Think outside the box---literally---with these hands-on presents.
Tue Nov 16 2010
1. Give your favorite beer nerd a behind-the-scenes glimpse into the suds-making process during a free weekend tour of the Brooklyn Brewery. While the brew house is under expansion, the walks are abbreviated to about ten minutes. But when the larger space opens in January, 20- to 40-minute sessions will resume, allowing visitors to see the fermenter tanks and brewing systems. All tours end in the Tasting Room, where you can treat your pal to a few drinks (one beer $4, six for $20). 79 North 11th St between Berry St and Wythe Ave, Williamsburg, Brooklyn (718-486-7422, brooklynbrewery.com). Sat 1--5pm, Sun 1--4pm; tours start on the hour.
2. Your giftee can create a signature scent at Fragrance Shop New York from more than 300 natural oils—including sandalwood, vanilla and jasmine. Browse the store's bottles with the help of a patient staff member, who will help select top, middle and base notes to achieve a balanced perfume. Once drops of the chosen oils are blended in a glass bottle (the process takes 15 to 60 minutes), the finished formula is named and cataloged for easy reordering. 21 E 7th St between Second and Third Aves (212-254-8950, fragranceshopnewyork.com). Small bottle $19, large $48.
3. Doodling on a bar napkin while sipping a crappy happy-hour cocktail is a fine midweek stress reliever, but we've got something more creative—and just as boozy—to keep your spirits up. Grab a companion, clear both of your schedules on an upcoming Wednesday night and register for a two-and-a-half-hour Drink 'n' Draw session at 3rd Ward. You'll need to bring the paper and pencils (or other drawing tools of your choice), but the live model and Colt 45s are on the house. If you're not feeling artistically inclined, you can also spring for a gift certificate and let your pal go solo. 195 Morgan Ave between Meadow and Stagg Sts, Williamsburg, Brooklyn (718-715-4961, 3rdward.com). Dec 1, 8, 15 at 8pm; $15, with a friend $10.
4. Toast the holidays with your significant other—or impress your visiting parents—with a glass of bubbly on the Sail NYC Champagne City Lights cruise. Board the 1920s-style yacht Manhattan and bask in the twinkling skyline views as you munch on cheese and fruit and relax inside the heated, glass-enclosed back cabin. Departs from Chelsea Piers, Pier 62, W 22nd St at the Hudson River (212-627-1825, sail-nyc.com). Schedule varies; $50.
5. We all have a few buddies who insist on waiting in the seemingly endless lines at Lombardi's or Grimaldi's. Prove to them it's possible to replicate a restaurant-quality pie at home by enrolling them in a hands-on pizza-making workshop at Pizza a Casa. In just four hours, pizzaiolo Mark Bello reveals his local sources for quality ingredients and demonstrates proper technique, from creating the dough to selecting toppings. To tease the gift, spring for a pizza wheel or paddle from the storefront's shop. 371 Grand St between Essex and Norfolk Sts (212-228-5483, pizzaacasa.com). Thu 6:30pm; Sat, Sun noon. $150.
6. Encourage your loved ones to hone their baking skills with a cupcake class at Butter Lane. After arming participants with an apron, tools and ingredients, the bakery's confectioners cover how to make two types of cake bases and two accompanying frostings, plus how to ice like a pro. The best part is the treats they'll bring home for you to taste. 123 E 7th St between First Ave and Ave A (212-677-2880, butterlane.com). Mon--Fri 4, 7pm; $50.
7. Friends who need a dose of self-confidence can learn to embrace their inner Gypsy Rose Lee in the Essential Burlesque dance series at the New York School of Burlesque. Headmistress Jo Weldon teaches classic striptease moves, including shimmies, tassel twirls and chair dances. "We [also] teach the psychology of flirtation and irresistible movement, so women have new knowledge to use in social or performance settings," says Weldon. , 440 Lafayette St between Astor Pl and E 4th St, studio 4C (212-561-1456, schoolofburlesque.com). Sun 1--3pm; four-week series $95.
8. Exercise buffs and '90s enthusiasts can get svelte while working out one-on-one with former American Gladiator Jamie Reed Kovac (stage name Fury)—sans the body-hugging metallic spandex outfits. Recipients may not learn to Hang Tough or navigate the Gauntlet, but they'll get fitness and nutrition tips as they tackle a rigorous two-hour conditioning routine at Printing House Health Club in Greenwich Village. We're sweating just thinking about it. Book appointments at newyorkfirst.com. $395.
9. It takes moderate skill to tool around with GarageBand on your laptop. It's a more challenging—and rewarding—endeavor to drop a truly righteous beat, but you and your rhythmically gifted pals can learn how to do exactly that in the "DJ Level I: Rookie Sessions" at Dubspot. Instructors demonstrate everything from how to work a turntable and mixer to beat-matching and song blending. At the conclusion, each future MC plays a live two-song mix for the class. 348 W 14th St between Eighth and Ninth Aves (212-242-2100, dubspot.com). Schedule varies; $395.
10. New Yorkers already act like they're above it all, but we have a way to back up that swagger: a bird's-eye view of the city aboard Liberty Helicopter's the Big Apple tour. Soaring past the skyscrapers and over the Hudson River at 500 to 1,500 feet, the trip flies thrill-seekers close to Lady Liberty, the Empire State Building and other towering structures, then breezes by the GW Bridge and over Central Park before settling back down to terra firma. It lasts only about 15 minutes, but it's an exhilarating ride. Departs from the Downtown Manhattan Heliport, 6 East River Piers, South St between Broad St and Old Slip (212-967-6464, libertyhelicopter.com). $180.