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Support Local Businesses: Thoughtful Gift Ideas which are Cheap and Local
My Entire Gift Budget
The Love Counts
Here is my mantra for anyone with challenges in the financial area who contemplates winter gift-giving with bewildered puzzlement: “It’s the love that counts.”
If your gift recipients love you, can’t they understand that some years are like this? I am betting that they can. So, relax.
My recommendations rest primarily on the low cost of the suggestions. However, I additionally attempt to suggest local market goods or services. The optimum ideas try to meet two goals –
(1) expressing thoughtfulness on a shoestring, and
(2) directing your pennies to local independently-owned businesses.
My reason for addressing the second notion responds to an editorial circulating the Internet, Facebook and other social media. It encourages American consumers to stop “sending money to China” through their purchases from big box stores (allegedly owned in part or whole by Chinese business) and instead to keep the money in the USA. While I do not agree with the subtle hate message – as if anyone living outside the USA is sub-human, I do like supporting my neighbors. It is difficult for independent businesses to compete with Wal-Mart, Target, Costco, etc… It is not a level playing field and that’s a shame. Despite this objective, not all gift ideas listed below will conform to the local business availability ideal.
Local Health Food Store
Indie Food and Service Stores
So – where does one look? Many bakeries are independent. Many (but not all) health food stores are indies. A farmer’s market seems a safe bet. Also, the neighborhood ethnic food store. Craft fairs and events – such as a one-day local craft or guild festival held at a college campus and church pre-holiday bazaars strike me as local and full of handmade crafts from little cottage industry producers.
Are grocery chains owned by big investors? Maybe they are a halfway point – multi-state but still, as regional entities, local “enough?”
In addition to tangible goods, look for local service providers – shoe repairers, the garden shop, and the $5 car wash.
Small List of Ideas to Jumpstart The Brain
Old People 50s through 110s who do not need junk cluttering their domicile – try a food gift.
One-half to one pound of sustainably harvested freshly roasted coffee beans, if the “giftee” likes coffee. Stick with the small amount – we are in a recession, don’t you know?
Small jar of local honey
Small bit of favorite sweet treat, possibly from the bulk food section of the regional grocery chain
Forties with kids in college
A six-pack of beer from a local micro-brewery
Local artisan (holiday craft show) frig magnet
Candles for every holiday
Thirties or twenties and young kids
If you live close enough, know them and the young’ns well enough, a certificate for an evening or afternoon of your services babysitting
Not kid-related:.A container of seasoned pretzels (My area has many regional pretzel companies.) Buy plain ones and sprinkle with garlic powder or chili powder. Possibly combine these with an invitation to watch some mutually enjoyable TV program together
Teens throughTwenties and starting out
$5 cert to download tunes from the Internet
One tin of shoe polish, if appropriate
A mini box of Legos ®
For almost everyone
Book from local indie used bookstore, or a gift certificate there
Gift certificate to local stores of interest
A pack of AA batteries
One CFL light bulb or one box of cheapie conventional lightbulbs
One UV barrier lip gloss
Two oranges – For many people oranges have a magical connection to Christmas morning.
Go Forth and Shop Sensibly and Responsibly!
Go forth in your own community – to Samantha the green grocer, Bennie the Beer Guy, and all the others. If you keep a list of your thoughtful, light purchases and spread out the shopping, you may prevent the weighty mantle of bills from visiting you in January.
Remember, your gift receivers love you. They understand. You will be a shining beacon of common sense to them for not driving yourself down the tubes in debt. Plus, you will be a “local s/hero” keeping your neighbors afloat by giving them your trade. That knowledge is the gift you give to yourself. :D
What are your plans for holiday spending this year?
Photos and text copyright 2011 Maren E. Morgan.