It’s that time of year, of eating a bunch of great food, drinking hot cocktails, hopefully spending time with those who matter, and of course, of giving gifts. I’d like to propose a different type of gift-giving: experience gifts.
Instead of buying another handbag, or another video game for your loved one, try to buy them an experience.
Experience gifts can be done at home or can include an adventure far away. The idea is to give someone an opportunity to try something new and maybe push the boundaries of their comfort zone.
Experience Gift Ideas for Him or Her
These ideas cover a large range of items that you could consider for your friends and family. Many of these could be used as fun date ideas, if not gifts. Plus, I think any of these could work throughout the year, on birthdays, Valentine’s Day, Christmas, Hanukkah, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, and so on.
If nothing else, hopefully, they give you some ideas to work with so that you can purchase an experience gift that is unique to them!
For the travel junkie or adrenaline junkie in your life, consider these:
- Purchase a national parks annual pass
- Scuba diving lessons ( I got certified in Belize – an amazing place to do it!)
- Sky Diving
- Parasailing, or paragliding
- Bungee jumping
- Hot air balloon ride
- Glamping – can purchase a weekend air BnB, or get them the supplies for it.
- Attend a festival – this can be music, beer (Oktoberfest!), movie festivals
- Horseback riding lessons
- Ski Lessons
- Boating or sailing experiences, Kayaking
- Sports lesson: tennis, golf etc.
- Race car driving
- Flying lessons – learn how to fly a plane!
- White water rafting
Foodie & Drink experiences
Who likes to eat (I sure do). I’m not crazy about cooking, but I do love food and trying new things. If you know someone like this, consider these experience gift ideas:
- Money or a gift certificate to be used towards a Michelin star restaurant
- Food tour – this can be local, or you can purchase one for their next trip
- Winery tours, or wine tastings
- Brewery tours and tastings
- Cooking classes – what better way to appreciate what you’re eating!
- Pay for a private chef to come and cook a meal for you in your own home
- Meal subscriptions – so that you can start cooking if you don’t already
- Food subscriptions – meat and cheese clubs, international munchies boxes (my brother subscribes to universal yums which sends you snacks from a different country each month)
In regards to drink experiences:
- Cocktail sets – as a way to encourage experimenting at home
- Beer brewing kit
- Winemaking kits – yup this is a thing
- World coffee sampler – check this one out here
Arts and Crafts Experiences
- Classes/lessons for painting, pottery, DIY, sewing, crocheting, knitting
- Flower arranging class
- Gardening or plant club memberships
- Photography class, and learning how to develop film
- Tickets to concerts, comedy clubs, theater shows
- Gym/soul cycle memberships
- Class pass subscription
- Dance classes
- The Mirror – an at home gym within a mirror
Why Experience Gifts
Experiences teach us things and help us make memories that last much longer than the gift itself. These are unique ways to spend time with people, to learn or try something new and give yourself stories to talk about later.
There is plenty of data out there that suggest that spending money on experiences, versus things brings us more happiness. While a lot of these suggestions requiring the purchasing of some item or another, it is for the purpose of the experience (versus a handbag that will sit in your closet and may or may not get used).
I think experience gifts also bring a thoughtfulness to your present that otherwise may not come through. Thinking about someone and what they like to do or want to do, and then gifting them that can speak volumes. For some people, it’s about not having the time or money to figure it out for themselves. Even a small amount of time doing an activity of interest can, I think, last a lot longer.
I hope these experience gifts and ideas come in handy when you’re shopping this holiday season. Sometimes the most important thing isn’t how much you spend, or how fancy the present, but in what you get out of the gift. Experience gifts can teach you, push you, give you memories, and above all they give you time spent with the people you care about.
Images courtesy of unsplash
Sanjana is a physician anesthesiologist, avid traveler, and entrepreneur. She founded The Female Professional in order to give women a voice and a platform to express themselves. With her experiences as a physician, as a CEO of a startup, and as a writer, she understands the struggles and frustrations that women face. She also understands what it takes to move past those things and come out on top. Through this platform, Sanjana aims to empower women to be their best, authentic, selves, achieve work/life balance, and live life to the fullest.