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3 Ways to Give Better This Holiday Season

With the holidays approaching, the hunt for gifts is on.  But if you’re like me, you’re looking at your list of people to shop for and thinking “What do I give to the person who already has everything?”  According to psychology, the answer is experiences.  

Several psychological studies conducted over the past decade look at material goods, experiences, and the longevity of the happiness they produce.  They found when a person buys or receives a material item, they are happiest in those first moments, but their happiness almost instantly dwindles and continues to diminish as the object loses its novelty.

However, when a person has an experience, say attending a concert or taking a trip.  It produces longer lasting happiness.  Not only does the person experience happiness during the event, but weeks, months, in some cases even years later, memories of that event can still cause that person to feel happiness.  This is especially true if the event was experienced with friends or loved ones who reminisce about it together.

Here are a few ideas to get you started on your experience giving this season:

1. Classes or Activities

Photo by @kimbentleyfit on Instagram

Eau Claire offers a wide variety of classes and memberships for those on your list who are movers and shakers and like getting out of the house in the winter months.  Try a few sessions of yoga at Latitude 44 for that person who needs a little more relaxation in their life.  Cheers Pablo paint and sip classes are perfect for those with artistic flare.  A YMCA membership is a worthwhile investment if you want to get the whole family up and moving.  Here are a list of other local activities as inspiration:

  • Children’s Museum membership
  • The Center- from art to Zumba, they offer a variety of activities to help “find your center”
  • Swan Lake Ballet Studio- offers adult beginner ballet lessons
  • L.E. Phillips Senior Center-see calendar of events online
  • UWEC Continuing Education-classes for fun and enrichment or professional development
  • Cooking Classes at the Forge
  • Dragonfly Dance and Wellness
     

2. Gift cards

Photo by @adventuremomec on Instagram

Give a gift card that will encourage the recipient to have a new experience or treat themselves.  Know someone who keeps saying “I’ve been meaning to check out The Local Lounge”?  Get them a gift card for the newly renovated bar/restaurant.  Have a friend who’s never tried sushi before?  Get them a gift card to Ninja Sushi.  Has it been years since your parents have gone out for a nice dinner and to a movie?  Get them gift certificates for Mona Lisa’s and the downtown Micon Cinema. Know someone who needs some help lowering their stress levels? The Honey Pot Massage Therapy and Flotation Center offers a variety of services to help with that.


3. Coupon for a one-of-a-kind date night

Photo by @jmoze01 on Instagram

Remember when you were a kid and for Mother’s Day you gave your mom a packet of coupons that said things like “This coupon entitles you to one free hug,” or “This coupon may be redeemed for one chore done without complaint”?  Do a more grown up version of that this year.  This doesn’t necessarily have to be for a significant other, either.  Tactical Escape 101 is a great way to get a group of friends together for some serious bonding.  Know your sister’s favorite band is coming to the cities but tickets aren’t on sale yet, give a coupon promising to buy tickets and rock out with her.  It doesn’t have to be an expensive date either.  The Hobbs Observatory in Beaver Creek gives a free star/moon gazing presentation the third Saturday of every month (more romantic than you might think).  There are a handful of free outdoor ice skating rinks in the area as well.  Follow it up with a cup of hot cocoa at Acoustic Cafe and that’s not a bad way to spend a Saturday night for less than 10 bucks.
 

Like most things worth doing, giving an experiential gift might take some extra effort or at least some creative thinking.  These ideas might not be for everyone on your list, but it’s the type of gift giving that shows you know the recipient well and took an extra minute to think about what would make them truly merry this holiday season – even if you made the decision last minute.  Happy Gifting!

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Hacking the Holidays: 4 Local Artists You Can’t Miss This Holiday Season

By EC Insider, Katie Forsha

Forget about pushing your way through sweaty crowds this holiday season, even the best Bluetooth speaker or newest cashmere sweater has nothing on gifts made with love by local artists. Whether you’re a jewelry fanatic or a foodie in search of new treats, get your browser ready to search these awesome products from some amazing local artisans.

1. Soy-N-Suds

No matter who is on your shopping list this season, Soy-N-Suds has gifts that everyone will enjoy. The owner, Roxanne, is always happy to share her passion through creative organic products. Starting with candles and lotions in 2001, she has expanded her business to bath bombs, lip balms and more, all at affordable prices. The Cherry Blossom soap bar has proved to be popular among is the citrus lovers, while the Vanilla Bean scent is a staple for anyone. For all the men out there, I recommend going with the Courageous soap bar if you’re looking to stay smelling fresh under the mistletoe this year. Based out of Augusta, Wisconsin, you can find Soy-N-Suds on Etsy to find more adorable and great-smelling gifts.
 

2. Tangled Up in Hue

Those of you located in Eau Claire probably already know about Tangled Up in Hue, and if not, you are seriously missing out. This downtown store highlights the work of over 100 local artists, with the kindest – and funniest – owners running the business. Along with clothing, jewelry and accessories, they offer posters and banners with relatable sayings, perfect for any young adult with a good sense of humor. They also have a variety of jewelry and some delicate dream catchers perfect for dreamers of any age. With such a wide variety of unique items, shopping here will insure that your gift will be a conversation piece this holiday season. Check out their store at 416 S. Barstow to peruse their one-of-a-kind handmade pieces, but fair warning: it’s addicting.
 

3. Magic Dippers

This next artist provides gifts for all the food lovers out there. No one can resist a good dip, especially when preparing for a packed house this season. You’ll quickly find that the hardest part of ordering from Magic Dippers is deciding what flavors you want most. The best sellers include ‘Creamy Cucumber’ and ‘Garlic Onion and Chive’, which call for some sour cream and mayo to be mixed in and then refrigerated… easy as that! Each pack of seasoning comes with recipes on the back of the label, which is perfect for those of us who are not so creative in the kitchen. For your sweet tooth, the ‘Mocha Cappuccino’ flavor is perfect dipped with pretzels, and can even be used in a no-bake cheesecake. Do yourself a flavor and get connected with Magic Dippers on Facebook to search the endless flavorful options.
 

4. Rustic Twist

And lastly, for those of you looking for some particularly unique, decorative pieces, Rustic Twist is calling your name. Deonne and Tina offer custom designs ranging from furniture to casual décor, all with a rustic touch. Among their most popular holiday pieces are their holiday wreaths and festive signs. My personal favorite is the wired Christmas card display, which would add the perfect holiday element to any household. If you or anyone you know has a niche for rustic and delicate pieces, check out Rustic Twist on Facebook to find beautiful art for this holiday season.


Even if you’re not so crafty yourself, giving your loved ones handmade gifts is as easy as reaching out to local artists and finding the perfect, unique piece! Whether it’s shopping in downtown Eau Claire or finding a local artist’s Etsy shop, keep it local this holiday season!

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