By Kylla Benes

‘Tis the season: the season for delicious food, joyous celebrations, and the giving of gifts. Shopping during the holiday season accounts for 20 to 30 percent of
annual retail sales, and last year Americans spent an average of $929 on holiday presents. As consumers, we can use this spending power to support our country and communities through deliberate ‘Made in America’ purchases, shopping at locally owned businesses, and charity-focused spending.


Buy American

Products sold with the ‘Made in America’ label have nearly all of its components manufactured in the USA. Behind this simple statement is 12 million workers, or 8.8 percent of the US workforce, and 12.5 percent, or $2.1 trillion of our nation’s gross domestic product (GDP). When you buy products that are ‘Made in America’ you directly support our nation’s economy and your fellow citizens. And it seems most Americans understand this importance. A 2012 study found that more than 80 percent of us are willing to pay more, 8 to 63 percent more, for goods that are made in the USA. Even online, most retailers now include manufacturing location information or a method of determining it.

Moreover, a quick internet search for ‘Made in America’ offers a variety of resources to help you find businesses and products that are manufactured in our country, including:


Buy Local

Similarly to shopping for ‘Made in America’ products, shopping at local small businesses directly supports your community. It’s estimated that there are 28 million small businesses in America, supplying jobs for almost 50 percent of the US workforce, or 120 million people. In places like Wyoming and Montana, small businesses support over 60 percent of the state’s workforce. Whether you head to your local stores on Small Business Saturday or any other day, you have the opportunity to not only buy products but also meet people in your community and forge new relationships. If you can’t shop in person, some online marketplaces, such as Etsy, will let you filter your shopping location down to a specific city or town.


Buy with Purpose

Giving Tuesday is the first Tuesday after Thanksgiving, and a global movement that started in 2012 to celebrate and encourage giving. You can weave the spirit of #givingtuesday into your entire holiday gift giving this year by making charitable donations or buying gifts that support good causes. Buying with purpose also gives buyers an opportunity to add a personal touch when choosing a gift for loved ones. Have a friend that loves the outdoors? Donate to a charity that supports environmental conservation efforts.


You can also donate to a charitable organization directly or volunteer your time in honor of someone as a gift. Have a veteran in your life? Donate to an organization that helps our nation’s bravest men and women. Does your grandmother volunteer for local organizations? Try donating your own time or money to one of those charities.

If you prefer to give tangible gifts for the holidays, you can buy charitable presents, like “buy one, give one” products. With these types of products, companies will donate money or items for every purchase made. There are numerous companies to choose from that allow you to give friends and family socks, soap, blankies, and more while supporting worthy causes. Just do an internet search for ‘gifts that donate to a good cause’ and you’ll find lots of lists and articles to help you sort through your options, like this one. Whether you donate money, or make a ‘buy one, give one’ purchase, always make sure you are dealing with a legitimate organization.