Well? Did you survive the opening bell of the holiday season and strongarm some random stranger for that Tickle Me Elmo doll on Black Friday? Or did you avoid the shopping rush altogether and are starting to get a case of the cold sweats while looking at your gift list? Fear not! The Magpie is here to not only help you, but help you help the whole country, just by the simple look at a label. I'm talking about the label-consciousness that doesn't say whether or not something says Gucci or Louis Vuitton, it's the best possible name brand you can find: Made in the USA.
Don't roll your eyes thinking everyone's going to be stuck with Pyrex measuring cups (yes, it's an American company!). There are A LOT of domestic-made/manufactured products out there, and it's as easy as checking the labels. Granted, you can't get everything made in the US, but you can at least make it a point to be selective based on where an item is made, and make the choice to buy local. Even if it's a little shop that sells imported perfumes, that shopowner will be glad you made the purchase there, versus a big-box department store. With every dollar you spend for a local/American-made item, it's a way of investing in our own economy, our people, and a future aimed at growth.
It's so easy to find thoughtful and meaningful gifts that follow the Made in the USA/Shop Local ideal -- here are some tips and ideas:
Avoid the malls, stick to small neighborhood boutiques; there are always one-of-a-kind finds and sometimes if there's something you really want, the shop owner may be willing to work a deal.
You can type in "Made in the USA" or "Made in America" on large shopping websites like Amazon, and they have a wide selection of everything from home/kitchen goods to beauty products.
Buy gift cards from local restaurants or shops to give as gifts -- recipients can enjoy a favorite dish or be introduced to a new shop.
Look for craft shows, which are popular leading up to the holidays. It's not all lace doilies and creepy knitted dolls, you can find crowd-pleasing gifts like artisan foods, handmade soaps and candles and jewelry.
Shop online for handmade crafts at Etsy.com - you can narrow your search by local artists and find a ton of unique, beautiful gifts for others (or yourself). Make sure to shop and order early, since a lot of the items are on short supply or might need to be made.
Jaunty Fine Print: Graphic by Denise Sakaki, statistic from ABC News series Made in America