Friday, December 9, 2011

Have yourself a merry local Christmas

Paroxysms of gift-buying mean holiday season has truly arrived.
It’s the thought that counts, which is true in many ways. Obviously it means thinking about the recipient: choosing the perfect gift for their personality or needs, or simply remembering to think of them at all! But when gift-shopping this year, try also to reflect on the economics of your purchase.
If you shop local, your money circulates within the local economy, becoming a gift to everyone around you.
Yet shopping local doesn’t simply mean not shopping in a bigger city or online. Even from a nearby store, if you just buy another gadget off the shelf, much of your money leaves our regional, or Canada altogether. So this year, try to focus on gifts that are actually locally produced, so all the money stays here.
So what does that mean? Well, not a lot of durable goods are made in this area, under the decline of manufacturing. (A new Napoleon grill would be a notable exception – if it fits your gifting budget!) But many consumables are made locally, and make wonderful gifts.
Sigrid’sBakery, for example, comes personally recommended by Vice-regal Consort John Ralston Saul. And did you know there’s a Barrie bakery specializing just in butter tarts? (The SweetOven). How much more Christmasy can you get?
Or if liquid libations are more the style to warm your loved-one’s heart, fresh brews from Muskoka, Creemore, or Flying Monkeys are well within the 100-km range, as are vintages from the new Holland Marsh Wineries. (Old Man Winter will even chill them for you, for free). Or even make your own, like we do at winexpert.
A major local gift category is services. Massages, spa visits, hairstyling, housecleaning, even car detailing are great certificates to receive. In today’s hurried world, someone looking after (or cleaning for) you is a blessed relief. And these services have all taken a hit from the HST raising their prices, so they need your support.
Entertainment is another good choice. Instead of buying another CD or DVD off the shelf, how about tickets or vouchers for local performances? There are several worthy theatre companies in the area.
At any age, lessons can be a fun gift. My daughters loved their trial month at Lewis Karate School. Fitness membership or dance, music, or other lessons can expand a person’s happiness and wellbeing, while supporting local business. And all of these gifts tend to be low-footprint, when it comes to the Earth. Plus, myriad Group-Jag-Deal coupon programs make them very affordable.
Among our greatest gifts are this Earth and our local community. Share those gifts with others: give back by giving locally this year.

Written for my Root Issues column, published in the Barrie Examiner under the title "Give back by giving locally this holiday season"
Erich Jacoby-Hawkins is a director of the Ontario School of Economic Science and Earthsharing Canada

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