Resolving to Be a Better Shopper in 2014

The holidays are now over and 2014 has arrived. Now is the time when many of us are thinking about resolutions for the New Year -- setting new goals, assessing new challenges and thinking about ways to make this year the best one yet. We have big plans to take a dream trip, or finally buy that new house. Or maybe simpler vows: to go to the gym more often, live a healthier lifestyle or work less. Some of us make the same resolutions year after year.

Looking back over all of the lovely gifts I received this holiday season, as well as thinking of those I gave to my loved ones, an idea hit me. Why not resolve to be a better, more conscientious consumer this year?

We've all had that moment, especially during the holiday season, when we need to buy a gift for someone, but can't find anything the recipient will truly love. It's easy to convince ourselves that Cousin Sarah will appreciate new dish towels and Dad could absolutely use another tie, but when is the last time you gave something really meaningful? And when is the last time you received a gift that was made especially for you? This year, I vow to be a better shopper, and I'm offering three resolutions to follow in 2014 to help you do the same:

1) I resolve to support local artisans: Shopping locally benefits not only the Makers and merchants in your community, but also the community itself. It helps keep the economy alive and thriving in that area. Buying local almost always guarantees a better, more unique and more pleasant experience than you would have at your typical, big box retailer. And here's the great thing: the rise of online marketplaces for hand-made and custom goods means you don't necessarily have to fight for parking at your town square shopping strip. You can support local craftspeople and merchants from the comfort of your home.

2) I resolve to shop custom: Have you ever had the perfect gift in mind only to realize that you can't find it anywhere? Seen something that was almost -- but not quite -- what you were looking for? Or browsed for hours only to come home empty-handed because everything seemed the same? It may seem obvious for me to make the resolution to shop custom, since -- full disclosure -- I run a company whose business model is rooted in the custom economy -- but an increasing number of people are choosing custom products precisely because they are more meaningful and deeply personal. For instance, if you have plans to redecorate your home, make 2014 the year you purchase custom furniture and create a living space completely unique to you and your lifestyle. Celebrating an anniversary? Create a custom piece of jewelry that will last a lifetime, accompanied by a unique story behind the creation of your piece.

3) I resolve to shop meaningfully: One of the most satisfying things about gift giving is seeing the look of joy in someone's face when they open your present -- and there is something special in knowing a gift was chosen or created just for you. Instead of buying something just to meet a shopping quota, why not stop and think about what would make the recipient truly happy. Getting married? Custom design beautiful earrings for each of your bridesmaids so they'll always think about you and your special day when they wear them, or create personalized cuff links for your groomsmen. By following this shopping mentality, both you and your loved ones will find the gifting experience more rewarding and more meaningful.

By making these resolutions today, you are pledging to be a better, more thoughtful shopper in 2014 while setting yourself up for a stress-free holiday season next year. We believe these resolutions will help make your purchases more meaningful and fulfilling, while also supporting your local economy and making a difference in your community. When the holidays roll around next year, who will you delight with something created especially for them?