Shopping with care for the holidays

Give more than just a gift.

I’ve never been a big holiday shopper, but with Occupy Movements and income inequality still making headlines, I’m even less reluctant to spend money on goods made overseas or by large, multi-national corporations. Some employ good, hard-working Americans, but there’s a huge disconnect between executive pay, company policies, labor practices, tax payments, and workers’ rights.

My dear friend Cathy sent me an email suggesting other ways to think about spending for the holiday season. I’ve taken those ideas and blended them with my own:

• Buy gift certificates from locally owned hair salons, barbershops, detail shops, gyms, mechanics, cleaning services, massage therapists, pool cleaners, pet groomers and car washes; consider companies that seal driveways, mow lawns, and teach young kids how to play sports or instruments.

• Purchase gift cards from local or owner-run restaurants. This isn't about big chains; this is about supporting your fellow Floridians and helping them to keep their doors open.

• Support neighbors who offer computer repair, homemade clothes, and accessories such as jewelry or pottery.

• Keep reporters on the beat. Send someone you love a subscription to one of our worthy newspapers.

• Instead of movie passes, support local theater or dance, or find a venue showcasing local bands.

• Leave the mail carrier, tutor, teacher, trash guy or babysitter a nice tip.

• Plant a tree for everyone on your list, not just the ones who acted like idiots at Thanksgiving.

• Buy some used books from your local library instead of an online conglomerate.

• Nonprofits in our community should start an Alternative Gift Fair, selling goods and services — with proceeds to benefit all the great groups in this area that need financial help.

If you’re completely broke, give of yourself.:

• Make something for your loved ones — a poem, necklace, heartfelt essay, or dinner. Whip up some cookies or bread and deliver them to a hospital, fire house, or police station.

• Make a commitment to march or stuff envelopes for a disease or social issue you care about.