December 02 2011
This year’s John Lewis Christmas advert has attracted a surprising amount of attention. In the now-very-familiar sequence, a boy whiles away his days impatiently waiting for Christmas. However, the end reveals that he’s not counting down the time until he can open his presents; he wants to give an exciting, unseen gift to his parents.
There’s a lot of speculation about what might be inside this box, despite the fictional nature of the gift. To get the actor to smile in the final scene, his mother was on set, calling suggestions from off-screen: “A beautiful handbag for mummy. New shoes for mummy.” Less cosily, Guardian columnist Charlie Brooker suggested that it might, à la Seven, contain the severed head of the family dog.
But, to judge from John Lewis’s haberdashery figures, the putative present might be something the boy made himself. In late November, the company’s sales of arts and crafts materials were up significantly on the same period last year. Festive-themed fabrics, such as red and green felt, have risen by 25 per cent, and there’s also been a substantial increase in paper craft, used to create homemade cards and crackers. Nostalgia and tradition are making themselves felt, as people produce more of their own ornaments and gifts.
To build on this, John Lewis is hosting free Christmas craft classes at several of its London branches next week. During the hour-long sessions, participants will use fabric, lace, buttons and bows to create a range of objects, such as decorations and cards. They’ll also learn how to run up one of this year’s hits: Christmas tree skirts. Ready-made versions of these practical items – which conceal stands, hold presents and catch needles falling from above – are already selling well in the stores.
As the saying goes, it’s the thought that counts – and this is a crafty idea for the festive season.