Be Your Family’s Picasso: 5 Art-Inspired Holiday Gift Experiences

This holiday season, give the gift that keeps on giving. Make unforgettable memories at one of these art-inspired activities you can only experience in New York.

A recent study conducted by researchers at Cornell University found that spending money on experiences rather than material things not only makes consumers happier, it also promotes gratitude. What better argument to spend this holiday season not just buying gifts for other people, but also having unique experiences while doing so? Below, we round up the top five art inspired holiday gift experiences you can have in New York. From taking portrait classes at the New York Academy of Fine Arts to browsing the New Museum gift shop after catching an exhibition, these activities will enrich you culturally while helping you find or create the perfect gift for the person most special to you.

Contemporary Portrait Painting at the New York Academy of Art
December 10 and 11
111 Franklin Street

Open to students of all levels, this two-day intensive class teaches the basic fundamentals of portrait painting including how to achieve a better likeness, and how to capture convincing skin tones. Even better, it’s held at the New York Academy of Art, a Tribeca institution founded in 1982 by a group of artists that included Andy Warhol. Use the skills you learn to paint a portrait of someone special in your life — someone not easily offended, perhaps. It’s the thought that counts, right? In any case, the experience of being a temporary art student in New York will be worth it no matter what you produce.

Portrait by Kristy Gordon

Young and Able
December 8 – 24
2 Rivington Street

Along with selling the wares of 35 female designers working in New York, the Young & Able holiday pop up shop, which is open at 2 Rivington Street from December 8–24, offers workshops in all manner of craft making. On November 11, learn how to make hand-tooled leather belts from a New York-based leather artist, and on November 12, reuse the scraps to learn how to make a hand-tooled leather card wallet. On November 19, Danielle Kroll, a Brooklyn-based illustrator, is teaching a workshop on how to make a personalized pet portrait. I mean, come on. Is there any thing your Mom would love more than a portrait of her dog?

Danielle Kroll “Pet Portrait Painting” Courtesy of Young and Able

Printed Matter
231 Eleventh Avenue

You might not be able to make anything yourself at Printed Matter, but visiting the store is experience enough. Circulating over 32,000 publications annually on behalf of artists and small presses, Printed Matter is exactly the place to go if you want to buy a book that the person you love cannot possibly already own. Let yourself get lost amongst the shelves; but save some time at the end to go see some exhibitions. Printed Matter is conveniently located in the heart of Chelsea’s bustling gallery district — if you don’t have any shows you want to see in particular, just walk into the nearest open door.

Textile Arts Center Give Back Holiday Market
26 West 8th Street
December 17–18 

This year, rather than hosting a traditional holiday fair, the Textile Arts Center is hosting a Give Back Holiday Market at its West Village location. All sale proceeds will go to support nonprofit organizations including Let Girls Learn, Standing Rock, Black Lives Matter, Lambda Legal, and the New York Immigration Coalition. If you’d prefer to make your own craft rather than buy one at the holiday market, the Textile Arts Center offers one-day workshops including how to make printed tea towels on December 14. Let’s be honest—you’d probably buy a tea towel as a host gift anyway this season, so you might as well make your own.

New Museum Store
235 Bowery

Out of all of the museum gift shops in New York, the New Museum has some of the best options for limited edition products produced by artists, including notecards by Tomma Abts, a clutch by Pippilotti Rist, a sports bra by Lena Henke and coasters by Louise Bourgeois. Not to mention the killer collection of artists monographs and cultural criticism. Browse the gift store before or after you check out “Pixel Forest,” an exhibition of works by Swiss artist Pippilotti Rist on view through January 15, 2017.

Photograph by Azikiwe Mohammed