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Local tastes and experiences as gifts

Red Wagon Creamery. Photo by Amanda L. Smith.
Red Wagon Creamery. Photo by Amanda L. Smith.

With the holidays just around the corner, finding the right gifts for family and friends can be a daunting task. But what if I told you this could be accomplished from home, in your pajamas, all while benefitting the local economy?

Shopping for experiences — through subscriptions and memberships — can be fun, and it helps support some of our community’s most important cultural and culinary institutions.

This town is chockfull of the arts, and most theater and dance companies are only too happy to assist you with purchasing season tickets. All of the Hult Center’s resident companies — including the Eugene Ballet Company, the Eugene Opera, the Eugene Symphony, Ballet Fantastique, the Oregon Bach Festival, The Shedd Institute and the Eugene Concert Choir — offer such deals.

Many independent theater companies, such as Oregon Contemporary Theatre, Radio Redux, Very Little Theatre, Cottage Theatre and Actors Cabaret of Eugene, also offer standalone and season tickets.

Worried you’ll pick the wrong dates? Don’t worry: Box office managers have your back. Just work with them to purchase tickets as a gift and they’ll often accommodate the intended recipient with the performance dates they require. Simple, sustainable and, again, you’re in your slippers.

If the performing arts don’t fit the bill, consider a membership to one of the many museums in town: The Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art, the Museum of Natural and Cultural History, the Lane County Historical Museum and the Science Factory all offer individual and family memberships.

And here’s a super bonus: Many museum memberships, such as the Science Factory’s, are applicable at other museums in their network around the state and even around the country. So you can flash that Science Factory membership card and gain free or deeply discounted admission to scads of other institutions — a boon for any family that travels.

Maybe vegetables are your thing. Broccoli, carrots, a nice winter squash: This valley is the fertile crescent of the state, after all, and we’re rich with Community Supported Agriculture, or CSAs. There are almost too many farms to mention, but the Willamette Farm & Food Coalition has a nice roundup of offerings on its website ( Farms vary in their membership requirements, pickup locations, etc., but whichever farm you select, trust that your gift recipient will be treated to some of the finest food grown anywhere.

Veggies don’t turn your crank? Check out Port Orford Sustainable Seafood for yummy halibut and crab. You could even sign up your friends for local, grass-fed meats or dairy. And who wouldn’t like an annual subscription to local legumes-of-the-month? Hello, favas!

Sometimes, though, you just want to share your love by giving people butterfat. And the good people at Red Wagon Creamery have a gift idea just for you: their pint-of-the-month club. For a mere $80, your friend or family member will enjoy six months of exclusive, adventurous flavors, such as black truffle ice cream with pickled Oregon cherries and hazelnut brittle or Willamette Valley smoked Fontina ice cream with sponge cake, to be picked up at Red Wagon’s cheery downtown store.

You know, come to think of it, you’ve been very good this year. If you decide to buy the ice cream subscription for yourself, we won’t tell.