After starting to prepare our basement for construction in the upcoming weeks, it quickly becomes apparent to me that as Americans we are excellent at accumulating stuff. What was once seen as an indispensable item now languishes in a box, taking up space past its useful life (I’m looking at you, handheld clothes steamer!)

For the past few years, our family has increasingly focused on giving experiences rather than gifts for Christmas. Here are a few experiences around the Dane County area that are good choices for holiday gifts:


Located in the VomFASS store in University Avenue, DelecTable offers cooking classes as well as a culinary dinner theatre. We have run a few of the dinner theaters for events, and the experience has been wonderful. Chefs prepare a number of courses in a live setting while explaining the techniques they use, and wine pairings are available to enhance the experience. For those that are gifting outside the Dane County area, consider a culinary class at Sur La Table (which also has a Madison location and does a great job).

Board & Brush Creative Studio (Sun Prairie and Middleton locations):

If you are a frequent viewer of the DIY Network (guilty!), undoubtedly you have seen simple wood creations that can have a big impact on a room. At Board & Brush, you can take a class and create a custom wood sign to take home. A variety of signs are offered, including more modern ones as well as rustic options that are on trend right now. If you are buying for someone out of town, there are studios throughout the country.

The Sylvee:

If you haven’t been to The Sylvee, you are missing out. We are very fortunate to have a premier music venue in Madison, with exceptional sound and a very comfortable atmosphere for patrons (clean bathrooms and a wide beer selection that doesn’t take 30 minutes in line to get it!) The recent acts have been really good, such as Lana Del Rey, The Avett Brothers, and Dan + Shay. There is ample room for general admission (standing), and there are also reserved seats for those that prefer to sit above the stage. There are gift certificates available on their website if you don’t want to select a show for someone.

Hopefully this helps in your holiday shopping, and feel free to comment if you have a suggestion for an experiential gift idea!

Clint Walkner