1. Buying gifts early

Don’t wait until the New Year to make this resolution. Nothing can test the limits of your Christmas spirit like trying to get through your shopping list on Dec. 24. You’ll end up spending more than your budget simply to get home before midnight and your eyes will have glazed over by about 2 p.m. There are many advantages to tackling the Christmas shopping early, not the least of which is more choice in the shops and no long lines at the cash register. Haven’t we learned our lesson by now?

2. Specialty supermarket products

You should have already noticed something different on the shelves in local markets such as Foster’s Food Fair – IGA, Kirk Market and Hurley’s; products you don’t usually see in stock. Yup, you know it’s officially the season when savory and sweet treats start appearing from brand names you love. Not only do they taste delicious, but they can be a real lifesaver at the time of year when the ritual of entertaining guests is at its peak. Biscuit selections, cold cuts, cheeses and other culinary delights can be unwrapped and put on the table in a trice. Just make sure you save some for yourself.

3. Red lips

There is no better time of year to dress up your lips in the festive color of red. Now, if you’re one of those women who thinks red doesn’t suit you, perhaps you just haven’t found the right shade yet. Remember that within the red designation there is large range of tones from which to choose that go from more orangey through cherry and brick to deep purple-y. Head to your local beauty supplier and give some a try; you’re bound to find one to suit. ‘Tis the season!

4. Family portraits

Some families have been split to the four corners of the world. It happens when the kids grow up and leave the nest. Whether your family is all together here in Cayman year-round or just reuniting at Christmas, we highly recommend booking a professional family portrait session with a photographer. Although technology has really advanced and smartphone cameras are pretty impressive, you still can’t beat the skill and experience of a professional photographer. Not sure what to get a family member for a Christmas gift? This is a thoughtful treasure and really is the gift that keeps on giving.

5. The season of giving

Although it seems that charities are looking for donations throughout the year, this really is the time to dig deep and donate money or your time to worthy causes. There are so many who struggle at Christmas, particularly those with children. You can make the difference by being generous and thinking of others. If you’re not sure where to begin, check the newspaper this month for events and ongoing fundraisers in which you can participate. Remember that any donation, no matter how small, will help give someone a Merry Christmas.

6. Taste of Cayman tickets

Before you forget, buy your Taste of Cayman tickets online now. The annual food festival will be held on Jan. 27 at the Festival Green in Camana Bay, and promises lots of culinary and cocktail delights as well as competitions, demonstrations and live entertainment. Choose between general entry or VIP if you really want to treat yourself (and others). You’ll save money if you buy in advance, and these could be the ideal stocking stuffers this Christmas. For more information, see www.tasteofcayman.org.

7. Tradition meets modern day

One of the ageless traditions in the Cayman Islands is that of thatch weaving. Throughout the years, it has been used to create ropes, hats, bags and other essential items for everyday use. One company, XieXie Designs, has taken the simply beauty of woven thatch and incorporated it into pieces of jewelry. Owner and designer Rachel Christ recently displayed a sample of her wares at the National Gallery, and they are available to buy at the Silver Rain retail shop in The Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman. To see more of her work,
visit www.xiexiedesigns.com/designmain.html.

8. Night tour of Christmas lights

Growing up in Cayman, it was always understood that for at least one night in December, the family would pile into the car and drive around to see the Christmas lights. A lot of homes take great pride in their displays, particularly the Crightons on Shamrock Road and the Boddens’ home opposite Sunset House. The sponsored roundabouts on the island are also always dressed up to the nines, along with Camana Bay and the local resorts. Not only is it a wonderful night out; it’s also free!

9. Fresh

Fresh ingredients and freshly prepared, just for you – that’s what Fresh, located in Galleria Plaza, is all about. The new café, open seven days a week, boasts an impressive menu of breakfast items, salads, sandwiches, bowls, smoothies and juices to put a spring in your step and keep you energized. Eating smart doesn’t have to be boring, and here you can choose between starters like oatmeal, granola and breakfast burritos to BLTs and yummy vegetarian dishes. Grab good food on the go or stay a while and savor. See www.freshcayman.com for the full menu.

10. Pico Bonito packages

We have been to The Lodge at Pico Bonito, one of a select number of small luxury properties throughout the world, and you’d be crazy not to take advantage of its package deal with Cayman Airways. Located in the Honduran rainforest with views of the mountains, the resort offers individual cabins to guests who can walk the trails, visit the spa, and indulge in delicious food from the on-site restaurant. Fancy staying inside? Set up a game of pool, table tennis or foosball in the games room. It’s an amazing price for two people for three nights including accommodation, all meals, flights and ground transfers through Feb. 28.