Last-Minute Gifts: This holiday season, gift experiences to your loved ones

The Comfort Inn on Hall Street has a newly renovated pool, hot tub and sauna, and you can get passes for one day, three months or a whole year -- a perfect last-minute gift idea. Courtesy of Kate Fleming / Duprey Hospitality
The Comfort Inn on Hall Street has a newly renovated pool, hot tub and sauna, and you can get passes for one day, three months or a whole year -- a perfect last-minute gift idea. Courtesy of Kate Fleming / Duprey Hospitality
Jon made this little princess character for his daughter at You're Fired on Loudon Road last week. Check back next week to see how it turns out after it gets glazed and put in the kiln for about 24 hours. JON BODELL / Insider staff
Jon made this little princess character for his daughter at You're Fired on Loudon Road last week. Check back next week to see how it turns out after it gets glazed and put in the kiln for about 24 hours. JON BODELL / Insider staff
Sarah Palmer watches her son, Ronnie, play in a foam pit at Altitude Trampoline Park in Concord's Steeplegate Mall. Caitlin Andrews
Sarah Palmer watches her son, Ronnie, play in a foam pit at Altitude Trampoline Park in Concord's Steeplegate Mall. Caitlin Andrews

It’s a fascinating time to be alive right now. With the ever-accelerating pace of technology, the very nature of gift-giving is changing before our eyes. It used to be that you’d head to the mall to hit a handful of shops, then run to another town to go to a different store, then head to yet another town to grab another item and so on.

Today, it’s basically: go online, click buttons, wait for package to arrive in the mail. Sadly, this has kind of taken the fun out of shopping.

There’s also a movement away from accumulating items, with a new focus on experiences – just look at Steeplegate Mall, which has been losing retail stores for quite some time but has added places like Altitude Trampoline Park and VIParty Rentals Entertainment Center.

That’s why for this year’s Last-Minute Gift Guide, we decided to focus on experiences and fun times that you can give as gifts – and they’re all great ideas for anyone who’s in a pinch for time. As luck would have it, Concord has all kinds of places that offer fun experiences and good times for the whole family. After all, wouldn’t the 8-year-old version of yourself have preferred a pass to a trampoline park than a 12-pack of tube socks?

All that being said, there are a couple of ideas for physical gifts we’ll include here as well. These are gifts from places that you may have forgotten about, or might not know exist in the first place. We’ll start with the experiential ideas.

You’re Fired: You’re Fired on Loudon Road is a great spot for the crafty folks on your shopping list. You can choose from hundreds of options of ceramic figures to paint, then the staff will glaze and dry them for you. You can get gift cards to You’re Fired in any amount – there’s a standard sitting fee of $8 for adults and $6 for kids under 12, and the bisques (the ceramic items you paint) range from $8 to $61. You can choose the amount and choose to have it delivered directly to the recipient if you want. These can be ordered online at yourefirednh.com/gift-cards.

Red River Theatres: Is there any experience more classic than going to the movies? Red River Theatres always has an impressive lineup of films and events, and passes are a great gift for anyone of any age.

Apart from gift cards, which Red River obviously has, there are also Dinner & a Movie packages. Packages are available for Hermanos, Revival Kitchen & Bar and The Granite Restaurant. Each package comes with two Red River movie passes and a $25 gift card to the restaurant of your choice. The package is worth $47 and goes for $40 – not bad. These are only available at the box office or over the phone at 224-4600.

Escape Room Concord: If you have a puzzle hound, a super sleuth or just a know-it-all on your list, consider giving gift cards to Escape Room Concord, where they can put their skills to the test.

There are three different venues at Escape Room Concord right now – The Library, The Sanctuary and The Enigma, and each one presents its own challenges.

There are several options for gift cards. The most basic is a single ticket for $30. You can get as many as eight tickets – that package is $200. You can also get one that sort of works like a gift receipt – choose a game and the number of people and the recipient chooses the date and time without ever seeing the price. All gift card options are available at escaperoomconcordnh.com/book-now.

Comfort Inn pool passes: A hotel might be the last place you think of when it comes to gift-giving, but don’t overlook Comfort Inn on Hall Street. The hotel recently remodeled the pool, hot tub and sauna, and you can get passes for a day, three months or a year – meaning you can just go to the hotel and swim any time it’s open, no overnight stay required.

Day passes are $7, three-month passes are $300 and a whole year costs $550.

Theater tickets: If there’s someone on your list who prefers live shows over movies, there are plenty of options to choose from in Concord. Between Hatbox Theatre, the Capitol Center for the Arts and Concord City Auditorium, you’re bound to find a show that appeals to even the most discerning of theater buffs.

At the Cap Center, you can give the gift of tickets to the Led Zeppelin tribute band Get the Led Out on Jan. 12 at 8 p.m. Tickets are $25 to $45 plus applicable fees at ccanh.com.

At Hatbox, grab some tickets to Fade, which will be performed weekends from Jan. 4 to 20. Tickets are $12 to $17 at hatboxnh.com.

At the Audi, get tickets for The Nutcracker on Dec. 21 for $18 at the UPS Store or at the door. This can be an early present.

Mall fun: For the toddlers, teens and adults who just don’t want to grow up, there are two good options to be found at Steeplegate Mall – Altitude Trampoline Park and VIParty Rentals Entertainment Center (the bounce house place). The bounce house place is geared more toward the toddler crowd, while Altitude is more for the teens, although both places welcome guests of all ages. They also both offer gift opportunities.

VIParty Rentals Entertainment Center has gift cards in a variety of values – $10, $20, $30, whatever you want, really. Get one by going into the store by the food court.

Altitude is not accessible via the interior of the mall, but you can park right by the exterior door and make your way in – it’s where Circuit City and Spirit Halloween used to be. You can go to altitudeconcord.com/buy-a-pass to browse through the options, from a 30-minute Open Jump ticket to a three-hour pass for Teen Night and everything in between.

Merchandise

Squid Flip: While you’re at the mall, find the Squid Flip pop-up shop, run by 12-year-old Owen Simoes. Owen is into finding old, disused items and sprucing them up for resale, and he’ll be hawking his wares at the mall from Friday through Sunday. You’ll find his own homemade items, suitcase tables and his own line of paint, among other scores. Learn more about Squid Flip at squidflip.com.

Concord Handmade: Concord Handmade is a pop-up shop full of – that’s right – handmade items. This year the shop is at 15 Pleasant St., and it will be open through Dec. 29 (perfect for those who wait until after the last minute to do their shopping) from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 11 to 5 on Sundays. Go to  facebook.com/concordhandmade for more.

N.H. Furniture Masters: Also getting in on the pop-up shop action this year is New Hampshire Furniture Masters. The group of fine furniture-makers is hosting a one-day market at its headquarters, 49 S. Main St., on Friday from 5:30 to 7 p.m. You’ll have the chance to buy some extremely high-quality furniture made by 10 different furniture masters all in one location. If you miss the pop-up shop, the show will be on display until Dec. 31. Go to furnituremasters.org for more.

Black Ice swag: The 1883 Black Ice Pond Hockey Championship doesn’t start until Jan. 24, but it’s never too early to stock up on merch. At blackicepondhockey.com/store, you’ll find gear such as hoodies, fleeces, T-shirts, hats, socks and more. These gifts are especially good for anyone going to or playing in the tourney, but even those who aren’t can’t say no to a good Black Ice hoodie.

Author: Jon Bodell

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