Shift Your Shopping!

November 24th, 2011 · No Comments · Christmas, DIY, Gift Ideas, Projects

Shop Local. Buy handmade.

Shift your Shopping is a collaboration of local business networks across North America asking everyone to support Locally Owned and Independent Businesses this Holiday Season.

This holiday season please buy local products from locally owned and independent businesses rather than the big box stores. It helps to support your neighbors and your local economy. And don’t forget handmade products! Whether you make the gift yourself or buy it from an artist or craftsman, a handmade gift is always appreciated.

I make all my Christmas gifts. I worked in Retail for 14 years and nothing takes the spirit of Christmas out of you more than a holiday season that starts in September.  The last thing I want to do is spend my precious time and my meager savings in a store jammed with unhappy shoppers, miserable, screaming, overtired children, long lines and incompetent sales help. So, out of necessity for my personal sanity and my mostly empty wallet, I started making my Christmas gifts. At first I was surprised when a friend asked, “What will you be making this year?”  It turned out they actually look forward to my gifts! They aren’t anything fancy or terribly hard to make and it seems I am always doing the majority of the work at the last minute (who doesn’t during the holidays?). But I just follow my instincts, think of creative ways to wrap or group things together, and then have fun with it. I love color, so often times they are colorfully wrapped or tied. How it’s wrapped is part of the gift experience. One friend told me she couldn’t bring herself to open last year’s gift for several months because she enjoyed looking at it so much!

Last year, I made homemade chai tea and potholders. I found the chai recipe on  Apartment Therapy’s the kitchn.  The hardest part was gathering all the ingredients, which wasn’t hard at all because I have a world foods store across the street. The best part was heating the spices because they made my apartment smell divine. It smelled like I had been transported to some exotic spice market in India. I bought empty tea bags on the internet (in case some people thought it was too hard to make it loose) and used old canning jars and tea tins that I had picked up at thrift shops for the chai mix.

The potholders were the loop ones we made as kids at summer camp. You know, the ones that really worked because they were made out of heavy cotton loops? (Not like those crappy nylon ones you find in the stores today…don’t get me started.)  I bought the loops from Harrisville Designs here in NH. The colors of the cotton loops are fabulous and they all fit the loom! No aggressive pulling and tugging necessary. The best part is they are made in the US. Check them out here: Harrisville Designs. Making the potholders was a nice, relaxing activity and the colors made it so much fun to do that I was sad when I didn’t need to make anymore.

Harrisville Potholder Loom and Loops

Then I tied everything up in a clear cellophane bag with lots of bright curling ribbons I found for a steal after Christmas the year before and added a little mercury glass ornament (TJMaxx 20 for $5!) to each bag. Voilà! Christmas done.

I’ll tell you the sad story of this year’s gift another day…

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