The big chain stores are filling up with all kinds of trinkets and junk from other countries - all attractively displayed to entice us to part with our dollars. We can buy countless things that no one needs - some of it expensive, and much of it so cheap that there's no reason NOT to pick up one for everyone on our list.
But why should we do that? When small businesses in America are under attack - why not spend our holiday dollars supporting them? At the same time, we could be giving gifts that people could actually use instead of trinkets to be shoved onto a shelf somewhere.
Think of services:
- An oil change and lube
- Car detailing
- A haircut
- A cleaning lady for the day
- Babysitting once a month all year long - or just once, depending on the budget.
- A massage (ummmm!)
- Paid membership in a gym for the year
- A week-end at a spa
- Lawn mowing all next summer
- A full day of someone to help put the yard back in order after winter
- Tickets to the movies or a concert
- Snow shoveling services
- Pool cleaning
- Gift certificates to a favorite restaurant or pizza parlor
- A season pass at a ski hill or the local golf course
- Education - dance, music, golf, or skiing lessons, or prepayment for any other kind of course.
What if you'd rather give "things?"
Attend the local craft fairs. You might be amazed at what you can find. One year I purchased regionally produced "Huckleberry Honey" for two of my neighbors - and I think it was the most well-received gift I've ever given. One of my neighbors liked it so much that when he ran out he called the producer and ordered more.
Those craft fairs are filled with everything from hand-knit hats and scarves to hand-thrown and hand-painted pottery to items you'd never imagine if you hadn't seen them. I've seen old fashioned wooden toys, wind chimes made of silver spoons and sugar bowls, and even a (comfortable) rocking chair made entirely of used horse shoes.
For the family longing for a new pet, how about a pre-paid adoption fee at the local animal shelter? (No pets, aren't "things" - but they aren't services, either)
You could have a family "heirloom" photo matted and re-framed - or do the same with a recent photo or award.
How about giving someone with a fireplace or wood stove a cord or two of firewood - split, delivered, and stacked?
The possibilities are endless if you stop to think about it.
If we want to save small business in America, it's time for us to support small business.
So instead of spending your dollars on cheaply made trinkets from some other country, stop and think about how you can support your fellow Americans with your holiday gift dollars.
Maybe, just maybe... we can make a difference.