While it may be hard to believe, the holiday season is quickly approaching. With supply chain issues still persisting this holiday season, now is the perfect time to reimagine traditional gift-giving by skipping the material items in favor of gifting experiences this Christmas season.
Not only will you place an unexpected smile on the receiver’s face when they get the gift of adventure, but you’re sure to get more than a smile when they get to engage in the experience. The fact that you’d be supporting local businesses is a bonus.
Here are 16 local ways to give experiences this year in Charlotte and keep your loved ones smiling well into the new year:
What to know: The men’s nail salon is also a Man Cave. Its comfortable atmosphere makes it easy for men to enjoy or start a self-care routine. Manicures, pedicures and various foot care packages are available. Choose from the University City or Steele Creek locations.
Price: Starting at $30 for a manicure
Location: 117 Middleton Dr, Charlotte, NC 28207
Location: 2 Kenwood St, Belmont, NC 28012
Location: 322 Main St, Pineville, NC 28134
What to know: While AR Workshop offers various classes for you to give a loved one, the Holiday DIY to-go kits are an experience that can be done without having to leave home. There are a number of options that include youth projects, canvas pillow cover, porch signs and more. There are locations in Belmont, Charlotte and Pineville.
Price: At the Charlotte location, DIY ornament kits to-go start at $29.50; or sign up for a workshop such as the Textured Art Framed Workshop, where pieces start at $85. Prices may vary between locations. Not sure what to get? Go for a gift card, then you and your loved one can decide together.
Location: 324 S Mint St, Charlotte, NC 28202
What to know: Going to a Charlotte Knights’ game is always a great experience, and this year, gift giving is even easier: Hit up the team store for some new, blue team swag. ICYMI, the Knights recently unveiled a new logo and uniforms, moving to the blue family alongside many of our other sports teams. Next season’s crowd — and your gift recipient — will be donning a new hue. Go for a Knights Blue vintage tank, a crop hoodie or cap. And if you’re really feeling generous, consider a Queen Charlotte 18-game seat, which includes Independence Day.
Price: $35 for vintage tank, $70 for crop hoodie, caps begin at $28. $360 for Queen Charlotte Season Membership Partial Plan.
What to know: Go deluxe with a year of monthly date nights at home for your sweetie with Chef Greg’s Supper Club. The package from James Beard Award finalist chef Greg Collier of Leah & Louise includes three finish-at-home courses (appetizer, entree and dessert), plus a monthly gift such as candied popcorn, house made granola or seasonal jam. It also comes with notes about the month’s curated meal and first access to upcoming events and collaborations at Leah & Louise.
Price: $70/month, with add-ons available for wine, bread and delivery.
Location: Counter Culture; virtual
What to know: For the friend you always meet for coffee — send them a class where they can become a barista in their own kitchen, thanks to Durham-based Counter Culture’s Coffee at Home series. Your choice of virtual classes includes skills such as coffee cupping, brewing at home and espresso drinks at home.
Price: Starts at $25; some supplies needed.
Pro tip: Eventbrite features a list of Charlotte-based coffee classes at various area locations.
What to know: The Foodie School is “where foodie dreams come true” and a place where you can create delicious food and learn tips and tricks from chefs. The gift certificate — foodie funds — may be just what the food-lover you know needs. The class types are Standard, SLICED! Live Cooking Competition, Standard Date Night and Premium Date Night.
Price: $75-$95 for a group class. Gift certificates range from $50-$85.
Location: 7840 Lyles Ln NW, Concord, NC 28027
What to know: iFly offers a gift that your loved ones are sure to remember. With options ranging from a single visit to return options, an indoor skydiving experience may be the gift that keeps on giving. iFly is currently offering holiday sales, where you can save up to 27 percent off your purchase.
Price: Get two flights for one person for $69.99, or go for four flights shared by two people, starting at $119.99.
Location: Pickup at First Ward Park, 301 E 7th St, Charlotte, NC 28202
What to know: If CharlotteFive’s Lorenza Medley’s recent adventure on Charlotte’s Funny Bus didn’t convince you to gift it this season, well — we don’t know what will. Accompany your gift recipient on a drunken history tour around Charlotte
Price: $30 per ticket; gift cards available.
Location: Goodyear House, 3032 N Davidson St, Charlotte, NC 28205
Location: Merchant & Trade, 3030 S Church St, Charlotte NC 28202
What to know: We’ve got a whole list of options when it comes to taking someone for a drink by a fire or a dinner on a heated patio in the Charlotte area. But if you really want to go for a big experience, check out an igloo rental at Goodyear House or Merchant & Trade. You’ll have a dedicated space for your party this way.
Location: 500 S Tryon St, Charlotte, NC 28202
Location: 2730 Randolph Rd, Charlotte, NC 28207
What to know: A Mint membership could be a great gift for those who are inspired by and have a passion for the arts because it offers exclusive member discounts and benefits. Members enjoy general and special exhibition admission to both Mint locations, member-only invites to events, 10 percent discount on admission for member guests, 10 percent discount at the Museum Store and more. There are four membership levels with minimum donation amounts — Contributor, Supports, Signature and Champion.
Location: 307 W Tremont Ave, Charlotte, NC 28203
What to know: Consider a T-shirt and a gift card for a wrappable experience gift to Pins Mechanical. This family-friendly bar-cade features duckpin bowling, ping pong, foosball and more.
Price: Gift cards begin at $25; T-shirts $25
SUP (stand-up paddleboarding)
Location: Paddle Lake Norman/Paddle Charlotte: Lake Norman
What to know: Send your best friend the gift of zen — but instead of at a yoga studio, how about on the water? The Goat Boater teaches meditation and movement classes, private lessons and more on Lake Wylie. Paddle Charlotte and Paddle Lake Norman offers multi-day paddleboard and kayak rentals as well as SUP lessons. Or you can gift a day pass or a single-activity pass for access to the Whitewater Center’s SUPs.
- Gift certificates at The Goat Boater start at $100, and paddle board rentals start at $35. $50 will get you a 5-class pass to Moms, Movement and Meditation sessions. *Note: 2023 offerings will be announced in December.
- Paddle Lake Norman/Paddle Charlotte: Rentals begin at $50/day. Lessons are $75 for an individual, $55 for a couple and $45 per person for a group of three or more.
- Whitewater Center: A $35 single-activity pass or a $75 day pass for adults/$65 day pass for children will allow access to stand-up paddleboards or kayaks.
Location: 1015 Seigle Ave, Charlotte, NC 28205
What to know: Head over to Super Abari and stock up on tokens. Put them in a mason jar with a ribbon on it, and your loved one will know you want to spend a rainy day together playing pinball or arcade games. It’s a memory in the making!
Price: 4 tokens for $1
What to know: This gift is sort of a two-in-one: You’ll be giving a tee time that comes with a car detail. (Really, it’s the opposite — this is an auto detail shop with a mini golf course on site.) Your gift recipient will be able to practice their hole in one while their car gets a refresh.
Price: Express detail starts at $20
Location: 301 Bay St, Monroe, NC 28112
What to know: A date night at Treehouse Vineyards may be a great gift for a couple. The Date Night Treehouse sits 30 feet in the air, and the porch accommodates six guests. This gift comes with amazing views and is the perfect afternoon or evening getaway.
Price range: $25 per hour
Location: 2500 Dunavant St, Charlotte, NC 28203
What to know: The Charlotte Mixer Tour is perfect for small groups or people who like meeting new people. The BYOB bar bike experience makes two to three stops, allowing for guests to customize the route. It’s a gift experience that combines socializing with a bit of “exercise” for tourists and locals.
Price: Individual seats start at $44.
Editor’s note: A version of this story appeared in 2021 and has been updated.