As you shop this holiday season, chances are you’re thinking of gifts that can be wrapped.
But your loved ones may be just as happy, or happier, to receive a gift that is an experience.
In fact, a study released earlier this year found that money spent on experiences can make a person happier than money spent on material items. Participants in the study conducted at San Francisco State University indicated that experiential purchases represented money better spent and brought more happiness.
Authors Ryan Howell and Graham Hill said part of the reason is experiences can create a sense of relatedness to others. With the social interaction inherent in most experiences, people are fulfilling their need for social bonding. Participants also indicated that experiences made them feel more alive.
While a material gift soon may lose its sheen, an experience could create memories that last a lifetime.
Here are some suggestions for the female friends and family members on your shopping list. Purchase an experience for her or for the two of you so you can make new memories together.
For the creative type
Bottles ‘n Brushes provides paint, a 16-by-20 canvas and a local artist to lead participants step-by-step in creating their own masterpieces. Wine and beer are for sale at the Mount Pleasant studio, or you can bring your own. Cost: $35 to $45 for two to three hours. For more info: 345-7365 or www.bottlesnbrushes.com.
Beginning to advanced potters can hone their pot-throwing skills during group classes at Fire & Earth Fine Pottery in West Ashley. Each class meets 7-9 p.m. once a week for eight weeks. Includes 25 pounds of clay, instruction on the wheel, and glazing and firing. Cost: $200. Private lessons are available. For more info: 766-2776 or www.fireandearthpottery.com.
For the nature lover
A kayak tour can take paddlers into the habitats of dolphins, bald eagles, loggerhead sea turtles, manatees and alligators. Coastal Expeditions’ guided tours last from three hours to multiple days, and explore creeks, rivers, swamps, barrier islands, abandoned rice canals or the Morris Island lighthouse. Cost: $58 for half-day tour, $88 for full day. For more info: 884-7684 or www.coastalexpeditions.com.
Coastal Expeditions also provides a ferry to the beautiful and serene Bull’s Island, a great place to explore and have a picnic. The island is part of the 64,000-acre Cape Romain National Wildlife Refuge. Cost: $30 for adults and $15 for children 12 and under. For a family of five or more, one child rides for free.
Get more out of the out of doors by hiking with a professional naturalist. Nature Adventure Outfitters offers several guided hikes in the Francis Marion National Forest. The trails range from one to five miles and include swamps, wetlands, Native American ruins, a plantation and plenty of flora and fauna. For most trails, the cost is $30 for ages 14 and up, $20 for 13 and under. Info: 568-3222 or www.natureadventuresoutfitters.com. Note: Nature Adventure Outfitters also offers guided kayaking and canoeing trips and holds several multiple-day women’s retreats each year in North Carolina and South Carolina. Last year, the retreats cost $595.
For the foodie
If she’s a Betty Crocker or wishes she could be, consider a cooking class. Charleston Cooks! offers both demonstration and participation classes. Upcoming themes include: Taste of the Lowcountry, Fresh Ideas for Dinner, Kitchen Fundamentals 1: From Stocks to Soup to Sauce, Essential Knife Skills Workshop, Cozy Comfort Foods and Chili Festival. Cost: starts at $25. For more info: 722-1212 or www.mavericksouthernkitchens.com.
If she loves to eat (or drink), she may be interested in one of the many experiences possible during the BB&T Charleston Wine + Food Festival, which takes place March 4-7. New events this year include a Wadmalaw Farm-to-Table Excursion presented by JMC Charleston,
which includes visits to the Charleston Tea Plantation, Irvin-House Vineyards and Thackery Farms. Another choice is the Lowcountry Gospel Brunch held in Marion Square. Cost: varies. The Farm-to-Table excursion is $200, the Lowcountry Brunch is $60 and Grand Weekend Passes are $420 or $695. For more info: charlestonwineandfood.com.
For the girly girl
Treat her to a massage, the ultimate indulgence. The Simple Bliss Massage at Studio Bliss Spa and Boutique uses a combination of techniques, deep-penetration lotions and oils, and promises to whisk away the aches and worries of everyday life. The West Ashley day spa also offers a Double Bliss Massage, complete with a fireplace, aromatic candles, music and wine or champagne. Cost: Varies depending on the length and type of massage. A 30-minute Simple Bliss Massage is $50. A 60-minute Double Bliss Massage is $150. For more info: 637-4478 or studioblissspa.com.
Style-conscious women may appreciate some help with their wardrobes. Charleston Style Concierge offers various packages that can include a personalized style assessment and wardrobe plan, closet edits to figure out which clothes work for the individual, personal shopping trips, styling sessions and even unlimited style assistant through e-mail. For more info including cost: 323-2466 or www.charlestonstyleconcierge.com.
For Sporty Spice
Help her reel in a big one with a fishing charter. The Charleston Angler offers fly-fishing and light tackle charters complete with rods, reels, bait, tackle and all required safety equipment. Depending on the season, the guides may target redfish, sea trout, flounder, Spanish mackerel, tarpon, sharks, spadefish or jacks. Cost: starts at $400 for four hours and up to two people on a flats boat or $500 for four hours and up to four people on a bay boat. For more info: 571-3899 or www.thecharlestonangler.com.
The Medical University of South Carolina offers a triathlon training program for all fitness levels. The six-week program shows participants skills for cycling, running and swimming and how to transition between events; provides nutrition tips; and includes entry in the indoor Wellness Center MUSCMAN Triathlon Sprint Event and a T-shirt. Wellness Center members and nonmembers welcome. Fee includes temporary gym membership. For more info including costs: 792-4141 or www.musc.edu/hsc.
Reach Kristen Hankla at email@example.com.