Fight Sprawl; Shop Main Street. Buy Local. Support Local. All good slogans. :)
This holiday season, I was delighted to see that the local children's museum was offering a "Making Merry/Parents Drop and Shop" workshop, so we could drop off the kids to spend the afternoon making us gifts like handrolled candles and lavender pillows and we could go shopping together.
We took the kids to their day at the museum at 4pm, and then we headed the few blocks down to the main downtown shopping district. With one large canvas bag and a long list in our hands, we walked from store to store exploring and shopping and having fun.
We found something for everyone on our list, dropped the big bag (getting heavy by then) off in our car and then walked over to a restaurant for a lovely meal together.
I LOVED this, for these reasons:
1. We just scheduled time to do the shopping, so I didn't feel the need to tuck it in all over my schedule and I didn't worry about shopping any other time.
2. We did it together, without children in tow, making it much more fun. It was like a date.
3. Walking around downtown eliminated the driving and parking that gets so stressful this time of year. I hate how rude the drivers get before the holidays, so I was glad to avoid that.
4. The salespeople we encountered were nice, smiling, and seemingly not angry and stressed out. That is not true in the big stores right now!
5. The atmosphere was festive and fun, with decorative storefronts and lights up. The music that was played in the stores was fun and festive but not that horrible Mall Mix of holiday songs played like Muzac.
6. I was glad to know that I was supporting local businesses and a strong downtown core, instead of chain stores and urban sprawl.
In the end, we got almost everything for the holidays on this one shopping day. The only things that required mail-order or a run to the big-chain toy store on the other side of town were the Legos and Pokemon things, and the one little mini-American Girl Doll Hypatia is getting.
Three days to go to Christmas!