Make us your home page
Instagram

Column: Spending time with loved ones is the best gift

Seeing culinary goddess Ina Garten. People in seats intensely studying herbed fromage blanc in her book. Woman next to us literally started sobbing when Ina came out. Thunderous applause from the theater on mention of lemon skillet chicken. And now we know Jeffrey’s favorite root veg is celery root.

STEPHANIE HAYES | Times

Seeing culinary goddess Ina Garten. People in seats intensely studying herbed fromage blanc in her book. Woman next to us literally started sobbing when Ina came out. Thunderous applause from the theater on mention of lemon skillet chicken. And now we know Jeffrey’s favorite root veg is celery root.

Think about the last, oh, three things you got as gifts. Now think about who got them for you. Think about how you felt when you got them.

Tough, right?

Now, think of the last great experience you had with someone.

I'll go first. For her birthday, I took my mother to see Ina Garten at the David A. Straz Jr. Center for the Performing Arts. (That's us to the right.) We had dinner first at Maestro's Cafe, then headed in to hear Ina tell stories of running her famous Barefoot Contessa shop in the Hamptons. We admired the fans gripping cookbooks and breathlessly asking Ina the bread shops she liked in Paris, how to use saffron, whether or not to freeze biscotti dough. We left with a hug, agreeing it was a much needed distraction from life's worse woes.

I was already in Camp: Experience Gifts before Ina. But in a post-Ina world, I'll never go back. Don't get me wrong. Stuff can be a good gift option, especially when said stuff is particularly useful or speaks to the heart of a person ("Molly grew up asking for a purple stegosaurus, and these socks are covered in them!").

But memories can be better than the coolest beer koozie. You can't buy time, but you can buy time with someone. That's what our holiday gift guide is all about this year.

GIFT GUIDE: Skip the stuff and buy your friends and family cool experiences

Our writers and critics, who advise you on what to do with your free time every weekend, have put their minds to the holiday and come up with suggestions for bonding activities.

We've got ideas for outdoorsy outings including golfing and boating. Tampa Bay has a slew of hot concerts coming next year, from the Weeknd to Shawn Mendes to Bruno Mars. Want something on the quieter side? Think spa treatments. Got some weird stuff to work out with a friend? Head to an escape room and call it therapy.

If money is tight, think about offering to make a meal for someone you love or simply pledging to make time for a monthly walk. Or do something to help them relax. (See Ellen Clarke's suggestion about making a personalized coupon book.)

If you read this list and have something to add, please email me or tweet me at @stephhayes. I'd love to hear your own suggestions because I have a whole family to buy for, too.

And take heart. Just as that coffee table book of cityscapes was a bomb gift in 2010, sometimes the experiences don't work out so idyllically. Make sure to do your research and hold onto your receipts.

I'll go again. I bought a kayaking trip for my fiance last Christmas via Groupon. We were ready to head out on the water on a beautiful Saturday when the company called off the trip at the last minute "due to high winds." We walked outside and the leaves were barely rustling.

But that's life. And isn't it fun to live?

Column: Spending time with loved ones is the best gift 11/29/16 [Last modified: Tuesday, November 29, 2016 11:45am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Top things to do in Tampa Bay for the week of June 26-July 2.

    Events

    Vans Warped Tour: The festival returns Saturday to St. Petersburg's Vinoy Park, featuring shock-metal icons Gwar, hardcore punks Sick Of It All, ska band Save Ferris and indie-pop group Never Shout Never ($39.50-$49.50). vanswarpedtour. …

    Crowd for the Motionless in White band at the 2014 Vans Warped Tour at Vinoy Park, Friday, July 25, 2014.  CHERIE DIEZ   |   Times
  2. Glen Campbell's wife Kim discusses challenges, guilt caregivers of Alzheimer's patients, others face

    Life Times

    If there's one thing Kim Campbell would change about caregiving for Alzheimer's patients, it's the attitude so many of us have toward transferring a loved one from home to a long-term care facility. According to Campbell, it's often the most kind, loving decision you can make. It's not a sign of failure, but one of …

    Kim Campbell, wife of country music legend Glen Campbell, is acknowledged by those attending the free event where she shared the story of her personal journey with Alzheimer???‚??„?s disease and the struggles she faced caring for her husband on Friday (5/26/17) at the Suncoast Hospice's Empath Health Service Center in Clearwater. Empath Choices for Care, a member of Empath Health, and Arden Courts Memory Care hosted the free event where Kim shared her story to help others understand the early stages, how the disease changes lives, the challenges families face and the role of caregiver.
  3. What happened when I took my dad to a Pitbull concert

    Music & Concerts

    TAMPA — "So, you know how you like Pitbull?" I asked my dad. "We can see him."

    Selfie of Divya Kumar and Anand Kumar at Pitbull/Enrique Iglesias concert.
  4. Tampa City Council votes to accept travel invitation from Cuban ambassador

    Blogs

    The invitation came to Tampa City Council chairwoman Yvonne Yolie Capin in a June 9 letter from Cuban ambassador to the United States José Ramón Cabañas Rodriguez.

    The Tampa City Council voted 6-0, with Frank Reddick out of the room, to respond to a travel invitation from Cuban ambassador to the United States José Ramón Cabañas Rodriguez.
  5. Top things to do in Tampa Bay for June 25

    Events

    St. Pete Pride Festival: The daytime festival covers Central Avenue's Grand Central District with more than 350 vendors, multiple stages, live music, art and food. 9 a.m., Grand Central District, 2429 Central Ave., St. Petersburg. Free. (727) 342-0084.

    Kristen Whalen poses for a photo before the start of the St. Pete Pride Parade in St. Petersburg last year. It's that time of year again, so check with us for your planning purposes. [LUIS SANTANA  |   Times (2016)]