This year start a new tradition of gift giving by thinking local. Instead of spending money on something that is manufactured in some other country, look for ways to stimulate a small business or local service. Here are some ideas to get you started. Feel free to comment and add your own ideas.
Gift certificate to local hair salon or barber
Gift certificate to local car detailer or car wash
Gift certificate for a one-hour massage at your favorite massage therapist (this should be a gift you need to give yourself too! Most chiropractor’s offices now have massage therapists on staff-go get one!)
Lawn mowing service, one time spring clean-up or if you’re a big spender how about a whole summer contract for a loved-one
Snow plowing service, one time or a winter-long contract
Gift certificate to a small owner-run restaurant
Gift certificate for a round of golf at a local golf course
Gift certificate for an oil change at a local service station
Gift certificate for a cleaning service to do a spring cleaning or a carpet cleaning
Check out area craft shows and find artists who spin their own wool and knit them into scarves, make their own jewelry, candles, pottery, or (my personal favorite!) jams and jellies!
Plan your holiday outings at locally-owned restaurants and (as you should always do!) leave your server a nice hefty tip!
Gift certificate to a play or ballet at your local hometown theater
Gift certificate to a concert for a local band or orchestra
Always leave a little gift for your mail carrier – he or she works extra hard this time of year!
Have a favorite babysitter? Make it a point to go someplace special (take your pick from the list above!) and hire your favorite babysitter at a special holiday rate. He or she will appreciate the extra money when it’s their turn to do their shopping!
Most books are printed in the United States, pick your favorite author and give a novel as a gift
Have a pet lover in the family? How about a gift certificate to their favorite groomer
Now that we’ve stimulated the economy, let’s see what we can do to help the rest of the world! Pick your favorite local charity and give them a nice cash donation. Next, pick your favorite national and/or international charity and give them a nice cash donation too! Find an ‘angel tree’ and pick a name, talk to a local school and see if they have a program where they collect items to give to poor families, or serve meals at a local soup kitchen. Try to get the whole family involved. It will be a memory they will treasure far more than anything that you could have wrapped with a bow!
Above all, have a safe holiday season and may the true spirit of Christmas be ever in your hearts, this year and always!