While holiday shopping, please keep in mind your local, independent businesses, and buy handmade whenever possible. If you're doing your shopping online, Etsy is the easiest and best place to go for anything and everything handmade. I can't post the gifts I've found, for obvious reasons, but I can proudly breakdown my purchases for you...
2010 Holiday Gifts
43% Handmade from Etsy
31% Local/Independent Businesses
25% Other (Amazon, Chains, etc.)
Avoiding chains and other big corporations will always be difficult as long as I'm working off of wish lists, but, who knows, maybe next year I can proudly announce that ALL of my purchases were handmade and/or from local independent businesses. : )
Supporting local businesses is VERY important, but I tend to look for handmade items first. I just love how every item has a background story, and I know exactly who made it and where they're from. Earlier this year I ordered a shirt from The Velvet Vixen, and I am ecstatic every time someone complements it. I am delighted to say, "Thank you; it was handmade by Sarah in Canada!"
Of course, Forget Me Not supports buying handmade, too! Most of my fabric and supplies come from fellow Etsy sellers. The customer service is always outstanding - friendly people, personal attention, custom orders, and super fast shipping. I've developed some wonderful friendships through the "buy handmade" community, and I couldn't be happier. xo