Thanksgiving is just around the corner, and you know what that means: Christmas shopping is fast-approaching. I have already seen an ad for Christmas decorations, and the Hershey’s Kisses “We Wish You A Merry Christmas” commercial has aired! It is coming….
For the last couple of years, I have made an attempt to buy Christmas gifts that are not only well-suited for the giftee, within my budget, and will arrive on time, but that also will have a big impact on small businesses and hard-working employees. While there is nothing wrong with shopping the amazing sales at Kohl’s or the great selection at Marshalls, I figure that since I’m spending money anyway, and the Christmas season is the time to be generous, why not make a seriously positive impact with my money?
Below is your guide to shopping like a do-gooder this Christmas season – that is, sources for gifts that are handmade, fair trade, made locally or in the United States, built with a creative business model, or charitably-centered. Happy Shopping!
1. Small Business Saturday
Small Business Saturday is November 26 this year. The event was created by American Express in 2011, and aims to encourage people to patron local businesses for holiday shopping through resources provided directly to business owners, and specials and credit card deals when you shop small. The website even has a tool to help you find qualifying businesses in your area.
If you have not used these sites before, you are seriously missing out! Nothing I have ever gotten from Etsy was a disappointment. All my purchases have arrived on time, usually with a personal touch that you just don’t get from typical online shopping. My favorite vendors I often follow on social media, and get to see how much each and every order is appreciated, cared for, and improved the lives of their families. Like all online shopping, do a little research when shopping on these sites: check out the reviews, locations, and maybe even look at their social media presence. There are sadly a few impostors or those who don’t have a professional approach to their work. These sites make it very easy to verify who the vendors are, and if you are in doubt, you can usually shoot them an email with a question and the real small entrepreneurs will happily respond.
**Update: I just learned that you can shop on Etsy by location. On the main page, just click the “search” button. On the browsing page, you can click “Custom Location,” then put in your state, town, or whatever you want! I found tons of awesome stuff made just around the corner!**
3. Brim Papery
This brand has an incredible selection of calendars, prints, stationary, and even mugs! Her design choices are on point for a wide age range. She letters all the designs by hand in Columbus, Ohio and has a loyal following. If you see something you love, order now because she does sell out of her hot items. But, for a last minute gift, consider purchasing her printables and a nice frame!
4. Made By Mary
I am obsessed with her jewelry. There are a lot of this style (minimalist bars/initials jewelry) out there, but she does it all by hand, with high-quality materials, and right here in the U. S. of A. And she is happy to advise on style choices or customization. I received a necklace from my husband last year adorned with my wedding date in Roman numerals. I get complimented on it all the time and your giftee will, too!
Everlane is more of a luxury brand, but if you happen to be in the market for a cashmere pull-over or silk blouse, you should buy it from this company. The site features “modern basics”: minimalist and neutral pants, skirts, shirts, sweaters, and accessories made to the highest quality out of the best materials. They have women’s, men’s and even kid’s (“Everlane Mini”) items that may not be at your typical price point, but here’s the amazing part: for every item, they break down how much the item cost (from materials to labor to duties) and show you around the factory. Like I mentioned, their items are investment pieces, but I believe in what they stand for and hope more companies offer their radical transparency. Oh yeah – and instead of sale items, when have an excess supply of an item, they let you choose how much you want to pay for it (they do have a minimum). I think that’s a radical concept and it shows the integrity of the brand and their products.
I have written about Joyn before, and they are still one of my favorite brands. They teach woman in India traditional artisan techniques to craft high-quality purses and wallets. They are on the higher-end, but your money will go far with the good work this company is doing: supplying woman in need with a means to provide for themselves and their families. Their products are incredible, too: I have had my purse for almost two and a half years and it is still flawless! It goes with everything and the leather and cotton hold up to all my adventures. With bags like that, I don’t mind spending a little more.
Again, this is known as a high-end brand, but at the holidays, who doesn’t want to give the best, right? This cosmetics company sells many products online, but also have stores all over the country, where you can purchase their whole line. Their lotions, cleansers, shampoos, and famous bath bombs are on the pricey side, but are cruelty-free, handmade, and made from sustainably-sourced ingredients. People familiar with the brand with thank you endlessly for the gift, and those not will be introduced to an ethical brand they will fall in love with.
This project was launched by lifestyle and fashion guru Lauren Conrad just a couple of years ago and already their selection has boomed! The entire site features fair trade items of every sort made around the world. You can literally find something for everyone on your list here, from house wares to jewelry to tech accessories to kids’ toys. You can even shop for items based on country of origin. While you are at the site, read the biographies on the artisans supplying the store!
This site features a constantly-updated list of items made in your state. Simply select the state of interest from the right-hand side, and you will find clothes, decorative items, kitchen tools, foods, and books made in that very state. From this list, you can compile a beautiful gift basket or find a little something for every one on your list!
10. Gift cards, of course!
Like the company but not sure what your giftee would appreciate? Support the business anyway by purchasing a gift card specifically for their shop or site. Most companies do offer them, and you might just introduce someone to a new local brand that they fall in love with! You could also offer your giftee a night out with a gift card to a local restaurant.
Are you in love with any small businesses or hand-crafted products? Please let me know!
-D. E. Barbi Bee