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Grasse, France, is known as the world’s perfume capital. Galimard’ s Studio des Fragrances offers a two-hour perfume workshop to create one’s own signature scent.
Grasse, France, is known as the world’s perfume capital. Galimard’ s Studio des Fragrances offers a two-hour perfume workshop to create one’s own signature scent. (galimard.com)

Holiday gift shopping should never be a chore but rather a joy of the season, particularly when the pursuit of that perfect gift coincides with spending time in a favorite or as-yet undiscovered corner of Europe. Master craftsmen and enthusiastic amateurs alike offer a range of hands-on activities that result in items sure to be treasured by their makers and ideally suited to gift giving. Those with craft-loving friends or family members might instead wish to gift them an experience that allows them to conjure up a master work of their very own. Here are just a few items one might create under expert guidance.

Create perfume in Grasse: The town of Grasse on the French Riviera has been known for its perfume industry for centuries, and a handful of makers of sweet scents offer the chance to blend one’s own fragrance. Galimard’ s Studio des Fragrances offers a two-hour session allowing one to blend his or her own personal fragrance. Participants learn how perfumes are built based on a head, heart and base note, and, seated in front of an organ containing 127 such notes, are instructed in the art of creating a harmonious and well-balanced formula of their own. The 55-euro price tag includes a diploma, a personalized 100 ml bottle of eau de parfum and the safekeeping of the formula in a confidential database for reordering purposes. Online: tinyurl.com/vad8w5uj

Work with mosaics in Brenta: The ”Arte della Corte” studio is located in Brenta, Italy’s Lombardy region, northwest of Milan. Here, individuals interested in the art of mosaics have the chance to learn more about the history and evolution of this style of art that was already popular thousands of years ago and remains so in modern times. Under the instruction of a trained master, participants will learn how to create a composition of glass or marble tiles and how to work the pieces with pincers, pliers and other tools of the trade. Two hours of instruction go for 25 euros and is bookable through the Airbnb experiences platform. Online: cortedibrenta.blogspot.com

Paint a mask in Venice: An essential element of the Venetian carnival tradition is the wearing of a mask to disguise one’s identity. The Atelier La Bauta in Venice offers various courses, including an hourlong course in which participants can paint and decorate the mask they have chosen from more than 60 papier-maché models and take their finished works home. The experience costs 40 euros per person and is available on a drop-by basis. A 90-minute course in creating the papier-maché mask itself is also available; advance recommendations are recommended. Online: labauta.com/workshop/?lang=en

Learn the art of glass-blowing in Murano: The island of Murano, just north of Venice, is world-renowned for its glass-blowing traditions. The Wave Murano Glass Studio offers a three-hour course in the art of glass-blowing, a physically demanding task carried out in a hot and challenging environment. Following a short introduction to the factory itself and its workings, participants engage in exercises aimed at developing the basic movements and hand-eye coordination demanded of glass-blowers. Following ever more demanding interactions with molten glass, participants are at last ready to blow their own small glass artifact. As the piece needs adequate time to dry, it can be picked up later or shipped. Sessions cost 242 euros and are bookable on the Airbnb experiences platform. Online: wavemuranoglass.com

Make chocolate in Brussels or Bruges: The Belgian Chocolate Workshop offers a 2.5-hour workshop allowing participants to create two types or chocolates, filled pralines or mendiants, in which dried fruit pieces are mounted on chocolate discs. The skills introduced include how to temper chocolate, craft pralines and make a chocolate ganache filling. The workshop concludes by making a cup of hot chocolate from the leftover bits. A box containing some 35 chocolates is the tasty reward for one’s efforts. The company will also ship out boxes of all the ingredients needed, so that one can follow a live-stream video. The cost of the in-person class at either studio is 38 euros. Online: belgianchocolateworkshop.com

Craft silver jewelry in Market Bosworth: A 3.5-hour course offered in a workshop in an attractive market town in Leicestershire, England, allows participants to craft their own unique silver pieces. Working with a type of metal clay that becomes hallmark-quality silver, students design, create, fire and polish a piece of jewelry that will be ready to wear home at the end of the course. The experienced and enthusiastic instructor is a member of the Guild of Jewelers and holds a teaching diploma. The course costs 60 euros and is bookable through the Airbnb experiences platform. Online: airbnb.com/experiences/2525609

Create a bust in the Parisian suburbs: In the town of Levallois-Perret, a northwestern suburb of Paris, a trained instructor invites up to three participants at a time into his studio to sculpt a face from their imaginations. The four-hour experience includes laying the clay upon an armature, blocking out the major forms, and adding the details that add character and expression to the finished work. The studio’s location on a houseboat on the Seine adds charm to the experience. The course itself costs 65 euros per person; the shipping of the finished work after it has dried is an option subject to additional cost. Online: tinyurl.com/6fzb333c

Brew beer in Hamburg: The Landgang Brauerei, a brewery in Germany’s second-largest city, regularly offers a six-hour course in the art of beer brewing. Under the tutelage of a craft beer expert, participants get hands-on with the brew process and develop skills that can be applied to the art of home brewing. The course is rounded out by a tour of the facilities, snacks and plenty of fresh beer to enjoy. The beer brewed on the day can be taken home to mature in its own time. The course fee is 159 euros. Online: landgang-brauerei.de


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