This season, save time and forget about wrapping paper. Give thoughtful presents by gifting an experience instead. Here are our top ten! If you have any further ideas, comment or share them on Twitter. Don't forget to tag #VictoriaHOHOHO.
Treat someone special to Harbour Air Seaplane's most popular tour departing from Victoria's Inner Harbour. This half-hour trip is an ideal introduction to seaplane aviation and includes spectacular vistas of downtown Victoria and the Strait of Juan de Fuca, with the Olympic Mountains in the distance. Enjoy unique views of the buildings surrounding the harbour and the grand houses perched above the rugged coastline. The exhilarating spray of the water is always a highlight during take-off and landing.
Gift to Warm up
Tea warms the heart and the soul. Add a few candles and you'll have a perfect winter experience. Silk Road Tea is bursting with organic tea leaves from all over the globe. Go for a tasting to find the perfect smell and flavour for a cozy winter day. Alternatively, come to Victoria for afternoon tea to enjoy the company of a friend while the tea warms your palms.
Once the new year starts you and your friends and family will quickly fall back into the daily grind. Take a friend or give someone a chance to escape to recharge their batteries. Sometimes you don't need to be far from big city life to enjoy secluded tranquility. Visit the Blue Vista Resort on Mayne Island or the Hastings House on Saltspring Island. The Hastings House was the only Canadian hotel to be listed on Conde Nast Traveler's list of the world's top 10 small hotels, not surprising given the beautiful view, stunning accommodations and fantastic location. If you find cities more relaxing than an island paradise, book a room at Abiagail's Hotel. This intimate luxury hotel charms with beautiful heritage rooms just blocks from Victoria's bustling harbour.
Instead of gifting yet another bottle of wine, get your friends a chance to explore some new wines by inviting them on a wine tour. For the beer lovers, gift a behind-the-scenes look at a brewery tour or head to one of Victoria's many pubs and ask for a taste of local brews. And for those looking for something more unique than beer and wine, visit Merridale to taste cider. Nothing tastes better than a cider or brandy amidst the tranquility of the nearby orchards.
Turn off the phone, leave the stress behind and dive into the relaxing world of a spa. There's nothing your friends would enjoy more than a treatment that has them feeling energized, relaxed and ready to take on the new year with full force. Inspired by tea, the Silk Road Spa offers organic and 100% natural skincare. At the Boathouse Spa & Bath the ocean breeze blows all worries away, leaving only the serenity of a gorgeous view. Just make sure to tag along with your friend as you'll need the well-deserved break just as much.
Cooking Lessons with The London Chef
The London Chef is a fully interactive cooking school where students cook along with the Chef in real time. Designed to look and feel like you are cooking in your own home, students each have their own cooking stations - complete with Viking Pro ranges, sinks, aprons, and cookware sets. Designed for everyone from the novice to the seasoned cook, the London Chef offers a wide range of classes including kids' classes, singles and couples classes, lunch hour, afternoon and evening classes, gourmet boot camps and everything in between!
Not only are scarves and ties so last year(s), but they require you to go Christmas shopping at peak times and will take all the fun out of going on a hunt for the perfect accessory for your friend. Instead, take your friend out shopping. Whether you get excited about European fashion, exclusive boutiques, souvenirs, antiques or jewellery, you'll find it all in downtown Victoria. If you're still not sure you can always get a gift card to the Bay Centre. You can't go wrong with that one!
Sweet Tooth Satisfaction
Grab a cup of coffee and go on a sweet adventure through Victoria. Start at Victoria's English Sweet Shop and ask the shopkeeper to sample some of your old favourites to take you down memory lane. Next, wander along picturesque Government Street and stop by the Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory and Rogers' Chocolates. Get lost in the endless selection of chocolates, just don't eat them all at once, you still have desert to go! At last, make your way to the Bon Macaron Patisserie for a colourful, flavourful and unique finale.
A Year of Joy
Why give a gift that is only good for one time when you could give your friend or family member a full year of great experiences? The Royal BC Museum, Butchart Gardens, Butterfly Gardens and IMAX all offer full year passes that make fantastic gifts. Stick them in an envelope with your Christmas card and voila, the best present this year will be from you.
From First Nations' artifacts to Victoria's contemporary art, you'll find it all in Victoria's art galleries. The Art Gallery of Greater Victoria is not only home to works by Emily Carr and other local artist, but also showcases the only authentic Shinto shrine outside of Japan and other outstanding art from Asia. In addition to being in a beautiful location in Victoria's harbout, the Robert Bateman Centre showcases stunning works of a great wildlife artist, inviting you to reflect on your own relationship with nature.