Christmas shopping, love it or hate it, we’ve all spent moments staring at shelves wondering if our mum/dad/brother/sister/child/niece/nephew/friend will like the gift we give. In the quest for the perfect gift, we dent our confidence wondering if we should just give up all together and hitch a flight to Hawaii.

I stopped overthinking gifts some years ago when I got back to my real values and realised those around me share values of giving with meaning, not simply competing for love with the most expensive gift. I also hold a strong value for supporting our local economy, and in my passion to promote local, those around me have gained the same passion. And so, my present shopping has been reduced to a fun experience, mixing with local makers and designers and buying presents that last, have meaning and are unique.

When you look around, almost anything you can think of, every present for your Christmas tree – you can buy local.

Until 23 December, CARDIF Collective is celebrating the festive season with a new boutique store downstairs in the Cusack Centre, Kingston (in addition to their ‘upstairs’ store) where you can meet makers and designers and buy gorgeous designs from the likes of Zilpah Tart, Pure Pod, Corr Blimey, Kiva, Wombat & Poss, ETC Designs, Jiniku, We will Multiply, Hanny D, and many more women’s, men’s and children’s clothing designers.  And if you would like a champagne with your Christmas shopping, visit CARDIF Collective in the Cusack Centre, Kingston Thursday 7 December between 5.30 and 8.30pm. Chat with local makers and designers, and get your Christmas shopping done in one swoop!

If you have time this weekend, there is also the Handmade Canberra Market, and a simple Facebook search will also show a wealth of pop-ups, markets and local Christmas shopping events designed to be a positive experience for you and give back to the community so greatly.

If you’re northside, Trove in the City and the Sash & Belle Collective in Gungahlin can also bring you locally-made joy.  For the time-poor or shopping stress-head, these markets and stores can be one-stop-shops that help you buy for all and complete your list in one day or night.

If online is your shopping experience of choice, the designers mentioned above have online stores, and social enterprise GG’s Flowers has now expanded into hampers, containing local wares and making the perfect gift for the person who already has everything!

I speak a lot about the power of our consumer dollar. A thriving local economy is one which includes a diverse employment space. One that includes successful local small businesses, who pass-on the money they make back into our community through schools, health, other retail purchases and more.  But buying local is so much more than a local economic story, it’s also a community story.

In the stress of the Christmas rush, real connections, friendly smiles and great conversations can be had when you enter a shop and are met by a passionate designer who shows their genuine joy for your purchase. As a self-confessed Christmas shopping stress-head, I have personally witnessed the power of such passionate conversations and joyful smiles to melt away my stress and make me actually enjoy the gift-buying experience.

As we move through the festive season, think local where you can. We promise you will gain new friends and new favourite brands. This talented and friendly town is waiting to make your Christmas joyful!