A gift three times at once

by Andy Bryenton

Christmas can often become a frenzy of last-minute shopping, pushing through the crowds at big-box retailers to snag the last example of that must-have toy or seasonal bargain — but it doesn’t have to be.

Around the world, people are turning away from the mass commercialisation of the season and embracing the concept of giving something sourced locally. There’s a list of very good reasons for this trend.

Starting with the fact that a gift made or sourced from where you live is likely to be more unique or personal than one bought from the same catalogue that was delivered to a million other letter boxes. A work of art, some gourmet local cheese, preserves, smoked meat or turned wood, upcycled clothing, pottery, jewellery or crafts. All of these things speak of where they’re from — bringing a little of your home town to friends far away.

Then there’s the benefit to local business. The adage ‘a dollar spent locally is spent thrice’ really does apply. First, you’re supporting a local person, be they a business owner, craft market stallholder or even the original manufacturer or artisan. They are then able to use that money to further their business, invest in new stock, pay staff and create jobs, or, as so many small local firms do at this time of year, support charitable causes. Your dollars go another round instead of heading offshore, and that helps us all.

Originally, Christmas was a small-town celebration, situated in the middle of the northern hemisphere winter and all about pulling together to make it through the coldest part of the year. The good food, small gifts and shared rituals, like carolling or decorating a town Christmas tree, were less about unboxing toys than about creating a sense of community. We may not live in times when we must unite against the ice and snow to survive as townsfolk in small communities, but the same message still applies economically.

Make it a local Christmas this year, and spread some cheer among your neighbours and friends.