Tips for Finding Last-Minute Made in USA Holiday Gifts

By Elizabeth Brotherton-Bunch
Dec 19 2022 |
Here’s a photo that pops up when you type “holiday gift stress” into Getty Images. But don’t be stressed! We are here to help. Getty Images

Whether you need just one more gift or you have your entire list to shop for, there’s still time to find something American-made.

When I was growing up, one of my family’s holiday traditions was a father-daughter trip to the mall on Dec. 23.

For a little kid, it was pretty fun. My dad and I went to the TGI Friday’s for dinner, and usually they gave me a balloon. Then we’d actually go into the mall, and I’d get to ride a bunch of escalators. Sometimes I’d even get to stop at the toy store and pick out a toy. It was great!

It wasn’t until I got a little older that I realized that this “tradition” wasn’t really a tradition so much as a mad scramble, taking place only because my dad was a chronic last-minute holiday shopper. He always waited until right up until Christmas to buy gifts, and took me along so I could pick out one for my mom.

But, no judgment here. The truth is, most of us probably have one or two final gifts to pick up. And the good news is that even if you have your entire list left to shop for, there’s still time to shop Made in America. There are more hurdles this late in the game, since it’s too late to get a lot of things shipped, but there’s still plenty of options out there if you know how to look.

Tip No. 1: Find a Local Made-in-your-Town Store or Organization

Many cities are now home to brick-and-mortar retailers that sell items made locally, while others are supported by organizations whose mission is to help consumers find local goods.

In the Washington, D.C. region, for example, there’s Shop Made in D.C. (which has multiple locations) and Shop Made in Virginia. Up I-95 there’s Made in Baltimore and CraftNOW Philadelphia; New York City is home to Made in NYC, which is shining a spotlight on makers in the Big Apple.

On the West Coast, there’s Seattle Made, an organization of 700+ urban manufacturers and producers. Down South, Made in Texas has a physical store in Brownsville. In the North, Boise is home to Idaho Made (which was featured in the 2022 Made in America Holiday Gift Guide).

And those are just a handful of the various Shop Local stores and organizations out there. If you do a quick Google search, chances are there may be one in your city, and some even offer local delivery.

Tip No. 2: Even If It Is Too Late to Ship, the Internet is Your Friend

When you are doing last-minute shopping, your go-to move is probably to just head down to a big box store or the mall. But if you take a few minutes beforehand to think things out, you will probably save yourself time roaming the aisles looking for stuff (and it is easier to find something American-made).

Start by narrowing things down. If you are shopping for someone who likes to cook, for example, do a little research on Made in USA kitchen items. Our Made in America Directory is one good resource, and the team over at USA Love List also does a really good job compiling Made in USA products. Once you find potential presents, a quick online search of retail websites can tell you whether those products are sold at a store near you.

I’ll note, by the way, that many of the companies in our gift guide sell their products locally as well, either in their own stores or via local shops. Chances are, you can find a whole lot more American-made items out there than you may think.

Tip No. 3: Check the Label

If the thought of doing any research at all is daunting and you just want to go out and get your shopping done as quickly as possible, then be sure to check that country of origin label. And most importantly, you’ve got to know how to do it, because some manufacturers use deceptive tactics to trick consumers into thinking their imported product is Made in America.

Confused? We made this helpful graphic:

There are certain requirements that a product must meet in order to be labeled as “Made in USA.” So, if you see something wrapped in the American flag, don’t let that be a signal it’s actually Made in America. Look over the product to find the country of origin label.

Unfortunately, if you are doing your shopping online via quick-ship companies like Amazon, you may not be able to find it. Online sellers aren’t required like in-person retailers to include country of origin in product descriptions. Lawmakers like Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.) are working to change that, but in the meantime, you will likely have to do a bit of additional research if you don’t see it in the description.

Tip No. 4: Stay Tuned to Our Social Media

O.K., O.K., this last one is a shameless plug. Over the next few days, our staff will be posting photos of Made in USA items we find at major retailers to highlight some last-minute options. So be sure to follow us on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.