Black Friday gobbled Thanksgiving and turned us all into a bunch of retail turkeys.
We eat dinner. We give thanks and hugs and courteous conversation with our holiday smiles. But when that meal is over, it feels like the special day is, too. Everyone is lost in the retail rush, out to score the best deal. Or in a food coma. Or watching football. Nothing necessarily wrong with that. Just make sure you find time this weekend for friends and family, too.
I say escape the shop-till-you-drop routine and have an adventure. Do something different. Here are three of the new ways around town to help you get in the holiday spirit of togetherness:
The playground for all ages
The parking lot of Urban Air Trampoline Park was bustling with cars. On a Sunday morning.
I didn’t get it at first. I looked at my friend JC and asked, “Why are people in Overland Park on trampolines this early on a Sunday?” So we strolled in and got our wristbands — $20 bought us each an hour of open jump plus the Warrior Course of obstacles.
I was cold and, I’ll admit, a little grumpy. It didn’t last. As soon as I watched JC floating on a jumbo swing and attempting to jump onto some monkey bars, I smiled. Within minutes, we succumbed to our inner child. We raced each other. We broke rules. We ziplined maybe 20 feet on a foam-filled bag and high-fived.
Of the four lanes in the Warrior Course, we decided you have to be tall, limber and Herculean to actually complete Nos. 3 and 4. But that didn’t stop us from swinging, hanging and climbing on the bars and bags.
Course 1 is where the kids (and inner kids) excel. It’s as simple as hopping on a few bounce balls, scaling a tiny foam wall and jumping over a few blocks. JC came in at 23 seconds. I came in at 17. Yes, it was child’s play. No, this did not make it any less of a victory. We worked up a sweat. And it had only been 30 minutes.
For our last half-hour, we gave in to the trampoline playground. We pretended to be Michael Jordan using the trampoline to propel us toward basketball hoops. We never did make it to the rim.
We did laps around a trampoline track and tried hopping like a bunny. We played trampoline dodge ball until a little girl on my team hit me in the face with a ball. On purpose. We laughed all the same. We ended our adventure by jumping again and again into the foam pit. That is freedom. It is a metaphor for life. Sometimes you are going to fall. And sometimes, it will be worth it. Even when it isn’t, you’ll learn something.
Urban Air Trampoline Park, 14401 Metcalf Ave. in Overland Park, is open 4 to 8 p.m Monday-Thursday, 4 to 11 p.m. Friday, 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Sunday. Thanksgiving weekend, Urban Air will have a $15 unlimited jump special or $55 for a party of four that includes two-hour jump passes, four slushies and four bottles of water. For more information, visit urbanairtrampolinepark.com.
The artsy escapade
Tucked away in North Kansas City, one of my favorite little towns, is Dare to Dabble, an open arts studio. Attached to Luna’s Coffee House, it is an artsy creative space for amateur DIY crafters and seasoned artists alike.
And when I tell you this place is a buffet of all of your favorite childhood art classes and do-it-yourself projects, believe me.
We spent at least 30 minutes browsing the shelves and shelves of figurines, frames, glasses, stencils, mosaics, fibers and the like. You can make a shadowbox. You can go full on ceramics. There is decoupage and traditional canvas painting. Or you can customize a tote bag. You just choose a craft, grab a table and get to work. It’s only $4 an hour or $12 a day, plus the cost of supplies.
We settled on jewelry. My friend Ally picked out a charm bracelet project and started digging through the drawers to choose from endless options of gems and charms and even dice and Scrabble letters.
I made a terrarium necklace ($24 including the hourly rate). I couldn’t resist the magic of it: a faux garden in a globe on a chain around my neck. Crafting is meditative — there’s something about the rhythm of working your way through a project, figuring out what you want to use and how you want to go about it. It’s as much about trusting yourself as it is directions. And the music at Dare to Dabble is good. Alanis Morrisette, Nico and Vinz — it’s pop, rock and soul.
And when you’re with a friend, there is so much laughter and affirmation. Even though you might work on two separate projects, there is something undeniably fun about watching each other work and chiming in with opinions and compliments and new ways to do things. Ally cheered me on when I decided to attach a vintage charm engraved with a quote from “The Little Prince.” I helped her find tiny letters to represent her husband and sons on her goth-chic bracelet ($27 including the hourly rate). Because there’s such a freedom in expressing yourself through art, when you can be creative with your loved ones, it brings you closer together.
You don’t have to get coffee here, but if you’re going to be out on the biggest shopping weekend of the year, you might as well indulge in a Pumpkin Fireball Latte ($8). Yes, honey. This is almost like the coveted Pumpkin Spice Latte from Starbucks but with a shot of Fireball whiskey. I encourage my 21-and-up crowd to treat yourself to one. There’s plenty of straightforward coffees and hot chocolates, but I got myself a brownie ($2.50) and a spiked latte because why not?
It was just two hours out of our day, really. An hour of coffee and finding a project plus an hour of creating. But it made all the difference in our moods and friendship. Sometimes you just need a break from bars and shopping and sitting on couches together. Sometimes you need to make something, feed your inner artist.
Dare to Dabble, 1329 Swift Ave. in North Kansas City, is open 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Tuesday-Thursday and 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Friday-Saturday. Closed Sunday and Monday. You can reserve a class (journal making, wine glass painting, onesie art and mosaics are just a few options). And when you book a party, you can bring food and drink. There are different tiers, but prices start at $200 for a party of eight. For more info, visit DareToDabble.net.
The mystery machine
Maybe you think being locked in a room with your family — or anyone — sounds like a nightmare, but escape rooms in Kansas City are flourishing. There are two in the River Market, another in Johnson County and one coming to Lee’s Summit as well as Lawrence.
Why do people want to be stuck in a room and forced to figure a way out? Because it’s fun. It’s a mental workout and a master class in teamwork. With clues, locks and secret compartments, you feel like you just hopped out of the Mystery Machine a la Scooby-Doo and friends.
Breakout KC in the River Market offers four game rooms: Room 13 (a hotel room you can’t remember checking into), Szechuan Secret (undercover CIA op), River Quay Casino (Think “Ocean’s Eleven”) and the Truman Room (there’s a mole in Truman’s campaign).
You don’t get to preview them ahead of time. (They don’t even want cameras in the rooms. We were told to put our phones away.) What is disclosed is the escape rate for each room. None are easy. The least complicated appears to be the River Quay Casino: 33 percent successfully break out within an hour. Each room holds up to eight people, but even if you have a packed party, it’s hard work figuring your way out (there is an emergency button if you need to use the bathroom or get out).
We went for the Truman Room, called the most complicated mystery. There were only two of us, so Bandita and I were grouped with a crew of four friends. Initially, I had anxiety about problem-solving with strangers but we became one big team as soon as that door shut and the timer started ticking.
You rely on one another. We had someone in charge of reading every potential clue, two people on keys, a person on drawers and two more searching every random corner. Sixty minutes fly by fast. There are so many keys to find and random locks to open. You can’t phone a friend. But you can ask for three free clues. Any more than that and it ruins your finish time.
Our team used every tip and second. Literally. During the very last second, we punched in the combination to escape and missed it by one digit. The game keeper had to let us out. Despite losing, we had fun. Every last one of us wanted to try a new room another time.
As to not ruin anyone’s experience I won’t tell you more than that. I’ll just say that it’s hard to not feel closer to people after you’ve tried to escape together.
Breakout KC, 114 W. Third St., No. 101, is open 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday-Thursday and 9 a.m. to midnight Friday and Saturday. Make reservations at BreakoutKC.com.