The Best Non-Gift Gifts, According to Our Editors

Not all good things come in small packages—in fact, the best ones may not come in boxes at all, as evidenced by these experiential (and last-minute-friendly) gift ideas.

December 18, 2018

By Vancouver Magazine

The 2019 World Junior Tournament

Many Vancouverites will find Canucks games under the tree, but the NHL won’t be the best hockey ticket in town this year. That’ll be the World Junior Championship, which goes from December 26 to January 5. Yes, this is more of an event than an experience, per say, but if you’ve never been to a national hockey tournament (and judging on the prices when the Olympics were in town, it’s probably a safe bet you haven’t), it’s not at all like a typical game at the Rog’. While all the games will be fun, there’s nothing really like putting on the Maple Leaf and cheering on your country. Plus, Canucks prospect Michael DiPietro is likely going to be Team Canada’s goaltender, so might as well get on that train early. Though cheaper than the Olympics, these babies aren’t exactly light on the wallet: Canadian matches are going for $200 per on the resale market. Let’s hope you saved a little in the last eight years.—Nathan Caddell, associate editor

Dance Workshop with RSVP33

Any gift that involves Beyoncé and a healthy dose of endorphins is a win in my books—and since Queen Bey isn’t going on tour anytime soon, RSVP33 will have to do. The local company is known for its beginner-friendly dance classes that are choreographed to classic Knowles joints like “Crazy in Love” and “Formation,” but it also teaches moves to infectious tracks by everyone from Taylor Swift and Dua Lipa to Outkast and Bruno Mars. Purchase a six-week workshop package ($105) for your most Bey-obsessed or workout-loving pal and drop in for a session ($20) with them for some QT—you’ll be surprised by how much of a sweat you work up.—Lucy Lau, style editor

Spa Night at Circle Wellness Studio

I wrote about this secret East Van spa a few months ago, but recently I got to actually take it for a spin myself, and now I’m dreaming about gifting it to everyone I know who deserves a little R&R (so… everyone). The whole open-air circuit ($98 for one person) takes about an hour and a half and is downright magical, starting with an open-air rain-shower scrub and soak in the extra-deep cedar tub, and finishing up with a spell in the custom “Well Pod” salt sauna. You emerge feeling limber, rejuvenated and warmed up from the inside out.—Stacey McLachlan, executive editor

French Classes at Le Centre Culturel Francophone

For the last decade or so, I’ve told anyone who will listen that some day I plan to live in France (cheese, wine, repeat). But it occurred to me on my last visit that I needed more than a little brush up on my high school studies (which were, erm, more than a decade ago). After a little sleuthing around, I discovered Le Centre, and I can’t recommend it enough. They’ll assess your level before you start so you don’t have that deer-in-headlights look in your first class while everyone’s conjugating the eff out of things around you. Classes are mainly about conversation, with a little homework to keep you working between them, and all the teachers are native French speakers. Plus, everyone’s just so damn nice. It’s a sweet way to spend a Tuesday night, ou, c’est un grand plaisier. —Anicka Quin, editorial director

Meat Me Subscription

I am an unabashed meat eater, but I’m also father to a thoughtful daughter who does things like send me Instagram videos taken at a commercial abattoir that make my hair curl. My solution to this quandary came in the form of chef Trevor Bird of Vancouver’s Fable and Fable Diner. He and his partners at MeatMe aren’t the first to try to connect consumers with the ranchers and farmers who raise animals ethically, but they’re by far the most user-friendly and transparent. Every two months or so I place an order (ground pork and ground beef are key as is the insanely good beef jerky) and it gets delivered, frozen, in a cardboard cooler. None of is cheap—and meat shouldn’t be cheap—but I find that many of the items (like the aforementioned ground beef and pork) are not much more than the industrial God-knows-what’s-in-it blend from the local supermarket and actually cheaper than fancy stores with so-so meat like Meinhardt. It’s changed my view about my carnivorism—I eat a bit less meat, but the stuff I eat tastes better and makes me feel better and that seems like something I’d like to introduce to a friend through a thoughtful gift. But don’t forget the jerky.—Neal McLennan, food editor

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