It's no secret that Mike and I love the quaint small town we live in here in Alabama. We are avid local business supports and as the holidays drew closer this year we decided to show them all how much we appreciated them. As a team we set out on a quest to purchase all of our Christmas gifts at neighborhood mom and pop stores. I'm happy to report that over 80% of our gifts were purchased locally. I enjoy knowing that we are stimulating our local economy and helping build upon our community.
I will be the first to admit that I failed when it came to purchasing Mike's gifts from local merchants - but to be fair the only things on his Christmas list were items that aren't made here in town. Literally if you looked at his list and held it up to a 13 year old boy's Christmas list, they would be identical. Lots of PS3 and XBox style items. Everyone else on our list has received something purchased here from local stores, minus a gift card and one other gift which I can't mention due to the fact that the person may read this.
We avoided just about every bit of holiday stress by doing this. You want to know how many times we've made a trip to the mall since Thanksgiving, ZERO. That's right. We haven't stepped foot in the mall once this season for Christmas shopping. The only reason we went to the mall at all was when Mike needed a haircut before Thanksgiving, that's it. I can't begin to tell you how awesome that is. Trips to Target this season for holiday shopping? ONE! Mike may have ventured there on his own, so we could say TWO if need. Number of times I cussed people up and down in my head while shopping in our downtown area... ZERO. This to me is an amazing feeling in itself and almost like a gift we gave each other of a better over all feeling and well being for Christmas. Talk about having the Christmas Spirit, it's so much easier when you aren't feeling like you may need to strangle someone... when you don't have to wait in a long ass line to get two items... when you don't have to bash someone's cart out of your way... and when you actually have the owner of the store cater to you, and help you with all your questions, thoughts and concerns because they want to, not because corporate has told them they need to.
With all the local shopping we've had an overwhelming feeling of pride for our town and the owners of these stores are floored and excited when we told them about our game plan to buy all local. One merchant even gave me a discount on 2 items I purchased when she heard that come from our lips. She thanked me over and over and hoped we'd get our word out so more people would do the same. We have every possible big name store you could hope for around here, and even though our mall is a little sad it is a decent place to shop for a lot of people all at once - I by no means think everyone should do this, you may not have a selection of great local stores around your town like we do, but the next time you go out shopping for holidays, birthdays, or anything maybe take a few minutes to think about what treasures you may find in a non-chain store. And at the same time how you may be helping out a business owner in your community, one that doesn't have a huge backing financially but is full of heart and pride for their stores and their community.
Taking this hometown Christmas a step further, in order to help out our fellow man, and our planet we went with the whole, reduce, reuse and recycle theory to our gift wrap this year. We usually purchase all new wrapping paper every year, instead this year we are reusing a rustic snowflake paper we've had for at least two years. It's almost gone, and that's upsetting and exciting at the same time. To know that with the money I saved on wrapping paper I can put it toward stocking stuffers, is totally exciting. The roll being almost gone is what's upsetting, I really love the pattern. Since most of our gifts were purchased locally, we also received free gift wrapping! We let the gift wrap from the first store we shopped at dictate how our wrapping style would be for all our gifts [yes, I like to have a theme/style]. Basic craft wrap and beautiful ribbons were used on my gifts from Mike and some of the gifts we got his family. Most of the items were wrapped up and then placed in large craft bags with tons of tissue paper. I have taken it upon myself to deconstruct the bags, saving them to use for wrapping paper if needed, or bags for larger gifts and saved the tissue which has come in very handy for items that need to be boxed with tissue, and other re-used bags that we have received that fit this same color scheme. We haven't had to purchase one single bit of ribbon, we've only used left over, not a single bit of tissue, or gift bags yet. The only item I purchased new were some name tags. We had contemplated just writing the names on the bags, but then people couldn't reuse them and keep the cycle going so we opted for cheap, stick on tags from Rite Aid. It's only a few days until the big holiday and I don't think we will need anymore gift wrap, and we may even have some left over to reuse again next year. Thankfully at my job we use kraft wrap to fill boxes for transport. I've been able to snag a few scrap bits to wrap Mike's gifts before bringing them home - he not only has a list like a 13 year old, he snoops like one too. I know that wrapping paper seems like such a little amount of money but when you add up the paper, the tissue, the tags the ribbons all that go together, at the end of the day it's a nice lump of money... money we saved, and by reusing items it's less in the landfill - at least on our end. [Don't think I won't be walking around trying to take back some of the bags we have used this year, they are REALLY cute and I would reuse them again and again].
I can honestly say I've never felt so happy about the holidays as I do this year. I am excited to know that most of the gifts we've chosen for our friends and family, aren't ones that will be found under everyone else's tree this year. We took time and choose each gift with that specific person in mind and it actually felt like it took less time this year than in years past. I think when you're in the mall or department chain you get so overwhelmed and over stimulated by the noise, the people, and the displays that you sometimes over spend or forget why you are there in the first place. I haven't had that overwhelmed feeling this year - safe for maybe my last trip to Target, and it's nice to feel so calm about the holidays coming up. My main panic thing right now is the cookies I need to bake! Regardless of where your gifts come from - I hope you were able to find all you needed for that special someone on your list!!! And most importantly that you have a very happy holiday!
How has your holiday shopping gone this year?
Don't forget to tell me your favorite Christmas memories! Read THIS post!