Giving the Gift of Experience

Some creative ideas for every personality type on your holiday list

This holiday season, let’s be a little more creative in our gift-giving. Instead of buying essentially inconsequential things, let’s think about creating memories. Here’s a list of fun, local experiences that the various personality types in your life will be sure to remember.

For the Art Enthusiast

Painting with a Twist has taken Delaware by storm with its mantra: Sip. Paint. Relax. Four locations in New Castle County offer a fun night out with step-by-step painting instruction from local artist instructors. Classes include all materials—easel, paint, and mat—as well as complimentary adult beverages and soda.

In addition to its typical lineup, Painting with a Twist Wilmington owners Stephanie and Jay Pomante host two recurring special events—Paint Your Own Pet (PYOP) and Painting with a Purpose.

PYOP allows you to submit a quality picture of your dog or cat (or other pet) to have it pre-sketched on your canvas by one of the instructors before you arrive to the class.

Bi-monthly Painting with a Purpose classes raise funds—50 percent of the sales—for a specific nonprofit organization. The 2018 February and March recipients will be, respectively, the Pennsville Community Arts Center and the Alzheimer’s Association.

1812 Marsh Rd., #409, Wilmington, 746-2907, paintingwithatwist.com.

For the Nature Lover

Longwood Gardens is “anything but dreary” during the winter months, says Patricia Evans, communication manager. New next year, in tandem with its Winter Blues Festival (to be held in March), Longwood will have blue flowering plants throughout the main conservatory.

“It will be filled with plants like poppies, hydrangea, cornelius,” says Evans. “The Conservatory will be a picture-perfect setting for amateur and professional photographers.”

In addition, there will be blue-inspired workshops and lectures like “Fabric to Dye For,” where participants will be able to make their own indigo dye vat.

Evans recommends purchasing a membership to save on food and classes. The best part about membership levels two and above is that “you can be flexible in who you want to bring to visit the Gardens,” says Evans. So bring your mom, dad, friend or significant other with you as you explore the great outdoors, indoors.

1001 Longwood Rd., Kennett Square, Pa., 610-388-1000, longwoodgardens.org

For the Handy(wo)man

NextFab’s Woodshop. Photo courtesy of NextFab

NextFab is Wilmington’s newest makerspace, where artists, woodworking enthusiasts, computer whizzes and entrepreneurs can learn, grow and make things. Located in the West Center City neighborhood of Wilmington aptly named the “Creative District,” the third NextFab (there are two in Philadelphia) occupies 10,000 square feet in a former photography studio.

Says Laate Olukotun, director of marketing: “November and December are the busiest times in the space because people (members) are making gifts for their family and friends.”

Plus, to get you into the holiday spirit, NextFab will offer “…a handful of holiday workshops like ‘Make Your Own Electric Snowflake,’ where you will solder and work with circuit boards,” says Olukotun. This class is open to members and non-members ages 10 and up.

In addition, new this year, NextFab will offer four woodworking class (gift) packs, which will include a fully guided experience through a series of discounted classes and include a NextFab membership. Here are the options:

$50 – Make Your Own Cutting Board
Pilot Membership:
• Access to classes for one month
Included classes:
• Orientation
• Shop Safety
• Wood Preparation

$150 – Learning the Lathe
Pilot Membership:
• Access to classes for one month
Included Classes:
• Orientation
• Shop Safety
• Intro to Lathe
• Bowl Turning

$250 – Woodworking Foundations
Community Membership:
• Three days/month for two months
Included Classes:
• Orientation
• Shop Safety
• Wood Preparation
• Table Saw
• Finishing Basics
• Hand Tool Basics

$500 – Complete Techniques
Community Membership:
• Three days/month for four months
Included Classes:
• Orientation
• Shop Safety
• Wood Preparation
• Table Saw
• Finishing Basics
• Hand Tool Basics
• Intro to Lathe
• Bowl Turning

503 N. Tatnall St., Wilmington, 477-7330, nextfab.com

For the Sports Fan

The 2018 Wilmington Blue Rocks offer entertaining minor league baseball. Instead of splurging for full or half-season packages, try one of the more affordable Mini Plans. There are three packages: 6, 9 or 12 games; day of the week, and the flex plan. All Mini Plan holders receive: A member gift (next year will be a Blue Rocks cap), an invitation to the member appreciation picnic on July 24, tickets to fireworks or giveaway games, and a flexible ticket exchange policy (and much more). In addition to those holder benefits, “each plan provides customers with a dedicated sales representative,” says Stefani Rash, director of ticket sales.

If the Mini Plan is not enough, give a full-season plan so your recipient not only receives a commemorative booklet, but also a plaque with his or her name on their season seat.

801 Shipyard Dr., Wilmington, 888-2015, milb.com.

For the Aspiring Writer

Have a budding writer in the family? Whether they’re bloggers, poets, fiction or nonfiction writers, the 2018 Bay to Ocean Writers Conference hosted by the Eastern Shore Writers Association has something for them. The Saturday, March 10, conference at Chesapeake College in Wye Mills, Md., will have hands-on learning workshops focused on the “craft of writing,” specific genres, publishing and marketing, and social media for writers. The keynote speaker will be critically acclaimed author Christopher Tilghman, author of five novels who teaches at the University of Virginia.

Register by the end of the year for the early-bird price of $95. Regular price is $120 for non-members; $95 for members; and $55 for students with valid ID. The registration cost includes continental breakfast, lunch, afternoon snacks and all sessions, including the keynote.

Chesapeake College: 100 College Circle, Wye Mills, Md., easternshorewriters@gmail.com, easternshorewriters.org.

For the Beer and Wine Aficionado

The Dogfish Head From Grain to Glass two-hour tour leads you through off-limit parts of the brewery for a more in-depth look at the brewing and distilling process. The tour costs $30 per person with a maximum tour capacity of 20, so register early. In addition to the beer and cocktail tastings, you’ll walk away with Dogfish Head pint and shot glasses.

During the off-months, tour times may vary, so call ahead to ensure tour start times. Tours are booked on a first-come, first-served basis and are for those 21 or older.
6 Cannery Village Center, Milford, 888-dogfish, dogfish.com.

Total Wine & More offers more than just libations and gifts. It also hosts various beer, wine and spirits classes for the serious enthusiast at its Claymont location on Naamans Road. Topics range from introductory wine classes to an advanced class focused on refining one’s palette (I hear Super Tuscan wines are quite fine). Total Wine & More also arranges private wine or beer classes for a minimum of 14 attendees up to the capacity for the room. Visit their website for a list of upcoming classes.
Northtowne Plaza, 691 Naamans Rd., Claymont, 792-1322, totalwine.com.

For the Rock Fan

Firefly 2018 pre-sale passes are now sold out, so why not head to Wilmington’s darling theater, The Queen. Now managed by Live Nation, The Queen has “turned it up to 11” with its rock-heavy lineup thanks in part to Talent Buyer Christianna LaBuz, who has brought more regionally and nationally known acts to the historic venue. Here’s a short list of notable upcoming performances:

February: The Wailers (2/8); Less than Jake (2/16);
Blues Traveler (2/22)

March: Anders Osborne (3/15); Drive-By Truckers (3/28)

Still interested in attending Firefly? It will be held at Dover International Speedway on June 14-17, 2018.
Or if your recipient loves all types of music genres, consider a digital music subscription to one of the popular streaming sites like Spotify, Pandora or Apple Music for an on-demand, ad-free experience.
Firefly: 1131 N. Dupont Hwy., Dover, 855-281-4898 (ticket support), fireflyfestival.com.

The Queen: 500 N. Market St., Wilmington, 730-3331, thequeenwilmington.com.

For the Athlete

Open from late November through February, the Riverfront Rink is the perfect place to bring the family or your significant other for a leisurely skate. The ice rink holds up to 350 guests and admission is only $8 for adults and $5 for children. Skates can be rented for $3 per person. Open skate is available Monday through Thursday from 4 to 9 p.m. and skate sessions (1.5 hours minimum) are in effect Friday through Sunday at times posted on the website. The Riverfront Rink will be open through March 4, 2018. If you’re feeling extra generous this holiday season, the rink can be rented for private parties for 150 guests starting at $2,500.

308 Justison St., Wilmington, 650-2336, riverfrontrink.com.

For the Home Cook
(who takes pictures of all their food for Instagram)

Delaware Technical Community College (DTCC) offers a wide range of personal enrichment courses for those who want to expand their knowledge or technical abilities. All courses are hands-on and led by a strong network of adjunct instructors.

“This spring, there will be a range of culinary classes including vegan cooking, dumplings and tapas, samosas and flatbreads, and sushi,” says Lisa C. Hastings-Sheppard, senior special programs director in the Office of Workforce Development and Community Education.

In addition to its culinary classes, says Hastings-Sheppard, “we offer three photography courses—introductory, intermediate and advance—which allow budding photographers to learn about technique, composition and most of all, how to capture a great shot.”

And to complement all the photos you’ll be taking, DTCC will provide a Photoshop class, where individuals can learn how to enhance and edit their work. The DTCC Continuing Education spring course catalog will be out soon, so make sure to check your mailbox.

George Campus, 300 N. Orange St., Wilmington, 830-5200; Stanton Campus, 400 Stanton-Christiana Rd., Newark; 454-3956, dtcc.edu.

So, what do you think? Please comment below.