Buying American when gift-giving presents an interesting dilemma. A person may be passionate about buying American when purchasing items for their own use, but how does that apply when buying gifts for others?
I have been in this place many times in the last year, and my advice is to use your best judgment and err on the side of buying gifts that the gift-recipient(s) will actually enjoy above gifts you might buy because they are made in the U.S.A.
The guidelines of the Buy American Challenge say that buying American only applies to you. It does not apply to friends and family you might be buying gifts for. So, if your nephew asks for certain pair of imported sneakers for his birthday, just get them and don’t even worry about it. Refusing to buy gifts that are not made in the U.S.A. has the potential to anger people who do not particularly care where the things they want are made. Although I do not share that point of view, I respect people who have it, even if they are a brother, daughter, or significant other.
This changes when the gifts are intended for you. If you would only buy goods made in the U.S.A. for yourself, why shouldn’t you ask the same of people buying gifts for you? When I have a birthday coming up, and I know people will be shopping for me, I always circulate a list (electronic list with links) of American-made things I would like to receive as gifts. Not only does this make things much easier for friends and family buying gifts for you, but it also ensures you will get the American-made things you really want. It also allows you to price-shop online ahead of time to save those buying gifts for you some cash. Most importantly, it is a great opportunity to educate the people in your life about all the great things that are made in the U.S.A. In my experience, people are generally happy to buy gifts that you have suggested for them to buy, and they are generally pleasantly surprised at all the high-quality, reasonably-priced, American-made things on the list.
Actually, regardless of whether you buy American or not, I suggest sending gift wish-lists out. Putting out a list of potential gifts is a win-win for everyone. Nobody likes to wander through the mall, picking things up, and trying to find something you think a person might like. A list takes all the guesswork out of it. Just be sure that it is clear your list is of options for potential gifts, and not a list of all the things you expect to get for the occasion. My first list I sent to my family raised eyebrows when they thought I expected to get every gift on the list, and I had listed about 20 things listed.
One important thing to keep in mind is that American-made goods sometimes cost more than imported goods. You may have received a $30 pair of jeans in years past from a certain person. If you send them a list of American-made gifts, make sure the list consists of items in the $30 price-range. Don’t send them a link to $100 American-made jeans and expect them to buy those for you. By the way, this is just an example of the kind of predicament you might discover. In fact, American-made jeans can be found for $30. Here is a link to beautiful pair from a great company called All American Clothing: http://www.allamericanclothing.com/products/AA301.html
One time you should go ahead and buy a gift made in the U.S.A. for someone else is when no specific gift has been requested and you are reasonably sure that an American-made gift will be liked just as much as an imported good. I don’t think my dad particularly cares what brand of jeans he gets as a gift. So if I know he wants jeans, I would absolutely buy a pair of American-made jeans for him. This is another great opportunity to show those around you what great American-made products there are available. Maybe some of these gifts will turn into brand loyalty and/or increased interest in buying American. Don’t miss the opportunity to give American-made gifts when the chance presents itself.
Here is one final thought on buying American with regard to friends and family. Sometimes those close to me buy imported things that they are very excited about, especially if they spent a good deal of money on the item, like a fancy jacket or watch. When this happens, I make it a point to show exactly the same enthusiasm I would have shown if I didn’t care about buying American. Remember, buying American only applies to you. That means not judging others when they get things they want. Show those around you the respect of sharing in their excitement as you would if buying American was not a priority of yours. It will be appreciated.
I hope you will find this gift-giving advice useful. I would love to hear what you all think about these guidelines for American-made gift-giving. Have you ever been in one of these gift-giving scenarios? What did you choose to do? Were you pleased with your choice afterward?
Until next time, here’s to doing what we can to support our country by buying American.
P.S. If you are looking for a great American made clothing brand, check out Made in USA Threads!