Top 5 Christmas Gifts from (2011 edition)

Merry Christmas from the Golden Hotel.
Photo by Heidi Kerr-Schlaefer

Last year I compiled a wonderful list of Christmas presents, and many of them weren’t actual things, but rather they were experience – the gift of theater, the gift of music, and the gift of travel. See all of last year’s recommendations here.

Because events, festivals, and travel are my areas of expertise, I’m staying with this theme of giving an experience rather than a thing for my Top 5 Christmas Gifts from, 2011 edition.

1) Dance lessons. While we were still dating, my husband bought us ballroom lessons, and we had a blast learning the waltz, chachacha and tango. Since then, through the years we’ve periodically taken dance lessons, and after experiencing the Big Band Christmas Ball this month, I think our next style will be swing. Dance lessons for you and your partner are often a great way to lineup a mandatory “date night” of dinner and dancing. There are lots of places to take lessons. In the past, my husband and I take classes through The Rhythm Company in Fort Collins, Colorado.

2) A train ticket. If you’ve spent any time in HeidiTown, you know I’m crazy about trains. I love train shows, train rides, miniature trains, and train depots. I’m not too fond of having to wait for a train, but that’s another story. Thankfully, Colorado has lots of great train rides to choose from. Around Colorado Springs check out the Royal Gorge Route Railroad with their fabulous lunch and dinner trains and lots of year-round special events. In the southwest part of the state there is the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad, and just 45 minutes west of Denver, check out the Georgetown Loop Railroad.

3) Snowshoes or cross-country skis. Ok, both of these gift ideas are actually things, but I’ve received both as gifts and they provide an excellent opportunity to experience Colorado in a new way. A ski slope is fun, but have you ever noticed how crowded they tend to be? Getting out into backcountry during the winter is breathtaking. Being on a pair of snowshoes or cross country skis is a way to get away from it all, plus, both are awesome calorie burners. It’s a win/win.

4) An  overnight-er. Last year I recommended buying someone a gift certificate to a bed and breakfast, and I still think that idea is awesome, but a hotel stay is also great. Pick a fun overnight package that includes a show or dinner. The Hotel Treatro in downtown Denver often has packages that include a one-night stay and a show at the Denver Center for the Performing Arts. For instance, during the holiday season, they have a package that includes tickets to “A Christmas Carol” playing at Stage Theater at the DCPA.

5) Babysitting gift certificates. Here’s something I’ve given as a gift and it was very well received. Give your friends or family with children coupons for you to do the babysitting for an evening. This gives them a two or three-hour window to get out and enjoy the theater, or symphony or just dinner and a movie. Trust me, your friends will think it’s the best Christmas present ever.

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