Stocking Stuffers

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There is a tradition in my family of getting Christmas stockings. I assume it is the same with every family who celebrates the consumerist side of Christmas.  What I don’t assume is that the stuff in the stockings (which I call stocking stuffers, but MSWord seems do disagree with) is the same.  I have seen some stockings full of stuff that would be considered “big” gifts in my house.

In my case, most of the stuff filling the stocking comes from the dollar store, or is chocolate, lottery scratch tickets, or personal hygiene products. This year, amid all that stuff, I got some Panini stickers and the album to put them in.

Having checked their website, it seems like Panini makes a variety of products to entice collectors and fans of sports, comics, animation, and others. From my childhood, I mostly remember hockey, rock stars, and famous battles.  My students have told me that the World Cup (of soccer) is a guaranteed seller in their country.  I suppose they sell it here, but I have never seen it.

In this book there are 505 stickers needed. The book came with ten stickers.  With each pack containing 7 stickers, one would have to buy 73 packages of stickers without getting doubles.  It seems like a huge investment to me.  This seems rather unlikely.  According to the website in Canada, you could buy each card for 22 cents.  That means approximately 111 dollars.  Definitely cheaper than buying packages of cards.  Of course, you can only buy 40 of them….so they say.

In this age of collecting, there are lots of little frills; foil cards, all star cards, rookie cards, skills competition winners, and of course a break down of the Stanley Cup finals.  No trophy case, and not all team logos have stickers.  Some teams arenas have pictures….not sure why.

This would be a good job for me.  I would love to design some collector series.  Maybe cards.  I wonder how you get that job?  I will save this thought for another blog.

As for fun…..once a collector, always a collector. I still get a minor rush out of these things.  Opening the package, scanning through them…. feeling rewarded when I get a new card, or a special card….feeling disappointed when I got another double.

This was a fun stocking stuffer, but I don’t know if I will continue buying them, or even trying to complete the set. Maybe, when the season is over, there will be a drastic reduction in price.  Or maybe I will just buy some hockey cards…

 

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Rummaging Through The Bookstore

I had a chance to look around the bookstore yesterday and I have a few observations I want to share with all you hobby people out there.  And, whereas I might whine about them gearing up for Christmas on my other blog, this will be a more positive blog.

The Gift of Literacy

I have to admit, shopping at a bookstore is one of my favourite things.  I don’t do it as much as I used to because I generally take advantage of the wonderful library system we have in Ontario.  While I used to love having a whole library of books, I have moved so many times that I really don’t need that huge library any longer.

Oddly enough, I have met so many interesting people in the bookstore over the years.  This includes my university bookstore, Kinokuniya in Japan, and the soon to be closed World’s Largest Bookstore in Toronto.  Just yesterday, I met someone very interesting… but I digress.

I just wanted to say that books and things you can buy at the bookstore make fantastic gifts.

Just for Christmas

I noticed that there are a lot of interesting gift packs for Christmas.  I came across a catapult kit, a boomerang kit (I was sorely tempted….but then I would have to wait until spring…..but I am still tempted.  Besides it’s orange.  I might be able to find it in the snow.  Besides, it might come back to me……) learn guitar kit.  The list is endless.

Add to that, there are so many interesting book sets.  The complete Calvin and Hobbes is now on sale in paperback for those of you who couldn’t justify getting the hardcover version.  I saw so many interesting things that I want to go back today and spend more time looking around.  Maybe I will.  Maybe I will pick up the whole Ender’s Game series just so I can watch the movie and not look like a complete newb.

If you’re shopping, the bookstore is a good place.  Sadly, hobby books for trains, model cars and the like don’t seem to get much shelf space in these stores.  I guess the hobby shops have sewn up that market, but that really isn’t fair.  I would think that it would be easier for the hobby inclined to send anyone wanting to buy them a gift to the bookshop rather than the hobby shop.  For some, the hobby shop is a little intimidating.

Sorry for rambling, but I roamed around the bookstore, and now you’ve roamed around my thought process….. I am off to the bookstore to look around some more.

Get an Early Jump on Christmas

 
 
Though I might complain about Christmas being foisted on us way too early, I still think Christmas is important to the hobbyist.  This is the chance to prod someone (gently or not so gently) into getting us what we want.  We can also do our best to try and entice someone into a hobby by selecting a gift that might start a lifetime of hobbying (I will touch on this in a later post).  And if all else fails, we can always justify a bigger expense by telling ourselves (and who ever else we might have to justify the expense to) that this is a Christmas present.

If your special someone is an efficient shopper, they might already be looking for your gift.  You might need to start dropping hints as early as tonight’s dinner.  Some of you might need to start working on that list.  Some of you (the indecisive type) should start making decisions as to what you want.  If you don’t, maybe there won’t be anything under the tree.

If your someone special is a last minute panic shopper, well then you’ve got time.  Lucky you.  Of course if you aren’t around at the moment of that last minute panic, and don’t have your list on your smartphone when they call….. well then, too bad.

The funny thing I find is that whenever you ask people what they want, they often don’t know.  I know this is not true.  If I asked you for ten things you would buy right now if I set you free in a hobby shop with a $50 (or whatever amount) gift card, and said you had ten minutes to get something or the car would expire….I am sure you could get something.  The problem is that people thing a gift has to be something different.  It doesn’t.  A gift is something free.

I know, a gift should be something “you wouldn’t buy for yourself.”  What a silly idea.  If I wouldn’t buy it for myself, I wouldn’t want it.  A gift is something that you want, but can’t justify spending your own money on.  When it’s someone else’s money, it should be easy.

My advice, write down everything you want.  Just that you want it, not that you would or wouldn’t spend the money on it, not that you are or are not going to buy it.  When you’re done, look it over.  Wouldn’t it be nice if someone gave you anything from that list?  If you’re smart, before letting a loved one look over the list you might want to organize it by price, or bundle a bunch of things together that might fit their budget.  Either way, now you’ve got something to tell them to get you.

Limits

When I tell people I have a lot of hobbies they mostly ask what they are and leave it at that.  The more adventurous ones might wonder how I can afford it.  Funny though, no one wonders where I keep it all.

I have written a couple of blogs about storage, but that’s common to all hobbyists.  We’ve all got tools and supplies and various other equipment.  It takes up space, but most of that is “out of the way” or stuffed into a closet.  There is always room for that stuff.  What nobody really stops to consider is what do you do with the finished products.

If you have a hobby that results in some finished product, you might want to display it.  In some cases you’ve got to display it.  Sure, you can give some of it away–some people do crafts that turn into Christmas presents.  But, how many times do your family and friends want that stuff?  If it is a quilt, you probably don’t mind having six or seven of them, but how many wool sweaters do you want?  How many hooked rugs do you need?  How many paint by numbers can adorn your walls?

Okay, some of these crafts are beautiful.  Hence the reason I wrote that you’ve got to display them.  Sometimes these crafts are so integral to your life that everyone expects to see them on display at your house.  No problem there.

I, Jack of all hobbies, however, have so many hobbies, and do not often produce things of display quality.  What do I do then?

Limits.  I have limits.  There are only so many of one thing that I can have before it needs to get pared down.  If I make a good car model, it usually displaces a model I am less happy with (though some parts end up in the parts box for that diorama I am going to do someday).  I’ve only go so much shelf space, and the better models make the bad ones look rather poor.

New magazines displace old ones–or more likely, deluxe editions of books put out by these magazine publishers displace the magazines.  Realizing that they had me paying twice, I read the magazines at the library and only buy the books….but this is a topic for another day.

Train stuff….well, I can always make more room for train stuff.  I am into N scale, and that doesn’t really take up  a lot of room…..besides, you’ve got to have priorities, and you’ve got to rationalize.

Take my latest puzzle.  I did it because I liked trains.  I thought about putting it up over in the room where there will be a train…but then I realized that wall space was at a premium, and I had already done a couple of other train puzzles that I thought were better than this one.  So what could I do?  Despite my pack rat nature, I am going to pass this puzzle off to someone else who will have to figure out what to do with it once they are done.