Thursday, November 29, 2018

5 Fun Things You Can Do Besides Holiday Shopping And Still Pick Up A Gift

Want to opt out of the whole darn shopping thing this holiday season? I highly recommend taking that stand and would like to suggest a little less time spent shopping for someone and little more time spent with them. All of the activities below are excellent opportunities to put down your electronics and look someone you love in the eye. If, however, you would like some time to yourself away from your people, all these things can be enjoyed solo.These activities can also produce gifts so you don’t have to take another step to shop.

1) Go to the zoo
People in silhouette admiring Christmas lights in the shape of animals at the Denver Zoo
This time of year is an exceptional time to visit your local zoo. There may be fewer animals on exhibit, but you won’t have the high-summer crowds. After all, you’d like to see the animals and not someone’s back as you stand three deep at an enclosure. Many zoos across the country (and the world) have embraced zoo lights as a way to bring in much-needed winter revenue. Most children will be entranced by the combination of animals and lights and you can get a break from the “buy me that” commercialization of the season. Of course, always make sure that you are patronizing a zoo that is actively working in conservation (see a list here).
Gift idea: Zoo tickets or memberships and/or any number of cool items in the gift shop.

Three men sitting in chairs making funny faces and gestures
2) Go to an improv show
Holidays are nothing if not stressful and laughter is a stellar way to reduce stress. Make some time for silliness (it’s good for the soul), support local performers and engage with others in your community. Very little brings people together like a good laugh. To find a theater near you, check out this list. Many theaters are surprisingly affordable and offer family-friendly shows; my family loves the one they do at our local improv (Unscrewed Theater).
Gift idea: Take someone out for a nice evening as a gift and make the show a part of it. Or buy tickets to an upcoming show, CD’s, T-shirts or other bits of swag.

3) Have some kitchen fun
A man and two women laughing together while making food in the kitchen
Okay, you may have to do a little shopping for this one; but, it is grocery store shopping, which you have to do anyway. This is the perfect time to experiment with new foods or to fine-tune your holiday menu. Get a bottle of wine (or warm up that blender) and a cohort or two (optional, but highly recommended) and dig into your kitchen. You can go old school, with a Betty Crocker cookbook propped up on the counter (those recipes speak to many childhood memories) or find the just-right YouTube tutorial. This is also the perfect time to clean out your refrigerator by making a soup - it will free up space for all the incoming holiday goodies.Try this recipe or make one up as you go along.
Gift idea: There are a great many easy food gifts you can make and nearly everyone responds to food. But there is also a hidden gift in this activity – the gift of an aromatic house on a crisp winter day. So cozy!

A closeup of a rack of pool balls and a man getting ready to break them
4) Go play some pool
Grab some friends and find a place to play pool. Or find a place to play pool and make some new friends (just challenge a table). It’s virtually impossible to play pool without witty repartee and other fun types of human interaction. Hit up a sports bar and you will also be able catch some late-season football while you play and have a room full of like-minded sports fans to enjoy it with. Don’t like pool? The idea is to get out and play, what game you choose is up to you. Places like Dave and Buster’s and Culinary Dropout, here in Tucson, offer many game choices. There are also places where you can play more cerebral games such as chess. Learn where to find a chess game here. Just go and relax and enjoy the company of others, that’s the key to this activity.
Gift idea: Gift certificates, of course. But, also use the chance to get to know your companion/s a little better and try to ferret out things they really like (such as a team preference or something they wish they had, like new darts). Some of these things you may be able to get right where you are.

5) Get out in Nature
Two bundled up children playing on a wintery beach
Weather permitting, of course, get out and just enjoy the season around you. Take a companion or two on a drive and have an old-fashioned picnic or eat at a quaint restaurant. If you live near an ocean, put some layers on and walk on the beach. There is a unique beauty to the beach in winter. Can’t get that far away? Get those kids bundled into the car and drive them around the neighborhood to check out people’s decorations.
Gift idea: This activity is really just about the time spent in the season; but, keep an open mind and gift ideas could pop up anytime during your excursion.

Submitted by Pam

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