December 14, 2011
There are lots of Gift Guides out there! So, why, might you ask, am I compelled to add another one to your “bookmark” list? Because many lists I’ve seen are driven by either the recipient (best gifts for kids, best gifts for men, etc.) or price (under $100, under $25, etc.). Two very excellent considerations when purchasing a gift! But, I don’t think those are the ONLY factors involved in the decision-making…
Confused yet? Read on!
There are lots of buzz-words that folks are throwing around this Holiday season that are designed to guide you to where best to spend your Holiday cash, and feel really good about it. I am going to attempt to clarify just three of the most popular categories: Local, Handmade, and Made in America. Here is a brief glossary about what these terms mean, and how they differ from one another:
Being an artist and blogger, I am faced with the fact that I simply cannot give you a comprehensive list of vendors (I’d be here for days), and yet, I do not want to leave any of my dear, hard-working, ginormously-talented artist friends off the list inadvertently, either! So… I will give you a few suggestions, but I want this list to be compiled by YOU the READER! PLEASE consider commenting below (right on the blog, under this post!!) with your thoughts, suggestions, online shops, brick & mortar shops, and links to your favorite artisans and small businesses from which we can ALL shop!! Shameless plugs encouraged!!
I am not great with graphs, but this was my way of "illustrating" how some gifts fall into certain categories and how they sometimes overlap.
LOCAL: It means to keep your money in your own or neighboring community, in an effort to have more of an impact on the economy in which you live and work. It is also designed to lessen the overall environmental impact of purchasing something that then needs to be shipped to a store, or shipped to your door. The reason it’s good is that it saves money, saves fuel, saves pollution, and also, in turn, if enough people participate, can have a positive boost to your Town’s economy creating jobs and more income for the people who live and work there. Ask about incentives and customer-loyalty discounts at your local shops, they love their customers! They want you to keep coming back! Also, many local shops host events where they serve refreshments. Some will also keep “wish lists” on file!
I have a variety of products, including my handmade illustrated letter plaques available at local gift shops!
Ideas for Local: If local to YOU means the same as it does to ME, then here are some local shops that will not disappoint!
Talulah’s Fancy & Friends, Honeoye Falls, NY (handmade and vintage gifts)
Olde Homestead Country Store, Canandaigua, NY (home décor and gifts)
Finger Lakes Gallery & Frame, Canandaigua NY (fine art, custom framing)
Unique Toy Shop, Canandaigua, NY (toys, games and books for kids)
Craft Company No. 6, Rochester, NY (fine crafts, home décor and jewelry)
Memorial Art Gallery gift shop, Rochester NY (variety of gifts, books, art and toys)
Resources for Local: Search Google using your municipality in the search string. (i.e. gift shops Rochester, NY) or ask your friends for recommendations!
HANDMADE: It means to buy something from someone who has created the item themselves, rather than have it manufactured or mass-produced in a factory. This could be art or crafts, but it doesn’t have to be. It can be things we purchase regularly for daily living like soap, clothing, greeting cards and furniture. Also, art comes in many forms. It could be music, recipes, fiber art/knitwear, jewelry or sculpture. The reason it’s good is that it supports creative individuals and allows them to further create their art and/or grow their business. It also has less negative impact on the environment.
Ideas for Handmade:
http://www.etsy.com/shop/CityChicCountryMouse (for the home)
http://www.etsy.com/shop/LisaJaneSmith (illustrated wall art, note cards)
http://www.earthangelstoys.com/ (hand-crafted folk art)
http://www.etsy.com/shop/littlealouette (organic wooden toys)
http://www.etsy.com/shop/sacredsuds (hand-crafted soaps)
Resources for Handmade: Etsy.com seriously has THE most extensive database of uniquely hand-crafted and vintage items for sale in the world, IMHO. There are dozens of ways one can search for items, even if you have no idea what you’re looking for. There is a “search handmade” feature, and lists (called Treasuries) already curated for you, in a variety of categories, by people with incredibly good taste. They even will (if you allow them) dig through your Facebook friend list and suggest gifts for your friends based on their “likes”. Amazing!
I can also create custom-painted pieces such as boxes, canvas paintings, or child's furniture. This crate that I hand-painted is for sale at Talulah's Fancy & Friends in Honeoye Falls, NY. Please email me if you would like to talk about a custom piece!
MADE IN AMERICA: It means exactly that! Made in America. However, it does NOT necessarily mean something handmade! There are many manufacturing operations that are mass-producing things right in our own country. The reason it’s good is the same reason buying local is good, but on a larger scale. The theory behind this movement is that if more money is spent buying American-made goods, then the job rate will improve and the jobless rate would go down, improving our nation’s overall economy.
MADE BY YOU: I am a huge proponent of simply making my own gifts. Because I can. And I truly love to!! Each gift I make truly comes from my heart, which most people like better than a store-bought gift anyway.
Resources for “Made by You”: Here are some great blogs for inspiration, patterns, recipes and ideas for handmade gifts:
http://handmadebycarolyn.blogspot.com/ (knitting and needlework ideas)
http://lisastorms.typepad.com/lisa-storms/ (crafts for all ages)
http://olderandwisor.blogspot.com/ (wrapping ideas, crafts and décor)
http://www.indygojunction.com/ (sewing patterns)
http://gauchealchemy.wordpress.com/ (collage art)
“WRAPPING” IT UP: I also really like gifts that are practical and relevant on some level, that aren’t going to end up in a landfill come January. I am not even opposed to re-gifting and buying “previously owned” or re-purposed gifts, as these are highly effective “green”, Earth-friendly gift-giving techniques! It’s often times HOW you “present” your “present” than what is behind the wrapping. If you put your heart into it, the recipient will feel so grateful, and so will you!
Resources for Wrapping: I have a Pinterest board called Pretty Presents & Wrapping that has lots of ways to dress up your gifts! Whatever you give (even if it’s a gift card!), make sure you wrap it in style. If you have a similar board, post it below in the comments!
If you do not have a Pinterest account, it is free, but you have to be invited. Please let me know if you would like me to invite you to join Pinterest.