As we work to give more intentionally this season, experience gifts can be a great way to minimize consumerism and reduce our environmental footprint from gifting. There aren’t physical resources going into the production of the gift (other than if you print out just a gift certificate!) there’s no shipping, and little to no gift wrapping is needed, etc.
Plus, of course, they’re the perfect gift for the minimalist or the one who you just don’t know what to give this season!
For simplified navigation, I’ve split this guide into Experience Gifts for Her and Him, Experience Gifts for the Couple, and Experience Gifts for Kids. Though, certainly many experience gift ideas can be relevant for numerous types of people!
2020 UPDATE: We’re adding a virtual experience gifts section this holiday season for obvious reasons!
Note that this article includes affiliate links which means that I will be compensated if you make a purchase through one of these links.
Virtual Experience Gifts
1. Got a home chef on your list? Sign them up for an online cooking class through Airbnb and even better if you get yourself a ticket so you can do it “together” even if you’re miles apart. I did the Pasta with the Grandmas experience with my fiancé in Germany along with my parents and grandparents who participated in the virtual experience from the US!
3. For an activity that requires a bit less work on the participant’s end, check out the many Drinks Experiences Airbnb offers as well which features everything from coffee tours to cocktail crafting to wine tastings. (The latter would be my pick!) I did the Port Wine Class with Food Pairing and it was a lot of fun.
4. Fender Play’s online lessons are the perfect gift for the one who has always wanted to pick up the guitar.
5. Skillshare is a great hub for more general music lessons in case they’d prefer to learn or skill-up on their singing, piano playing, or another instrument.
6. And Skillshare’s photography classes might just be the best experience gift for the micro-influencer (or the one who can’t stop taking photos whenever they go anywhere) in your circle.
7. If expression through words is more their thing, try Skillshare’s Creative Writing Courses.
9. For the lifelong learner, The Great Courses — with courses in topics like philosophy, biology, and history — might just be the best choice.
9. And if your gift recipient tends to be pickier about their teachers, check out MasterClass Online, where they can learn from some of the world’s greatest thought-leaders alive today.
10. It’s been a rough year. The gift of meditation, relaxation, and better sleep with an online subscription through Headspace or Calm could be just what they need. For a more personal experience, check out Heal Haus.
12. Looking for more variety? Check out this guide to the best Online Workout Classes available now.
13. Plant lovers — green thumbs and black thumbs alike — would be overjoyed to get a “Plant Care Workshop” from The Sill as a gift this year!
14. It’s likely been a less-than-thrilling year for theater goers. Give them access to watch hundreds of productions on their tablet, phone, or TV with a BroadwayHD subscription.
15. And finally, for the bookworms, consider an Audiobook Gift Membership to Libro.fm. When you subscribe through Libro.fm, part of the subscription price also goes to local bookstores, making it a far more conscious option than Amazon’s Audible. For a full experience package, you can plan some virtual book clubs with your gift recipient as well!
In-Person Experience Gifts
This list was made last year! Browse through to see if there’s one that can be done safely now (such as an outdoor hike!) or pick a future date to go on these experiences.
Experience Gifts for Anyone
1. Take them out to eat – Grab a gift certificate to their favorite restaurant or café and pick a date for you and them to enjoy a meal together. For a more affordable option, I recommend picking a brunch restaurant!
2. Take them out for a drink – This could mean coffee at that cute local café or maybe a glass of wine at that chic bar in the city.
3. Yoga Classes – Perfect for the wellness guru, yogi, or the one who is resolving to get active in the new year. My mom got me a yoga class pass last year and it was definitely a well-appreciated (and fully used!) gift.
4. ClassPass – Not sure what kind of workout your gift recipient is interested in? ClassPass is a fitness experience membership program with 10,000+ partners in cities across the United States and around the world. The options include everything from pilates and yoga to strength training and cycling. (I’ve even seen some wellness spas on there!)
5. A Movie Theater Trip – Grab a few tickets to that comedy film you two have been talking about or get a gift certificate for future use. Some movie theater companies like Fandango even offer bonuses like a free movie ticket with a gift card purchase.
6. Painting Class – These painting studios have been really trendy these past few years—so, if this is something you think would be fun for you and your gift recipient, do a quick search of painting classes in the area (some of them also include a few glasses of wine with the painting class).
7. Rosetta Stone Language Course – If there’s someone on your list that is traveling out of the country or always talks about learning a new language, they’re sure to appreciate a language course like Rosetta Stone. (Personally, I’ve preferred learning a language with a free app called Duolingo, but there are plenty of people who swear by Rosetta Stone!)
8. A Hike or Stroll in a Nearby Park – Time together can be the most valuable gift! Pick a date, location, and save a spot on your calendar for the time that you and a friend or family member can get together and get outside.
9. Eataly Cooking Class – If you’re located in/near Chicago, NYC, Boston, LA, or Las Vegas—check out Eataly’s Italian-inspired courses like Pasta-Making 101 and Hands-On Focaccia. They also have wine tasting events!
10. Cooking Class Through Airbnb Experiences – Don’t live near any of those cities? Don’t worry—Airbnb has plenty of cooking experiences from plant-based cooking in West Busselton, Australia to truffle-hunting in Romania. Just search your city where it says “Anywhere – Cooking” in the search bar.
11. Baking Class Through Airbnb Experiences – If they’re more of a sweet tooth, take a peek at Airbnb’s dessert-making classes near you.
12. Coffee Shop Tour – You can either find a tour on a site like Viator (you may even find a place where you can get a behind-the-scenes glimpse at the roasting process) or make your own coffee tour, choosing 3 different nearby coffee shops to test out.
13. Wine Tour – Similar to the idea above, you can find either find an existing wine tour on a site like Viator or make a schedule to check out a few wineries (wine bars also work if there aren’t any wineries near you).
15. Theatre Tickets – For the musical or play-lover, tickets to an upcoming show might just be their favorite gift they receive this year!
16. Wellness Tour or Class through Airbnb Experiences – From halotherapy in Santa Fe, New Mexico to forest bathing in Gloucestershire, England give the gift of better health to the wellness guru or the one who could use a recharge.
17. Photography Lesson – This is a perfect gift for the creatives in your life who want to dabble in photography or for the friend that is slightly obsessed with getting that perfect Instagram shot!
18. Massage – Because let’s be honest: wouldn’t we all appreciate a free massage? (And it doesn’t have to be super expensive, Groupon pretty much always has deals on massages and other spa services.) If you’re not sure where they’d feel comfortable getting a massage, a SpaFinder gift card works at a wide variety of massage places.
19. Spa Treatment – Give them the gift of relaxation with a spa gift certificate or spa service voucher. You can find some unique options, like Salt Cave and Floatation Sessions, or some more conventional-style options like facials and pedicures local to you through Groupon. If you’re not sure which spa they’d like to go to, a SpaFinder gift card works at a wide variety of spas.
20. History & Culture Tour through Airbnb Experiences – The best experience gift idea for the history buffs and arts & culture aficionados in your life! From walking tours to jewelry-making classes, these are the perfect cultural and historical immersion experiences.
Experience Gifts for the Couple
21. Adventure Experience – For the adrenaline-seeking couple, Cloud 9 Living’s action & adventure experiences are your ultimate resource. They’ve got everything from whitewater rafting in Tennessee to glamping near Yellowstone National Park.
22. Date Night Packages – If you’re looking for a more low-key gift, Cloud 9 Living also has date night experiences for couples, including packages for certain cities like Chicago, Boston, Seattle, Washington D.C. and LA.
23. A Night Out on You – Groupon is another awesome resource for finding unique couple date-night ideas. Just enter your location and they’ll pull up local spots like comedy clubs and breweries with deals for a fun night out.
24. Bike Tour – For the couple that likes to stay active, book them a bike tour to take together through a scenic route.
25. Museum Tickets – If they like history, science, or art, consider gifting them a museum experience gift to a nearby museum.
26. Wine, Beer, or Cocktail Classes & Tours through Airbnb Experiences – Give them the ultimate drinking experience this year from Airbnb’s collection of local date-worthy classes for the wine drinkers, beer lovers, and cocktail-makers.
28. Comedy Tickets – For the couple that loves a good laugh, tickets to a comedy show are an awesome experience gift idea.
30. Ballroom Dance Class Lessons – Ballroom dance class lessons at a local dance studio will be a fun, active, and romantic experience gift they won’t forget!
Experience Gifts for Kids
31. Family Adventure Activities – If you want an instant list of all the kid-friendly activities in your area, Groupon’s got you covered. Just enter in your location and they’ll pull up local-to-you places like trampoline parks, arcades, and bowling alleys with deals.
32. Children’s Museum Membership – A pass to a nearby children’s museum is a great fun-meets-educational gift that will be loved by them and their parents!
33. Trip to an Amuseument Park or Water Park – If you live near an amusement park, this can be a fun experience gift idea for any kid that loves rollercoasters.
34. Game Night – Plan an evening to bring out all the board games and invite over the family for a fun old-school game night. Bonus points if the night includes homemade pizza and popcorn!
35. Bowling Alley – Schedule a trip to the neighborhood bowling alley with the younger ones for a fun, memorable outing.
36. Mini Golf – Another fantastic experience gift for kids is mini-golf!
37. Go Camping – And for the kids that like to get outdoors, a camping trip is the perfect experience gift.
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