If you love the holiday season as much as we do, you're probably bursting with cheer now that it's December. You can officially harness your giddiness and bring out the ornaments, string lights, and ugly sweaters. But if there's one thing that can bring on the panic instead of the cheer as we anticipate winter festivities, it's the pressure of giving your loved ones the ultimate gift. In fact, if you're a full-throttle Christmas enthusiast à la Buddy the Elf, you probably feel the gift-giving pressure even more.
When you aren't sure what to give your friends and family for the holidays this year, consider veering away from the usual route of things. Instead, choose an experience to share with them. We're here to help you with this curated list of our favorite activities in Los Angeles that make for fun, memorable gifts. So if you're in the Los Angeles area or simply want to plan a trip out to the City of Angels, these ideas are sure to make it on your bucket list.
A Chocolate Factory Tour
For anyone who loves artisanal chocolate, a factory tour at MAST is a treat in more ways than one. Who hasn't wished they could win the golden ticket from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory? The Arts District Los Angeles MAST factory has just as much magic as Willy Wonka's digs. We'd argue that it's even more more magical, with its sleek, architectural interiors and hip packaging. You can book a tour online or in person, and at $10 per person, it's super affordable.
A Mixology Lesson
For anyone who loves cocktails and speakeasies (who doesn't?), this mixology class at The Association is perfect. Located on a discreet side street in DTLA, the loft entry is through a regal front door that looks more residential than commercial. It boasts that sexy, mysterious vibe you'd expect from a subterranean lounge. The cocktail class on offer runs every Friday evening and is led by the resident head bartender. Plus, it includes tastings and a complimentary cocktail. You can purchase your tickets on Eventbrite ahead of time.
A Floral-Arrangement Session
This gorgeous nursery is a mecca for anyone with a green thumb and love for florals. Located on Beverly Boulevard in an old open-air market building, Rolling Greens Nursery is a gorgeous and unique space. It has an on-site arrangement bar that offers private lessons with a specialist. Think of it as the nature-oriented version of the Genius Bar at the Apple Store, without the technology-induced nervous breakdowns. You can book your lessons online.
A Healing Massage Treatment
We're super excited that The Now has expanded. Since it's wildly popular and affordable, this salon gets booked up really quickly. It lives up to the hype, though (and then some), so treat your loved ones to a relaxing and effective treatment. The Now recently opened up its new Santa Monica location and is set to open a Silver Lake spot soon as well. With plenty of unique treatment options on the menu, you can't go wrong, and if you're in a time crunch, you can also opt for some quick body work.
We recommend The Healer for stress relief and energy transformations.
A Wine Festival
Sommelier or not, who wouldn't love to go to a wine festival? Especially one in a really cool space. We found one that certainly fits the bill: Uncorked Wine Festivals is hosting its first Los Angeles–based wine festival at Union Station in downtown Los Angeles on January 21. It also has a ton of food trucks and artisanal vendors joining the lineup, so you can sip your wine with some delicious food. Plus, the venue is movie-ready with midcentury décor. You can purchase your tickets through the website.
Watercolor Lettering Workshop
This watercolor brush lettering class led by Nicole Miyuki is the perfect gift for anyone who loves creating art but hasn't had a chance to take an actual lesson. And even if your loved one doesn't need a lesson, it's a nice gesture to carve out some time for them to practice their skills and do what they love. It will be held in the wonderful boutique and workshop space Urbanic on Abbot Kinney in Venice Beach on February 5. You get to keep all of the supplies you use during the lesson, from a 36-color watercolor palette to the white-and-gold ink jars.
A Bowling Lane Rental
Rent a lane at Highland Park Bowl for an evening of artisanal cocktails, good food, and, of course, bowling. We recommend giving this gift to anyone who loves historic locations, nostalgic and interactive activities, and gorgeous architecture. If you haven't heard of it, Highland Park Bowl is the newest project by 1933 Group, a collective that restores historic structures in Los Angeles.
You may recognize other locations, like the Prohibition-inspired bar Oldfield's; Sassafrass, which is reminiscent of old-school Savannah backwaters; and La Cuevita, a Mexican grotto–esque spot. You're guaranteed a good time at Highland Park Bowl; it gets busy, so rent a lane ahead of time.
A Helicopter Ride
Talk about a memorable experience… If you know any thrill-seekers, a helicopter tour of Los Angeles will make them very happy. You can purchase packages online. If you don't fancy yourself an adrenaline junkie or you're afraid of heights, you can allow them to bring a guest of their choosing instead of joining in on the ride yourself. The views are gorgeous, and it's such a fun way to experience the city from a new vantage point.
A Candle-Making Class
This Flores Lane candle-making workshop is such a fun option, especially because it's going to be held at Jessica Biel's charming Au Fudge studio. If you aren't familiar with Flores Lane, we highly recommend its candles, which are super affordable and smell amazing. There will be two lessons held in January—check out the calendar to see which one suits you best. These classes are great for anyone who loves candles and is also particularly appropriate for children to enjoy with their families.
A Couples' Massage With Sushi
A couples' massage followed by a spread of Sugar Fish sushi? This is quite possibly the best combo package deal we have ever encountered. Tomoko is a gorgeous spa with talented massage artists, so you can unwind with your partner and then stuff your faces with sushi… If that isn't love, we don't know what is. This would also be an equally fun thing to do with a best friend or as a mother-daughter excursion.
A Private Guided Meditation
If you haven't heard about Pause Float Studio yet, it's a wellness-based treatment center that focuses on guided meditation in a womb-like pod. (Yes, you read that correctly.) The pods look something like tanning beds—though they're quite the inverse in terms of health benefits—and replicate the womb environment. That may sound strange at first, but hear us out.
The private baths are composed of mineral water that is designed to alter your sensory experience. PFS explains that the elimination of the sensory overload "allows your brain to drift into the half-awake, half-dreaming theta state where meditation and creativity flourish. Levels of the stress hormone cortisol drop, while the feel-good dopamine hormone rises." Um, yes, please.