Dec 9, 2015
Do Something, Brooklyn: 47 Gifts for the Lover of Experiences, Not Things
December is, of course, the time of gifts. This being Brooklyn, there are a lot of lovely things to choose from, for all the rad people on your present-buying list. But maybe your pals don’t need more pillows or earrings or candles? Besides, according to science, having new and interesting experiences tends to lead to longer-lasting happiness than acquiring more things. To that end, we’ve rounded up 47 very Brooklyn experiences that you can buy this holiday season for all your very favorite people, from classes to take to sports to try. You may want to buy some for yourself, too! We’re only looking out for your happiness.
You can learn literally anything in Brooklyn. Is your best friend a master crafter? Is your coworker itching to learn the fiddle? Do you know a lovely lady who’s just dying to do some welding? Give ’em all the gift of learning.
1. If your pal’s a jokester, improv classes could be just the thing. Annoyance Theater has month-long classes for $350—see the latest roster here.
2. UrbanGlass offers a wide range of glass-arts classes, from bead making to glassblowing to neon bending. Some are pretty pricey—a six-session hot glass sculpting class costs $760—but you can purchase gift certificates in any amount.
3. At Brooklyn Craft Company, you can make anything from a felt pet to a leather tote to crocheted metal jewelry. Gift certificates for classes start at $150.
5. For something more exotic, master fire performer Tara McManus teaches introductory fire eating classes for $75 and 8-week fire-fan classes for $200. Class list here.
6. Or for your coworker who hates his job, how about a full-on semester at Sideshow School? Offered at (where else?) the Coney Island Museum, the 15-week, $1,000 course covers sword-swallowing, glass-walking, snake-charming, and more.
7. For a different way to harness fire, the Madagascar Institute offers daylong introductory welding classes for $120.
8. For a friend who favors fabrics, the Textile Arts Center offers classes in weaving, felting, lace-making, and much more. Gift certificates start at $150.
9. Looking for something more nature-y? Twig Terrariums, makers of adorably strange little green worlds, offers private classes, date nights, and group workshops, ranging from $48.99 to $163.31
10. For something more cerebral, the Brooklyn Institute for Social Research has $50 gift certificates good toward their courses, which range from “Jacques Derrida: Deconstruction and Difference” to “Feminism, Politics, and Imagination.”
11. If you know someone who’d like to learn but aren’t sure what they’re most interested in, a gift certificate to the Brooklyn Brainery—which offers classes in everything from cryptology to the history of gin—is the perfect solution. Most classes are between $5 and $20 (though some go up to $75).
Food & Drink
We don’t really need to tell you that Brooklyn is basically the foodie (and boozy) capital of the world. Whether your giftee wants to make cheese or just eat it, there are plenty of delicious experiences you can give them. Just make sure they invite you over to share the yummy results!
12. The Brooklyn Kitchen wants to make everyone a better chef, so for the aspiring cooker in your life, a gift card here will open up a whole world, from knife skills to Christmas cookies to pig butchering. Most classes range from $45 to $95.
13. A Brokelyn cocktail book is definitely as much a present for the giver as the receiver: offering 2-for-1 drinks at more than 25 venues around Brooklyn, it’s bound to land you some free drinks too. And it’s only $25!
14. For the most discerning foodie, what could be better than Stinky Bklyn’s Cheese of the Month Club? Perfect for encouraging your friend to host more dinner parties. It’ll run you $65/month, and is available in 3, 6, 9, and 12-month subscriptions.
15. Or for the aspiring oenologist, go for Brooklyn Wine Exchange’s $45/mo Wine of the Month Club—perfect for encouraging your friend to host more party parties.
16. If you’re stumped choosing between wine and cheese, how about combining the two? Pair Wine & Cheese offers Flight School, sessions that, well, pair wine and cheese, for only $35.
17. For something more substantial that will still get you invited over for dinner, there’s Sfoglini’s Pasta of the Month Club: $75 for three months, $140 for six months, or $260 for the whole year.
18. What if your foodie wants to get more involved than just waiting at the mailbox for their next meal? New York City has more than 600 community gardens, and many have plots available to members. You may need to do a little work to find the right garden and see what’s available, but this site will get you started.
19. Or if your buddy tends more toward fermenting than digging in the dirt, Brooklyn Brewery offers a Sorachi Ace beer-making kit—everything your roommate needs to start brewin’ booze for $45.
Not everybody wants to sit around eating and drinking all the time. (So we hear, anyway.) For your friend who’s more inclined to jump around, give ’em a gift of moving, climbing, flying, or ass-kicking.
20. There’s basically nothing more Brooklyn than biking. You could get your loved one their very own new/used bike at the excellent nonprofit Time’s Up for a couple hundred bucks, or if that’s too much of a commitment, a Citibike membership is $149 per year.
21. There are just a slew of places to learn acrobatics in Brooklyn these days. Two of our favorites are Big Sky Works and the Muse—classes in trapeze, silks, hula-hoops, and more range from about $25 to $35 per session. Check out class rosters here and here.
22. If you’ve got a loved one who’s always climbing the walls, get them a membership to Brooklyn Boulders. For $115/mo, they’ll get unlimited access to the climbing facility, free yoga and capoeira classes, and more.
23. For a friend who’s super into Hunger Games, help them make like Katniss and learn to wield a bow and arrow. An intro class at Gotham Archery is only $35.
24. For a tough guy or gal who wants to get tougher—or, really, more disciplined—Traditional Okinawan Karate, in the basement of the McKibbin Lofts, offers an intro pass for $75, which includes one month of classes and a fancy new gi.
25. Or for the friend who is looking for a slightly more calming approach to fitness, Bikram Yoga Brooklyn, with locations in Brooklyn Heights and Bay Ridge, has monthly memberships for $129.
26. The North Brooklyn Boat Club works tirelessly to get Brooklynites out on the open water—sure, it’s the toxic Newtown Creek, but the group is also helping promote the waterway’s restoration. Annual membership dues are only $40 and gets your loved one lots of chances to paddle around.
27. Maybe your buddy prefers biscuits and tangs to paddles and life vests—if so, pick up Royal Palms Shuffleboard Club gift certificates. They’re available for any amount, and it’s $40/hr to play.
There is obviously no place in the world with a more incredible variety of cultural offerings than Brooklyn. So send your mom to the Brooklyn Museum, your sis to Saint Ann’s, or your dad to Issue Project Room—just get them all out into this marvelous borough.
28. Brooklyn Museum annual memberships are $60 for one person or $90 for two; members get unlimited access to the museum, library, and archives, plus invites to exclusive events.
29. St Ann’s Warehouse has three membership tiers: $65, $175, and $500. All levels offer show discounts and waived service fees, but only one will get your giftee a free glass of wine every time she walks in the door.
30. Brooklyn Historical Society also has membership tiers, from $50 up to $5,000. Members get to go to exclusive events, plus discounts on merchandise, tours, and more.
31. Memberships aren’t just for large cultural institutions: the Silent Barn has one for just $25/mo or $300 one time, which gets your pal into just about any show there ever for free.
32. Issue Project Room memberships range from $50 to $1,000 per year, and include advance ticket sales, discounts, members-only receptions, and more.
33. If your pal is bummed every year when all the good Open House New York tours are full, get him a membership, which will get him access to members-only events all year, plus a jump on everyone else during the festival itself. Levels from $50 to $1,000
34. If your roommate is mad that all the good Morbid Anatomy Museum lectures are always sold out, get her a membership, which lets her skip the line, get tickets before everyone else, plus discounts and the museum café and gift shop. Levels from $50 to $2,000.
In this insanely paced city, the gift of relaxation is worth its weight in gold. For anyone you know who’s too crazy busy to take care of themselves, buy them something that will make them feel great.
35. Body By Brooklyn offers Reiki, microdermabrasion, and even something called a Chocolate Massage; treatments range from $85 to $185, and gift certificates are available in any amount.
36. For something a little less expensive, the Brooklyn Herborium sells herbal and holistic small-batch skincare, apothecary, and healing products. Their gift certificates come in multiples of $25.
37. Get someone a traditional Russian bathhouse experience at the Mermaid Spa in Sea Gate. There’s a steam room, sauna, Jacuzzis, and more—entrance is $45, and they’re running a special in December: 10 visits for $290.
38. You’ll have to schlep out to Flushing, but Spa Castle’s Korean spa experience is tough to beat, with two floors of pools and an entire Sauna Valley, plus plenty of spa treatments on offer. And if you buy someone a gift certificate of $200 or more, it comes with a free entrance ticket for you.
It’s crazy that street tours are primarily marketed to tourists. What better way to get to know your hood than by walking or biking around with somebody who’s got all the history down? So for your college buddies who are new to Brooklyn, give ’em the gift of really getting to know this place.
39. Big Onion has been giving walking tours throughout NYC for 25 years, so they definitely know a thing or two. From Prospect Park to Brooklyn Bridge, they’ll take you deep into the architecture and history of Brooklyn. Tours are $20/person.
40. Turnstile Tours is a registered benefit corporation; they partner with local nonprofits for all their tours, and tour guides are engaged in ongoing archival and field research. They go into the Navy Yard, Brooklyn Army Terminal, Moore Street Market, and more, by foot, bus, bike, or even boat. Tours run from $22 to $42/person.
41. New company 4Urban offers African-American heritage tours of Bed-Stuy, Crown Heights, and Flatbush, focusing on history, culture, cuisine, and more. Tours run from $40 to $85/person.
42. If your friend is less into history and more into craft, Made in Brooklyn Tours goes neighborhood by neighborhood meeting makers of all stripes, from Williamsburg to Red Hook. Tours are from $35 to $50/person.
43. Or for your favorite lush, check out The Bestest Beer Tours, each of which visits several bars and brewers in Greenpoint and Williamsburg. Tours cost $75 and include a buncha beer.
Here’s just a few more experiential gifts that are kind of hard to categorize—just like, surely, all your very unique loved ones.
44. For the romantic in your life, Word bookstore offers a Romance of the Month Club, curated by bestselling romance novelist Sarah MacLean. A six-month membership is $72.
45. For your cinephile pals, Williamsburg’s fabulous Nitehawk Cinema offers gift certificates in increments of $25. They’re good for films, food, and beverages—you know Nitehawk is the movie theater that also has a bar, right?
46. For the literary lover, there are holiday subscriptions to One Story, the delightful nonprofit that sends out one short story each month, on paper or digitally. A year’s worth of new literary voices only costs $21.
47. And finally, for your favorite mystic—or anyone who is dying to know what 2016 will hold—the Tarot Society offers gift certificates, in increments of $30, $60, or $120, good for a personal tarot, palmistry, or astrology reading.
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