Maine is the perfect place to combine “buy local” holiday shopping with the practice of giving experiences rather than things.
Maine is full of fun things to do and experience, and science has shown that having experiences makes people happier than owning things. So instead of heading to the mall this holiday season to buy stuff that’s been mass-produced elsewhere, consider the following local-activity gift ideas for family and friends.
For foodies. With a surprising number of top-ranked restaurants, Maine is a hotbed of the locavore movement. Several notable chefs offer cooking lessons, either through their restaurants or through local adult-education programs. We also have wineries that are gaining renown in oenophile circles. A homemade gift certificate that promises a winery tour and tasting next year will be an appreciated romantic gesture.
For health-foodies. The best food you can eat is grown locally and prepared in your own kitchen. Food co-op membership gets you access to the best of local produce and baked goods – along with exotic items that you can’t find at the supermarket – and most provide a friendly social scene with (mostly) like-minded folks who believe in cooperation. Buying a share in a CSA (community supported agriculture) or a CSF (community supported fishery) gets you the freshest, most delicious local stuff you’ll find, along with a weekly surprise, since you never know exactly what it’s going to be until you pick up your share.
For music fans. There’s live music everywhere for everyone. Give your sweetheart a night out, listening to a folk or rock act at a local nightclub. Buy tickets to a major pop act or one of the classical concerts on the schedule. The colleges sponsor great shows in almost all genres. Even the local middle and high school concerts are worth listening to and provide a great opportunity for seeing other parents.
For musicians. Every musician wants to get better, so how about music lessons? Banjo and ukulele are pretty easy to pick up, and almost anyone can sound pretty good after just a few lessons. But even accomplished guitarists, pianists, drummers and other instrumentalists – and singers – who are stuck at a certain level love to receive professional guidance and encouragement.
For outdoorsy types. Buy a family pass to the Maine State Parks and you’ll never run out of things to do and places to go. Plan a day trip to one of the state parks with a beach on fresh or saltwater. Or a hike through the woods or up above the treeline in Baxter State Park. Run a whitewater river, fish a quiet pond, or meditate in a field of wildflowers. Camp overnight in a tent or a motorhome. If sleeping outdoors isn’t your idea of fun, reserve a room in one of the tourist hotspots like Rockland or Bar Harbor and plan a series of day trips to Camden Hills State Park or Acadia National Park.
For skiers and snowboarders. No skier or boarder has ever been disappointed by lift tickets, be they for half a day or a full season. Maine has a wealth of opportunities for every locale and ability, from intimate slopes like Bigrock Mountain Mountain to the biggies like Saddleback and Sunday River. Many offer cross-country trails too.
For mariners. Many folks who don’t own boats still love a day on the water. You can rent kayaks, canoes and stand up paddleboards or reserve a berth on a windjammer for a day sail or an extended cruise. Buy a day’s worth of guided rafting on the Kennebec or the West Branch of the Penobscot. You can rent or charter a sailboat or powerboat, either in Maine for the summer, or someplace warm if you just have to get away this winter. Or take one of the Maine State Ferries for a quick out-and-back to an island.
For aspiring scholars. Encourage an interest in higher education with a visit to a college or university. While you’re there, pick up a college sweatshirt that will make your little one feel like a BMOC (or BWOC) and provide a reminder of an academic goal to shoot for. Choose one of the nearby schools or make a day trip. Any of the University of Maine system campuses and private schools Bowdoin, Bates and Colby all have fascinating stuff to see and do.
For animal people. Local animal rescue organizations have love for sale in the form of cats and dogs in desperate need of homes. You’ll transform the pet’s life along with that of the gift recipient by creating a loving partnership that supports and benefits them both. (Please discuss this one ahead of time with the prospective gift recipient. Pets should not be given as surprise gifts.) Since we’re talking Maine, maybe you’ll find a Maine coon cat looking for a new home.
For anyone. A Buoy Local gift card is a passport to just about anything that’s fun or tasty in Portland, including dozens of restaurants, night clubs, coffee shops, boutiques, custom jewelry makers, art galleries, crafts shops, bookstores and tour operators. A gift card purchase supports local small businesses and keeps the money circulating in Portland.
For a quick review of these gift ideas, visit cPort Credit Union and view this video.