The holidays aren’t just about getting “stuff”. They are about showing and sharing love and gratitude with the most important people in your life.
So if you want to give a gift, without just giving a “thing”, we’ve curated 10 different experiential gift ideas for those you love.
These are gifts that work anytime for any reason, and are especially exciting as they extend the gift’s impact long after it is received.
We’re going further than a gift card with these creative gift ideas. We’ve paired engaging, personalizable experiences with physical products your recipient will use for ages after receiving the gift.
1. Enjoy some bonding time.
A bit selfish, maybe, but who wouldn’t love to give a thoughtful gift that they too could enjoy with the recipient?
Consider who the gift is for and what they enjoy doing. Would they be interested in seeing a play or going to a concert, visiting a museum, or giving horseback riding a try? Rather than giving them a solo opportunity to enjoy one of these experiences, purchase tickets for both of you ahead of time and package the gift with a list of dates you’re available to go.
To take this gift to the next level, include a disposable camera with the gift so you two can document the experience.
2. Get them organized.
What a way to bring in the new year with a brand new planner? Giving the gift of organization is fairly uncommon, as its something we rarely afford ourselves. Most of us want to be more organized, to plan more, and to have more enjoyable days. The gift of organization is life-changing.
3. Bring on the stress-relief.
This gift can be given in two ways, and both lead back to a cup of hot tea after a long day.
For someone with kids, pets, and a never-ending laundry list of things to do, they may benefit from a gift certificate for self-care outside the home. Think beyond massages if you think that’s not their style — consider an organic facial, hair strengthening treatment, or a meditation workshop.
For those who lean more towards DIY and at-home stress relief, spoil someone with a suite of relaxing products. Crystalized bath soak in a glass jar, sheet masks, cream, aromatherapy, and a jade facial roller.
Top both presents off with a delicious, stress-relieving tea and a gorgeous mug.
4. Get physical.
Just as the new year rings in new plans, it ushers in a fitness frenzy. Beyond looking good, almost all of us crave to feel good after weeks of holiday feasts. Break up the monotony of your recipient’s daily routine with a multi-class or training in a sport or physical practice that interests them. Before thinking this is about the gym, think outside the box.
- Yoga, pilates, or ballet fitness studios
- SoulCycle, Orange Theory, or another group-fitness class
- Circus and acrobatic schools
- Dance studios, especially for modern and hip hop dance
- Tennis or golf lessons
- Crossfit or Ninja Warrior gyms
If you think your recipient might be timid to go alone, consider committing to go with them! What could be more exciting than 4 weeks of training at a Ninja Warrior gym?
Level up this gift with a new reusable water bottle, or something they can use in class like a yoga mat.
5. That’s delicious.
One can never go wrong giving the gift of food. It would be thoughtful enough to bake or cook a large dish for the ones you love. But for the foodies in your life, a more advanced cooking experience will have a lasting impact.
Evening cooking classes that range from a single meeting to a multi-week mastery are becoming popular everywhere. Find a unique cuisine or pastry class that you know they’ll love.
Add a level of personalization to this gift with a chic new apron.
6. Something kid-friendly.
Give the gift of more quality time with the kids. Curate a collection of fun items for the whole family – preferably nothing battery operated or with too many complicated pieces. Think: lawn games, a costume set for hours of make-believe, or a small family of hand-puppets that each person can act out.
7. A literary afternoon.
There’s a small part in the heart of every lover of literature that lives for romance and adventure. Take the bookworm in your life on a literary adventure, themed for a favorite or popular book. Stops along this adventure may include:
- Coffee or tea shop to partake in a character’s favorite activity, and to talk about parts of the story.
- Park, pond, or natural oasis where a character might’ve pondered their future or made a big decision.
- Somewhere to eat, but specifically a bistro, cafe, or lodge similar to where character’s might’ve enjoyed a meal.
- Shopping, in a neighborhood where you might find items that remind you of a character’s style or hobbies.
If the theme is Harry Potter, you can complete this exciting gift with a house-colors scarf or a butterbeer. For all other literary explorations, a important token from the book may be easier to find – and more meaningful to give – than you imagine.
8. The gift that lasts all year.
Part of the fun of holiday gift-giving is the inevitable tearing into packages to reveal surprises. Extend that feeling all year with a subscription service, which will deliver a new suite of goodies each month (or season) for the remainder of the year. Some of these offer a discount for a year’s purchase up-front, so be sure to hunt around for the perfect fit.
A few of our favorite subscription boxes:
If nothing on the list is quite right for the person in mind, here’s how to craft your own experiential gift.
- Consider the person and their interests. Think back to recent conversations. What have they expressed interest in? What have they always been curious about?
- Devise a way to gift them an experience that brings them closer to something that interests them, or something they have hoped to accomplish.
- Make sure your gift is something they can physically and logically accomplish. When in doubt, ask a friend of your recipient.
- Consider if a physical item would add to their overall experience. For example: a new tote bag for someone you’re taking to a farm, a pair of running socks for a new runner, or a set of knitting needles and yarn for a knitter.
- Package your physical item with the voucher, print-out, or card that outlines the experiential part of their gift. Consider printing a few photos of the place or activity to help them feel more connected to the future experience.