There are plenty of reasons to buy only handmade gifts this holiday season, chief among them that handmade objects have more soul & personality than even the finest machine-made mass-produced goods. Of course, there are also environmental and social reasons: money stays in the craftperson's community, and doesn't (as often) go into the coffers of WalTargetMartEtc. or another international conglomerate that cares not at all about its customers or the quality of the products it sells. From buyhandmade.com:
Buying Handmade makes for better gift-giving.
The giver of a handmade gift has avoided the parking lots and long lines of the big chain stores in favor of something more meaningful. If the giver has purchased the gift, s/he feels the satisfaction of supporting an artist or crafter directly. The recipient of the handmade gift receives something that is one-of-a-kind, and made with care and attention that can be seen and touched. It is the result of skill and craftsmanship that is absent in the world of large-scale manufacturing.
Buying handmade is better for people.
The ascendancy of chain store culture and global manufacturing has left us dressing, furnishing, and decorating alike. We are encouraged to be consumers, not producers, of our own culture. Our ties to the local and human sources of our goods have been lost. Buying handmade helps us reconnect.
Buying handmade is better for the environment.
The accumulating environmental effects of mass production are a major cause of global warming and the poisoning of our air, water and soil. Every item you make or purchase from a small-scale independent artist or crafter strikes a small blow to the forces of mass production.
There are plenty of ways to do this. Visit one of the many hundreds of folks selling their wares on etsy.com, for instance, or your local artists' guild, or contact a local community or technical college and find out who your neighborhood's cabinetmakers and furniture carpenters are. Either way, down with plastic and up with real gifts!