I try to shop local for Christmas. I like to hit the area farmers' markets and small gift shops in town squares when I can.
I believe that it is important to support those local businesses. The noble part of my brain, however small, thinks that it is important for the local economies that have been impacted by big box retailers on the edge of town and the flight of rural residents into larger metropolitan areas.
The larger, ego centered, part of my brain knows that those gifts that come from obscure little places along the roadside are remembered by those who received them far longer than a bag of socks from a chain retailer.
I co-taught a Sunday school class series once on the Five Languages of Love. While studying for the lessons, I found that my language is gifts. I love to give them and I love to get them. So, when someone remembers a gift I gave them years ago, I'm in heaven.
The Midsouth is full of fun places to pick up things for Christmas. There are places in town squares throughout the South that are perfect for those rememberable pieces.
Books are a good choice for my family as we are all avid readers. Turnrow Books in Greenwood and Square Books in Oxford are the most notable places to find good and diverse reading material in Mississippi. But there are also other places to find books including antique stores. I found a long sought after first edition in a little antique store in Clinton, Miss.
If you don’t want to dig around too much looking for obscure items, there are several specialty shops you can check out. Flora Butcher in Flora, Miss., and Delta Meat Market in Cleveland, Miss., have great food and kitchen items that you can't find everywhere.
I've been known to give bottles of Hoover Sauce as gifts and you don't need to go to Louise, Miss., to get them. They can also be found online, at the above-mentioned butcher shops and some smaller local grocery stores.
There are several country markets in the South that specialize in food products. Backermann's in Whiteville, Tenn., is a great place for food products and of course outdoor furniture. It's a nice, leisurely drive on Highway 64 to get there. You can also pick up a good lunch while you're at it.
Red Land Cotton has amazing linens, grown and made right here in the South. McCarty Pottery in Merigold, Miss., is a great place to get a memorable piece for someone, as is Peter's Pottery in nearby Mound Bayou.
Stop by a farmers' market for artisan pieces, jams and jellies, fresh bread and other seasonal items. Or, just walk into one of those little shops in the square of Covington, Wilson, Laurel or anywhere you happen to be.