafts silver spoon by the Wallace Company; another time it was a carved shore bird. Then there was the Grant Wood print, the Lester Robb painting, the vintage fishing lures, the hand-braided rug, the Western stoneware crock, the 1904 stereoscope cards, and my personal collecting list goes on and on ….

While I hesitate to actually reveal any of my current stash of gifts, some of which I have had hidden away since last summer, let me pass along a few suggestions for gift ideas.

While no one enjoys collecting anything too rare to ever find, I have found that antiques malls and the internet have an ample assortment of affordable Arts and Crafts items, such as later Van Briggle, Roseville, Rookwood and Weller pottery, as well as hand-hammered copper bowls, vases and bookends. The first place to look for a starter gift may actually be your own bookcase, where tucked in the back of the bottom shelf is something that someone else would enjoy and appreciate as much as you did the day you found it.

And possible gifts don’t have to be limited to antiques and collectibles. We have scores of Arts and Crafts artisans hand-making everything from pottery and textiles to prints, metalware, frames, furniture, jewelry and more. They are all available online and ship promptly.

Next, don’t overlook your own skills. Everyone appreciates a simple, hand-made gift, whether it be a necklace you made, a cutting board you glued up in your garage, a footstool you restored, or a picture, print, tile or table runner you matted and framed.

Finally, give the gift of history, especially family history. By our age most of us have accumulated a fair number of family heirlooms: watches, jewelry, books, photographs, tools, or even furniture. While we still cherish them, now is the time to pass them along to a younger generation, to whom you can still explain the significance of each one — and light the spark that someone once lit for you.

Until next Monday,

Nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm.