Shop 'Til We Drop: Keeping Financially Sane and Focused Thoughout the Holidays 

The financial naughty and nice of the holiday season

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Getting Out of the Box

While millions of Americans roam their local malls this holiday season or cross everyone off their shopping lists--largely tax free--from the comfort of their favorite pajamas and a well-worn cushion of their couch, a number of Americans are going local and the crafty ones are going DIY.

From international Buy Nothing Day to local Occupy Christmas campaigns, some people are rethinking how and where they spend their money.

"Small businesses create communities and fuel our local economies," Sarah Mazzone told Boise Weekly. Pennsylvania-based Mazzone runs Made In USA Challenge, a blog where she challenges readers to buy American, buy local, and give DIY gifts whether you've made them yourself or purchased them from a local artisan or crafter.

On her blog, she writes, "Every purchase we make reflects our values, and what better time than the holidays to make your gift buying count?"

In an effort to help consumers make conscious decisions about value spending, Mazzone published 10 Ways to Occupy the Holidays. A PDF of the list credited to her blog is all over the Web from personal Pinterest pages to Facebook pages belonging to local Occupy groups and vintage clothing boutiques.

Top of Mazzone's list is, not surprisingly, "buy American." Further down the list, like financial planner Leslie Greenman, Mazzone advocates for the use of cash over credit cards (see story, this page). In addition to buying local because, as Mazzone said, locally owned "mom and pop" stores are more invested in the community they operate in, she takes it a step further with No. 3 on her list: "buy handmade."

In Boise, Sara McClaran, owner and member of artisan collective Indie Made, also sees handmade as a step beyond simply shopping locally.

"I think Indie Made goes a step beyond shopping local because the things we sell compared to another locally owned store are made locally, which you can't say for a lot of places--most places," said McClaran. "Plus, there's so much love that goes into something handmade that's always a nice gesture, too."

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