In the classic holiday movie Miracle on 34th Street, Alfred says to Santa “Yeah, there’s a lot of bad ‘isms’ floatin’ around this world, but one of the worst is commercialism. Make a buck, make a buck. Even in Brooklyn it’s the same – don’t care what Christmas stands for, just make a buck, make a buck.” The movie was released in 1947, but many people today still bemoan the commercialism of a holiday season intended to promote peace, goodwill, and sharing of gifts to friends, family, and those in need. Many shoppers, despite this modern era of technology and intern sales, are looking for special gifts and family purchases that will promote family ties, honor local culture, and reflect the reason for the season. They can find lots of options in local stores, shops, and farms in the region.

This year Maryland Department of Agriculture has been featuring local Christmas tree farms where customers can create a family memory by visiting a farm and sharing in the selection and cutting of a tree.  At the Maryland’s Best website you can locations of the Christmas tree farms nearest you and also find dozens of local farm products that make great gifts.

Southern Maryland Agricultural Development Commission has also published its 2012/13 Southern Maryland Winter Farm Guide, which offers a ‘home-grown’ alternative to the malls and internet retail companies. There you can find gifts from Southern Maryland farms, along with local wine, winter vegetables, meats, seafood, and dairy for the holiday meals. You can also find Christmas tree farms, along with the fresh cut trimmings and decorations.

Farm stores and year-round farmers markets have unique gift ideas of homemade jams and jellies, pickled beets and tasty relishes, local honey, handmade goat’s milk soaps and lotions, as well as cozy accessories, rugs, toys and even fun ornaments made from sheep or Alpaca wool. Many agritourism farms host fun family events and workshops during the holiday season, including ‘how to’ classes for  wreathes and table-top decorations, winter hayrides and farm tours, live ‘nativity’ performances, Christmas open houses featuring live music and ‘Visits with Santa’.

And of course, what is better than a sweater purchased on the internet? One that you make from local sheep or Alpaca wool!