A framed photo of Pizza Rat? You shouldn't have. No, really. You shouldn't have. As well-intentioned as they may be, many material gifts end up collecting dust -- or, more likely, getting regifted.
Instead of giving loved ones the usual knickknacks during the holidays, take a more original route by purchasing one of these experiential gifts. Many of them feature local experts, who will teach your recipient a new skill or present something in a new light.
And perhaps the best part? No wrapping.
For the beer snob
After you've been on a few brewery tours, you might feel like you've done them all. But Flying Dog's new Flying Dog University series is unique among Washington-area breweries: It caters to beer drinkers ready for a tour that allows them to learn firsthand about how dry-hopping works or how brewers handle Brettanomyces yeast. The Frederick brewery's Beer Geek Tours, held on the first Sunday of the month, tackle such topics as quality control, fermentation techniques and how special ingredients are incorporated into the brewing process. The tours last two hours, as opposed to the brewery's 45-minute introductory tour (which is a prerequisite for the Beer Geek Tour), and end with a sampling of vintage beers and pilot batches. Who said learning wasn't rewarding? -- Fritz Hahn
$15. Flying Dog Brewery, 4607 Wedgewood Blvd., Frederick. Upcoming Beer Geek Tours on Jan. 3 and Feb. 7 at 11:30 a.m. flyingdoguniversity.com.
For the nature lover
Presidents Woodrow Wilson, Teddy Roosevelt and Ronald Reagan enjoyed riding horses in Rock Creek Park, and you can, too, if you visit the Rock Creek Park Horse Center, nestled in a particularly bucolic area of the park near Chevy Chase. From there, you can take a guided trail ride on one of the stable's steady steeds, exploring the hilly terrain around the park's nature center and planetarium. No experience is necessary, and your horse will go no faster than a walk. If you're lucky, you'll see wildlife along the way, including deer and songbirds. But, unlike Roosevelt, you won't be allowed to dismount and skinny dip in the stream. -- Sadie Dingfelder
$40 for a one-hour ride. Rock Creek Park Horse Center, 5100 Glover Rd. NW. Available April through October. rockcreekhorsecenter.com.
For the Martha Stewart wannabe
They're obsessed with Pinterest and Etsy. But the last time they actually crafted, it involved gluing dry macaroni to construction paper. Don't get them a glue gun; book an orientation session at the D.C. Public Library's Fab Lab, where, with little more than a library card (available not only to those who live in the District, but also to residents in surrounding counties) and that free 30-minute session, your crafter can begin using a laser-cutter to do the "handmaking." The lab's cutter allows wannabe artisans to perfectly slice lanterns or puzzle pieces from wood, etch personalized cutting boards for gifts, or make D.C.-pride acrylic keychains in no time, with nominal knowledge of Adobe Illustrator (librarians will be there to assist). You spring for the materials, which can include acrylic, wood, cardboard or other materials easily found at shops such as Utrecht. But beyond that, it's incredibly cheap - actually, it's free. -- Lavanya Ramanathan
Free. The Fab Lab is open Monday-Thursday 12 to 8 p.m. and Saturday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library, 901 G St. NW. Register for a mandatory orientation at dclibrary.org/labs/fablab.
For the history lover
Think of Museum Hack as the Us Weekly of gallery tours. "We give you all the back stories and gossip you'd never hear on a regular tour," says Ethan Angelica, tour guide and head of VIP partnerships. "And we do it fast." Led by art lovers with a flair for storytelling, Museum Hack's outings cover two or three more objects than you would see on a tour led by the museum. The company was founded in New York and recently expanded to Washington, where it leads guests through hidden treasures at the National Gallery of Art. During a two-hour tour, groups of up to nine people hear "straight-up James Bond-like" stories about some of the museum's most famous works of art, Angelica says. "There's no script, and no standard route," he says. "We empower our guides to research things that make them excited." -- Holley Simmons
$49 for a two-hour tour at the National Gallery of Art, Sixth Street and Constitution Avenue NW. museumhack.com/dc.
For the cool customer
Many holiday gifts are meant for hunkering down indoors: cozy flannel pajamas, soft fleece throws, "Friends: The Complete Series" on Blu-ray. This year, encourage the beneficiaries of your generosity to embrace winter by partaking in one of the season's most quintessential activities: outdoor ice skating. The 11,800-square-foot rink at Washington Harbour has views of the Potomac River and is close to Georgetown shopping and dining, making it a particularly enticing location. The rink offers a package of 10 admission passes, which paired with dinner at Fiola Mare or coffee and dessert at Baked & Wired would make for a series of nice dates. -- Becky Krystal
$85 for a 10-admission pass. Washington Harbour, 3000 K St. NW. Ice rink open until March. thewashingtonharbour.com.
For the would-be baker
Bread is made by tossing together water, flour and yeast, right? Well, sort of. Melinda Friend -- a lifelong bread baker and dough enthusiast -- walks you through the rest via her company Knead and Know. Since 2013, Friend has taught groups of four to six people how to bake the perfect loaf of bread, as well as how to make croissants, baguettes, babka and pizza out of her cottagelike home in Leesburg. (Newly added: a class on making pumpkin and apple pie.) She also entertains requests, in case you've never nailed Grandma's challah. Guests make their own dough from scratch and bake it at home after it's had a little time to rise. Luckily, Friend prepares a bit of the same dough ahead of time so at the close of every lesson, everyone sits together and enjoys the carbs of their labor. -- Holley Simmons
$85-$155. Knead and Know, based out of Melinda Friend's home in Leesburg. kneadandknow.com.
For the speed demon
If you're looking to get your giftee's heart racing, literally get him or her racing - in an actual race car, on a real racetrack. There are plenty of companies offering a wide selection of packages at various price points. For example, Cloud 9 Living offers ride-alongs in either a NASCAR or IndyCar vehicle for those who aren't comfortable driving around a huge oval at speeds exceeding 100 mph. Those with a more substantial death wish can take the wheel themselves for eight, 16, 24 or 32 minutes, depending on how much cash you drop. To enjoy this gift, you have to travel to either Richmond or Dover, Del., so be careful driving home -- no officer is going to take "but I was only going 95!" as an excuse. -- Kristen Page-Kirby
$130-$2,165. Dover International Speedway, 1131 N. Dupont Hwy., Dover, Del.; or Richmond International Raceway, 600 E. Laburnum Ave., Richmond. cloud9living.com.
For the 'Game of Thrones' fan who has it all
Don't settle for pret-a-porter gladiator helmets. Learn how to create your own bespoke design with master metalworker Dale Morse at the Virginia Institute of Blacksmithing. If headgear isn't your thing, you can opt to make a spear, candelabra or fireplace tools instead. Regardless of the final product, the two-day workshop gives you the cathartic experience of molding molten steel to your will using only a hammer and fire. "There's something elemental about it," Morse says. Plus, your creation will be around for a long time: "It's like making antiques for the future." -- Sadie Dingfelder
$249 for a two-day session. Virginia Institute of Blacksmithing, 200 W. 12th St., Waynesboro, Va. vablacksmithing.org.
For the budding star
Do your kids love performing and being the center of attention? Or do they need a little gentle coaxing to come out of their shells? Sign them up for a class at one of two establishments devoted to performance art, Imagination Stage and Adventure Theatre MTC. Imagination Stage offers classes in acting, musical theater, dance and filmmaking, with a particular emphasis on the latter two. Adventure Theatre's "exposure" classes introduce students to dance, singing and acting. Both Montgomery County-based companies offer opportunities for children from preschool to high school. -- Becky Krystal
$200-$416 for 8-to-13-week sessions at Adventure Theatre MTC, 837-D Rockville Pike, Rockville. adventuretheatre-mtc.org. $130-$555 for 6-to-14-week sessions at Imagination Stage, 4908 Auburn Ave., Bethesda. imaginationstage.org.