Photography & travel tips from an award-winning photographer, educator & wanderlust

12 ways to shop local this holiday season!

Browsing through “Daiso” (a local Dollar Store equivalent) a couple of days ago, I noticed a pack of stickers, which were super cute! But upon taking note on the fact that they were made in China, created for the Japanese distribution, but sold in Korea, made me perplexed as to how this small item was only 1,000 krw (about $1). I shuddered to think about all the processes this small item went though to end up on this shelf. How many hands did this item touch before it was stamped with it’s (probably unfair) price sticker.

It made me wonder about my own shopping habits and the amount of useful but probably useless stuff that will be purchased for holidays this year. All the packaging, the fuel, the money, man power and energy spent for silly items like stickers and such. So, if you have to shop globally, go ahead with your bad self, but also do not forget to patronize your local businesses, who probably need your help more than Amazon, Ali Express, Ebay or Walmart. Who do you really want to help this holiday season?

Here are 12 ways you can shop locally, you big spender you:

1. Purchase a sweet for your sweetie at David’s Delicious Deserts

photo courtesy of David’s Delicious Desserts

You order and they bake! Delicious cakes, muffins, cookies, pastries, bread and other home-made goodies – all from scratch!

I’ve had their cupcakes and cinnamon buns – de-@#$-licious, I tell ya!

2. Take care of yourself with Frida Skincare

Beautify your body, face and hair with Frida’s toxin and chemical-free products that are natural and organic.

There’s this wonderfully smelling chocolate body wash that is a MUST!

3. Join Daejeon’s International Volunteer Experience 대전국제자원봉사체험

Donate your time or whatever you can (money is always nice) to the local group that helps organize trips to a few orphanages in town. They have a “Toys for Orphans” event coming up and any and all assistance is helpful.

4. Walk, sponsor or adopt a new family member at Daejeon Paws Animal Shelter

Refer to the link above to find dog walks, fundraisers or donation information to help the local shelter and Mrs. Jung who runs it.

5. Gift canned beer from Daejeon’s only craft brewery

Gift wrap a few cold ones to keep your loved one (or yourself) warm and jolly this winter. They have quite a few varieties of delicious craft beer, good luck choosing just a few.

6. Purchase/commission art from one of Daejeon’s local artists

These guys have been around since 2011 (most of them anyway) and they continue to work on their craft and exhibit at least twice a year. I hear their next show is coming up on December 13th (I’ll be in it haha) and I hope to see you there! More info on the site.

7. Buy your produce from a farmer on the street

There is no website/link for this, but you know what/who I’m talking about. Those practically frozen farmers on the side of your street, selling produce. No useless packaging materials, no ridiculous upsells, no 1+1 favors… JUST BUY SOMETHING, MAN!

8. See a local show

photo courtesy of Kevin Nickolai

Indulge yourself in some culture with a show by Daejeon’s Expat community members. Live theater and musical performances, what else could you ask for on Xmas eve?!

9. Get your family photo taken by a professional photographer

A shameless plug by yours truly, I know, but I couldn’t help myself being a local expat who would love to give you some holiday memories to cherish in forms of gorgeous friends, family or headshot portraits.

10. Mogo

Their handy website is available in English or Korean and allows you to order food kits which are inexpensive, convenient, healthy and delicious.

Personal favorites include the Thai Coconut Curry Soup, Texas Chilly and Cincinnati Spaghetti.

11. Travel effortlessly around Korea with travel companies that take care of all your adventure needs

Read the post here for the full list of Korean adventure and travel companies. 

Get ready to have a blast! I have very fond memories of paragliding, skiing, tea leaves picking, temple visits, zip lining and white water rafting. They’ve made my Korean experience fan-@%^-tastic!

12.  Get an English-speaking magazine delivered to your door

photo courtesy of Groove magazine

Sure, we can read the likes of 10 Magazine or Groove online, but who doesn’t like to flip though the glossy pages of an English-speaking magazine. Created for expats just like you, these 2 publications are sure to infuse your boring winter days with insightful stories, stunning images and even a coupon or two.


So, dear expat, are you ready to shop till you drop this holiday season? I surely hope that this list of 12 ways to shop locally was of help and an inspiration to everyone. Let’s bring some cheer in the next few weeks just by being more selective (and hopefully local) about where we make our purchases.


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  1. This is such a great list for expats living in Korea! I wish I did more of these for the holiday season. I remember last year I donated a christmas gift to the youth organization – I made sure I wrote a note in English to them, I really hope they liked it!

  2. These are great suggestions Alla! I admit that oftentimes the same thought passes my mind but I quickly dismiss it at the fear of feeling really bad about myself and my shopping habits… it’s such a consumerist society dilemma! I love the last tip because I love the physical feel of magazines and books.

    • Rocio, I agree that pulling away completely from being a consumer feels like an impossible feat, especially during the holidays when people are giving and getting all around you. I just hope to plant a seed that not all gifts need to be purchased/given in a traditional sense. And not all gift ideas are created equal.

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