Of Kokeshi And Secret Santa

Gentle reader,

Workplace Secret Santas can be quite fraught with anxiety, especially when you’re perhaps not terribly close with your work mates or have little in common with them. I thought luck was on my side this year, since all my work mates are not only awesome peeps, but most of them are my really great friends even outside of the workplace.

But rather than being on the easier side of the Secret Santa issue, this situation presents all new challenges. When you draw out the name of one your favorite people ever and your budget is $10, how in the world are you supposed to stick to that? I know a lot of peeps don’t take Secret Santa seriously and use it as an opportunity to have a laugh and give gag gifts, but I am not one of them. I’ve never been a fan of gag gifts. I don’t know why. But I digress…

Judith is a doll collector, but I’d just given her a gift voucher to an amazing doll store for her birthday three days before, and I didn’t want to do the same again, and what $10 wouldn’t get her much. At about midnight the night before, I decided to exploit the “make a gift” loophole. I figured I wouldn’t technically be spending any money, because I already had the materials so the $10 budget was no longer an issue. But what to make?  Then I remembered that we’d been oohing and ahhing over a book of Japanese cross stitch designs, and all of a sudden the idea formed: make Judith a Japanese doll; a kokeshi.

Now, kokeshi are traditionally made of wood, and very simple in design. I don’t have any wood lying around, but I have lots of fabric, so after a bit of clicking about Google Images for inspiration and dig through my “useful boxes”, I was ready. I drew up a pattern and got to work. And here she is:


Now, as with any “first editions”, there are definitely things that I’d change about her – if I make another she’ll be narrower at the bottom and less bell-shaped, and I’ll use a different fabric for her face because it was difficult to draw on and a bit smudgey – but regardless of these “lessons learned” I’m really very pleased with her, and Judith seemed to love her.

Wikipedia Fun Fact: The design of "Mii" player avatars on the Nintendo Wii are inspired by kokeshi.

As for me, I did very well in the gift stakes. I’m completely besotted with my dear friend Marelle and she drew my name! She gave me these neat little magnetic bookmarks and told me that the spiffy chap is me and the pretty lady is her. N’awww! And they were a perfect gift too, because of late I’ve gotten in the repugnant habit of dog-earring my pages to mark my place. I know, judge me as you see fit. But! No more! (In case you’re wondering, I’m reading “Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers” by Mary Roach, and so far I’m loving it).

Raynor & Marelle: In yo bookz, keepin yo place.

What’s the best (or worst) Secret Santa gift you’ve ever gotten?

– R