Gift Card Guide (2008 Edition)



Gift cards to Starbucks, iTunes, and Amazon might be an easy solution to your gift-giving conundrums but, they can be a little—how shall we put this gently?— boring, not to mention lazy. This holiday season, why not try one of these more inspired gift certificate ideas instead.

Cooking Classes: MacMenamin’s Grill & ChefWorks, whose interactive cooking events recently were ranked #1 on the Food Network’s Top 5 show, offers gift certificates to cooking classes held throughout the year. The restaurant also has classes designed exclusively for kids. Visit macmenaminsgrill.com for schedules.

DJ Lessons: If your son or daughter is a wannabe DJ, let him or her learn from the best with private lessons from a celebrity DJ. The lessons, given in Manhattan, offer advice on everything from music theory to how to mix and beat juggle. Lessons start at $135 for one hour. For more info visit cloud9living.com.

Hot Air Balloon Ride: Your recipient can float in an air balloon, courtesy of Above the Clouds, a Middletown, New York-based company, sipping Champagne and enjoying a light breakfast (if it’s a morning ride). The cost to you: $249 and up. Learn more at abovethecloudsinc.com.

Go Karting: For any four-wheel fans, a gift certificate for a go-kart race at Grand Prix New York in Mount Kisco is a great idea. Mario Andretti wannabes will get a uniform, a helmet, and a 10-minute crash course (no pun intended) on how to race. Prices start at $35.50 for one race, which includes a one-day membership. Each additional race is $25 and package deals are available. Go to gpny.com for more.

Make Your Own Wine: At MYO Wine in Elmsford, students learn everything from crushing and pressing grapes to bottling and creating their own labels. The most popular gift certificate costs $375 and covers a winemaking course for two that yields two cases of wine. Courses in wine appreciation also are available and start at $85. Visit myowine.com for details.

Inspired Generic: Notice the price of gas? Help a friend by giving him/her a gas card (you can spend any amount). Another good idea? Magazine subscriptions. If you’re not sure which mag to get, head to magazines.com, which allows the recipient to choose their favorite. (They also offer e-gift cards, in case you procrastinated.) Of course, we highly recommend a subscription to this magazine (just click on westchestermagazine.com). Then there’s Netflix, which offers gift certificates ranging from one month to a full year of service. They can be used to establish new memberships or as credit to an existing account.