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Support Local Businesses: Thoughtful Gift Ideas which are Cheap and Local

Updated on June 1, 2014

My Entire Gift Budget

Is George smiling or sticking his tongue out at us? We'll never know for sure.
Is George smiling or sticking his tongue out at us? We'll never know for sure. | Source

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.

2 Goals

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

Independent health food store
Independent health food store | Source

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

These are low cost and nice for long nights of winter.
These are low cost and nice for long nights of winter. | Source

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

Chewing gum


A mini box of Legos ®

A bandana

A ball


These come in many colors.  Like toy balls, they are powered by imagination.
These come in many colors. Like toy balls, they are powered by imagination. | Source

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.

Lip Balm

One size fits most...haha.
One size fits most...haha. | Source

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

A Poll

What are your plans for holiday spending this year?

See results

Photos and text copyright 2011 Maren E. Morgan.


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    • Maren Morgan M-T profile imageAUTHOR

      Maren Elizabeth Morgan 

      9 years ago from Pennsylvania

      BT, hope you can use these suggestions.

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      Maren, Thanks for the great ideas! B.T.


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