A delicious meal created at Le Chat Gourmet.

Lansing’s Gift-Worthy Experiences

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    In my time so far with Awesome Mitten, I’ve written about mid-Michigan foods to be thankful for, our wonderful local libraries and the countless festivals that happen in Greater Lansing year-round. What can I say? I’m proud of the place I grew up in and have continued to call home all these years.

    Mid-Michigan is full of interesting things to see and do, and with the holidays nearly upon us, it should be no surprise that I’ve been on the hunt for fun, local experiences. Whether you’re looking for something to do while your friends and family are visiting, or you’re enjoying the latest trend of people giving experiences as gifts, anyone (even you!) can enjoy this kind of Capital City fun for the holidays — or any time of year!

    Wharton Center

    Wharton Center for Performing Arts.
    Wharton Center for Performing Arts. Photo courtesy Wharton Center

    I would be remiss not to mention the Wharton Center in a piece about cool Lansing-area experiences. We are so lucky to have a beautiful venue (Michigan’s largest performing arts venue and a leader among Big Ten centers) that brings Broadway plays, shows, talks and events to Michigan State University’s campus. Whether you buy season tickets or single show tickets, you’re getting or giving the gift of entertainment, and that’s pretty special.

    Recently, my siblings and I went in on a gift for our dad to see Mitch Albom’s play “Ernie” at Wharton Center. What’s even more special? My dad and mom got to meet Albom before the play at a VIP reception. You can’t fit this kind of gift in a plain ol’ box! Of course, there are a variety of holiday-themed shows from which to choose, too. Take a look at what’s coming up – you won’t be disappointed!

    Le Chat Gourmet

    Chef Denene Vincent
    Chef Denene Vincent of Le Chat Gourmet. Photo courtesy John Gingas

    Le Chat Gourmet is tucked away on Bunker Highway in Eaton Rapids, and it’s just perfect. Between Chef Denene Vincent’s culinary expertise and the charming house where the cooking classes take place (Vincent’s home!), you’ll feel you’ve traveled much farther than 30 minutes outside of Lansing. This is such a wonderful gift to give the Bobby Flay-loving, Food Network-watching people in your lives. Or, let’s be honest, anyone who loves to eat and is willing to create something with their own hands.

    I gave this as a gift to my mom a few years ago for Mother’s Day (I went along too!) and to this day my mom still uses the arancini (rice ball) recipe we learned that evening. There are themed classes, kids’ classes and team-building classes. But if you really want to give the gift of experience, you can take advantage of Le Chat Gourmet Culinary Vacations. In 2017, Vincent is taking groups to Tuscany and Provence! The gift of cooking is an important one for Vincent. “For me cooking is about gathering family and friends around the table and sharing a meal, friendship and love,” she said. “Cooking should be fun, and eating a joy. This is my goal for each experience at Le Chat Gourmet.”

    Dusty’s Cellar

    Dusty's Cellar shop.
    Dusty’s Cellar shop. Photo courtesy Dusty’s Cellar

    So maybe cooking isn’t your friend’s or loved one’s thing, but eating and partaking in a few drinks is, then the events at Dusty’s Cellar in Okemos may be for them. Each month the restaurant has wine-tasting classes, themed dinners or “tapas and tasting” events for all appetites. These classes give you a chance to try new wine and food pairings at a reasonable rate. At Dusty’s you can also give the gift of wine, through its monthly wine club (6 for $60 Wine Club). And if you really can’t decide, opt for one of their gift baskets. From cheese to chocolates (and everything in between), the combinations sound (and look!) mouthwatering.


    Lansing United Soccer.
    Lansing United Soccer. Photo courtesy Hoffman Photography

    ‘Tis the season of giving, so here’s a three-for-one entry for you. Mid-Michigan has some passionate sports fans and for good reason. With MSU athletic teams, the Lansing Lugnuts baseball team and Lansing United soccer team, there’s something competitive for everyone. (And that’s just scratching the surface in terms of the sports-related events and activities that take place here in Lansing). Consider buying season or single-game tickets for sporty spice in your life. If you know of someone who lives out of town, but would love to get back to Lansing for a game or two – this is the perfect gift!

    Lansing United, still a relatively new team to the area, is gearing up for their fourth season in 2017. “Thanks to the community and the Sons of Ransom we provide an atmosphere that you don’t find at another sporting event in this area,” said Jeremy Sampson, president and CEO of Lansing United. “We have drums, singing, smoke bombs and a lot of fun.”

    You guys! There is so much fun to be had here in mid-Michigan. Consider giving the gift of Lansing this holiday season.

    What kind of Lansing-area gift experiences have you given or received? Let us know in the comments!

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