Conscientious Gift-Giving: Local, Meaningful Gift Ideas… That Won’t Get Re-gifted Next Year

Conscientious gifts at the South First Alternative Natural Foods Co-op
Conscientious gifts at the South First Alternative Natural Foods Co-op

Many Corvallisites strive to use their money for good (yay!) and not evil (hiss, boo), but the stress of the holiday frenzy can make it difficult to “vote with your wallet” for every single gift you buy. Thankfully, here in Corvallis staying on track doesn’t have to be a trial. There are all kinds of great ways to make sure that your gifting dollars are put to good use this winter.

Support your local economy! Most people know by now the great benefits of shopping locally. It keeps more money in town and makes the independent business owners and part-time crafters all smiley and happy. There are countless brilliant craftspeople in town, and you can find their wares everywhere from the OSU Holiday Marketplace (Friday, Nov. 30 and Saturday, Dec. 1 at the Memorial Union Ballroom, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.) to your corner coffee shop. Downtown Corvallis is a vital source for any holiday shopping venture, offering multiple athletics shops, book stores, boutique clothing stores, jewelers, book and art restorers, musical instrument shops, and many shops with delightful home décor selections. Not to mention all the wonderful cafés, perfect for securing a toasty beverage to keep you warm during your stroll.

Those strapped for time can still shop locally from the comfort of their homes. is an online marketplace for craftspeople, and has a search engine that finds products by location. Go to the Etsy homepage, and on the left sidebar at the very bottom, under the heading “More Ways to Shop,” select “Shop Local.” Then enter your zip-code and prepare for the barrage of selections.

If you really need to buy that special person in your life a Forever Lazy, do so at our local Kmart rather than ordering it online. The employee at the checkout station will thank you (even if they don’t say it).

Make your gift extra-positive by not only buying it locally, but by making sure it’s labeled Fair Trade or Made in America. America has priceless workers’ rights laws that many nations do not, meaning overseas workers are too often exploited. The Fair Trade certification ensures that the workers who produced the item were treated humanely. Made in America means just that. Stop by Many Hands Trading (home décor, clothing, jewelry, art, books), Irene’s (clothing and accessories), and First Alternative Co-op (miscellaneous lovelies) to browse their selections.

Another trend is the movement away from material gifts. Too often a present is not quite right and ends up languishing in the back of the closet, only to be brought out years later for a white elephant party. Avoid that waste of time and energy by resorting to the formerly tacky—now utterly brilliant—gift card.

Hand-made local goodies from New Morning Bakery
Hand-made local goodies from New Morning Bakery

While a gift card used to scream “I forgot about you” or “I’m lazy!”, it now screams, “Go splurge! It’s on me!” So many unique stores offer gift cards now, it is totally practical to give a recipient a gift card while still acknowledging his or her particular taste. Just make sure to dress it up with a well-chosen card, and write a few words about why you think they’ll enjoy it; to the knitter to whom you’ve given a Stash gift card: “I can’t wait to see what cute things you make in the coming year.” You get the picture.

Take this a step further and we enter the realm of the “experience gift.” Why give the harried stay-at-home mom a pair of fuzzy slippers, when you could hook her up with a gift card for Wacky Indoor Bounce’s Drop ‘n Shop (drop off the kids for two hours of pure bouncy insanity while she relaxes downtown)? Archery lessons, horse-riding lessons, movie theater passes, time at the Pottery Place—these are all great kids’ gifts that can make lasting memories.

Get even deeper (and cheaper) into it, and offer the gift of your time and skills. Use some computer whiz-bang to print out nifty vouchers for all kinds of things: help cleaning out the gutters, guitar lessons, sharpening all the kitchen knives. After all, aren’t the holidays about sharing time with loved ones and making one another’s lives more pleasant? Keep your eye on the prize, and remember that the prize is not a shiny piece of plastic.

by Mica Habarad


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