Lesley Weidenbener: Experiences you can gift this Christmas

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If you read this column regularly, you probably know I like to shop. And last weekend, on Small Business Saturday, I hit some of my favorite local retailers to pick up some gifts (and some things for myself).

At Crimson Tate, 845 Massachusetts Ave., and The French Seam, 9335 Castlegate Drive, I bought some sewing supplies and fabrics for gifts I’m hoping to squeeze in before Christmas. I also stopped at home store Decorate and gift shop Boomerang BTQ, both on Massachusetts Avenue, and at the new Skosh coffee and vintage shop at 2555 Shelby St., that day.

But as much as I love buying this and that for the people on my Christmas list, not everyone wants more stuff. Increasingly, the people in my life say they don’t need more things piling up in their houses. Peter Dunn even wrote in his “Pete the Planner” column last week in IBJ about conquering the desire for stuff.

And so I’ve been giving more thought to the kinds of gifts that are meaningful but don’t create clutter. Of course, gift cards are a great option—and I have several people in my life who prefer a gift card over anything else.

But even then, I like to do something other than an Amazon or Walmart gift card. I’m trying to focus on experiences—which has become something of a buzzword but appropriately describes the kinds of gifts that are great for Christmas.

Here are a few things I’ve purchased this year and in recent years for people on my list:

Outdoor Indiana magazine. OK, technically, this still qualifies as “stuff.” The magazine from the Indiana Department of Natural Resources comes six times a year, but it’s easy to recycle and encourages experiences. I usually package an annual subscription up with a DNR gift card that can be used for state park inns, camping sites and restaurants.

A museum membership. I think most of us have good intentions about visiting places like the Eiteljorg Museum of American Indians and Western Art or Conner Prairie or other museums more often than we do. But one way to encourage more visits is to have or give a membership. Typically, memberships are available for individuals or families and offer special access to events.

Classes and lessons. There’s a class for almost any hobby or interest you have, whether it’s cooking or art or golf or, well, anything. A great gift is some expert instruction, and here are a few places to consider: the Marc Adams School of Woodworking in Franklin, Chef JJ’s for grilling classes in Indianapolis, Arthur Murray Dance Centers, Tulip Tree Creamery for cheese and butter making, and the Indianapolis Art Center for pottery, glass blowing, drawing, jewelry making, sculpting and more.

Date nights. Know a couple with kids who never has the ability to get away? Gift the two of them a dinner-and-a-movie gift card and a homemade coupon for a night of babysitting. The latter could be the most appreciated part of the gift.

Performances. Central Indiana is blessed with so many fantastic performing-arts organizations and venues. A great gift is tickets to a show or a gift certificate that lets the recipients choose shows that work best for them. The Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra, for example, is having its three for $99 sale, which actually includes a bonus fourth concert. The Phoenix Theater, the Civic Theatre, ComedySportz Indianapolis and many more groups offer gift cards.

Finally, a subscription to the Indianapolis Business Journal is a great option. Go to IBJ.com/products/gift-card.•

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Weidenbener is editor of IBJ. Email her at lweidenbener@ibj.com.

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