Give a local experience this Christmas

by Monika Salvage
November 11, 2017
Published in The Citizen

Thanksgiving is just around the corner and before we know it, people will be frantically trying to check off their Christmas lists. Loved ones are harder and harder to shop for because often they buy the things they want or need themselves. Don’t you love it when you think you have the perfect gift for your significant other, only to find him or her coming home with it three weeks before Christmas? There should be a rule banning people from buying new stuff for themselves the last two months before Christmas! So, how can we bring back a little bit of that feel-good pre-Christmas atmosphere that we know from the old movies? Maybe by starting to think of gifts less as things but more as experiences. What better gift to give a loved one than something they like to do but maybe don’t take the time for on their own. Thankfully, we have many such opportunities here in our community or nearby.

Shopping for adults: Gift cards are a good way to go.

•    If you are looking to surprise food or beverage connoisseurs, treat them to a fine dining experience at one of our locally-owned restaurants in the area. If they like to cook or bake themselves, a gift basket with locally produced ingredients might make their day.

•    If you are shopping for fans of liquid food, you are in luck thanks to the many wineries and craft beer destinations that you can take them to for tastings, which you can turn into a memorable family affair. If you want to show up with an actual bottle in hand, you can select from the many Finger Lakes wines and spirits at one of our local liquor stores.

•    If your loved ones like to go to live shows, concerts, museums, or sports games, memberships or season passes or tickets to individual events may be welcome gifts. If they like to work out, dance, sing or paint themselves, treat them to a few sample classes at a local studio to get them going.

•    If you know your friends appreciate handmade things, give them a gift card to browse through a local art shop or gallery for unique artwork, decorations, and jewelry.

•    If you are shopping for people who have a hard time treating themselves, a gift certificate to a spa or massage might make their day.

•    If your loved one likes to get better at or try new things, a continuing education class at the college or a couple classes to try out a new instrument could be all they need to start a new skill.

You may have noticed, all these options that cover a wide variety of interests can be provided by local businesses. Some of the services may even be ordered online on their websites.

Shopping for children: Give the gift of time together instead of more things. 

I know kids like to open presents and get toys. But I believe, more than anything, children want to spend time with loved ones. Surprising them with special trips will build their anticipation and teach them that not all gifts are instantaneous. Add little trinkets to the gift certificates so they can guess what the gift is about.

•    If your kids have a favorite sports team, game tickets (and the family trip that goes along with it) will light up their eyes.

•    If your little girl wants to be a big girl for a day, arrange for a mom + daughter day at a spa or hairdresser.

•    If your kids are into arts, acting, dancing, singing or music, sign them up for a special class or take them to a live performance that will show them what they can aspire to.

•    If your children are into science, nature, or history, plan a trip to a special event at a museum, conservatory, or park.

•    If your little ones enjoy the outdoors, help them have fun in the winter by arranging a trip where they can try out snowshoeing, skiing or ice skating.

Shopping for employees or business partners: Local gifts are meaningful.

If you are in the habit of treating employees or business partners, consider showing your appreciation by supporting another local business. Many of the suggested gift cards mentioned above may work for businesses as well.

Small Business Saturday: Saturday, November 25 in Downtown Auburn

You can get your gift ideas, presents, and gift cards right then and there. Check the Facebook event for participating businesses and enjoy the local shopping, dining, and entertainment experience!


Monika Salvage lives and owns a communications business in Auburn. She can be reached at

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