This is a cross-post from Get Crafty.

It’s that time of year again! Time to find a special little something for all the people in your life. And, of course, you know your options when it comes to shopping – head to the mall or seek out one-of-a-kind handcrafted gifts for your peeps. Buying handmade is a no-brainer for me and apparently that’s the case for the 5,000+ people who have pledged to buy handmade this holiday season over on The pledge simply states, “I pledge to buy handmade this holiday season and request that others do the same for me.” The website is a collaboration between nine forces in the DIY and handmade worlds calling themselves The Handmade Consortium. Members include The Austin Craft Mafia, Craft Magazine and Craftster.

Take the Handmade Pledge

Their mission and vision are as follows:
The ascendancy of chain store culture and global manufacturing has left people all dressing, furnishing, and decorating alike. The connection between producer and consumer has been lost. Buying handmade helps them reconnect. We created the pledge as a call to action for consumers to be conscious of how they spend their money this holiday season. We want people, whenever possible, to support independent creators and shop outside the big boxes.

I was super excited to hear about because it is sure to get everyone fired up to support crafters this holiday season. I took a similar pledge last year all on my own and hopefully my experience will encourage you to do the same this year. Here are a few pieces of advice:

1) Set your own personal rules: For me, everything had to be handmade, but I did allow myself a couple of exceptions and I established these with myself before I even started shopping. The exceptions were: straight up money, used items and media (CDs, DVDs, books, magazines) … the final exception was Legos!

2) Create your list of who you are shopping for. And be realistic. Some people are hard to shop for period, and then when you throw in the handmade part it makes shopping even more difficult. I believe gift giving should bring joy to both the giver and the receiver. If it becomes a chore or obligation it’s no bueno. But this is why you’ve made your short list of exceptions. If you can’t find something handmade for someone make a point to buy them something used or a gift from an independent shop.

3) Map out your opportunities for buying handmade. You cannot be a procrastinating shopper if you are giving only handmade gifts – unless you happen to have a workshop full of elves working round the clock! Look for craft markets in your area. In addition to indie craft shows a lot of neighborhoods, schools and churches put on their own markets during the holiday season. Make a list of these events so you can hit up as many of them as possible. Also, make a list of your favorite online crafters and start visiting their websites. Order early before they run out of stock and you run out of time! And of course visit brick & mortar stores in your area that sell handmade items. With ample opportunity to buy handmade there is no reason to go to the mall.

Gift #11 - Christmas Gifts 2006

If you live in LA, Chicago or Atlanta you can get started on your shopping this weekend and probably make a huge dent in your list. In LA, visit Felt Club on Sunday, November 18 at the Los Angeles City College campus. In Chicago, visit the DIY Trunkshow on Saturday, November 17 at the Pulaski Park Auditorium and in Atlanta visit the Indie Craft Experience on Saturday, November 17 at The B Complex. Plus, coming up in Providence visit Craftland December 1-22, in Milwaukee visit Art vs. Craft on December 8, in NYC visit the Bust Craftacular on December 8, in Boston visit Bazaare Bizarre on December 9, in Chicago visit the Renegade Craft Fair on December 8-9, and in Portland visit Crafty Wonderland on December 16. And that’s just off the top of my head! I’m sure there are many, other shows you can visit.

Gift #2 - Christmas Gifts 2006

Buying gifts at craft events is so much more fun than shopping in a crowded department store or at the mall. There is usually festive drinks and snacks and music and just an over all feeling of celebration. I can’t wait! I’ve already created my list of events I’m going to attend in the ATL starting this weekend with the Indie Craft Experience and The Big Angel Blowout. Then I’ll attend the holiday version of Young Blood Gallery’s monthly Kraftwork event on December 6. After that I’m keeping my eyes open for postcards and announcements for studio open houses, school sales and trunk shows. And looking at my schedule, I think I might even have time to make a few gifts this year – quite a treat!

Gift #1 - Christmas Gifts 2006

So as you delve into the whole gift gathering extravaganza this year, here are a few links to get you started:

For inspiration on making gifts, visit belle epoque’s November 4th entry:

To see the handmade gifts I gave last year visit here.

And for additional info on why buying handmade is important visit here.

Happy Hunting!