Published in the November 22 – December 5, 2017 issue of Morgan Hill Life

Celebrate the holidays by getting more for less by shopping local. We encourage our readers to think about ditching the hassles of driving north to mega-sized shopping malls and dealing with the crowds of people fighting for parking spots outside and fighting for holiday gifts inside. Morgan Hill and the South Valley region provide plenty of opportunities to find locally-made gifts that will bring joy to the recipients while also being environmentally green and saving the green in your wallet.

We are strong believers in supporting local retailers and service providers by shopping during the holidays with them. Shopping local is a present you can give your community. Consider that for every $100 you spend at a local business, about $68 stays here in our community by supporting local jobs and reinvesting in our infrastructure through local taxes.

Studies have shown that consumers who purchase gifts from a locally-owned independent business instead of a nationally-owned company help strengthen the economic base of a community. Buying local during the holidays also helps keep Morgan Hill unique. When you support one-of-a-kind businesses (and not the stores that are cookie-cutter copies of other stores throughout the nation), you are enhancing the quality of life by preserving the distinctive character of the place we call home.

Shopping local also reduces our American consumer impact on the environment. It requires less transportation energy to shop local. Getting into the habit of shopping local also helps create more jobs. Small local businesses — and not corporations — are the largest employees across America. Supporting them with your dollars helps provide people with employment. This encourages local prosperity.

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For people who have plenty of material stuff in their lives, consider giving them the gift of a great dinner made by a local chef. Many restaurants offer gift cards or gift certificates. Or perhaps you can give them tickets to a locally-produced show such as the South Valley Symphony, the Limelight Theater or the South Valley Theatre.

In the spirit of the season, consider giving a donation of financial support to a local nonprofit organization in the name of a loved one. There are many excellent organizations that truly need your support in keeping their mission going. Perhaps you can ask the special people in your life what causes they might support in the South Valley region, and then send a donation to that organization, whether it be a group that protects the environment, enhances local education, or helps humanity with a social services mission.

The most important thing to consider when shopping local during the holidays, focus on the spirit of the season and don’t get caught up in the rush. Dealing with the mayhem of getting those limited Black Friday deals won’t necessarily add to your holiday joy. And the stuff you purchase on that day will not make you and your loved ones any happier. It’s sharing time with your family and friends that will really create fond memories during the season of giving.

Happy holidays, to one and all!