Americans spend $2.9 billion on gift wrap and accessories every year, according to Credit Donkey. In addition, adults wrap an average of 15.3 presents during the holiday season. If you’d like to save time, reduce waste and give thoughtful gifts that will delight your friends and family, consider giving an experience instead.
1. Floatplane picnics in the San Juan Islands
For a truly unique Northwest experience, take your loved ones on a Northwest Floatplane Picnic. Fly to Sucia, Patos or Jones Island on a chartered plane from Kenmore Air, and enjoy your choice of six catered, gourmet picnic packages. We recommend the Bon Appétit Signature Menu, featuring marinated prawns, fresh cracked Dungeness crab, salmon and halibut kabobs, salads, artisan breads and more, served with Washington wines. Ideal for groups of 5 to 9, floatplane picnic packages start at $1,056.
2. Give the Gift of Golf
Give a round of golf at Chambers Bay in University Place to someone special. Chambers Bay is a Scottish-style links course that overlooks the sparkling Puget Sound. This 18-hole walking course will also be the site of the 2015 U.S. Open. Green fees start at $80 in winter for Pierce County residents.
3. Delightful escape to the Suquamish Clearwater Casino Resort
For a luxurious getaway close to home, buy your sweetheart a stay-and-play package at this lovely resort located on the shores of the Agate Passage. Book a suite on a balcony to watch the sunset and indulge in a soothing massage at the Angeline Spa. Or soak your cares away in the zero-entry pool and Jacuzzi, dine in style at the Cedar Steakhouse and try your luck at the slots. Visit the tribe’s museum or play a round of golf at the White Horse Golf Club. This resort has packages to fit a variety of budgets.
4. Soar and Explore Wine Tasting and Sightseeing Tour
Starting on Lake Union, EverGreen Escapes will take you and your guests on a sightseeing tour of the Seattle area, where you’ll view the mountains, waterways and skylines from high above the city. You’ll be taken to Woodinville to tour three award-winning wineries, meet winemakers and taste wines and local meats and cheeses before returning. Tours are available year-round and start at $220 per person.
5. Learn glassblowing
For the artistic one on your gift list, consider a glassblowing class at Tacoma Glassblowing Studio. Students learn how to blow glass and make shapes with the help of a skilled glassblower. Classes are available in one-hour, one- and two-day workshops and six-week classes. Pricing starts at $65 for the one-hour Saturday or Sunday glassblowing experience to $600 for the six-week classes. Reservations and deposits may be required.
6. Make Your Own Spirits
At the beautiful and modern Heritage Distilling Co. in Gig Harbor guests can make their own private spirits — whiskey, gin or vodka — under the guidance of people who know what they are doing. Learn the skill and science behind making a craft batch and get creative. The classes are about three hours, and $99 per session. Enjoy samples and when your batch is ready, it can be purchased for $15 a bottle. If you’d like to age a product, you can join the Cask Club for an additional fee or buy a two-liter cask to age your spirits at home.
7. Experience Seattle history with a Tillicum Village Tour
Argosy Cruises will transport lucky gift recipients to Blake Island, the birthplace of Chief Seattle, for a four-hour escape. Upon arrival, guests are greeted with steamed clams in a fun welcoming ritual before feasting on a salmon buffet featuring Northwest cuisine. Afterward, guests will enjoy a Coast Salish-inspired program with storytelling and dances, followed by time to explore the island. The adult rate is $79 per person.
8. Kayak and bike the San Juan Islands
Kayaking and biking enthusiasts will love the gift of time to enjoy their favorite pastimes during a two- to six-day trip throughout the San Juan Islands with Crystal Seas. Stay at local inns and dine at local restaurants. Kayak to enjoy the natural beauty of sea birds, seals, river otters and orcas one day, and cycle the peaceful countryside of the San Juans the next. Prices start at $780 per person for a two-day, one-night trip.
9. Sharpen your skills
There are several cooking classes for the budding chef in the family or someone who wants to heighten his culinary skills. Metro Parks offers classes at its STARcenter on 19th Street in Tacoma. Most classes are $25.
The Bayview School of Cooking in Olympia offers cooking classes often taught by noteworthy chefs.
10. Give Relaxation and Rejuvenation
The Cedarbrook Lodge in SeaTac has a holiday stay and spa package. It includes one night in a deluxe room and choice of a spa treatment (the spa opened in September) like a cinnamon spice body scrub. It’s a great treat to give your out-of-town guests who fly in. However, we think this is a gift you should give yourself this holiday season (especially if you are hosting out-of-town guests!). There are several packages available, some starting at $149 a night. The holiday package starts at $399 a night.
Photo courtesy 1. Tim Heneghan; 4. Kenmore Air; 7. Argosy Cruises