Despite the lingering 80-degree weather, it’s certainly beginning to look a lot like Christmas here in Gainesville … and Hanukkah, Kwanzaa and Boxing Day, as well. The holiday decorations have been in local stores since before trick or treaters rang a single door bell and traffic on Archer Road looks like UF move-in day in August.
You are not alone if your to-do list just grew a foot and a half, your social calendar is filling up and your children will soon be off from school. But business still needs to go on and the year-end sales numbers still need to be hit.
So, whether your business or organization celebrates one or all of these holidays, and you still need gifts for clients or friends, or just wants to say thank you to your employees or coworkers for a great 2017, here is a list of local sources for your business (and friends and family!) gift buying.
Make them a tourist, in their own hometown.
Gainesville is home to the state of Florida’s official natural history museum which is rated in the top five museums of its kind in the nation! Year-round exhibits feature Florida fossils, the history of our Floridian ancestors, the waterways and wildlife of the region. Visiting exhibits offer rare opportunities to see world-renowned research and collections. Located right on the University of Florida’s campus, the Florida Museum of Natural History offers individual memberships for $50 ($85 would include a spouse) which can be purchased as gifts and allows for free admission to featured exhibits as well as the not-to-be-missed Butterfly Rainforest. As an added bonus, membership donations may be counted as charitable gifts just in time to be included in your businesses 2017 tax reporting! Membership opportunities are detailed on the museum website at floridamuseum.ufl.edu.
Take ‘em to a show.
The Gainesville fine arts scene is bright on our local stages. Who can resist the timeless Dickens classic “A Christmas Carol”, showing through December 22 at the Hippodrome downtown? Or check out the show, G.I. Holiday Jukebox, also showing through the 22nd at the Gainesville Community Playhouse? Both make perfect gifts and are certain to get you or your coworkers in the holiday spirit – and all of us can use a little less Scrooge in the office. Tickets for these and multiple 2018 offerings available through thehipp.org and gcplayhouse.org.
Dinner … at home.
Have an employee, coworker or client that has surpassed all expectations this year? Consider giving them a break from the kitchen with a fresh, gourmet dinner delivered to the comfort of their own home. For under $120, you can gift seven nights of healthy meal delivery from Eat the 80. Using all-natural ingredients, there are no added sugars or preservatives and every meal is gluten-free! Details on meal options can be found at eatthe80.com.
Add a little festivity to the celebrations!
Very few turn down the gift of wine, particularly if you ask the crew at Tipple’s Brews to help you personalize your selection. Just as quick to tout the attributes of a $15 bottle of wine as they are to recommend one in the $100+ range, the staff at Tipple’s always comes through.
And if you want to take the traditional gift of wine to the next level, try selecting gifts from the hundreds of beer selections they offer. Tipple’s is located just east of Haile Plantation, off Tower Road and 24th Avenue.
Dinner Out – literally, out.
Gainesville and Alachua County are very fortunate to have multiple top-tier restaurants. Embers, Mildred’s, Mark’s Prime, Blue Gill, Paramount Grill, Manuel’s Vintage Room, the list goes on. A gift certificate from one of these establishments is a gift that will always be remembered.
But why not also try giving the gift of dinner under the stars all while supporting local sustainable farming? Swallowtail Farm, located in north Alachua, offers a farm-to-table seasonal dinner series throughout the year. Typically featuring a Gainesville-area celebrated chef and always highlighting in-season, locally grown food, the dinners are held family style under the stars surrounded by the beautiful gardens. Sip local beers or organic wines while dining and this just might have to be a gift you give to yourself, as well! Tickets are $100 for adults and may be purchased online at swallowtail.ticketleap.com.
The scents of the season … and the neighborhood.
Haile Kitchen and Bath, located in the Haile Village Shops along SW 91st Street, offers a selection of soy candles that are truly Gainesville-inspired. The “Town of Tioga” candle carries the scent of lemongrass and yuengling, while “University Avenue” smells of coconut wood and amber. Others available include, “Established 1853” (commemorating the year UF was founded), “Orange and Blue” and even “15” honoring Gator legend Tim Tebow. For $28.95, what Gator-native could resist selecting a few as gifts?
GIFTS THAT GIVE BACK
Looking for a Gainesville gift that keeps on giving? Local businesses are stepping up to support the Gainesville-Alachua County area (and beyond) on a daily basis. Here is how you can support them this holiday season.
Buy a chance, give a chance.
A lottery ticket as a gift? Really? You bet!
Did you know that the Florida Lottery provides the primary funding to the state’s Bright Futures Scholarship Program? Created in 1997, the program is designed to assist students in achieving post secondary educational and career goals. Since it was initiated, the Lottery has sent over 775,000 students to college by contributing more than $5 billion to the educational fund.
Sold in multiple increments from $1 to $25 each, a Florida Lottery ticket not only gives your co-workers a chance at hitting it big, but also gives a hand to students on the rise. The downside? If you gift a winning ticket, you may just lose a top employee!
Love Your Melon
Founded by two college students in 2012, Love Your Melon began with the simple idea of putting a hat on every child battling cancer in America. Today, 120,000 hats have been given to children, including some right here in Gainesville. With 50% of the profits going toward this cause, every knit beanie purchased helps purchase another hat for a child in treatment for cancer.
Visit loveyourmelon.com and select the University of Florida undergraduate or graduate crew and your purchase will help earn caps for children at UF Health Shands Hospital. In the past few months alone, the UF undergraduate crew presented 50 caps to children at Shands.
First Magnitude loves pups
It’s no surprise that any beer lover on your list would enjoy a gift from Gainesville’s own First Magnitude Brewing Company, but a dog lover?
After the brewing process is complete, First Magnitude donates a large portion of their spent grains to the UF Beef Teaching Unit for use as cattle feed. A smaller amount is also a key ingredient in homemade dog treats! Available for sale at the brewery on SE Veitch Street, the treats come in pumpkin and peanut butter flavors. Word has it that the canine population loves them, and First Magnitude donates 100% of the profits from the sale of these treats to Gainesville Pet Rescue.
Support disease research with Down to Earth
Boutique shopping at its best, Down to Earth, located in Town of Tioga, has the perfect gift for anyone on your list with an eye towards fashion. But by adding Down to Earth as part of your shopping trip this year, you’ll also be supporting the Phoenix Fox Foundation created specifically to fund research in the battle of rare neuromuscular diseases.
Get to the Heart of It
Had enough of giving “stuff”? Try directly giving to those in need this holiday. Active charitable organizations abound in Gainesville and all deserve to be highlighted, but here are just a few.
How about a donation in someone special’s name to Girls Place, where for $25 a month, you make it possible for 3 girls to play a sport (girlsplace.net)? Checkout the wish list for Gainesville’s Ronald McDonald House at rmhcncf.org and make a gift in memory or honor of a loved one or simply because you want to. The Children’s Home Society changes lives daily and you can too. Visit their site at chsfl.org where you can even direct your gift specifically to the Gainesville/Ocala area.
By Kathryn Pizzurro