We’ve Got Enuff Stuff! Here are 55+ of My Favorite Gift Experiences
15 Minute Read
( I know, its a long one … but it’s got excellent skimming potential )
If you think back to your favorite memories, my guess is they’re not of that new car you bought or that name-brand handbag you got one year for Christmas. Instead, they’re probably experiences that made you feel alive, reminded you of what you loved the most, or allowed you to bond with someone you were really close to. And as nice as physical gifts are, they only offer a fleeting moment of excitement that fades quickly. Gift experiences, on the other hand, have a way of solidifying themselves into your mind, often staying there forever.
If you’re reading this blog, I think you’ll agree that we all have enough stuff in our lives. Which is why giving the gift of experiences can be the most meaningful way to show someone just how much they mean to you. So I’ve put together a list of the best ideas for gift experiences. These range from freeee to hot-dollaaaa! and are sure to satisfy everyone in your life, from the adrenaline-seeker to the introvert.
Here’s the short-list of ideas for gift experiences in case you’re looking for someone specific:
Before we get into the full list, here are a few websites/resources you can tap into for finding gift experiences in your area:
Airbnb Experiences – Airbnb is no longer just for accommodations. It’s also a great resource for tapping into local experiences and adventures.
Groupon – allows you to find discounted deals on local experiences, classes, tours and treatments.
Viator – a global touring company that offers tons of tours and experiences at reasonable prices.
Wellness Gift Experiences
These are a great way to detox and reset your body. They and can range from saunas, steam rooms, and thermal pools to traditional hammams. Most bathhouses offer day passes or monthly memberships.
Yoga studio membership
As someone who is religious about her yoga practice, I can guarantee that any yogi in your life would be grateful for a membership/pass to their favorite studio.
Meditation app subscription
I’ve told my husband time and time again that he could get me a massage for every birthday and Christmas present for the rest of my life, and I’d be a happy camper. From deep tissue to hot stone to Swedish massages, this gift is a crowd-pleaser for anyone who’s overly stressed or just enjoys some R&R.
Just to clear this up front and center: this has nothing to do with water or taking a bath. A sound bath is a type of meditation where you’re exposed the sound of Tibetan singing bowls or other musical instruments. The therapeutic vibrations are meant to relieve stress and anxiety, quiet the mind, and lower blood pressure. And there are now countless scientific studies that prove the medicinal benefits of sound baths and vibrational healing.
This may sound like some *woo woo *shit, but reiki is actually pretty cool. It’s a Japanese healing technique that cleans and clears your energy and helps reduce stress, anxiety, and depression. Reiki is offered at many wellness centers and spas.
Spending a few days in nature and focusing on relaxation, yoga, and wellness is the perfect reset button for anyone who’s into health and wellness.
Cuz who wouldn’t wanna spend a few days getting pampered with mud baths, full body massages, and facials!?!
Gift Experiences for the Culture Lover
From art museums like the Metropolitan Museum of Art to historical museums like the Tenement Museum and the Museum of Natural History, any lover of learning, history, and art would appreciate a ticket or yearly pass to one of their favorite museums. Some museums also offer donation-based tickets, which means that this gifts doesn’t necessarily involve dropping a wad of cash.
Every city and town has its own unique history and culture. What better way to learn about that history than to take a tour?
These can range from book tours to lectures at local museum and universities, to panels focused on a specific topic. They’re the perfect gift experience for someone who loves learning.
Self-guided exhibition walk
From big cities like NYC to smaller towns, you’ll often find a cluster of local art galleries that allow you to soak in walls and walls of artwork without having to walk too far. In NYC, there are several parallel streets in Chelsea that are home to hundreds of galleries. A DIY tour through these galleries can transport you through decades and movements of art.
Gift Experiences for the Big Kids in Your Life
Paintball / Laser Tag
Both of these ideas for gift experiences are great ways to get active and release any pent-up frustration in a healthy way 😉
I’d never get this for my mother, who’s a total claustrophobe, but for anyone who enjoys problem-solving and puzzles, this is a stimulating, out-of-the box activity for individuals and groups alike.
Dune buggy / go-kart racing
Got any friends that you’re absolutely terrified to get in the car with? Then this is the perfect experience gift for them to blow off some steam and take care of any road rage they’ve got goin’ on.
Gift Experiences for introverts
Introverts love activities that allow them to recharge. And building your own terrarium or succulent garden is one of the most meditative and creative ways to do that.
Monthly Movie pass / movie tickets
For this gift idea, you can go for a set of movie tickets, or you can splurge on a monthly pass, where the giftee can watch as many movies as they want each month (this monthly movie pass is now offered by big movie chains like Regal and AMC).
I’ve never been a big reader, but I love listening to books on tape. And with an Audible membership, you can give the gift of books without the actual book.
Netflix gift card
Who doesn’t love an 8-hour Netflix binge? And with a Netflix gift card, you can facilitate any healthy amount of screen time for the peeps in your life. 😛
Gift Experiences that’ll have those foodies salivating
Nowadays, you can pretty much find a cooking class for everything: Ayurvedic cooking, Puerto Rican cooking, sushi-making, sugar cookie making . . . you can get it all!
These are not only a great way to learn about wine, they’re also a great gift that you can join in on. They’re offered at wine bars, restaurants, and wineries (if you’re near to any).
What’s better than munching down on a fancy meal? Not having to do any of the cooking, the cleaning, or even having to get outta your sweat pants!
This may not be available everywhere, but food museums are an interactive way to learn about food and the culture associated with it. They often also include tastings or treats while you’re there. I recently went to the Museum of Food and Drink, which is a new interactive museum in NYC. I took my mum when she was visiting and we went to town on their unlimited fortune cookies and we gobbled up some grub during their food tasting too . . . mmmmm!
Street food tour
This is a great way to tap into the local culture and cuisine and eat like the locals! Whether you book an official street food tour or map out your own, this is a a total crowd-pleaser. I got this as one of my birthday presents when we visited Oaxaca City earlier this year.
This is a one-stop shop for chowing down on all kinds of food. Sometimes, there’s an entry fee that covers all of your food and drink tastings, while others have free admission and allow you to buy everything a la carte. Either way, your giftee is gonna leave a happy camper – and so is their stomach!
This is for total food geeks (like my husband!). Fermentation is one of the most popular ways to cleanse your gut and improve your body’s micro-biome. And with fermented foods becoming all the rage these days, fermentation workshops (where you make your own kombucha or sauerkraut) are becoming more and more common.
It’s important to really know your giftee for this one. You shouldn’t give this to someone who isn’t into food or isn’t gonna commit to picking up their farm-share each week. But for someone who’s really into it and maybe isn’t able to splurge on it for themselves, this is an amazing gift.
Gift Experiences for Music Lovers
A pair of tix to your favorite band or DJ? Oh, hell yes!
Tickets to a musical
OK, I’m not talking Hamilton here, but if you wanna drop half your salary, then go for it. Music junkies love any chance to immerse themselves in music, and epic musicals can be found at a local town theatre, cultural centers, or even on Broadway.
Get the music lover in your life a pair of tix to a local jazz bar. They’ll appreciate the thought and a chance to just sit and listen to music without the crowds and lines of most concerts.
Voice / Music lessons
This is a great gift for that struggling musician, or for someone who’s always wanted to give it a try but either doesn’t have the cash or the courage to do it on their own.
These can range from one-day events to entire weekends and allow people to listen to a boatload of different artists all in one place.
Spotify is hands-down my favorite music streaming service. I used to a pandora fanatic, but that sh*t got repetitive. Now I’m hooked on Spotify, and any music lover would love this gift.
Gift Experiences for Families
Pre-made picnic in the park
Gifts don’t always have to cost a pretty penny. And can often be just as thoughtful (if not more) when the experience is hand-crafted from scratch. As someone who’s love language is “quality time”, I’d rank this gift experience higher than most on this list. Just knowing that my someone took the time to prepare a picnic afternoon in the park makes it a fan favorite.
This one requires a bit of equipment and preparation. But camping is a great way to get back to nature, disconnect from the screens and the wifi, and have one-on-one time with the people you love. Plus, its also super inexpensive! **Glamping is also an option if you’re not up for roughing it.
A fun way to present this gift experience is to create a little coupon or voucher with different trail options the giftee can choose from. This also let’s them be part of the process.
Great for couples and families alike, it often creates lifelong memories – like the time when your husband was trying to impress you by how fast he could go and ended up flat on his ass!
This is a skydiving simulator where a bunch of air blows you upward, counteracting your bodyweight so you begin to float. It’s basically indoor skydiving and it’s a fun way to get some adrenaline pumping without actually jumping out of a plane.
These parks have always looked so fun to me. From trampoline obstacle courses to interactive trampoline walls, this is a great way to get kids active, burn some of that never-ending energy, and defy some gravity too.
The best way to learn is by doing. And interactive museums allow kids (and big kids!) to learn by doing and playing, instead of just reading something off of a plaque and hoping it sinks in.
Visit a farm
This was actually my birthday present 2 years ago. We went to Stone Barns in upstate NY and learned about crop rotation, natural pest control, foraged our own snacks from the trees, and even made our own spring rolls from fresh-cut veggies in the farm. This is a great way to reconnect with where your food comes from, and learn how yummy it can be to eat something fresh (instead of something that’s not-so-fresh from the store).
Gift Experiences for the Adrenaline Seeker
Rock-climbing walls can be found in most major cities and offer options for beginners and experts alike.
If you’re planning on gifting this experience to someone, make sure they’re actually up for it first or have talked about doing it at least once. This one is no joke! But it’s definitely a once-in-a-lifetime experience they’ll never forget.
Like the option above, this is not for the light-hearted and is only for true adrenaline junkies.
Ride in a sail plane (a.k.a. taking a ride in a plane that doesn’t have an engine!)
My brother gifted this experience to my dad earlier this year. It was one of his bucket list items. So, we drove him upstate and didn’t give him even the slightest inclination of where he was going or what he was gonna do. He absolutely loved it!
You’re probably wondering how it flies without an engine, so here’s the down-low: the sail plane is tethered to a plane that actually has an engine. The plane takes off into the sky with the sail plane towed behind it. And once they’ve reached a high-enough altitude, the sail plane detaches from the other plane and it’s aerodynamic design (and the insanely skilled pilot flying it) keeps the plane in the air for as long as you like.
This is one of the most surreal experiences you could ever give someone. Glow-in-the-dark plankton lights up in the water, giving you a naturally occurring glow-in-the dark experience that you’ve probably only ever seen from a glow stick. And bioluminescence tours can be done on a stand-up paddle board, kayak, or even in a boat.
Who wouldn’t want to fly through the trees of a forest like a monkey?
This is not only an adrenaline-pumping experience, it’s also a great trust-building exercise where you’re literally counting on someone else to keep you from falling.
Gift Experiences for Fitness Junkies (like my husband!)
Session with a personal trainer
Fitness enthusiasts would love nothing more than a session with a personal trainer to perfect their technique and give them some one-on-one advice on firming up those buns of steel.
This is a chance to get active, get some pent-up frustration out, and of course, kick some ass!
This is perfect for anyone who loves to dance, or for someone who could use a little help in the rhythm department!
Gift Experiences for Couples
Ceramics / Art class
This is something I actually gifted to myself recently. It was a great way to channel my creativity and also learn something new. These kinds of classes can be a weekend-intensive, a weekly class, or a one-time thing.
Like the above, this can give you a couple of hours to be creative while sipping on some wine and enjoying each other’s company.
Immersive theatre experience
This gift is not for the shy or bashful and requires a whole lotta hutzpah! or at least some openness. Interactive theatre involves the audience in the storyline, often requiring them to participate in the experience and step out of their comfort zone to do so.
Who doesn’t love a good laugh? And with comedy clubs all over the place, this is a fun, low-budget, date-night gift idea.
Weekend trip away
This one requires a bit of planning ahead and a bit of cash for transportation, accommodations, and activities. But it’s one of the best ideas for a gift experience. Your partner will love this idea and will appreciate the time and effort you put into it.