Thinking Outside The Big-Box Stores For Personal Gifts


Dr. Seuss’ Grinch was on to something when he realized, “It came without ribbons. It came without tags. It came without packages, boxes, or bags … What if Christmas, he thought, doesn’t come from a store. What if Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more.”

Skip the wrapping tape this year and give a gift that doesn’t require a box. Nonmaterial or experience gifts are perfect for loved ones who leave you scratching your head when making your holiday list and checking it twice.

Nonmaterial and experience gifts open a world of possibilities. From Airbnb gift certificates to national parks memberships, monthly subscription deliveries to hot air ballooning and paint nights, this Christmas, think outside the box stores and get your loved ones time and experiences they will cherish forever. Here are a few local ideas to get you thinking.

Almost everyone has someone on their gift list with a driver’s license and a vehicle to maintain. Most local car wash establishments, like the Great American Car Wash on Ritchie Highway, offer gift cards as well as monthly subscription packages. A good car wash in winter will get damaging road treatments off cars to keep both the vehicle looking good and its driver happy. Gasoline gift cards are another option, especially for younger or student drivers, and are perfect for the office gift exchange.

Everyone needs a little pampering now and again, as well as routine hair and skin maintenance. Severna Park and the surrounding areas are filled with salons that offer a full range of services for both men and women. Image Creators in Severna Park specializes in luxurious spa treatments, cutting-edge hair styles, and manicure treatments from a highly trained staff of specialists. Salon gift certificates are perfect for men and women of all ages because the recipient can choose their gift treatment, guaranteeing the gift will be perfect. In some cases, such as at Image Creators, a salon offers perks or discounts to clients who refer their friends, so a spa gift just might also give back to the purchaser. When purchasing a spa or salon gift certificate, always ask about client rewards programs for referrals and gift certificates for you. Teachers and caregivers might appreciate the personal treat.

Is there a relative in your child’s life who can’t come up with an idea when asked what they might like as a gift? For many, the gift of time with family is the only thing they desire. Why not consider a playdate for your child and their special friend? Kheloney is a unique and inviting place where children and adults can enjoy creative play together. Toys, crafts, books and music are just some of the free-play experiences that await. Located on Dorsey Road in Glen Burnie, Kheloney offers bilingual story time, sibling and arts and crafts sessions, summer programs and camps, as well as a happy place to celebrate with friends. One adult may accompany a child in this unique environment. There are many gyms and play environments for children, but Kheloney knows that kids of all ages love to play together, and time together is a priceless gift. Check out the free play sessions on Sunday evenings to see what makes this play space special.

For a more traditional gym experience, Severna Park has many great options for kids. Children interested in trying gymnastics or dance will love the gift of gym time, and parents will appreciate their child being able to try an activity before making a long-term investment. Docksiders Gymnastics on Najoles Road in Millersville offers entry-level classes, and Creative Dance Force in Severna Park allows up to two free sessions, or a six-week session package.

Another family friendly sports option is attending a game at the United States Naval Academy. Basketball tickets are just $10 for ages 19 and older, and $5 for students. Alumni Arena is a great place to experience college basketball in a safe and respectful environment. Special events for each halftime intermission are posted on and might include Mascot Mayhem, Frisbee dog exhibitions, high-flying trampoline slam dunk routines, or even local youth teams playing a quick scrimmage between halves. Kids can catch Navy T-shirts blasted into the crowd, timeout challenges, or meet the midshipmen or the academy’s mascot. Navy players enjoy shaking hands after a game, and the band’s playing of “Anchors Away” are memories that will last a lifetime. Individual games and season ticket packages are available.

If the hard-to-buy-for person on your list enjoys live performances, Severna Park is brimming with talented musicians and entertainers, and is a destination for international groups. Anne Arundel Community College has a full array of theater, music, dance, and art shows and performances on tap and on campus. Take a group, a friend, your family or book club to an event, or gift your favorite teacher with tickets to his or her favorite show. The Pascal Center for Performing Arts is a cultural gem with something for everyone.

So go on and get creative. Put down the sweaters, neckties and fruitcakes and remember what the Grinch learned: “Christmas day will always be just as long as we have we.”


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