Main image for A Most Creative Way to Give a Gift Certificate Time to Read: ~4 min

This Spring I had the pleasure of recording Trumansburg Central School's Band and Chorus concerts. My daughter sings in the high school chorus, plays percussion in high school band and jazz band, and my son sings in the middle school chorus and plays saxophone in the middle school band. Additionally, my daughter accompanies the choruses on piano. I found myself in a position to enjoy a perch on the catwalk and video these performances. If you want to check them out, see my Music from Trumansburg Schools
channel at

Hope Lewis (High School bands) and Jenny Henion (High School chorus, vocal jazz and Middle School chorus) bought a gift certificate for me (which was totally not necessary!) and presented it in an incredibly creative way. One of my favorite mealtime hangouts is Viva Taqueria, and they give out their gift certificates in $5 increments (which I think is awesome). It inspired Hope and Jenny to make me earn 'em, or in musical parlance, "sing for my supper."

The Invitation

Text from Jenny: Dear Sir or Madam - over the next ten days you will receive one (1) image of a $5 Viva gift certificate in varying locations, totaling $50 in Viva gift certificates after the tenth day. You must earn each $5 gift by identifying the location of the image.

So, this was going to be really cool! Over the ten days, my wife and kids got in on the action, wanting to see the picture before I could get to it. The challenge was so fun! See if you can figure days 1-9 out from the picture above before scrolling down too far. Then, enjoy this miniature tour of Ithaca and Trumansburg, as seen through the travel experiences of some very cool $5 gift certificates!

Day 1

Little Venice

Little Venice

Your first challenge is: identify this location.

Me: Now that's really cool idea, so thoughtful! It reminds me of this time when I was LITTLE and won a trip to VENICE!

Jenny: Hooray! You have earned one (1) $5 certificate. Stay tuned tomorrow for your next challenge. 😁

Day 2

Parking lot near Viva

Parking lot near Viva

Me: I'm not sure where that is, but I do know I'm sad they're putting a new building up on top of the PARKING LOT near VIVA!

Jenny: Hooray! You've earned $10 in Viva certificates.

Day 3



Me: Did you know that one of our criteria for a place to build our house was that we could get to WEGMANS on a regular basis?

Jenny: Now that's just smart. And you've earned $15 in viva rewards!

Day 4

My daughter at Island Health & Fitness

My daughter at Island Health & Fitness

Jenny: Hey little girl, want some viva bucks?? Where are you?

Me: The smart money's on the girl who knows that ISLAND HEALTH & FITNESS is the best place to get your pre-Viva BodyPump on.

Jenny: Congratulations! $20 towards a Viva night out!

Day 5

Buttermilk Falls State Park

Buttermilk Falls State Park

Jenny: Where is today's Viva gift certificate?

Me: Oh so you thought that'd be tough but it was not the BEAR (TRAIL) you thought it'd be. Amy and I both got this one independently! We're as smooth as fresh BUTTERMILK.

Jenny: Haha did Amy want me to know she actually got this one? Hooray! $25 you've earned!

Me: She sure did! This is SO much fun.

Jenny: And you're half way there!

Me: By the way, I think this is an incredibly creative way of giving somebody a gift, and if it's OK with you and Hope, when it's all over, I was thinking about writing about it on my blog

Jenny: Of course! I'm glad you have such a positive attitude about being forced to earn a gift after already going above and beyond providing a service 😄

Day 6

Black Diamond Trail

Black Diamond Trail

Jenny: Today Viva gift is lost. Can you help?

Me: I think I can help, but first we must note that if the certificate were darker, like a lot darker, it'd be a BLACK DIAMOND in the rough. On-on!

Jenny: Congratulations! You've earned $30 in viva bucks. AND you used hashing language! On on!

Day 7

Ithaca College

Ithaca College

Jenny: Viva is refreshing and so is this landmark!

Me: Some people like mountains, and some people like FOUNTAINS. I think the Ithaca College seniors are particularly fond of the one outside DILLINGHAM!

Jenny: That's $35 in viva bucks! You can almost taste the margaritas now!

Day 8

Ithaca Children's Garden

Ithaca Children's Garden

Jenny: Where are your Viva bucks now??

Me: This turtle has a hard shell, but not the same kind of shell I'd fill with tofu and calabacitas. No sir. But I could get my taco to go and lounge in the ITHACA CHILDREN'S GARDEN!

Jenny: Good one! I wondered how you'd fare with this one! Well done! $40 in viva buck to you my good sir!

Day 9

Robert H. Treman State Park

Robert H. Treman State Park

Jenny: It doesn't get much more refreshing than this!

Me: Uh-oh. You may have gotten me on this one, since Ithaca's GORGES and WATERFALLS are plentiful. So many choices! Did you wander from the trail a bit at BUTTERMILK?

Day 9 (Try Again!)

The Old Mill

The Old Mill

Jenny: Here's a hint. When I stepped back, I saw a little more scenery:

Me: Oh, God bless you for the extra context, for now I know that you are standing before the OLD MILL at TREMAN

Jenny: Hooray! You've earned $45 viva bucks! Only one day left of the challenge!

Day 10

Friends Rob and Chantelle at Viva!

Friends Rob and Chantelle at Viva!

Jenny: And on this, the final day of your Viva challenge, an easy one. The place where all your dreams come true. The place where it all began. The one. The only.

Me: Oh, that's a slow pitch across the center of the plate, for sure. I hope y'all have some chips, salsa and guac while you're waiting for a table at VIVA! And, get yourself another round, Chantelle. Looks that that margarita glass is half empty (yes, I'm a pessimist when it comes to margarita volume). This has been super fun, Jenny. Thank you!

Jenny: Truth be told, this picture was taken 10 or so days ago when the challenge began. It has been waiting for this finale! Congratulations! Your $50 in Viva bucks await!

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