Make Pt1252
Here’s the MAKE 2008 gift guide from MAKE volume 16 (PDF). If you have your printed copy of MAKE it’s on page 18, a pull out, and in the digital edition it’s at the end.

I also wanted to post up a great article by our associate publisher Dan Woods called “The value of a good hands on project“…

Make Pt1247
Editor and Publisher Dale Dougherty came by my desk the other day pointing at a Newsweek folded back to a chart that ranked retail winners and losers for the past quarter. “Look what came in right behind gasoline stations on the high-growth list,” he said, pointing to the circled chart. “Hobby, toy, and game stores.” No one who owns a car will be surprised to see that gas stations top the growth chart, but hobby and game stores? We’re in the midst of some gray economic times, and folks generally think of hobbies and games as discretionary pursuits, no?

Make Pt1250
Dale and I were intrigued by the chart because it mapped so closely to our own Maker Shed experience — a pronounced upswing in interest in kits. To be sure, part of our success is the result of a team of smart editors and staffers who’ve uncovered beautiful kits and projects that really resonate with our audience of inquisitive makers and science enthusiasts. However, I think the underlying data is telling us something important about ourselves and the kind of value we derive from a good hands-on project.

Perhaps it’s the constructive distraction of focusing ourselves on something other than the recession, something where we have a reasonable chance of controlling the outcome. Maybe it’s the satisfaction of picking up a new skill, dusting off an old one, or simply learning how something works (or doesn’t). Maybe it’s the memories that live long after the project is done.

And there’s definitely something intrinsically satisfying about passing along skills — even the simplest of skills — to a younger maker. What kid doesn’t enjoy a workbench, a few tools, and a good project on a rainy day?

Even though many of us are nixing the vacation we’d thought about, driving that funky clunker of a car for another year, or putting the bathroom remodel on hold, the basements, garages, and backyards of this planet are coming alive with experiments, tinkering, and the making spirit.

So this holiday season, whether you provision a project from recycled materials and repurposed

The chart mapped so closely to our own experience: a pronounced upswing in interest in kits.

hardware lying around the house, or decide to buy a project kit from the Maker Shed ( or somewhere else, give yourself and someone you care about the gift of making something together.

And if you’re in a position and the spirit moves you, consider giving the gift of a science kit to a deserving school or teacher. They need your help more than ever before.

Photography by Scott Beale / Laughing Squid.