Shop American, Buy Local

This year Americans will give the gift of genuine concern for other Americans by supporting local manufacturers and local businesses.  It's time to think outside the box, people.

Everyone gets their hair cut. How about gift certificates from your local hair salon or barber?

Gym membership? It's appropriate for all ages who are thinking about some health improvement.

Who wouldn't appreciate getting their car detailed? Small, owner operated detail shops and car washes would love to sell you a gift certificate or a book of gift certificates.

Perhaps a grateful gift receiver would like his driveway sealed, or lawn mowed for the summer, or driveway plowed all winter, or games at the local golf course.

There are a bazillion owner-run restaurants -- all offering gift certificates. And, if your intended gift recipient isn't the fancy eatery sort, what about a half dozen breakfasts at the local breakfast joint. Remember, this isn't about big National chains -- this is about supporting your home town with their financial lives on the line to keep their doors open.

How many people couldn't use an oil change for their car, truck or motorcycle, done at a shop run by the average working guy?

Thinking about a heartfelt gift for mom? Mom would LOVE the services of a local cleaning lady for a day.

My computer could use a tune-up, and I KNOW I can find some young guy who is struggling to get his repair business up and running.

OK, you were looking for something more personal. Local crafts people spin their own wool and knit them into scarves. They make jewelry, and pottery and beautiful wooden boxes.

Plan your holiday outings at local, owner operated restaurants and leave your server a nice tip. And, how about going out to see a play or ballet at your hometown theater?

Musicians need love too, so find a venue showcasing local bands.

Christmas is now about caring about our neighbors, encouraging local small businesses to keep plugging away to follow their dreams. And, caring about our communities, and the benefits that come back to us in ways we couldn't imagine when we support them.