I think I must be on the mailing list of every catalogue known to man—despite having tried to get off all the “junk mail” lists. A few years ago I realized how addicted I was to reading through most of them—and how prone I was to ordering from them. So I decided to implement a hard-and-fast throwaway rule: when catalogues arrive in the mail, just pitch them into the recycle bin, without even peeking inside. It usually works pretty well—until just after Halloween. That’s when every catalogue company that’s ever heard of me starts sending out their holiday issues. And that’s when the holiday taskmaster starts to kick in—you know, that voice in your head that says, “Christmas is coming—must buy things. Must start shopping list.” Makes those catalogues seem pretty tempting.
But it occurs to me that dumping those catalogues is still the right thing to do. I’m guessing most of what they offer is imported. With the U.S. economy the way it is, it seems to me that focusing on buying “Made in America”—better, made locally—is a good way to do holiday shopping. If we all did it, I’m sure it would give the economy a boost, and could even create more American jobs. Here are some gift ideas that could work:
Everyone gets their hair cut. How about gift certificates from your local hair salon or barber? Newbury Street West on Still River Road maybe?
Anyone thinking about health improvement would appreciate a gym membership, and there are several local places to get them, such as Swymfit in Boxborough, Anytime Fitness and Ciccone Family Fitness Center in Clinton, and Curves, which has many locations in this area.
Think about giving gift certificates for services instead of more stuff to clutter up someone’s house:
• Driveway sealing
• A summer of lawn mowing
• Snow plowing or walk shoveling
• Car washing
• Car detailing
• House cleaning
• Computer tune-up
For entertainment, you could consider giving games at a local golf course. Adding a personal touch, you could treat your children, grandchildren, or best friend to a gift certificate for a summer afternoon of mini-golfing, followed by ice cream. (Kimball’s in Westford offers just such an opportunity, along with bumper boats!) And in the category of outings, how about whale watching or deep-sea fishing?
This area is rich with opportunities for cultural entertainment, all of which present gift-giving opportunities: plays at Theatre III in Acton and the Merrimack Repertory Theatre; performances by the Stratton Players in Fitchburg; puppet shows at Drawbridge Puppet Productions in Lunenburg; performances at Mechanics Hall and the DCU Center in Worcester. If you know someone who loves museums, consider a pass to one of the many fine museums in this area:
• Fruitlands Museum
• Fort Devens Museum
• Museum of Russian Icons in Clinton
• Museum of African Artifacts in Clinton
• Worcester Art Museum
• Fitchburg Art Museum
If you’d rather give an object that will create a lasting memory, there are many options from local artisans, many of whom you can find at local craft fairs. For Art’s Sake in Harvard showcases the work of its artist members Upstairs at the General. For the fiber arts enthusiast on your gift list, the Fiber Loft offers a colorful array of yarns along with knitting needles, crochet hooks, spindles, and how-to books. They also occasionally have for sale handmade sweaters, scarves, and more. Members of the Bolton Artisan’s Guild offer a diverse array of arts and crafts, from fiber art to jewelry, paintings, wood-turned pens, handcrafted soaps, and more. In Berlin on Route 62, you’ll find Wood ‘n’ Things, a shop that sells handmade wooden toys, shelves, holders, and more. And not far away from there is The Silver Buffalo, specializing in Southwestern Native American crafts, including fine silver jewelry.
With so many possibilities out there, you don’t have to go far to take care of that holiday shopping list. Time to toss those catalogues and buy American!