It’s that time of year again — the time when holiday shoppers brave the parking lot at the Camarillo Outlet Mall, risking life and limb to secure a spot after hours of circling; the time when devoted mothers camp outside of Best Buy so that their children can have the latest video game console under the tree; the time when the mall becomes an unbearable place to be. The solution? Don’t go there. Seriously. Make a promise to yourself right now: You will not subject yourself to that madness this year. Instead you’ll give the gift of sanity to yourself, and the gift of support to local businesses. Chances are, if you take the time to visit a few local merchants this holiday season, you’ll end up with a more thoughtful, more unique gift. Your wife won’t show up at work after the New Year with the same Gap sweater all her coworkers are wearing; your friends can brag about the bottle of local wine they’ve got sitting on the counter. Everyone wins.

Speaking of wine. Between all the wine bars and wine stores in Ventura and Ojai, and Herzog Wine Cellars in Oxnard, you don’t have to think any harder or go any further when it comes to shopping for your wine-loving friends. Walk into any one of the great shops near your home, ask the very knowledgeable staff there to help you make some choices, and walk out a satisfied shopper. It’s almost as easy as a clicking a mouse, and you get to skip the shipping costs.

If wine isn’t on your gift-buying list this year, cool apparel is another real easy snag on Main Street in Ventura or downtown in any city in the county. If you haven’t noticed for yourself, over the past few years there has been an influx of clothing boutiques, and each of them offers something different. Great shoes, cool bags, designer jeans … or, if you have more serious shopping to do, exquisite jewelry.

Still haven’t found the perfect gift? Downtown Ventura, long a haven for antique collectors the world over, still has some great antique buying opportunities and now can also boast a few really amazing home furnishing stores. From picture frames to bed frames, no matter how much money you want to spend, it should be easy to find the right gift in one of these shops.

Of course, there will be gifts on your family’s list that can only be purchased at Target or Pacific Sunwear in the mall, and that’s fine. Those stores exist for a reason, and for a lot of things, they’re pretty hard to beat. But, this holiday season, try a little mental reprogramming. Think not just about what you are buying, but also about where your money is going. Is it going to a local business-owning family or to some corporate office in Cleveland, OH?