This time of year, we are inundated with ads for jewelry, big box hardware stores, Black Friday sales and the latest toys from companies that have everything made overseas, where the pay is low and there is no environmental protection or health coverage for workers.   But none of this is made public, because television stations and magazines rely on advertisers.  And guess who’s buying ads?

Luckily, Appalachian Jamwich is not under the thumb of these types of companies, so we bring you alternatives to shopping for Christmas presents at big-name retailers.  The way you spend your money is the number one way to show corporate America what matters, and it’s not always the bottom line.

FOOD Everyone needs food, but unfortunately, people don’t always realize that there are a number of choices in your area besides the big-name grocery stores.  Most larger chains purchase their meat and produce from factory farms, where animals are given growth horomones to grow larger or produce more, pesticide and herbicide use are commonplace, and the food has to travel great distances to get to your plate.   But there are a few websites out there that can put you in touch with local options – where you can ask the farmers questions about the product and can purchase products grown naturally or organically. – Type in your city and/or state and you can find farmers markets, farms, fruit orchards, sustainable operations, etc. – Site that specializes in locally grown pasture fed meats.

GIFTS – There are a number of options for gift giving, but not many gifts say you care as much as a handmade item.   Here are a few options for handmade gifts: – Marketplace for handmade arts and crafts, vintage gifts and art supplies.  You can find wire wrapped items, tye-dyes, patchwork items, etc.  Many of the vendors that we have featured in Appalachian Jamwich have Etsy shops, including LotCreepLabs, Thread Head Clothing, Sage Creek Creations, and – 100% fee-free e-commerce site specializing in handmade items. – Eco-friendly retail directory with listings of shops that have handmade items – Etched glass items such as cannisters, barware. – Some of the headiest hats in the land, and a portion of the proceeds go a charity the band chooses! – Super dank clothing !! – sweet backpacks and clothes – all with a stash pocket! – Another nice site for hats and the like! – Family, vegan owned business that only carries eco-friendly products.  Awesome dollhouses!

TOYS – You don’t need to give all your money to Toys R Us this year – there are a ton of good choices out there for quality, USA made toys.   Here are a few sites: – lots of natural toys, toys made in the USA, etc. – Natural toys that nurture and inspire. – promotes imaginative and intelligent play while setting a higher standard for children’s products – Natural toys for boys and girls including really cool toys to promote imaginative play. – Natural organic and green products for eco-friendly living. – for the hoopie in your life. – USA made LED hula-hoops –  extreme LED poi made in the USA by people that actually go to shows.

MUSIC – Give the gift of MUSIC this Christmas!  One option is to purchase concert tickets for the music lover in your life, either directly or by purchasing a Ticketmaster gift card (click here)   If you live in the Baltimore, MD/Washington, DC area, All Good Presents just came out with a package for EVERY show that they do in the area throughout 2013 called HOOKED UP CLUB that includes early admission to the shows, meet and greets, a lot of schwag and VIP access.  Click HERE for information and to purchase it.

I recommend purchasing releases directly from the artist or the artist’s website whenever possible, as they get the most revenue that way.  There are a number of fine new releases coming out this holiday season, including:

Grateful Dead – Spring 1990 Box Set – This is SOLD OUT on, but you can still find it on Ebay and Craiglist.

PHISH – Star Lake 98 – Brand new 2 DVD set recoded live on August 11, 1998 at Star Lake Amphitheatre in Burgettstown, PA –

RUMPKE MOUNTAIN BOYS release TRASHGRASS along with Rumpke and Ekoostik Hookah Merch can be purchased here

Umphreys McGee fans – this is a MUST HAVE at a good price – The Red Rocks 2012 DVD/Blue Ray. – If you’re going to purchase a CD, try these guys -they have some of the best bands, and they’re not going to murder you in fees.

THESE are just a few ideas for this Christmas – Another is to GIVE A SUBSCRIPTION TO APPALACHIAN JAMWICH! Please try to think before you buy this year, as money spent locally goes a lot further in helping the economy than money given to a big box store, plus you’re supporting your neighbors and friends.  And remember that the season is not about what you give and what you get, it’s more about what you have.  Take time to tell your family and friends how much they mean to you, spend quality time with them and LISTEN to them – Memories are a gift that can’t be broken or taken away, and you never know when you won’t have the chance to be with that special person.  Happy Holidays!