Virtual Experience Gifts for the Holidays

Niki D'AndreaDecember 16, 2020
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Gift-giving this year, like everything else in 2020, looks a little different than ever before. Instead of exchanging gifts hand to hand or gathering around the Christmas tree to unwrap presents, many people will be mailing packages and meeting in Zoom rooms. A virtual experience is another option, as local businesses offer virtual animal encounters, exercise sessions and workshops. Here are just a few.

Nicole Anne Yoga and Animal Reiki
Give the gift of a virtual gong bath, guided sleeping meditation, vibrational sound healing or yoga this year through Nicole Anne Yoga. Valley-based yogi Nicole Fonovich leads four different virtual classes every week on Facebook Live: Gong Bath Sound Healing at 10 a.m. on Sundays, Guided Sleeping Meditation at 1 p.m. on Mondays, Kids Yoga at 2:30 p.m. on Wednesdays and Vibrational Sound Healing at 12:30 p.m. on Fridays. All sessions are donation-based but free for veterans and active military members, healthcare providers and first responders.

For the felines and canines in your life, Nicole Anne Yoga offers animal reiki sessions online. The sessions are based on the meditation-based Japanese spiritual practice of reiki and are essentially meditating with your animals and doing “energy healing” things. Each session lasts 30 minutes and costs $55. Visit for more information.

Virtual Animal Encounters at OdySea Aquarium
You can’t put penguins and sloths under the tree, but you can book a virtual encounter with them through OdySea Aquarium. The Scottsdale attraction’s African penguins and two-toed sloths are available for online encounters via Zoom, so you can get to know them from the comfort of your own home. The meetups, which are highly interactive and include ample time for Q&As, cost $30 per slot. Exclusive “friends and family” encounters that include 20 logins are available for $150. To reserve a spot, visit

Changing Hands Bookstore’s Virtual Workshops
Changing Hands Bookstore moved its workshops online during the pandemic, giving participants the same quality instruction they’re used to, but without the commute to one of the Valley’s two Changing Hands locations. On Monday, December 28, instructor Dan McDermott discusses “Beginnings and Beginnings” (how to start a story, essay, novel or poem) as part of the “Write Here, Write Now” 30-minute pop-up workshop series presented by Phoenix College and ASU’s Piper Center for Creative Writing. Registration costs $5. Sandra Marinella will lead a four-session writing workshop beginning Tuesday, January 5, and the series continues through 2021 with “Mothers Who Write” workshops on Thursdays, March through April. Visit for more information.


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