With the holidays right around the corner, now is the perfect time to start shopping for gifts and planning festive activities for your family. If you’ve been meaning to get a little more culture in your life, there are a number of ways to celebrate the holidays through the arts.

Attending performances is probably one of the foremost thing I’d encourage people to do,” says Linda Weise, which provides world-class performing arts programs, classes and camps for students of all ages.

There are so many ways to incorporate the arts into the holidays. Here are four places to start.

1. Go enjoy live performances

There are so many traditional holiday productions this time of year, from The Nutcracker and A Christmas Carol to Amahl and the Night Visitors.

2. Support local artists by buying gifts from them

Buying gifts from local artists is a great way to support the arts in your community, Weise says, but it’s also a great way to find unique gifts that nobody else will give.

Not everything has to be a $3,500 painting,” Weise says. “Go to a local gallery in your neighborhood and purchase anything from a little painting to a photograph. Those things are so different.”

This can be a great way to form a relationship with new people in your community, too.

Sometimes I go to senior center craft show the weekend before Thanksgiving, and one lady there makes handmade cards,” Weise says. “Last year I bought her out. Every single card was totally different and she had cut everything out by hand. I love sending those — and it makes her day.”

3. Make homemade gifts

When in doubt, make something yourself. Even if you don’t consider yourself an artistic genius, your friends and family will appreciate a thoughtful, unique gift.

Whether it’s an ornament you make with your kids for all of your friends, or you partner with somebody who cans pickles or cucumbers and you paint the jars,” Weise suggests.

Experiences and handmade things have a different impact. Sometimes we forget about those things as gifts and as ways to celebrate.

4. Give a gift now that can be enjoyed later in the year

Get someone a pair of tickets for a show in April. Give the gift of an art class or a series of music lessons for someone who’s always wanted to try it but would never get that for themselves.

Another great gift is a membership to a museum or arts center so your loved one can enjoy the arts throughout the year. “We have lots of families who do that for kids which is a great way to teach them how to keep arts and culture alive in their community and sustain it,” Weise says.

Check out the Cultural Office of the Pikes Peak Region (COPPeR) to learn more about programs and memberships at arts organizations in the Colorado Springs area.


This article originally appeared on KOAA.com