Stuff, stuff and more stuff. It’s a tsunami of stuff right now. Everyone is vying for your holiday dollars, and there is a lot of choice. Confused? I don’t blame you. Unless you truly enjoy shopping, it can be frazzling. 

Memberships and gift certificates for classes rule. They give an experience, new knowledge, and skills, rather than a material item. Focusing on this sort of giving in the past few years, I’ve been thrilled to discover the number of choices Newfoundland businesses offer. Here’s a list of the best.

1.) Cooking skills are life skills, improving health and domestic togetherness. Erin Chafe, nutritional consultant and owner of Healthy Blossom would love to spend 90 minutes teaching you how to prepare 1 healthy and delicious appetizer, main, and dessert in the comfort of your own home, while explaining nutrition fundamentals. 1 on 1 nutrition and wellness counseling are also available. An improvement in wellbeing for the year ahead is possibly the most valuable gift you could give.

2.) Cod Sounds offers another take on the culinary skill set with a gourmet, artisanal, and often wild touch. The cooking classes cover much ground, with baking, cheesemaking, butchery being a few. Foraging tours are how I first heard of this outfit. Owner Lori McCarthy is highly respected for her knowledge of wild foods. Her passion for traditional foods makes this certificate a gift of intangible heritage, of knowledge passed down through generations. How’s that for holiday tradition?

3.) An innovative new choice this year is Strike A Chord Music School. Kids can learn an instrument through private lessons, but what makes this school different and cool is that they can also learn together with other kids in a ‘jam session’ setting. A component of current music technology is exciting, and instructor Merril Heald is skilled in the use of such equipment. 

4.) Wonderbolt Circus has circus arts classes on offer, such as hooping and aerials, all at a 10% pre holiday discount if the registration made is for gifting. World class instructor Anahareo Dolle has studied aerials all over the world and is a graduate of the National Circus School. Circus performer Benni Malone does a one man show, Upside Clown, covering a multitude of circus arts that can be hired for birthday parties, etc. 

5.) Seaberry Studios stands out for high quality workshop experiences, embracing ‘making as a way of thinking.’ Owner Paula Mendonca offers workshops throughout the year on diy skincare for both adults and babies, soapmaking, and seasonal workshops including summer skin care and a pre-Christmas event dedicated to making your own natural skincare stocking stuffers. The multi talented Maureen Power throws down with her soap expertise on the soapmaking days. 

6.) Best new membership option? The St. Johns Tool Library wins hands down. All the power tools for your project, and a Shop Vac to clean up after, for the low low price of 75 bucks. You can’t lose, except if you lose a finger, so don’t operate the tools after festive drinking. 

Runners Up

1.The Newfoundland Chocolate Company offers in depth chocolate tasting evenings, which can be held at your home, and chocolate making workshops.

2.The Rooms has tonnes of educational programs for all ages, and the benefits of this place are too many to detail. Membership here is an act of solidarity with our artists.

3.Hallidays butchers moose, and more. “We’ll cut up anything you give us” were the specifics I got when I asked. Sometimes the best experience is being saved from one, so if your hunter honey is short on time to dress their game, this is one gift certificate they’ll love you for.  Hallidays Meat market, 103 Gower. 753-8332.