Random thoughts: Does the John Lewis Christmas advert mean that Christmas has truly begun? If it does, what should we be giving as gifts this year?
The John Lewis Christmas advert has been released, so surely this means that Christmas has finally begun? That we should be inundated with orders here at Hope House Press and Happy Paperclip? Well, Hope House Press and our fledgling Happy Paperclip are doing well, but we still have capacity for more orders, so please do put them in!
For many years, I've been over invested in the John Lewis Christmas advert. Not least because I love the business model and how it's surviving in an environment where so many others are failing. But because over the years, with my marketing hat on, I have had a glimpse into behind the scenes and I'm interested to see how much it is evolving with the marketplace. That's why I'm not surprised to see them going in the direction they have.
I don't know if it's because this year my Dad has died, and my Mum's life has changed beyond all recognition, but the phrase - "some gifts are more than just a gift" really struck me. Our home is currently on the market as we are looking to move to somewhere nearby, which has more space for Hope House Press and Happy Paperclip. I'm worried about leaving something here when we do move - the Studio.
My parents have given me - and my family - so many gifts over the years. The most tangible one was the loan of the money to build my Studio, which now houses Hope House Press and Happy Paperclip. My Dad and my Mum believed in me at a point when others were telling me how I wouldn't make anything of my work. My Dad and my Mum loaned me the money on the basis that I'd pay it back in 12 month time. I did it within 4 months and was very proud of myself. Their gift of the loan gave me so much more than just a gift. They gave me the space for my marketing consultancy business to grow - for people to join me and help me shape the business that I wanted to have in the world. It's only the decision to go all in on Hope House Press that's prevented me from still doing it today. I loved the confidence and independence it brought me and so many other women - mostly mums who wanted to work around their children in. I will always be proud of it. And it was all made possible by my parents, loaning me the money to go for it. So I'm very sad to be leaving it behind.
Alongside my thinking about the value of giving a gift and helping someone else, or making their life easier / better / more interesting, I'm also thinking about whether there is actually any point to buying gifts at Christmas? Why are we giving things to each other that just take up space in their homes, cars, and lives? Why are we clogging up their lives? I appreciate that this is contrary to our positioning as an online retailer - I know that I'm not helping us sell more diaries, notebooks, pencil cases and pens. I totally get that.
With all this in mind, we're giving family gifts this year. We're making boxes for our friends and families that have a game in them, that everyone can play. There will be hot chocolate, marshmallows and sweets and treats in them, to eat and drink whilst playing the game together. We're also going to make them a family games book, so they can document the dates, players and all important scores of all the games they play together. I love the idea that this book will become an almanac of all the times and places that time has been spent together, with winners, losers and no doubt a few arguments along the way.
What will you give this year? Here are some starters for ten....
Which of our notebooks can you give to someone who aspires to be a writer? Whose life is easier or more meaningful when they've downloaded their thoughts to paper?
Which of our diaries can you give to someone who wants to take charge in 2019? Who feels better about their life when they know where everyone needs to be on any given day?
Which of our pencil cases or small leather gifts will make someone smile when you have it personalised with their pet name, or a special date that you both love? Who will know that someone has thought of them when they open their gift and feel it in their heart?
Which of our A to Z personalised notebooks would work for your secret santa? Who do you know who needs to take more time for themselves with self care, or to benefit from thinking positively?
Whoever you are buying for this Christmas, please don't buy them smellies on 3 for 2 in Boots. Please buy them something that shows them that you thought of them. That you know them. That you are rooting for them. That you want all good things to come their way in 2019. That you're giving more than just a gift. Because you never know when they'll take time to look back on it and truly appreciate it.