Stuffing the stockings can lead to a house stuffed with gifts forgotten by Valentine’s Day (or New Year’s). #sadbuttrue. We’ve searched the valley for ways to cut clutter and wrap up memories instead of items as Christmas gifts. So trim the tree and trim down the post-holiday mess by giving experiences to build family relationships. Here are 9 gift ideas you can’t necessarily tie up with a bow. Instead, let the gifts tie your family closer together.
P.S. Gift these unconventional-yet-memorable ideas by visiting the website for an electronic gift certificate or by wrapping up a letter under the tree explaining the gift that keeps on gifting.
For the Family Picasso
Lulu’s Crafty Corner
When sisters Kathy Anderson and Birdie Logue were kids, they would go every month with their aunt to a ceramic shop where they painted and chatted for hours. To this day, the three are close friends. To help other families bond over art, Kathy and Birdie opened Lulu’s Crafty Corner in Payson two years ago. Then in March of this year, the sisters opened up another location in downtown Provo. “We wanted to start it again because people need a place to put down their phones and talk,” Kathy says. Lulu’s doesn’t charge a studio fee, so patrons simply pay for the ceramic pieces they paint. Kathy and Birdie also provide freshly baked cookies for everyone who comes in and picks up a paintbrush.
For the Retro Enthusiast
AAA Lakeside Storage and Museum
Owned by LaVorn “Sparky” Sparks, AAA Lakeside Storage doubles as both a storage facility and an outdoor petroliana museum. In 2017, HuffPost Life named this quirky collection of antique gas pumps and fuel signs one of the most Instagrammable places in Provo. “My dad is a real passionate guy,” says Tiffany Burbidge, general manager of AAA and daughter of LaVorn. “He’s found this passion, and he just wants to share it with other people.” LaVorn has collected more than 150 signs from around the country and continues to travel and collect rare pieces. The museum also features a P-51 Mustang, a VMC 33 Coca-Cola vending machine from the 1950s and a 1942 Half Track. Tiffany blogs and catalogues the museum so visitors can learn about the antique pieces before visiting the Provo landmark. The museum is free to enter, but there is a $25 photography charge.
For the Islander at Heart
Ukele lessons at Dave’s Rock Lab
Learning to play an instrument opens up the possibility to play for others, which means the gift keeps on gifting and humming. “Music is a gift you have for the rest of your life, and it can also be regifted,” says Dave Wilbur, owner of Dave Wilbur’s Rock Lab. Who says holiday gifts can’t also be tropical? Consider giving ukulele lessons for Christmas. The four nylon strings make the instrument easy to learn. Knowing a few chords on the ukulele can open up dozens of songs — and dozens of singalongs. Dave Wilbur’s Rock Lab in Orem offers ukulele lessons in addition to voice, piano, drums, guitar and bass guitar lessons.
For the Closet Soloist
Heart and Seoul Karaoke
Private room karaoke is all the rage in Asia, and this international trend inspired Matt Smith, Jay Pooley, Brody Horton and Tim Holley to bring it to Center Street in Provo in September 2017. Heart and Seoul Karaoke offers both open-mic karaoke on Fridays and Saturdays and private room reservations for groups of six or more on Mondays through Saturdays. “Doing karaoke in a private room with your own group, with your own genre of music immediately sparks a good time with plenty of laughter,” Matt says. “The atmosphere is a big part of the memories. You sit back on lounge couches, with a disco ball, a big screen TV, huge speakers and drinks while sing ‘80s throwbacks from your 7th grade jam track.” This college hot spot is also a fun way for families to bring carpool singalongs into a new environment.
For the Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire Aficionado
Adult ballroom dance lessons
Try a date night with a new rhythm: ballroom dance lessons. Every third Saturday of the month, the SCERA Center in Orem hosts an adult ballroom dance class from 7:30-8:30 p.m. The instructors focus on a different style of dance each month, such as swing, cha cha, salsa and foxtrot. After teaching basic steps, the instructors help partnerships with their questions. “Usually there is one person in the couple that likes to dance, and the other one either hasn’t tried it before or doesn’t enjoy it,” says instructor Ruby Coulson. “Usually by the end of the night they’ve had a good time and want to come back.”
For the One With Sew Much Creativity
Sewing lessons at Dave’s Bernina
Donetta Brewer, sewing instructor at Dave’s Bernina in Provo, spins some of her fondest memories from sewing with her sisters. Now she teaches sewing at Dave’s Bernina, where they offer a range of sewing classes for beginners to experts. “Women who want a sewing machine typically want to do things for other people,” says Richard Borget, owner of Dave’s Bernina. This giving culture naturally builds memories because seamstresses make gifts from the heart for people they love. “When a mom or grandma is helping with a prom dress, wedding dress or bridesmaid dress, those are unforgettable memories even if the dress won’t always be around,” Richard says.
For the Family of Adventure
Escape room at Getout Games
Most of us will never raid a pharaoh’s tomb or search a mob boss’s office, but an escape room is the same thing. (#fakenews) In 2013, Dallin Henrie and Robert Strain opened Getout Games in Provo. Both businessmen traveled for work and enjoyed doing escape rooms around the country, so they decided to bring the puzzle trend to Utah. Now they offer five escape scenarios: The Heist, Reactor Room, The Superhero Standoff, Egyptian Tomb and Zombie on a Chain. Employees stay in character while directing the room to create an immersive experience. “It brings people together because they are literally in a room together. They have to rub shoulders and use teamwork to come together through difficulties,” says Camden Bernatz, marketing manager for Getout Games.
For the Hidden Performer
Improv classes at ImprovBroadway
On a mission to make Provo the clean comedy capital of the country, ImprovBroadway offers improv classes and sketch classes. This full-time comedy theater and comedy school offers both semester-long courses and a weekly no-commitment drop-in class. The effects of learning improv goes beyond aspiring to “Whose Line is it Anyway.” “To be a good improviser is to be a good listener and communicator. It’s to validate others’ ideas and have your ideas be validated,” says ImprovBroadway director Zach Atherton. “It teaches your brain that ideas matter and fears of rejection are irrational.” Taking an improv class is gift-worthy for several reasons: to improve public speaking, to confront stage fright or even to beef up a performing resume. Signing up with a friend, spouse or sibling gets you out of comfort zones together.
For the Slopes Junkie
Skiing at Sundance
Experience Utah’s license plate preaching for yourself this winter — or give it to that brother that calls in sick on powder days. Sundance Mountain Resort is the closest ski resort for most Utah Valley residents and offers a full ski resort experience. Robert Redford’s mountain dream destination runs four lifts (one triple chair lift and three quad chair lifts) and one handle tow. The resort also caters to skiers ranging from expert to fresh — as fresh as the snow on the best skiing days. The skiing terrain breaks down to 35 percent beginner, 45 percent intermediate and 20 percent advanced. Skiers can purchase day or season passes. Sundance also offers rentals and lessons to help those not seasoned in winter sports. Gift the gift of drift and come home with a mountain of memories.