I like to think things through and do research early if I can.
Therefore, I start sorting out Christmas gifts in the summer. Yes. I am THAT person.
If it makes you feel any better, I typically lose motivation and then have to rush before Christmas to get things done. So it's not like I am ready for Christmas months in advance or anything.
This year, Jake and I decided to give each other a very strict budget for our gifts to each other. Jake was all for not buying gifts at all but I love Christmas way too much for that. As a result we concluded that $50 would suffice. And since this decision was made back in July, we had plenty of time to think about what would make the perfect gift for each other.
Jake nailed my gift. He got me a fountain pen for my letter writing (my best friend lives 16hrs away and because we both love to receive mail that isn't just bills, we decided a few years ago to send letters occasionally. It's awesome to be honest).
I, however, settled on making something.
We had talked ages ago about buying a gaming table for our living room. No, not a poker table or anything like that. We wanted an elegant place for chess, checkers, backgammon, cards, etc.
Something that would suit the space and also not just be another table in the room.
We saw a couple of options but were not wowed by the price or the quality. So I thought I'd make one and give it to Jake for Christmas!
The best part? I came in under budget!
Let me first say I don't have very many pictures of the process. I was rushed at the end to get it finished in time and you'll remember that this all would have occurred during the time that I was totally neglecting the blog. Plus, since it was a gift, I wasn't even taking pictures for Instagram. I didn't want Jake to find photos and question what the heck I was doing lol
|Ad. I was able to talk the seller down to $40 and come in under-budget!|
I started by scouring kijiji for acceptable options. It needed to be the right size, shape, and overall aesthetic. I was on a business trip to the states when I found the one I ended up liking the best.
After settling on the price ($40!), I picked it up and somehow managed to fit it into the backseat of my little car. I immediately took it straight out to my parents' barn where I could work on it and not run the risk of Jake seeing it.
I sanded it down with the power sander and got one leg done by hand, and then abandoned it.
And then it was cold so I didn't want to work on it out in the barn.
So it sat.
Suddenly, Christmas was upon us. And I still had a gift that wasn't even sanded completely.
Originally I had a bunch of ideas on how to finish the table. I was thinking using two different colours of stain. Or trying my hand at gold leafing some sections. Ultimately, due to time constraints and the fact that I really liked the idea of coming in under budget, I stuck with the simplest solution.
One: Finish sanding.
Two: Clean table.
Three: Pre-treat for stain.
Five: Measure out the chessboard. Use painter's tape to mark it all out and painstakingly cut out squares with an exacto-knife. Cry a little bit when you realize you did it wrong. Tear it all up and try again. Nail it the second time around. Paint black squares.
Six: Tape out and paint border.
Seven: Clear coat. Clear coat. Clear coat.
I already owned everything too, which meant the only money I needed to spend on the entire gift was the $40 to purchase it second-hand.
The project ended up being moved into my parents' basement with Jake under strict instructions to not step one foot on the stairs.
And just to prove how last-minute I left this, I didn't put the final clear coat on until December 23. And I ended up giving it to Jake on Christmas Eve so I wouldn't have to try and smuggle it in the house (we open presents with my family Christmas Eve after candlelight service at church in the evening).
He loved it by the way. And tried to teach our nieces and nephew how to play chess that evening (I DID smuggle the wooden chess pieces that I had given him for his birthday over to my parents' so that if he wanted to play immediately, he could).
I am SO happy with how this piece turned out. And it just goes to show that you don't need a ton of money to have quality items that look super expensive.