So you waited until the eleventh hour to do your shopping — high five! ✋You now have two choices: (1) Run around town searching for last-minute presents or (2) gift your loved ones an experience.
Here, we’ve rounded up more than 50 ideas for fun, creative, experiential gifts to give this holiday season, including local classes, memberships, outdoor adventures, dream meals, weekend getaways, and more. Most can be purchased online or by phone and printed out at home or issued as an IOU in a hand-written card. Most importantly, all of them will get your friends and family out of the house and exploring the million and one things that make Minnesota awesome. Happy holidays, y’all!
1. An annual membership to a local museum is the gift that gives all year long. Here are a few of our favorites: Walker Art Center (from $55), American Swedish Institute (from $60), The Museum of Russian Art (from $50, or $20 for students), the Lake Superior Railroad Museum at Duluth Depot (from $40), Minnesota Historical Society (from $50), the Minnesota Marine Art Museum in Winona (from $40, or $25 for students), and the Glensheen estate in Duluth (from $40).
4. At Dock 6 Pottery, aspiring ceramicists can learn the basics of wheel throwing.
5. At the Textile Center in Minneapolis, they can learn modern tapestry weaving, macramé wall hanging, Moroccan embroidery, natural dyeing, and more. Annabella Sardelis of Indigo & Snow (pictured above) is one of their teachers.
8. Maybe they’re curious about pysanky, the traditional art of Ukrainian egg decorating using wax and dye? Hook ’em up with a class at the Ukrainian American Community Center in Minneapolis.
10. For the flower lover in your life, how about an intro-to-Ikebana class with Laine Moire owner Marie Raley at the Minnetonka Community Education Center? Bookings are still open for the April 18 session.
12. Classes at the American Swedish Institute are among the most popular in the city. Your giftee could learn how to weave a Russian birch bark basket, knit Faroese house slippers, or make felted wool jewelry.
13. Lesser known but still cool: a five-week course on the art of beekeeping in Northern climates with the Minnesota Beekeepers Association.
14. Or how about a fun class at The Good Acre, a non-profit food hub in Falcon Heights? They sell out quickly, but recent offerings include Nepali Thali, Make Your Own Injera, Perfect Puff Pastry, and Empanadas With Quebracho.
15. Up in Grand Marais, you can’t beat an immersive course at North House Folk School. They cover every skill under the sun, from sausage making and millinery to Adirondack chair building and artisan cheesemaking.
18. Another way to get ’em moving: weekly classes at the Tapestry Folkdance Center. The lineup covers ballroom dance, Scottish country dance, English country dance, flamenco, zumba, and more. South Asian Arts & Theater House (SAATH) teaches Bollywood dancing but also puts on a great show.
19. The Minneapolis Sailing Center on Bde Maka Ska is one of the largest sailing outfits in the Midwest, offering classes for all ages and skill levels.
20. For bigger thrills, get them a half-day or full-day snowmobile rental from Boats and Beyond in Nisswa and Brainerd.
21. Sign them up for an introductory rock climbing or ice climbing outing with Twin Cities Rock and Ice or Positive Energy Outdoors in Duluth. Go-to ice climbing sites include Gooseberry Falls State Park, Robinson Park in Sandstone, and Casket Quarry in Duluth.
22. For the winter adventurer, how about a guided dog sledding trip with Wintergreen Dogsled Lodge, one of the nation’s oldest and most respected outfitters? They book lodge-based trips, dogsled camping trips, and dogsled day trips.
24. How’s this for a stocking stuffer? A Minnesota State Parks permit. Thirty-five bucks gets ’em unlimited access to all 75 Minnesota state parks and recreation areas. The Department of Natural Resources also sells gift cards good for camping, vehicle permits, tours, and gear rental including kayaks, canoes, SUPs, snowshoes, etc.
25. We also ❤️ the kayaking tours offered by Broken Paddle Guiding. The Flooded Forest Tour ($75-$90) takes you paddling in the Mississippi backwaters and includes admission to the nearby National Eagle Center.
26. For the person who loves golfing, even in winter: a gift card to Top Golf in Brooklyn Center. It has more than 100 climate-controlled bays, a gaming lounge, and a rooftop terrace with a fire pit.
27. Or here’s an idea: a gift card to Vertical Endeavors, which has indoor rock-climbing gyms in Bloomington, Minneapolis, St. Paul, and Duluth. Their walls stretch up to 58 feet!
28. How stoked would you be if someone got you a gift package to the new Cedar + Stone sauna in Duluth? This little beauty has panoramic windows, modern Nordic design, and a front-row seat to Lake Superior.
30. Know someone who has been feeling stressed this year? Treat them to a pair of 90-minute float sessions at Awaken For Wellness in St. Paul for $95.
31. Long walks among beautiful flowers = another foolproof way to unwind. Memberships to the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum start at $60.
32. Know a theater buff? Surprise them with a season pass to Brave New Workshop, season tickets to the Guthrie Theater, or tickets to Mixed Blood Theatre’s premiere of Interstate, a “queer American pop-rock poetry musical about two trans people at different stages of their journeys, navigating love, family, masculinity, and finding community in the era of social media.”
33. For the classically inclined: You can’t beat the Minnesota Orchestra’s Premier Pair Package ($111). It includes two tickets for any concert between January 10 and June 13, 2020, plus parking and a couple drink vouchers, redeemable in the Orchestra Hall lobby bars. All the makings of a perfect date night.
34. Alt option: Tickets to see Trampled By Turtles at The Sylvee in Madison, WI, on January 25. General admission is $35. (Note: At the time of publication, the band hadn’t announced any Minnesota show dates for 2020, but you can track tour updates here.)
39. Got a oenophile on your list? Buy them a passport from the Minnesota Grape Growers Association ($25), good for 10 tastings at 50 wineries across the state.
41. A third boozy passport of note is the Winter Edition of Minneapolis’ Passport Program. Twenty-five bucks gets ’em 70 two-for-one deals on beer, wine, cocktails, and coffee from Hai Hai, Hodges Bend, In Bloom, Royal Foundry Craft Spirits, Constantine, Tattersall Distilling, and many more.
42. Proof that beer makes everything better: the Curling & Brews combo ($89) from The Duluth Experience, a two-hour learn-to-curl session with the Duluth Curling & Skating Club, followed by 🍺 and 🍕 at Ursa Minor Brewing.
44. Dream gift for the sentimental Luddite: a tintype portrait session with Blkk Hand studio in St. Paul. There are several session packages to choose from; this particular shot is of Baroness frontman and visual artist John Baizley.
45. And finally, for travelers who can’t get much time off work: consider whisking them off on a sweet weekend getaway to Hotel Pikku in Duluth, Poplar Haus on the Gunflint Trail, Grand View Lodge in Nisswa, the Lilla Norr A-frame in Mora (founded by the lovely twins/co-owners of Minneapolis vintage shop Arlee Park), or House on the Rock in Spring Green, WI. Swooooooooon.