Giving thanks, giving back and shopping local

November 24, 2015

I’m not going to lie, I’m a little bit bummed. It’s never easy to see people you care about sick, stressed or otherwise suffering. Then factor in the state of the world and well, I’m feeling overall a little bit uncomfortable in general.

Thanksgiving has never been my favorite holiday. I enjoy spending time with family and helping my mother cook, but for whatever reason the celebration doesn’t do much for me – you celebrate by eating? It just always struck me as funny. Nonetheless, I understand the spirit of the holiday and think it’s important to stop now and again to just be grateful for what we have (which is why it makes me crazy when people wish others a “Happy Turkey Day” – because this holiday is literally about eating turkey, right?)

But I digress. Despite everything else going on, and our holiday plans turning all sorts of upside down, I am grateful for my family, my friends, my home, good health, a flexible schedule, and the skills and ability to care for my family and do things myself. I’m grateful for so many “basics” that others may not have, and the perspective to realize that even when I get down or have a rough day, I’m still pretty lucky.

Also, I’m thankful for online shopping so I can skip the malls and stores this time of year. I’ve never ventured out on Black Friday and hope never to feel the need to. This year, I’m making a lot of gifts and I’m extremely grateful that I have the ability to do that. I’ve always shied away from giving homemade gifts but the fact is, if I’m confident enough to sell my art and crafts, why wouldn’t I be confident enough to gift them?

As the founder and administrator of Handmade Long Island, I have had the opportunity to meet and talk to countless amazing local artisans. Most are people like you and me; friends, family and neighbors who have the skills and drive to make and sell their own products. I think it’s incredibly special to not only give during the holiday season, but also to give back. I see giving back in two ways: the first is charitable donations, no matter how small to help those in need. The second is supporting other people just like me, whether they’re supporting a fully sustainable business or just trying to make a little extra money, by shopping local and shopping handmade. The artisans are fantastic and the gifts are so personal and special.

As a mom, my every day is filled with my daughter. Her schedule, her needs, her favorites. And that’s okay. So with mommy on my mind, I’m going to share a few local artisan businesses run by moms that I’ve had the pleasure of meeting through a local group. Just remember, handmade takes time, so shop early!

Seashore Design Studio mama metalShameless self promotion alert… Seashore Design Studio specializes in handmade fine and sterling silver mix and match jewelry. Made in the “mama metal” style, these durable pieces are fashionable and functional, pretty enough for everyday wear but strong and sturdy enough to withstand attacks from curious fingers. Perfect for new moms whose little ones may damage other jewelry, babies and toddlers can feel free to play with these necklaces while nursing or being worn. Bracelets and earrings are also listed on Etsy; visit on Facebook. Yes, this is me. I, Ilana, am Seashore Design Studio.

CaNy DesignsIf I threw a rock hard enough, it would sail east and land on CaNy Designs. She uses beautiful woven fabrics (many of which will look familiar to other babywearing enthusiasts) and makes doll carriers and lovies, sweet little plush toys for little ones. Her Etsy shop includes a few other items as well, and while children may not understand the concept of “one of a kind”, you’ll appreciate the skill and craft that goes into these gifts you won’t find anywhere else. Don’t forget to say hi on Facebook!

Beelightful CandlesI recently received a pair of  cheerful taper candles by Beelightful Candles. First of all, I love their name so much. This is a family affair, creating pure beeswax rolled candles with the natural sweet scent you expect from genuine beeswax. They come in a wide variety of colors and are quite affordable, so they’re perfect to keep on hand for impromptu hostess gifts, or to brighten up your own table. I love the idea of including handmade candles in a holiday gift basket or a hostess gift to bring to a party.

This is just 3 local small businesses (but I hear Little Miss stirring from her nap and I had best be wrapping up here), and there are countless. This holiday season, shop small, shop local, shop handmade! And then come tell us about the awesome gifts you found! If you don’t know where to start, I humbly suggest visiting, or checking out the Facebook page for artisans based on Long Island. Don’t forget sites like Artfire and Etsy; just keep an eye out for independent artists rather than resellers and big manufacturers and you’re golden. The artisans you support will appreciate it, and so will your loved ones receiving awesome gifts.

Before I really truly finish this post, if you got to the end of this, thank YOU. Thank you for reading, thank you for following Old Fashioned Modern Living as Kristen and I experiment with maintaining our own blog, and thank you for all your interactions on our Facebook page. It’s very nice knowing that someone is actually reading what we write, and I hope we’ve been able to offer you some useful information and ideas along the way. We wish you a happy, healthy and peaceful Thanksgiving and beginning of your holiday season.

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