You’ve got your list. You’ve checked it twice. It’s time to shop!
Whether you’re braving the malls, heading to your local downtown shops, doing it all online this year, or a combination of these, do you consider where the products you’re buying have been manufactured?
Odds are a good percentage of them are made in China.
As the global economy becomes ever more connected, the products we buy can be manufactured in any number of different geographic locations, which is usually a good thing. However, there are a number of reasons—questionable safety standards, the use of slave labor, and most of all, egregious human rights violations, funded in part by our consumer behavior—that I try to avoid items made in China as much as possible.
Admittedly, I don’t always succeed. I’m writing this very piece on an Apple product that was, in fact, made in China.
I’ve found, however, that just a little attention to the matter has allowed me to vastly reduce the percentage of items I purchase with the Made in China label. What’s exciting is that this pursuit frequently leads me to unique items of a much higher quality.
It may seem as if everything is Made in China these days, but that is simply not the case. Here are some great resources for finding wonderful holiday gifts made outside of China.
For the little ones:
Fat Brain Toys is an excellent place to find just the right gift for all of the kids on your list. Featuring playthings with an educational bent, the website allows you to define search parameters like gender, age, price, and (best of all) country of origin, including simply “not China.”
Featuring a lovely selection of playthings, Oompa has a category called “Not Made in China” where you can shop beautiful toys with confidence.
Offering whimsical, heirloom-quality toys along with Waldorf-inspired options, Magic Cabin features a special “Made in America” selection of toys, along with a “European Design” section. (Be careful with the latter, however, because some items are “designed” in Europe but made in China.)
For the home:
Not everything in Williams-Sonoma’s popular catalog of offerings is Made in China. Look for their lines of Apilco dinnerware, Le Creuset cookware (not bakeware), All-Clad cookware, Emile Henry bakeware, Picardie glassware, and DuraClear tumblers, to name a few.
Searching “Made in France,” “Made in Italy,” and “Made in America” generates an array of options.
Clothing and accessories:
Clothing varies widely, so the habit of checking labels while you shop can be most beneficial in this category. The more high quality the product, the less likely it will be made in China, but even discount stores will feature a variety.
Online, check out L.L.Bean, and search “Made in the USA” for a lot of great gift ideas. Their tote bags are the best!
When it comes to things such as holiday decor and ornaments, this is a category that tends toward sketchy labor conditions in China. I was very happy to discover recently, however, this site: OrnamentShop.com
Specifically, OrnamentShop’s product categories “Made in America” and “Made in Europe,” both of which feature a number of products at very reasonable prices.
They were kind enough to send my family this ornament (made in the USA) so that I could confirm it’s excellent quality. It came well wrapped in shipping and is adorable!
When in doubt..
When in doubt, purchase directly from the manufacturer, or maker/craftsman/artist via Etsy. Beware, once you start browsing it can be hard to stop.