Posted by: Kath Usitalo | November 28, 2011

Homemade: Christmas Gifts From The Great Lakes State

Give a gift of a Detroit Zoo membership for year 'round enjoyment of animal antics like those at the polar bear exhibit

A friend forwarded the following email, “Birth of a New Tradition,” which you may have seen because it has been making the circuit for at least a couple of weeks. It supports a basic “buy local” message and offers ideas for gifts that don’t require dusting, or correct sizing, or excessive amounts of wrapping paper.

The philosophy is in keeping with the Great Lakes Gazette “Homemade” posts featuring food and art crafted in Michigan. I also like to promote memberships at museums and cultural institutions—these are gifts that keep giving all year long. If a full membership isn’t in the budget you can often purchase individual admission tickets.

Take a look at the possibilities in this post about Michigan zoos; in the coming days I’ll offer other ideas for Great Lakes State gifts in keeping with the spirit of the suggestions below.


As the holidays approach, the giant Asian factories are kicking into high gear to provide Americans with monstrous piles of cheaply produced goods—merchandise that has been produced at the expense of American labor. This year can and will be different. This year Americans will give the gift of genuine concern for other Americans. There is no longer an excuse that, at gift giving time, nothing can be found that is produced by American hands. Yes there is!

It’s time to think outside the box, people. Who says a gift needs to fit in a shirt box, wrapped in Chinese produced wrapping paper?

Everyone — yes EVERYONE gets their hair cut. How about gift certificates from your local American hair salon or barber?

Gym membership? It’s appropriate for all ages who are thinking about some health improvement.

Who wouldn’t appreciate getting their car detailed? Small, American owned detail shops and car washes would love to sell you a gift certificate or a book of gift certificates.

Are you one of those extravagant givers who think nothing of plonking down the Benjamins on a Chinese made flat-screen? Perhaps that grateful gift receiver would like his driveway sealed, or lawn mowed for the summer, or driveway plowed all winter, or games at the local golf course.

There are a bazillion owner-run restaurants — all offering gift certificates. And, if your intended isn’t the fancy eatery sort, what about a half dozen breakfasts at the local breakfast joint. Remember, folks, this isn’t about big national chains — this is about supporting your home town Americans with their financial lives on the line to keep their doors open.

How many people couldn’t use an oil change for their car, truck or motorcycle, done at a shop run by the American working guy?

Thinking about a heartfelt gift for mom? Mom would LOVE the services of a local cleaning lady for a day.

My computer could use a tune-up, and I KNOW I can find some young guy who is struggling to get his repair business up and running.

OK, you were looking for something more personal. Local crafts people spin their own wool and knit them into scarves. They make jewelry, and pottery and beautiful wooden boxes.

Plan your holiday outings at local, owner operated restaurants and leave your server a nice tip. And, how about going out to see a play or ballet at your hometown theatre. Musicians need love too, so find a venue showcasing local bands.

Honestly, people, do you REALLY need to buy another ten thousand Chinese lights for the house? When you buy a five dollar string of lights about fifty cents stays in the community. If you have those kinds of bucks to burn, leave the mailman, trash guy or babysitter a nice BIG tip.

You see, Christmas is no longer about draining American pockets so that China can build another glittering city. Christmas is now about caring about US, encouraging American small businesses to keep plugging away to follow their dreams. And, when we care about other Americans, we care about our communities, and the benefits come back to us in ways we couldn’t imagine.

THIS is the new American Christmas tradition.

This is a revolution of caring about each other, and isn’t that what Christmas is about?

(In the email I received the author of this message was not identified.)



  1. YES, YES, YES!!! Let’s pass this note on to everyone who will listen or read.

  2. Great ideas and information…..thx!

  3. […] and the mall mentality I am reviving the “buy local” email message that I received last year. Click here to read Birth of a New Tradition, and be inspired to get creative in your gift-giving this […]

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