A Different Approach to Holiday Shopping
By Aimee O’Grady
This holiday season, complete your shopping with creative gifts and local finds
Fall is officially in full swing! The days are becoming shorter, the cooler weather has settled over the region and the brilliant leaves are slowly turning brown and falling from the trees.
Some readers will have long completed their holiday shopping, having vowed to collect items over the summer and during weekends away, but for those of you who are still compiling your gift lists and strategizing the best gifts to get in the most cost- and time-efficient ways, keep reading!
Main Street communities thrive during the holidays. With festive decorations and lights trimming the streets, merely taking a walk evokes nostalgia for simpler times. Our Main Streets offer myriad opportunities to purchase unique gifts for everyone on our shopping lists throughout the year!
But don’t stop with a token of your affection. The holidays are about more than an item in a nicely wrapped box, they are about time with family and friends, being grateful for all you have and remembering those less fortunate.
Here are a few out-of-the-wrapped-box ideas for this holiday season:
Dine Out with Friends
Don’t cook, don’t clean, make reservations! Warrenton, Culpeper, Haymarket and all the surrounding towns have a number of quaint delicious restaurants where you can celebrate the holidays. Christmas Eve and Christmas Day are, without question, the most challenging days to see loved ones, so why not plan a dinner-date during the week when everyone is available? You will get the most out of an evening with friends and a local business will earn your dollars.
We all have friends who leave town for the holidays. Why not give them a gift of an oil change, pet sitting services, a house sitter, or a bakery basket of goodies to send them on their way? There are many locally-owned businesses that cater to residents on the go.
Charitable Gifts in Someone’s Name
It has been said that when you do good acts for others, those acts are returned to you in a number of ways. This holiday season, why not make donations to local organizations that will impact area residents in need? Fauquier, Culpeper and Prince William counties each have extensive lists of charities eager to accept donations during the holiday season. Making them in someone’s name is a thoughtful honor to bestow on someone.
Keep Your Dollars Local
For those family and friends for whom you will purchase a gift, it will keep the holidays less stressful if you shop beautifully decorated Main Streets than wrestle with both the vehicular and pedestrian traffic at a near-by mall. We are blessed to have a wealth of options from locally-owned businesses, artists, and craftsman.
Patronizing locally-owned businesses makes a profound economic effect on the community. The Buy Fresh, Buy Local program supported by the Piedmont Environmental Council, located here in Warrenton, offers a number of compelling reasons to think locally when it comes to spending money. Among them are: exceptional taste and freshness; strengthening the local economy; supporting endangered family farms; safeguarding family health; and protecting the environment.
Research provided by Virginia Tech College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, indicates the following dollars generated if each household within the listed counties spent $10/week of their food dollars on fresh local produce and farm-based Virginia products:
|Prince William||$65, 346,840|
Subtotaling $98,236,840 annually for these 6 counties in Northern Virginia and the Rappahannock-Rapidan Region.
While the numbers speak for themselves, there are also intrinsic benefits to shopping locally. A few local mothers offered their opinions about shopping within our communities. Heather McMahon shares her views of shopping locally, “it fosters connectedness in a world that is becoming increasingly faceless and technological.”
One of the greatest benefits of shopping locally to Heather is the trust that develops between merchants and customers. “When you get to know a merchant, farmer, or craftperson, you are able to establish a relationship and have greater trust in the quality of service or merchandise.” Gina Bolton prefers the “ease of returns, ability to handle the object before buying, and customer service” of shopping locally.
Gina also prefers to “support the local economy rather than big box stores” since she finds “it easier to buy items made in the USA.”
Stacey Coupe buys a lot of products from home-based consultants, despite the fact that many of the products come from large distributors. She “loves[s] that people (moms) are trying to work from home and within their communities by bringing popular items to their own town.”
As we all begin writing our holiday shopping list, let’s add one more name to our holiday shopping list: Our Community.
As illustrated above, spending just a few dollars locally makes a significant impact on the community, as well as the entire shopping experience. It is important to remember that the holidays are as much about sharing your time with those around you…whether it is the local butcher, baker, artist, or family and friends…as it is about the gift you took your time and used your money to purchase.
Please take a moment to visit the Piedmont Family Magazine FaceBook page and suggest a small locally-owned business that you would encourage people to visit when gift shopping for holidays or any time during the year!
For more information about buying local, visit www.buylocalvirginia.org.
Aimée O’Grady is a freelance writer and lives with her husband, Shawn, children Caden and Adele, and the family dogs and cat in Warrenton.