05 December, 2013

Practical Gift Ideas

Like many of us, I am evermore disappointed by the commercialism of Christmas and by the season's mad consumerism. That is not to say that we don't exchange gifts in our family: gift giving is a lovely tradition. We try to find small and useful gifts, and only for immediate family or kids. Books and hand-knit socks seem popular. I like to get thing that will soon be used, like books, wine, chocolate, or things that will be useful for a long time - literary books, nice bike parts, small tools. With this in mind I'd like to offer a few gift suggestions from VO. We at VO are, after all, somewhat dependent on consumerism.

Nice water bottle cages, especially our retro cages, are a good gift choice for anyone still using plastic or aluminum cages. They are durable, hold plastic or metal bottle securely, and they look great.
Leather handlebar tape is a luxury that many wouldn't spring for, but would love to have. Not only does it look and feel great, but it lasts a long time. I think leather tape actually gets better looking as it ages and develops a patina. Elkhide bar wrap is a good alternative, especially if you offer to install it as part of the gift.
Bells are a great gift and stocking stuffer. They are pretty, have a lovely tone, and offer a more pleasant way to say "on your left!" Our Temple bells are solid brass and we have models to mount on handlebar or stem.
Soap is a natural, especially for us cyclists who sweat a bit more than the average pedestrian. Savon de Marsailles is an artisanal olive oil soap that's been made for some 600 years using traditional methods and ingredients. It cleans and moisturizes in a way that modern factory-made soaps don't. The 1kg block might be a bit too big to stuff in a stocking, but we also have the smaller size.
Opinel pocket knives are a great gift for cyclist and non-cyclist alike. I've used one since I was a kid. They are, inexpensive, lightweight, and made from superb steel. They are are the standard knife of French farmers, hikers, foragers and cyclo-tourists. In fact, almost everyone who spends time in the countryside seems to have one. They've been made since 1890 in the town of Saint-Jean-de-Maurienne in the Rhône-Alpes.
Stainless Steel Water bottles are another idea that works even for non-cyclists.
Of course a nice new VO frame would definitely cheer up a loved one's holiday, should you want to splurge.
Giving a hatchet may seem silly. But if you go camping, or like to clear brush, you know how useful they can be. I bought mine for cutting and splitting campfire wood. (Have you noticed that even those bundles of  wood you buy from the camp host often lack any, or enough, kindling?) I prefer our reasonably priced German-made (by a Swedish company) Bahco hatchet. It has all the quality and functionality you'll ever need; these guys make the tools that real lumberjacks and working craftsmen use.
How about a nice VO Enjoy Life Poster? Or a Signed Print of  a VO Polyvalent drawing by Ben Lively.
Finally, if you can't decide, there is always the option of a VO gift certificate.

1 comment:

Don said...

Thank you for your refreshing sense of scale. I share your gift-giving preferences. And anyway, my blatant hints about a Pass Hunter frame have been met with, basically, "Dream on!"