By Alan Markoff
Most of us have been there. Someone, perhaps your secret Santa at the office, gives you a beautifully wrapped gift. You unwrap it, see what it is, and think to yourself, “Oh, joy; something else to clutter my home.”
Receiving gifts of material things we don’t want or need is as much a part of Christmas as Santa Claus. Similar to the “Island of Misfit Toys” in the Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer tale, these items are often destined for the “Closet of Misfit Gifts,” only because we would feel guilty tossing them in the bin or tactlessly regifting them to some other poor soul — at least until we’ve had them for a while.
There is, however, a growing trend in gifting that can help you avoid giving someone something they will hate: Instead of giving “things,” give the gift of an experience. It helps to know a little about what the person you’re giving to enjoys doing, but there are countless experience gifts from which to choose and many are available in Camana Bay.
Change it up
Experiential gifts like restaurant gift certificates have been around for ages and are often appreciated. They tend to be unimaginative, but they don’t have to be. For example, instead of giving a gift certificate to Mizu Asian Bistro + Bar, give one for the restaurant’s Teppanyaki experience on the Mizu patio, which is as much of a show as it is dinner.
Instead of giving a gift certificate for a Swedish massage at Eclipze Hair Design & Day Spa — a fine but common gift — give one for a reflexology massage or an Indian head massage, experiences with which many people are unfamiliar.
Cinema tickets are also good, but unimaginative gifts. Instead, buy tickets to one of the monthly Culture at the Cinema features. These features, which are screened in the VIP auditorium and include a glass of sparkling wine, are a theatre experience to remember.
A bottle of wine or Champagne is a common Christmas gift that is also risky unless you know that the intended recipient likes the kind of wine or Champagne you’ve given. Instead, buy a West Indies Wine Company card that will allow the recipient to try any of 80 different wines or use it to attend one of the Somm Series tasting events.
If you know someone who likes to actively take part in events, there are several of those available in Camana Bay as well.
The 3 Girls & A Kiln shop hosts a variety of art classes — everything from making ceramics and wood signs, to watercolour and string art classes, all of which can make excellent gifts for those who are artistically inclined.
Those interested in the culinary arts might like to receive a gift of a cooking class at Bon Vivant where guests not only learn how to cook healthy meals, but they also get to eat one there as well.
For a gift that is fun, delicious and educational, Agua Restaurant & Lounge hosts Sommelier Standoff series events that ask those attending to participate by voting for the best of two wines paired with each course.
If your gift recipient likes a bit of adventure, send him or her out on a Red Sail Sports North Sound Eco-Safari trip from Camana Bay. After checking in at Red’s Emporium, guests head out on a three-hour tour that explores the serene mangroves in North Sound and then stops at the Stingray City Sandbar, a shallow coral reef for snorkelling and then at Starfish Point at Cayman Kai.
If there’s an entertainer, or would-be entertainer, on your gift list, give them a dance or drama class at Cayman Music School or buy them a package for instrumental, vocal or DJ lessons.
For gift recipients who like reading, buy them one of the Bookends Club books of the month and let them know when the free meeting will take place at Books & Books, where they can just show up and discuss the book with others — no membership dues or advance reservations required!
Most experiential gifts are not enjoyed until after the Christmas holidays, having been received in late December. By January, most people are settling in on New Year’s resolutions and thinking about a healthy lifestyle after the indulgences of the holidays.
Camana Bay businesses like Align wellness studio, Anytime Fitness, CrossFit Cayman and Ryde all offer a variety of exercise, yoga, Pilates and self-defence classes that will all make welcome gifts for the active person you’re giving to.
This article originally appeared in the December 2019 print edition of Camana Bay Times with the headline “Gifts of experience.”
About the author
Alan Markoff has worked with Dart as the editor for Camana Bay Times for three years and has been writing professionally since 1997. Born and raised in Cleveland, Ohio, Alan graduated from the State University of New York at Albany with a degree in English, and first moved to the Cayman Islands in 1982. He has 16 years of experience in the real estate industry and previously worked as a journalist for Cayman Compass before joining Dart to relaunch the Camana Bay Times monthly newspaper. An avid baseball fan, Alan loves travelling but also schedules trips back home around catching a summer game or two with his home team, Cleveland Indians. He is a movie buff who spends many an evening catching a film at Camana Bay Cinema. It was at one of these movies that he met his wife, Lynn!