As the holidays approach, the giant Asian factories are kicking into high gear to provide Americans with piles of cheaply produced goods -- merchandise that is being produced at the expense of American labor. This year can be different. It's time to think outside the box.
Think gift certificates (best from locally owned shops, of course). Some ideas:
Services such as haircuts, beauty treatments, nails, auto detailing and washes, lawn mowing, snow removal, oil changes, home cleaning services, computer repair services. Also, restaurant certificates, golf games, gym or pool memberships.
Some other gift ideas are:
• Local crafts people make jewelry, pottery, clothing, quilts.
• Your local charity thrift store has more than used clothing.
• A gift for small children doesn't have to be new to be fun.
• Consider making a donation to a local charity in the name of your friend, especially a charity that friend supports already.
You see, Christmas is not about draining American pockets so that China can build another glittering city. Christmas is caring about others. A side benefit is helping American small businesses. There are plenty of websites to help you find American products.
Here is yet another thought -- give something of yourself as a gift. Offer a service or event that you provide. Take a person to lunch or dinner. Think about the needs of your gift recipient. Provide some helpful service at home, even just a periodic visit or help with a home chore. This is especially helpful for elderly or disabled friends or neighbors, or those who might be lonely.
Be creative! Have a merry Christmas.