Experience the prep, paint, distress and protect process of repurposing furniture at classes organized by Sally DeSchane-LeMay, Nancy DeSchane and Diane Choiniere of The Painted Table in Medina.
Every year on Christmas night, Kris and Angela Breuing brew steaming cups of hot chocolate to serve to their six kids. Already donning (often brand-new) cozy flannel PJs, each child piles into the minivan, calls out his or her favorite Christmas carol request, then ogles in wonder the fantastic light displays that dot theirs and nearby Plymouth neighborhoods. It’s the tradition, the Breuings say, their children look forward to most—even with all of the hustle and bustle of the season, and the focus on holiday parties and gifts—all because it’s a gift of experience (bonus points for the fact that, save some meager coins for hot chocolate and dollars for gas, it’s completely free).
Indeed, as our senses and sensibilities are barraged with the latest “cool stuff” this time of year, Plymouth parents are fighting back by jumping on a growing trend that involves spending money on doing rather than giving. The Breuings are getting it right—any time your kids are bugging you to do something, you know you’ve hit a home run—and here are a handful of other ideas, at a variety of price points, to embrace the experience this season.
Experiential gifts don’t have to go only to family members: Consider giving your girlfriends the gift of DIY this year. Painted Table furniture-painting classes are led by co-owner Diane Choiniere; wine, coffee and treats can be an enticing add-on, for no extra charge. $95 for the basic class (one evening session). 3795 Pinto Drive, Medina; 763.478.3601; paintedtable.net
Sledding at French Regional Park
Just off Medicine Lake in French Regional Park is a local sledding hill that rivals many in the west metro. Pack up the hot chocolate and sandwiches, bundle up the kids, and head over for a winter picnic in the park. The hills are unsupervised, says Tom Knisely of Three Rivers Park District, so be prepared to keep an eye on the family. 12605 Rockford Road; 763.694.7750; threeriversparks.org
Zip-lining in Henderson
For something that’s a bit off the grid, consider a day-trip an hour south on Hwy. 169 to Henderson, Minn., home of the largest zip-lining course in the state. Kerfoot Canopy Tour offers mind-boggling views while soaring among the trees for zip-line distances that total more than 1 mile. Winter tours are available upon request and offer a far-reaching perspective. Note: Participants must be between 70 and 250 lbs., and at least 10 years old to participate. $94–$99/person. 30200 Scenic Byway, Henderson; 952.873.3901; kerfootcanopytour.com
Open Gym at Plymouth Fieldhouse
The winter months (through early April) bring the inflated Fieldhouse to life in Plymouth. The walking/jogging track is available in open hours, which can give parents of children a great way to burn off some of that pent up winter energy (or burn off the holiday sugar high); note temps inside the dome range from 30 to 55 degrees, depending on temps outside the dome. Free admission; there is a cost for some rentals. Hours vary. 14800 34th Ave.; 763.509.5280; plymouthmn.gov
Last March, on a morning that started at 0 degrees, Plymouth’s Coleman family began a day of action-packed fun courtesy of Ely, Minn.-based White Wilderness Sled Dog Adventures. A team of four to six sled dogs makes for a six-hour adventure that’s great for families and friends; participants must be ages 8 and older. Prices vary. 10121 Deep Lake Road, Ely; 800.701.6238; whitewilderness.com