Keeping It Local Holiday Shopping Guide: Part 3

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:

Eat This!
Food can be super-local, and as a consumable, it’s minimalist too!

  1. Gift certificate to a local restaurant
  2. Gift certificate to a bakery (I often do this for teachers because a relatively affordable $5 is a loaf of bread or a couple cupcakes)
  3. Wine from a local vineyard
  4. Honey—virtually every community has their own beekeepers
  5. Share of a cow from a local farmer
  6. Jars of locally made jam
  7. Gift certificate to a local coffee shop
  8. Gift certificate to a local ice cream store
  9. Chocolate
  10. A basket of produce from the farmers market
  11. A loaf of bread, plate of cookies, or pie from a nearby bakery
  12. A bag of bagels
  13. Regional specialties for far-away relatives (like White Lily flour or Virginia ham for Westerners)
  14. A mix from a local restaurant (we bought Kerbey Lane pancake mixes for grandparents when we lived in Austin—huge hit)
  15. A longed-for local food item for friends who have moved away (my Texas friend flew east with tortillas from HEB grocery store for me, and I love her for it)
  16. A CSA membership

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,