Scouting Out the Perfect Gift Card

Gift Card CCAEStudents cooking at the Cambridge Center for Adult Education. Photo by Romana Vysatova.

Picture this: You’re standing in a checkout line after a long day of work, Michael Bublé is blasting through the speakers, and you realize that you forgot to pick up a holiday gift for the nephew you’ll be seeing at tomorrow’s Christmas party. Your eyes drift over to a rack of gift cards. Maybe he’d prefer to buy something for himself, you think halfheartedly. There’ll be other holidays and birthdays to get something special. You just don’t have time this year and you only dropped by the store to buy milk, after all …

Stop right there. Gift cards have earned a reputation as being a lazy gift giver’s best friend, but it doesn’t have to be that way. It’s all about where you’re buying from—gift cards actually open up a world of experiences, if you’re willing to just do a little digging. While anyone can enjoy a prepaid Visa or Starbucks gift card, they lack the personal flair that marks a good gift. That’s why we’ve come up with a list of thoughtful and inventive gift card ideas that show you care, while still saving you hours of shopping at the mall.

Redemption Tattoo
2090 Massachusetts Avenue
(617) 576-0097

Whether your loved one is already covered in ink or has been forever hinting at wanting to take the leap, Redemption Tattoo is the place to go. Voted as Cambridge’s favorite tattoo shop in this year’s Scout’s Honored awards, Redemption is filled with talented artists who can cater to anyone’s taste. 

Gift cards are sold in increments of $50, $100, $200, and $500. Prices for tattoos depend on the artist and the size of the art, so make sure to call the shop with questions before making a purchase.

Cambridge Center for Adult Education
42 Brattle Street
(617) 547-6789

Learn to julienne alongside a celebrity chef, practice your French for the first time since high school, join a group of beginner bird-watchers, or even sample delicious hidden gems on a Kendall Square food and innovation tour with the CCAE. The center has a class for every interest imaginable, perfect for someone who prefers experiencing something new to a tangible gift. 

Gift cards are offered in any amount. Classes can range anywhere from $30 to $300, so check out the website or call in advance if you have your eye on a specific session.

ArtScience Culture Lab & Cafe
650 E. Kendall Street
(857) 999-2193

While a restaurant gift card may not sound like the most unique idea, the ArtScience Culture Lab & Cafe is no Starbucks. Home to the interdisciplinary culture lab Le Laboratoire Cambridge, ArtScience combines upscale French and American cuisine with sensory experiments and exhibitions that engage the taste buds and the mind. A gift card to ArtScience is just right for a date night, where you can enjoy a cocktail while letting out your inner scientist. 

Order a virtual or physical gift card for any amount online.

Photo courtesy of Red Fox Escapes.

Red Fox Escapes
614 Massachusetts Avenue
(617) 417-8748

Get your “Mission Impossible” on at Red Fox Escapes, an immersive escape room filled with meticulously crafted puzzles that will leave you feeling a rush of adrenaline from the time-crunch and a wave of satisfaction from finding the perfect clue. Buy a gift card voucher either online or over the phone, for anywhere between one and 10 people. Make the experience extra-memorable by calling in advance, and Red Fox will work out a way to hide a gift card inside the room as an added surprise.

A gift card voucher for one person costs $30. Participants under 15 years of age must be accompanied by an adult.

Broadway Bicycle School
351 Broadway
(617) 868-3392

Usually, we’d say don’t reinvent the wheel. But in the case of the Broadway Bicycle School wheel-building class, Scout says “Go for it!” The five-week seminar is one of a few classes offered by the Scout’s Honored-winning co-op, in addition to the Fix-A-Flat seminar and the Women, Non-Binary, Trans Basic Mechanics class. Ideal for a range of people, including beginners with no bicycle experience and seasoned pros, these classes provide an inclusive space to learn and meet new people in the Cambridge cycling community. 

While gift cards are not offered for specific classes, a gift card may be redeemed for any service at the store. Look online or call the store, and then purchase a gift card for the price of a specific class to give your favorite cyclist a gift that keeps on giving. Classes can range from $35 to $190.

This story appears in the Nov/Dec print issue of Scout Cambridge, which is available for free at more than 220 drop spots throughout Cambridge (and just beyond its borders) or by subscription.

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