We're down to the wire on Christmas shopping. How about you relax and not worry about the rest of those stocking stuffers? Instead make a donation to a local charity– in honor or your friends and family members. Most local charities at this point, are desperately trying to figure out how they're going to come through for the families relying on them this Christmas. Families who won't have the means to buy gifts for their children or a turkey for their table.
Your donation could be used to adopt one of those families and provide the kids with warm clothing or toys. Or maybe even a Christmas dinner. At Vermont Woods Studios we're working with a local school where we know our donation is being put to work for people in our own community who need it the most. The staff tells me they are seeing a greater need for food and winter clothing in their student families now than they can ever remember. Many families that donated to projects like this last year are now in line to receive.
The Salvation Army sponsors Adopt A Family for Christmas projects across the country. You local churches probably do the same.
It's not too late to help. You then either write a check or purchase food for a Christmas dinner. So simple, but it means so much!
Buying American Made Christmas gifts is important for our economy, but buying locally made items is even better. Here's a really fun and easy way to do it: Brattleboro's Cotton Mill Open Studio and Holiday Sale! Here you can meet local artists who make blown glass, wooden crafts, ceramics, furniture, garden sculpture, jewelry, books, jams, candles and more all under one roof. Plus check out activities like dance, circus, painting, music, film and of course FOOD.
This once-a-year celebration features the work of many artists and artisans and promises something of interest for all ages! Meet the artisans in their studios as you find beautifully handcrafted gifts for the holiday season and enjoy live music, entertainment and demonstrations. Stay all day… food is available! Admission and parking are free.
Earlier this year I wrote a blog which I hoped would inspire a “Buy American Made Products” movement but with a new twist. I thought that the upcoming holiday season would be the perfect time to raise awareness that there still are some great American Made products.
After all this is the time of year when shopping is going full force. So if there ever was power in numbers this would be the time to really make a difference!
I began my research into American Made Products that would make good holiday gifts and I was both surprised and pleased to find that this was not as difficult as I first envisioned. Certainly at some point most of us have commented on the overwhelmingly high percentage of imported products we see on our stores shelves. And how product quality has diminished as well.
I realize that there is some perception that US made product is just too expensive but when you factor in its quality and lasting power over “cheap” imports it actually may prove to be a bargain! Buy it right, and buy it once I say.
I was also very pleased to find that most of the companies I had discovered were started in America long ago, understood offshore production savings or felt economic pressure to manufacture offshore, but firmly resisted this based on a core belief of contributing to the US economy and an unwillingness to diminish quality. Those companies I commend, and those companies’ products I will purchase! They are indeed out there and they deserve our business.
It has been both a fun and enlightening project and I was quite surprised and happy to find good old American made products that my family and friends could use and enjoy. And as a matter of fact I book marked a few dozen websites for things for myself in the process! So Santa, if you are reading this….
Below are some American Made gift ideas I found during my first pass I would like to share with you and I plan on updating this blog post throughout the holiday season.
- Well you may have thought any type of US produced clothing would be hard to find but it’s out there! And who hasn’t gotten or given pajamas as a gift! Check out Vermont Flannel. BTW… I actually was given a VF shirt and shorts about 10 years ago. Still have and still wear them! And it doesn’t look like they are going to wear out anytime soon! http://www.vermontflannel.com/index
- What’s more American then blue jeans, right? But blue jeans made in America these days? No way you say! While the famous brands packed up their US factories long ago, there are some little guys refusing to budge! Check out Texas Jeans http://www.texasjean.com/ and All American Clothing http://www.allamericanclothing.com
- Hmm, I suppose when you need to grab a flashlight you must be in a REAL need for light? So the one that you have to keep smacking in the palm of your hand to stay on may not be the best choice! And how much of a bargain is it in that situation? Well there’s a USA Made MAGLITE in my home, all my vehicles glove boxes, and in my backpacks & camping gear. Turns on, stays on EVERY time! TIP: The little MAGLITE Solitaire attaches to a key chain and is a great stocking stuffer! http://www.maglite.com/
- No “handy-person” would be disappointed to get a top notch pocket or belt multi-tool. This extremely handy gadget was pioneered by “Leatherman” almost 30 years ago and has been evolving ever since (and is probably one of the most copied inventions of the century!) Now they have an ingenious multi-tool for almost every activity and function. http://www.leatherman.com/
- Something for the little ones? How about some good old fashion wooden toys? Don’t think they make them like they use too? Well then check out the award winning line of wood toys by Maple Landmark. Lots of fun stuff for kids of all ages and you can personalize them with the child's name! http://www.maplelandmark.com/
- Need a gift idea that suits all ages? Or something that the whole family can participate in? How about the classic jigsaw puzzle! From 60 piece children’s puzzles to 2000 piece challenges for the master puzzler, Springbok is the oldest and most respected brand name puzzle manufactured in the USA (and they get another vote from us for having environmentally friendly manufacturing practices!) They have a great sorting & categorizing feature on their website to make finding the perfect puzzle quick & easy! http://www.springbok-puzzles.com/
So I hope I have inspired you to consider this holiday gift theme for your family and friends gatherings, office party, secret Santa, or Yankee Swaps. And please feel free to share your findings or events by joining our Facebook event. We look forward to hearing from you and we wish you a Happy Holiday season!
By Dennis Shanoff
Here at Vermont Woods Studios, we have always (and only) sold 100% USA made wood furniture. Vermont made furniture to be more precise. And the reasons this matters are many and compelling. Let’s start with superb, lasting quality and built from a natural and sustainable material. Well that’s good for your wallet and very good for the planet. And when you factor in the US jobs it creates and the local economies it helps support, well to me that’s when it becomes very compelling. Our product and service choices really do matter and can make a difference.
This past year ABC news ran some Made in America feature stories. You may have seen all or part of these week long series specials on the nightly news. They did a great job of raising awareness of how little we have in our homes that was produced in this country. And the obvious “reason this matters” drawn from these segments was how it has impacted the US economy and our jobs market.
So it did get me thinking that maybe I could shift at least some of my buying to US made goods (as challenging as that sounds). I would do my part plus I certainly have been experiencing some quality issues with my offshore made products, especially tools. Why is my father’s power drill from the 1950’s still working while I am on at least my 5th one!
And my next thought was that I couldn’t be alone in this thinking and that sooner or later a “Buy American” movement would begin. If ABC news couldn’t push this movement, no one can! Well the whole ABC coverage did inspire and encourage me to think more about this and ponder what a small movement with “spreading potential” could do? When could we make a really big difference? How about the time of year when we really ramp up our spending? What would be an easy to adopt theme? And then it hit me, holiday shopping is right around the corner. How many Secret Santa office parties will there be? How many school children will be partaking in a holiday gift exchange? And how many families and friends will be having an old fashion Yankee Swap! So why not an American Made theme holiday gift party this year? And that’s just what we are going to do here in our Vermont Woods Studios office and that’s what I am going to do when it comes to my family and friend gift buying.
In the coming weeks I will be posting on this blog the results of my findings and ideas. So if you are curious as to what I find or if you want to share your thoughts or findings please come back and post your comments here (or even better– on our Facebook page).
Now imagine if a million holiday gatherings follow this Buy American theme this season… well that will really matter! Join us and pledge to Buy American this holiday season.
I'm really not an early Christmas shopper. In fact I'm not a shopper at all. When the kids were little they used to like to holiday shop at the local craft fair… that was fun. But the boys are teenagers now and I can't imagine getting them to do that anymore. A couple times in recent years, I was able to convince Ken and the boys to make an overnight holiday shopping trip to Boston where we wandered around downtown and at the Wrentham Mall picking up a few gifts. I enjoyed that but the kids seem to have outgrown any kind of activity that involves parents.
Anyway… yesterday in the office, Dennis floated the idea of buying only American made things for Christmas presents. Pretty cool idea, don't you think?
But the thing is, this is shopping we can't leave till the last minute. It will take a bit of research and planning. Isn't it ironic that many American made gifts would have to be purchased online and shipped here from across the country, whereas imports are available anytime, in every store in town, at a moment's notice?
So at Vermont Woods Studios we'll plan to start our shopping now and share our research with you as we go. Saturday I tagged along with Annette at the Brattleboro Farmer's Market. That's probably a reasonable place to start… maple syrup, handmade pottery, wooden bowls.
Why not join us in our "Buy American Made" Holiday Gifts Challenge? If you have gift suggestions, pass them along in the comment section below or send photos and links and we'll post here or on our Facebook page.
They say that if each of us in the USA spent just $3.33 on American made goods, that would generate 10,000 jobs… a pretty decent Christmas present in itself, I say.