Sitting in the metalsmithing studio at the Art Students League of Denver, my hands are streaked with sweat and silver shavings. My initial attempt at bending and soldering wire into a funky and fun bangle turned into a twisted mess of metal. My instructor Kim, ever-watchful and ready to offer her wisdom, glances my way with a mix of curiosity and doubt in her eyes as I rev up the torch. After several hours of hammering and shaping, with her patient guidance and support, I produce a pair of square silver bangles. They’re imperfect, and they are one of a kind—so they’ll make the perfect gift for my grandmother this holiday.
Forge A Connection
Giving gifts is a great form of connection, but research is finding that the more effort and intentionality you bring to the occasion, the more your offering means to the receiver. Plus, homemade gifts move away from mindless consumption, which both your wallet and the planet appreciate. Not to mention it’s also a way to learn something new while having fun, and who doesn’t like to have fun?
Whether you’re making jewelry, blowing glass ornaments in your school colors, or cross-stitching an inside joke on a throw-pillow cover, you’re not making just anything for anyone—you’re creating tangible memories. Not to mention, the act of creating is a lesson in mindfulness, which is why research confirms that crafting can help us deal with the pressure of the busy season. Not only does it save you the stress of running around overcrowded, understocked stores days before the holiday but it also introduces a stress-relieving, happiness-boosting activity into your routine.
That’s because money spent on classes falls into the “experiential consumption” category, and those experiential purchases are shown to inspire more gratitude than material ones. And then as an added benefit, looking back on the experience of, say, knitting your friend a hat, increases subsequent altruistic behavior more so than if you were to just buy her one from a mass-market retail shop.
Studies show that by hand-making jewelry, you’ll find a peaceful flow, sharpen your fine motor skills, boost your cognitive prowess, and express your unique style. Plus, you might just discover a new favorite Denver destination. There are so many great places to take arts and crafts classes perfect for making those homemade, love-filled gifts. To the right, we’ve rounded up some of our favorite picks to make something for someone who may have everything but certainly doesn’t have what you’re gonna make her yet.
The crafting community is huge along the Front Range—and for once, we’re not talking about craft beer. Here are some of the top spots to get you started.
1Ambrosia Glass Art
Blow your friends and family away with self-made glass-blown gifts.
With over 20 expert-taught adult ceramics classes, you can “throw” presents together for everyone on your list.
3Board and Brush Creative Studio
Let your inner DIY spirit guide you through a workshop of sipping and painting wooden signs and trays.
4Clear Creek Academy
Master makers lead metalsmithing classes, offering everything from introductory silversmithing to comprehensive stone-setting workshops.
5Denver Art Museum
These classes, ranging from one-day workshops to longer six-week courses led by practicing artists, are great for crafting some DAM-good gifts.
6Denver Art Society
Ever wander through an art gallery and wish you could re-create the same aesthetic? Now you can, as artists teach classes in their exhibition space.
7Denver Tool Library
Impress your loved ones with quality creations that no one will believe you made when taking woodworking classes.
8Fancy Tiger Crafts
The schedule at this co-op is packed with classes that’ll teach you how to crochet, sew, knit, paper-pierce, weave, hem, quilt, and spin covetable items.
The shared studio/retail space has highly curated class offerings that are ideal for making presents. Think jewelry making, recycling silver, weaving, and tote and scrunchie decorating.
10Ink & Drink
Sip on cocktails while you discover the joy of crafting meaningful gifts at this open studio, where happy hour takes on a delightful double meaning.
11Lighthouse Writers Workshop
Take a poetry class to personalize your holiday cards for each family member.
Give the gift of homemade bread this holiday by taking one of Rebel Bread’s sourdough baking classes (in-person or online).
13Sip and Script
Elevate your holiday cards this year by making both the words and lettering beautifully artistic with engaging calligraphy classes.
14The New Local
At this Boulder nonprofit working gallery, workshops run the gamut from bowl turning and tapestry weaving to ceramic painting and mala making.
Learn the ancient techniques of textile tufting while you weave your way through a rug-making class in Superior.
Attend a Project Social where you choose from a menu of crafts such as making Marquette letters, leatherwork, and distressed wood art.