There is something incredibly satisfying about discovering the perfect gifts right in your own community. I can guarantee there are people close by growing, baking, and/or creating something they are proud of, no matter where you live. And they should be! It takes a lot of guts to put yourself out there and hope your product catches on.
So, as you’re scanning your list of gifts to buy, consider how you can support your local economy and shine as a gift giver. This chain reaction of good vibes is exactly what the holiday season is all about.
Let’s get started by digging into some gift ideas you’re sure to find in your area.
Local products: You know your favorites—the ones you seek out specifically and are bummed when you can’t find them. Maybe it’s the brick cheese from your local Wisconsin cheese factory that is hard to find anywhere else. Or, it could a bottle of olive oil you bought directly from the farmer who grew, harvested, and milled the olives on his land in California. It feels extra special when you watch him pour and label the bottles just for the people on your list. These are exactly the kinds of things you can (and probably should) give as gifts.
Don’t assume everyone else is familiar with your favorites. Keep these businesses alive and thriving by getting others hooked on their goodies. Side note: If the local product has a cool story to go with it, like the olive oil from above, print it off and include it in the package. Everybody loves a cool story, right?
Local services: Here’s a fun activity that you probably haven’t done since grade school. Make two columns on a sheet of paper. On one side, list everyone for whom you need to buy a gift. On the other side, write down your favorite local service providers. For example, who’s your favorite masseuse, acupuncturist, yoga studio, or hair stylist?
Now comes the grade-school aspect… match up your lists. Draw a line between your masseuse and the person who has been talking about getting a massage for the past few months. Next, the person who keeps expressing interest in trying yoga but hasn’t signed up for a class can be matched up with your yoga studio. There may be repeats but that’s okay. Now, head out and support those providers by picking up gift cards for their services. They work hard to earn your adoration and deserve the spotlight amongst your circle of friends.
Farm-to-Fork Meal: Lots of areas host an annual meal highlighting and celebrating the local food of the area. Our current location holds theirs every September, blocking off Main Street to set up tables right down the middle. This may be the perfect gift for the foodie on your list. With several courses featuring locally sourced food, it reminds us of the human side of our food supply.
To find events like this near you, do an Internet search for “farm-to-fork meals in [your area]” or ask the vendors at your favorite farmers’ market. Since the event probably won’t happen until several months after the holidays, get creative about how you present their “temporary ticket.” It can be as simple as printing off some information and photos from their website, wrapping it up in a lovely package, and giving them something to look forward to. If you’re planning to go as well, be sure to let them know you can go together.
I must admit that moving to California a few months ago made buying local pretty effortless this year; the agricultural diversity here is mind-blowing. But local gifts are easy to find anywhere if you’re paying attention throughout the year and ask about hidden treasures from the people with whom you cross paths. After all, everybody likes to share beautiful, delicious, and clever offerings from their area.
Support your local economy and spread the word about what your area has to offer this season.
Images from iStock/JackF (main),