If you want to buy American, don't buy stuff. Yeah. Wait… what?  Here's a radical Made in USA gift idea: to reduce our consumption of foreign made products and all of the baggage that comes with it, one option is to stop buying things at all. Want to buy an American-made gift? Don't. Well, if you can find a great one, do. But when in doubt, don't buy stuff. Here's how…

Consider shifting your gift and personal purchases away from things and toward experiences. Because when you spend your money on an experience, that experience is most likely going to be in the USA, and your money will be going directly to the artists and workers providing you with that experience. Your dollars spent will directly benefit your  community or the area you visited as part of your experience, just as much if not more than buying an American-made product supports the community where it is manufactured.

Since most Things are made overseas, (in spite of USA Love List's and others' best efforts) it can be difficult to actually find things made in the USA. But wherever you are, there are musicians, gallery owners, sports arena hot dog vendors, artists, comedians, and coffee baristas waiting to share their efforts. Isn't it better to support these people, businesses, and local institutions than to buy more stuff made somewhere far away?  Here are some ideas for giving experiences as gifts:

Concert Tickets:  Whether it is to an arena show or an orchestra performance, anyone would be thrilled for a pair of tickets to an upcoming concert. If you like it, consider buying the artists' CD's. Their musical “product” is made in the USA and needs your support.

See a Play: Invite someone to see a play or other performance with you. You can be sure they'll be thinking of you in the days leading up to the event and while they are enjoying themselves as well. You'll have plenty to discuss afterward so you may as well get coffee while you are out for a memorable day together.

Brunch and an Art Show:  Some experiences don't even require paid tickets, but your planning is part of the gift. Find an art show, festival, or other free event on the calendar then plan a day round it, including a gift certificate for brunch or a pre-packed picnic.

Sports Event: Women like sports, but everyone says men are always hard to buy gifts for. Consider giving tickets to a local sports event. From the pros down to the minors or college level, there are options for every interest and price point. It will be a treat and a date to look forward to enjoying.

If you have other ideas or have given experiences as gifts, please post them in the comments and let us know how they were received.  Had you ever considered skipping the stuff and supporting local experiences as a way of buying American? Please share in the comments below.