Keeping It Local Holiday Shopping Guide: Part 1

Connecting with Your Community over the Holidays

Story by Melody Warnick, author of This is Where You Belong: Finding Home Wherever You Are

Researching and writing my book This Is Where You Belong, I learned all about why loving where you live really matters. (Better health, happiness, and longevity, for starters.) For military families this can be a tall order. You move so much that you’re often starting from scratch. But here’s one simple strategy you can use this holiday season to feel more connected to your community: shop locally. Buying some of your gifts from independent businesses, hiring locals to make your life easier, and giving experiential gifts that get your family into the community are all twofers: they’re fabulous, fun presents AND they build a love for your new hometown.

Now, I’m not saying you can never shop on Amazon again. But consider buying just one or two local gifts this season for someone you love. Your dollars will have a lasting financial impact on your town—and on your feelings about your town. Here are some gift-giving ideas to get you started:

Experiences Are Better Than Stuff
Since studies show that experiences are more more meaningful than mass-produced stuff, consider one of these options.

  1. A pair of tickets to a play or concert
  2. A ticket to see a beloved local sports team play
  3. Lessons—piano, cello, Irish dance, art
  4. Classes—yoga, CrossFit, pottery making, gymnastics
  5. Tickets to a local movie theater
  6. An overnighter at a nearby bed and breakfast or AirBnB
  7. A tour—like a food tour or a city walking tour that helps you get to know your place better
  8. A reservation to camp at a state park
  9. Tickets to a music festival
  10. A guided hike
  11. Passes to your town’s children’s museum
  12. A hot air balloon ride or scenic airplane flight
  13. Passes to miniature/regular golf
  14. Community pool passes
  15. An outing to the local roller rink/trampoline park
  16. Membership to a rock climbing gym
  17. A membership to a local historic site
  18. Cooking classes
  19. A YMCA or local gym membership
  20. Museum membership
  21. Tickets to a local workshop or gala (check Eventbrite or your local newspaper listings)
  22. Snowshoe or cross-country ski rental
  23. A boat, kayak, or SUP rental for when the weather’s nice again

Melody Warnick is a chronic mover and the author of This Is Where You Belong: Finding Home Wherever You Are (Viking, 2016), about how she fell in love with her adopted hometown of Blacksburg, Virginia. You can learn more about place attachment and subscribe to Melody’s once-every-three-weeks newsletter at her website,