Experiences count: Go outside the box in gift-giving

Photo by Cherie Hicks Genevieve Timm of Hollidaysburg zips along Seven Springs Resort’s Laurel Ridgeline Zipline Tour. The gift of tickets to an outdoor experience, a sporting event or concert are just a few ideas for holiday giving.

The best Christmas gift I ever gave was a tandem skydiving experience for my sister a few years ago. Of course, I wasn’t going to let her jump out of that perfectly fine airplane with strangers, so I got one for me, too.

It was an experience that neither one of us will ever forget and was reinforced by my 20-year-old, who said to me recently: “I don’t want things for Christmas, Mom. I want experiences.”

This goes beyond typical gift cards, although those often can buy great times at a spa or the movies. And it would be prudent to know that the recipient has an interest in partaking of the experience — my sister and I had discussed for several years our dreams of skydiving.

For example, don’t give a gym membership — or a certificate for botox injections — to someone who hasn’t expressed interest in one.

If your gift recipient likes to get out of town, you can get him or her tickets to a Penguins, Pirates or Steelers game in Pittsburgh. Or a half-day fishing trip out of Cape May, N.J. The possibilities are endless.

If your loved one has been thinking about soaring through the sky, Skydive Happy Valley at the Mifflin County Airport offers gift certificates for the $225 novice tandem jump. Closed for the season until March, you can call 866-258-7597 to make gift purchases now, said the general manager, Brent Hutchings.

Speaking of Happy Valley, Penn State and State College are home to several venues with regular sporting and entertainment opportunities. The Bryce Jordan Center hosts the Harlem Globetrotters in February, Florida Georgia Line in March and several Penn State basketball and hockey games in between. Tickets would make great stocking stuffers.

If a loved one wants to learn to ride the slopes, Blue Knob Resort has a one-day “learn to ski” package starting at $60. A littler further way, at Seven Springs Mountain Resort, a gift card could be used for skiing this winter or ziplining through the trees this spring.

Call Galactic Ice in Altoona for ice-skating opportunities.

For the baseball enthusiast who doesn’t want to leave town, the Altoona Curve has several options for gift giving.

The 2017 season passes are now on sale at the box office at Peoples Natural Gas Field, which is open 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday, and they start at $284. There are cheaper “mini-plans” and “flexbook” packages, which “also work well for gifts, said Nate Bowen, director of group sales for The Curve. Individual game tickets will not go on sale until the spring.

An affordable option is the 2017 Altoona Curve Holiday Book for $35, which Bowen said is the “perfect gift for your favorite Curve fan.” In addition to a limited edition Loco Christmas ornament, it includes four general admission ticket vouchers, concession coupons and other discounts.

Your gift recipient doesn’t have to wait until spring to punch tickets for a number of shows at the Mishler Theatre in downtown Altoona, where concerts, symphonies and musicals are staged year-around.

The Altoona Symphony Orchestra has two concerts left in its 2016-17 season, on March 18 and April 8. So does the Altoona Community Theatre, which will stage Alfred Hitchcock’s thriller, “The 39 Steps,” in February and the classic “My Fair Lady” in May.

Call the Mishler Box Office or visit MishlerTheatre.org for a full list of events and ideas.

Also check with other local theater groups for schedules of local events.

Another source is the weekly “planner” in the Mirror’s weekly “Go” entertainment tabloid every Friday. If you want a friend or relative to check out the listings, consider a newspaper subscription as a present.

If you have an art or history buff on your shopping list, consider giving memberships to the Southern Alleghenies Museum of Art or the Blair County Historical Society.

Besides the satisfaction of helping to bring art into area schools, a SAMA membership also helps fund the museum’s different operations, including keeping the doors open to the public for free. And, you get to hang out with like-minded folks.

SAMA memberships are as cheap as $25 a year; that level gets recipients invitations, recognition and a subscription to printed materials. A $100 sponsorship gets reduced rates for receptions, lectures, luncheons and other programs.

Similarly, membership in the Blair County Historical Society gets the recipient regular updates, special access to the research library, exclusive invitations to certain programs and certain discounts, and more.

So, if you’re looking for that unusual gift, think outside the box. The sky’s the limit.

Mirror Life Writer Cherie Hicks is at 949-7030.