By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Special gifts for the holidays abound
Thatcher and Waylon_2020 Christmas Tree
THATCHER AND WAYLON carefully supervised the family’s Christmas tree selection recently at Oppriecht Acres tree farm. This was one of the family’s many decisions to shop local this holiday season.

RISING SUN - Like the Jolly Old Fat Man in red, I’ve been making my list and checking it twice. Of course because I’m a mom of two these days, I’ve been thinking ahead on the holidays since the mid-summer when Thatcher and I began our ‘Christmas Crafting Extravaganza.’ 

This year, more than ever before, I’ve been trying to be more thoughtful with how I give. Sure, there are certainly Amazon packages arriving on my doorstep, but far less than ever before. I’ve made a conscious effort to not only create my gifts, but purchase things from my direct community and support my friends and neighbors. I’m trying to step away a bit from giving gifts just to gift and put serious consideration into each person who I am gifting. I wish I could blab all of my (what I think are good) ideas to you, but alas we still have a couple of weeks until the big day and I can’t spill the holly jolly beans just yet. That’s just in case someone I know might happen to read this column and all. 

But, I thought I might offer up a couple of ideas for you semi-last minute shoppers and gifters that just might fit your budget, style, and needs. Keep in mind as well, that MANY if not ALL of our local businesses would probably help you out with a contact-free option for purchasing if you just ask. I know many are choosing to shop online for safety but I think it’s fair to say our local people are more than happy to facilitate a safe option for you!

One idea that just struck me this afternoon while walking around and gazing off at the Gays Mills Public Library is for those in your life who just don’t want or need more stuff. Perhaps this person is an avid reader, but doesn’t necessarily buy new books. An idea that they may appreciate is making a donation to their (or your) public library in their honor. You can even personalize this gift by ear marking the donation to be used toward a specific resource or category of book or material that the person you are honoring prefers. Then, you could get fancy and create a little certificate explaining what you did and put it in a nice card or pair it with a sweet treat for good measure. This also works for donations made toward the local food pantry, women’s shelter, or other organization that is close to the heart of someone you love. And, it helps your community. It’s ‘Win-Win,’ if you ask me. 

The gift of food is always a big win and can be made to feel very personalized and thoughtful. And lucky for us we live in one of the most food-rich places in the state. I’m sure if you were to sit down and think of all of the places in Crawford County alone from which you can get food in one form or another, you’d be blown away by your list. Have a grill master in the family? Pop into Eastman Locker or Solar Meats, both have incredible selection and local meats available. Or order up a gift certificate. Another idea for the farmer in your life is to create your own gift certificate to pay a portion of their processing costs for an animal they are raising for their family. 

Don’t forget about the veggie lovers and those with a green thumb. Places like the Village Greenhouse in Gays Mills and Johnson’s One Stop are both among the local options for springtime gardening plants. A gift certificate earmarked for spring planting is a promising reminder that spring isn’t too far away. Those are just a couple of examples, but like I said there are so many options in our area. 

There are also gift certificates to be used to carry out dinner at a favorite restaurant, your local grocery store that carries your favorite treats, all great options. 

If you're feeling really ambitious, there is a wealth of crafting inspiration available on the internet as well. Personally, I spent WAY too much time checking out www.rachelwolfclean.coma blog run by a local business owner, Rachel Wolf of LuSa Organics. She has a treasure-trove of easy-to-do and fun crafts for all the members of your family. She also covers the topic of non-toy gifting and creative gift giving for the holidays. Check her out. I found a lot of inspiration on there as well as in her book ‘The Unplugged Family Adventure.’ 

However, if you’re like me and have kids, you’ll know that Christmas morning magic does involve a few toys. But did you know we are fortunate enough to have our very own toy shop owner here in Gays Mills? Jess Brandt owns,which is an all-made-in-the-USA toy company. Lots of fun options for the kiddos in your life. Check them out online or at The Village Greenhouse. 

I’ve only scratched the surface of the offerings that we have in our community. There is truly so, so much more, from local musicians, to beauticians, to farmers, to artists, cookie makers and bakers, and everyone in between. And frankly they could all use our support a bit more than the big dogs out there in the retail world. Every small bit of love counts right now, and always. 

So, now that I’ve given you a few ideas, I’m setting out another one of those ‘From the Valley Column Challenges’ for you. This holiday season, think of a way you can safely support a friends’ local business, a local organization, and create something from the heart. Share these ideas far and wide and promote those you love and want to support.  

Be thoughtful with your gift giving this year. And, find a way to reach out and touch someone, even if you cannot physically be together. We are all so full of love and hope right now even if we may feel tired, alone and yes even hopeless. The holidays will be hard, but if we support each other and show love and gratitude to those around us at every opportunity we will continue to make it another day.