As our nights are drawing in, the days are shorter and our contact with the outside world is often limited to rushing between buildings and vehicles, it is time to turn our thoughts towards the season of twinkly lights, laughter-filled gatherings and gift-giving: Christmas! Much as we love Christmas here at Craft Insurance, we know it is not all glitter and tinsel; those festive gatherings can be stressful, we can become overtired and financial anxieties can overshadow the festivities. However, despite all this, and maybe even because of it, we are here to offer some suggestions of how you as crafters can not only find inspiration for a range of Christmas gifts but also how these can bring the real essence of Christmas to your customers. With all the busyness of the holiday period there is much to juggle; now is a good time to get your handmade craft insurance in place, leaving one less thing to do as the days fill up.
In the United Kingdom, we have a plethora of quirky and delightful traditions. Over the years, these have been woven into the fabric of our Christmas festivities, bringing giggles and smiles from children and a sense of stable familiarity to us all in a fast-changing world. However, the pressure to incorporate many of these traditions can, ironically, lead us away from not towards the true meaning of Christmas. So, is there another way that we can enter fully into the joy and sparkle of Christmas without succumbing to an overload of expectations which surround it? Maybe there is, and the key could be that it is in fact not just a UK celebration but a worldwide one.
As we consider this, our focus turns from the inward pressures of producing a perfect Christmas period to a broader outward gaze which digs into the root of a worldwide festival. The thread, of course, which runs through each country’s Christmas traditions is the historical birth of a baby to a yet-to-be-married teenage girl. This happened in a small town in modern-day Palestine, Bethlehem. The baby was born not in a warm cosy room, but in abject poverty, possibly in a cave room where animals were kept. Yet the birth of this child changed the course of human history and has been celebrated with joy through millennia. Can we recapture some of this joy? Can our gifts reflect the gift of Jesus to a broken world? A brief glimpse at Christmas traditions from around the world can offer inspiration for our own gifts.
In the Netherlands, St Nicholas is celebrated. He was a bishop in Turkey in the third century. He suffered and was imprisoned for his faith, but continued to do all he could to serve those in need. Many stories arose after his death, one of them being how he gave dowries to three girls whose father could not afford them. The tale goes that St Nicholas threw three bags of gold coins down the chimney which landed in the girls’ clogs, set by the fire. Today, children leave their shoes out on the night of December 6 in the hope they are filled with treats. This is a beautiful custom based on generosity. Could you use it to inspire a range of gifts? If you work with ceramics, what about small clogs which will fit a few chocolate pennies? This would be a fun, inexpensive tradition for families. Or, what about making a money box in the shape of a clog, taking the tradition back to its routes by giving children the opportunity to save a few of their pennies to help someone in need. Clogs could also be the theme of Christmas tree decorations in a variety of different media.
On a related theme, a large red candle is lit and placed in the window of Irish homes on Christmas Eve. This was traditionally either to guide Mary and Joseph on their journey or to welcome in those who needed shelter. The custom of lighting an Advent candle during the four weeks preceding Christmas was possibly started in Germany. Children all over the world enjoy this ritual now. Both these are opportunities for a candle-making business.
Another, most endearing candle-related custom is the celebration of St Lucia. St Lucy was one of the earliest Christian martyrs and is remembered all over Scandinavia on December 13. The eldest daughter in a family dresses in white and wears a wreath of candles in her hair. She serves coffee and baked treats to the rest of her family. This is such a lovely custom that it has been adopted in other countries, including the USA. Could this be a springboard for another range of gifts? Candles, hair wreaths, a basket within which to place the treats and possibly even a white cape?
An interesting aspect of international Christmas celebrations is that different nations celebrate with gifts on different days. For many European countries, the big day for presents is Christmas Eve but in Hispanic countries, it’s January 6th. This is the feast of the Three Kings, remembering the arrival of the Wise Men to visit the child Jesus. It also marks the last day of the Christmas period for us and often a dreary trudge back to work. However, jump on a plane to Spain or a Spanish-speaking nation and you’ll see fireworks, parties, presents and large-scale family celebrations. This represents an opportunity for crafters looking to sell online to Spanish-speaking customers who will be buying gifts in preparation for this date. With the technology that is out there to create ads in other languages, the sky is your limit!
In all the hurry leading up to Christmas, don’t forget to ensure you have the correct handmade craft insurance in place. We ourselves are a family-run business and as such understand many of the values and aspirations you have, as well as the challenges and financial decisions you will be making. Be assured that we will advise you of the handmade craft insurance that best fits your unique company.
Needless to say, here at Craft Insurance, we are quietly excited and looking forward to getting started to prepare for a wonderful Christmas!