It’s that time of year when everyone starts rushing around to find the perfect gifts for their friends and family for the holiday season. Gift-giving is an important part of many holiday traditions, but it has also become a catalyst for massive retail consumerism. This is great for the owners of large retail corporations, but for the rest of us it can create a lot of stress (does anyone really enjoy all the madness of Black Friday shopping?). This year, if you must buy, why not consider an alternative and buy handmade gifts for your friends and family?
“It’s the thought that counts.”
We hear this phrase about gift-giving all the time. But how much thought really goes into rushing to Super-BigMart and buying your family member the exact same sweater/toaster/electronic gadget that 10,000 other people in your city are also buying for their family members? Buying handmade gifts from local artists and crafters means that you have the chance to give something really unique. Because they aren’t made by machines, no two hand-crafted items are exactly alike. And usually, they are made with a great deal more thought and care from the crafter than items that are mass-manufactured. You can often find beautiful, high-quality handmade items like jewelry, candles, clothing, and many decorative items.
Where do you want your money to go?
Buying handmade items in your local area gives you the opportunity to support people who live, work, play, and raise families in your community. Many crafters sell their work as a way to supplement their family income, or even as a primary form of income. In addition, many local organizations like churches, schools, and charities host craft fairs in order to raise funds for their organization. Let’s face it: the majority of the money you spend at corporate retailers does not stay in your community. Would you rather have your money going to someone in your local area who will use it to buy groceries or a school that will use the funding to keep important programs running, or would you rather give your money to the CEO of Super-BigMart who has too much already?
Having a green Holiday
Buying handmade gifts also has the potential to be better for the environment, and better for you. Hand-crafting, in general, uses a lot less energy than mass-manufacturing, and many crafters like to work with recycled or natural materials. One benefit of buying directly from crafters is that you can ask them what kind of materials they used, so that you know what you are giving to your loved ones. Local crafting also avoids the fuel usage and emissions that result from manufactured items being shipped all over the world.
These are just a few of the benefits of buying locally hand-crafted gifts this holiday season. You can find handmade gifts in a number of ways. Check your local Craigslist.org page for crafters who have listed their items directly. You can also check the “events” section and possibly find some craft shows or holiday bazaars listed. Your local newspaper may have similar listings. You can contact local schools, churches, and charity organizations to find out if they have any craft sales planned. You can also try asking at stores that sell crafting supplies if they know of any craft events going on in your area.