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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Giving the gift of experience is easy in Spokane

In Kathy Gustafson’s family, the gift of an experience often means much more than a traditional present.

“Not only to each other, but even to people we meet,” said Gustafson, marketing director of the Spokane Symphony. “You could go to the Nutcracker and meet somebody at the grocery store and start talking about this great experience that you both share together.”

Spokane has myriad options for holiday gift-giving that centers around an experience: plays and performances, ice skating, aerial yoga, printmaking, knitting, painting and much more.

Gustafson said she can understand a parent’s reticence at first, worried whether a child will be excited about an activity they cannot do immediately, but there are ways to work around that. She gave the example of the Pixar in Concert show on Jan. 25 and 26, which shows a montage of all Pixar movies with the symphony playing the scores.

“You can really do fun things leading up to it,” Gustafson said. “Every Saturday, you could have a Pixar movie night and you have an experience while you’re building up to the super cool experience you’re going to have.”

Brianna McCracken, Spokane Civic Theater marketing director, said the mini-season ticket package is popular during the holidays. For $100, it includes two main stage shows and two studio shows.

“It’s a great gift for anyone who enjoys the arts in any capacity, because they’re able to choose their own adventure,” McCracken said.

Loved ones can test their wits with Think Tank Escape Rooms. Owner and director of operations Jolene Savelesky said they currently have two different rooms: Mayan doomsday archaeological adventures and booby-trapped bomb defusal, and each room takes an hour, costing $30.46, including tax.

“Escape rooms are really hot right now,” Savelesky said. “People call me from all over the country buying gift cards for their friends and family that live in Spokane.”

For the relative who’s ready to join the circus, Coil has a 90-minute introduction to aerial yoga class for $25, which Courtney Rowland, Coil studio manager, assures is completely beginner friendly.

The studio – located in the Washington Cracker Company building – offers burlesque, belly dance, traditional yoga and more.

Rowland said she prefers experience gifts because she prefers “avoiding clutter, not only clutter, but waste, in such a material time.”

Another option for a loved one who craves physical activities is an unlimited ice pass for the Skate Ribbon at Riverfront Park. For those 12 and under, the pass costs $29.99, and for adults, $34.95. For an additional $17.95, the pass includes skate rental.

Another option is the parks value pass, which is good for a day and includes skate rental and ribbon admission, Sky Ride admission and unlimited carousel rides. For adults, this costs $24.81, and for children $20.26.

Not far from Riverfront Park is Mobius Children’s Museum and Mobius Science Center. An annual family membership (two adults in the same household and any four children) to either costs $125; for the “Dual Adventurer” pass, $175.

Movie buffs might enjoy the $70 annual pass to the Garland Theater; each additional pass costs $65. Other than special events and film festivals, the pass – which is designated to a specific person – provides admission to every Garland showing.

“You don’t need to go to the big theater chains to see movies,” said Stephen Colvin, Garland general manager. “You’re also supporting a local business, and it’s just a nice way to get out with your family with some affordable deals for movie-going experiences.”

For the crafters in the family, Spokane has many options. Thom Carraway, Spokane Print and Publishing Center co-founder, said the studio offers $25-50 classes in letterpress printing, screen printing, relief carving, book binding and digital publishing.

Carraway said the classes are “designed to be accessible to entry-level people who are interested in these things, but might not know that much about what they are, but also, don’t have access to any kind of equipment of their own.”

Another perk? You get to take home whatever you make. This is also the case with the paint and sip classes with Pinot’s Palette, which cost between $36-45 depending on the class and includes “everything you need to create your own masterpiece,” owner Jackie Casey said.

“I think that people nowadays are moving towards having experiences rather than more junk,” Casey said.

Sew E-Z Too also offers a variety of classes, including a weekly two-hour knitting and crocheting class for $20 a month, or a two-hour Brazilian embroidery class for six weeks for $65.