Make your shopping extra-meaningful this holiday season with intentional strategies to give back to the Eugene, Cascades & Coast community with every dollar you spend. Here are four ways to check off the gift list and double down on caring for the community. Not only will these thoughtful gifts brighten the recipients' day, your direct purchases from local vendors will help put food on another family's table too!
1. Step Out to Support Small Businesses
Shut the laptop lid, put down the mouse, and get out of the house to explore local shopping districts that are known for locally-owned boutiques. Popular destinations include downtown Eugene, and the Market District, the Whiteaker Neighborhood, Main Street in Springfield, Main Street in Cottage Grove and Historic Old Town Florence. Look for the stores and shops that are one-of-a-kind — sometimes in the malls and shopping strips but also on side-streets and in smaller community downtowns like Coburg, Creswell, Veneta and Junction City.
It may take a little more effort, but enjoying the face-to-face interactions in small shops reaps rewards beyond successful purchases. Learn the stories behind the storefronts, meet the families that benefit from your shopping and enjoy personal service from owners and staff that care.
2. Buy Direct from Local Artisans
Meet the makers at places like the Holiday Market at the Lane Events Center — Saturday Market at its maximum! From utilitarian to luxurious, there are so many creative hand-crafted artisan items on display — goats milk soap, fire irons, leather-bound books, embroidered dish towels, pottery, jewelry and silk-screened t-shirts.
Additionally, explore smaller craft and holiday markets hosted by local granges, Chambers of Commerce and neighborhood associations. Two annual markets are the Veneta-Fern Ridge Holiday Bazaar which highlights a trail of local businesses and the McKenzie Christmas Bazaar at the Walterville Community Center.
3. Give a Gift that is Needed
Our local businesses and families would appreciate extra support this season. Look for charitable opportunities to gift community members basic items from clothing to food to supplies.
Shop the local grocery stores and surprise a family with groceries for a special meal. Food for Lane County is a reputable, long-serving non-profit that operates local food pantries, a dining room, food programs for children and seniors, and even helps feet pets!
Toys for Tots is always beloved and they make it easy to brighten a child's holiday. The Hope Project is also a resource for your charitable contributions. They connect local donations with a diversity needs.
If you are looking for ways to get involved locally, or for local businesses to work with, contact our regional chambers of commerce. The chambers are very involved in helping small businesses navigate the troubled waters of today's world, and can connect you with beneficial programs, services, charities, advocacy and/or local shopping ideas.
4. Gift an Experience
Give the Gift of Oregon — Make Memories
Travel and adventure have the ability to create beautiful memories that last forever. One of the best gifts you can give your loved ones is something to look forward to: a new experience, an evening out or a getaway. If you're looking for ideas, here are a few: Book a room at the beachfront Driftwood Shores and splash in their pool. Then take the kids horseback riding on the beach. Or stay in at a hotel in the Glenwood area between Eugene and Springfield and explore Springfield's Main Street. Shop at all the charming new boutiques, eat at the great restaurants and try something unusual like axe throwing! Sneak away to a comfortable metro hotel and enjoy an evening show at the Hult Center, or rent a cabin on the McKenzie River for a cozy weekend. So much to explore!
Love Your Local Restaurants, Wineries, Breweries & Distilleries
Set the table with the bountiful food and beverage produced locally. Not only is the quality and taste superb, you are helping an industry that has been navigating pretty big hurdles the last few years. Now that doors are back open, go in and enjoy a meal away from home.
Book a Tour or See a Show
From a chauffeured wine tasting tour to enjoying a performance on one of the local stages, there are so many experiential gifts to enjoy. Both Very Little Theater (VLT) and Cottage Theatre have been recently remodeled, while The Shedd has also had a fairly recent facelift and is fully hearing looped, making it easier for everyone to enjoy. Along with beverage tours, you can get future gift certificates for fishing, rafting and other excursions to be used in the spring.