Thursday, December 11, 2014

Experience Chicago: Give Your Loved Ones Outside-the-Box Presents This Holiday Season

Disclosure: This post originally appeared on ChooseChicago.com, where I am a contributor. 

What do you get the person in your life who has everything for the holidays? Or the kid in your life who already has a toybox packed with toys? Consider gifting a unique Chicago experience! Here are seven meaningful gift ideas that will bring the best of Chicago into the life of your loved one. 
The gift of live theater is a gift that keeps on giving throughout the year, and one that the whole family can enjoy. The Chicago Children's Theatre's Holiday Passes are the perfect gift for that special kid or family in your life: CCT's Holiday 2 Pass is $60, and is good for two admissions to any performance in Chicago Children's Theatre's 2014-15 season, while the Holiday Family 4 Pass is $120, and covers four admissions.
All tickets are completely flexible, so lucky giftees can chose to spread their admissions across two shows, or let their Family 4 Pass fund a fun family outing to Chicago Children's Theatre. Chicago Children's Theatre Holiday Passes arrive ready-to-present in a holiday gift envelope and include a small gift from CCT. Both passes offer up to 20% off single ticket prices, and no fees. To purchase, head over to chicagochildrenstheatre.org.

Shedd Aquarium

The Shedd Aquarium's Trainer for a Day program is a gift that no marine animal-loving kid or adult will forget: The incredible program gives guests an exclusive chance to go behind-the-scenes at this world-class aquarium, home to 32,600 marine animals, from snails to whales. The Abbott Oceanarium's three million-gallon tank makes it one of the largest indoor marine mammal facilities in the world. You'll spend the day assisting a trainer with daily routines and lending a hand with training and feeding sessions at the Oceanarium.
This once-in a lifetime experience is hands-on and personalized: you'll be able to watch as meals are prepared for five dozen animals in the marine kitchen, step into reserve areas and stand poolside, learning and participating in the day-to-day duties of the trainers. The best part, though, is the unforgettable chance to interact with the dolphins, belugas, sea otters, sea lions, and penguins. The program is open to adults and children ages 12 and older - children ages 12-15 must be accompanied by a paying adult - with pricing starting at $325 per four hour session. In addition to the premier Trainer for a Day program, the Shedd also offers private penguin encounters, beluga encounters, and behind-the-scenes tours. Visit sheddaquarium.org or call 312-939-2438 to reserve your spot.

iFly

Give the gift of flight with iFLY Indoor Skydiving. iFLY Indoor Skydiving's two Chicago area venues in Rosemont's MB Financial Park (5520 Park Place) and in Naperville's Freedom Commons (1752 Freedom Drive) are offering a variety of flight packages, gift baskets and gift certificates. iFLY is also a perfect "staycation" destination to beat the winter blues with an excursion that will thrill everyone in the family. The Earn Your Wings basic package includes two flights for $69.95, while the Spread Your Wings for Two gives four minutes of flight to be shared by two people, including videos and a personalized flight certification for $141.24.

Give the gift of pampering with a Leah Chavie Skincare Boutique gift certificate for a holiday inspired cranberry and pomegranate enzyme treatment. The cranberry treatment uses the fruit enzymes to gently dissolve dead skin cells; The enzymes also have antioxidants and anti-aging properties. Leah Chavie Skincare Boutique is a research-inspired skin destination, physically designed and fashioned with the most high-tech equipment and exclusive treatments on the market. Best of all you can purchase a certificate for the cranberry and pomegranate enzyme treatment - or any of Leah Chavies signature facials - online at leahchavie.com/shop.

312 Chicago stands out as one of the city's favorite restaurants for authentic Italian cuisine. A gift card to attend one of Chef Luca Corazzina's Scuola 312 cooking classes is for the foodie in your life: participants learn not only a variety of culinary techniques but they also have the chance to enjoy the dishes that are cooked. Every guest will also receive recipe cards and a bottle of 312 Aged Balsalmic Vinegar. Classes are $45 per person. For more information call (312)696-2420 or email Holly.Sandberg@312Chicago.com

Steppenwolf Theatre

Steppenwolf Pass will bring live theater into the life of your loved one, letting them create their own season experience with the Tony Award-winning Chicago theatre company. Good for either three or five tickets to any play in Steppenwolf's 2014/15 subscription season, the Steppenwolf Pass lets you mix and match plays so you see what you want, when you want. And, with the Pass you save up to 40% off regular ticket prices!
The 3-Play Pass is $150 and the 5-Play Pass is $250-that's just $50 per ticket. Instead of paper tickets, the Pass is a plastic, wallet-friendly card. Once you've made your seat reservation through the box office, simply present your card at the window up to 15 minutes before showtime to pick up your tickets. Gift certificates can be purchased for any dollar amount and are redeemable for tickets to any Steppenwolf production. If the total amount of the gift certificate is not used for the first transaction, the remaining balance can still be applied to future ticket purchases. For more info, visit the Steppenwolf Gifts page.

Gifts for gorillas? Presents for primates? Give special gift items directly to the animals from yourself or on behalf of a loved one and support Lincoln Park Zoo, Chicago's free zoo, one of the oldest in the U.S. Select from a wide range of fun, interactive and essential animal care gift items at www.lpzoo.org/wishlist. Some special gifts include boomerballs for an Amur tiger, full-length mirrors for fabulous flamingos, special food items for specific species and much more. Gifts range from $1 to $100. Then, plan a trip to the zoo together with your loved one, where you can see your gift in action. 

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