We've all received gifts that, for a brief moment, make us consider converting to Islam. A present that is so strange, so off-putting, you question the entire relationship you have with the person who gave it to you.
I'll never forget the Christmas my dad got my mom a cemetery plot as a gift. And he truly thought it was romantic. As she fumed, he justified his purchase by telling her, "But this proves we'll be together for eternity."
Well, he almost slept on the couch for an eternity.
I suspect most of you have had to fake it at some point on Christmas morning, stammering out something like: "Oh, this is ummm interesting. Thanks. I really did want a glow-in-the-dark belt buckle."
If you're reading this and are suddenly alarmed to learn the above-mentioned belt buckle and cemetery plot are indeed not good ideas for gifts, or you still have several people to buy for on your list, don't panic. Here are six return-proof gift ideas.
DV like a VIP
The FIS Freestyle Ski World Cup event is one of the most astonishing and awe-inspiring weekends on the calendar. Each winter the aerial, dual mogul and mogul competitions take place at night, under the lights at Deer Valley Resort. This year, upgrade the experience for your loved one with VIP access. For just $100/ticket, you'll receive an enhanced spectator experience that includes access to the heated VIP tent where the athletes hang out, a gourmet buffet, drinks and a commemorative gift. VIP passes can be purchased by calling 435-645-6510. For more information visit:
Don't know how? Start now!
Got a significant other who has always wanted to learn to ski or board, but never gotten around to it? Check out Park City Mountain Resort's StartNOW program. This gift includes five lessons, lift access and equipment rentals for first-time skiers or snowboarders -- all for less than $40 per day. More info is available at: http://startnow.parkcitymountain.com/site/index.html
Ski with a pro
If everyone on your list is already tearing up the hill, Deer Valley offers the opportunity to rip it with a true pro. Half- or full-day skiing sessions with Olympian Heidi Voelker, the resort's ambassador of skiing, are available for groups of up to eight people. Prices range from $600 to $1,000. Learn more at: www.deervalley.com/skiing_activities/heidi.html
Untracked snow, unlimited smiles
Any powder junkie will tell you that untouched snow is the ultimate awesome. Luckily, you can put first tracks right under the tree. Canyons Resort offers access to the resort's 4,000 acres before it's open to the public with the First Tracks program. In addition to having the entire mountain to themselves, participants also get to ski or ride with some of the biggest names in Olympic skiing. First Tracks is $79 plus the cost of a lift ticket, and includes breakfast. Reserve here: http://www.canyonsresort.com/ski_school_special.html
Five Gs under the tree
Got someone on your list with a need for speed? Buy him or her a bobsled ride down the track at the Olympic Park. Professional pilots accompany three passengers and take them down the nearly one-mile-long track at nearly 80 miles per hour and five Gs of force. (I didn't know what that meant either; it's five times the force of gravity.) This thrilling ride costs $200 per person and reservations are required. More information can be found at: www.utaholympiclegacy.com/activities/winter-comet-bobsled-ride
Eat it, Utah
For those on your list who don't live locally, send them a little Utah this Christmas with a gift basket from A Local Table. This new Park City-based food retailer specializes in natural, minimally processed foods, focusing on smaller independent producers from the beehive state. For just $48 (plus shipping) you can send your loved ones The Utah Taste Experience which contains the pride of Utah in a single deluxe package: one wedge each of Beehive Barely-Buzzed Cheese and Gold Creek Farms Cheddar, a log of Shepherd's Chevre, a Creminelli Tartufo Salami with black truffles, a jar each of YeeHaw No Frills Dills and Butcher's Bunches Back in Black. Order at: www.alocaltable.com .
No matter what you put under the tree, just remember that is really is better to give than receive -- but only if you do it right.
Amy Roberts is a longtime Park City resident, freelance writer and the proud owner of two ill-behaved rescue dogs, Boston and Stanley. If you have a story idea, please e-mail her at email@example.com.