While this site has plenty of ideas for tangible gifts, experience-based gifts are great too. Experience gifts are best for people who complain about having “too much stuff,” have recently downsized (maybe they recently moved or, like me, are trying desperately to unclutter), or the “person who has everything.” Here are a bunch of ideas for gifts that aren’t things.
Vacations and Day Trips
The mother of all experience gifts is, of course, a vacation. My mom had never been to Washington D.C. so, a few years back, I put together an inexpensive weekend trip to see the nation’s capital and she loved it! BookIt is my go-to for booking vacation packages. I recently went to the Bahamas for 6 nights and stayed at a pretty decent all inclusive (the Melia Nassau) for only $1,250 — including direct flight and all food and drinks. Those deals are out there!
Go to Airbnb and search the nearest city for experiences. I live about 20 miles outside of Manhattan and Airbnb doesn’t offer “Experiences” for my ZIP code, so I adjust the search to Manhattan, and there’s a treasure trove of ideas at your fingertips that you can buy right through the platform.
My mom’s been going on about wanting to learn Italian for as long as I can remember. Babbel has an app you can use to learn any of 13 languages at a much smaller cost than Rosetta Stone.
Hot air balloon ride
While the idea of being in a wicker basket in the sky is terrifying to me, it makes a classic, romantic, memorable gift.
Guided meditation classes
Classes in guided meditation are a good idea for people who are curious about meditation but don’t know how to get started and prefer a more real-world experience than you get from a meditation app.
My dad just recently relocated 10 minutes from where the Mets do their spring training, so I was able to snag great seats for cheap. StubHub is my favorite for getting last minute tickets to sporting events at often a fraction of the face value price.
Give the git of cooking classes to someone who wants to learn new techniques, not to someone you think is bad at cooking. In the same vein, a meal kit subscription like Blue Apron or Plated is a fun way to try new foods and techniques and can set a sort of “date night” to eat together weekly.
This get pricey quickly, but what mom doesn’t love a spa day? Spa Finder can show you what spas are near you and what they offer.
There’s a lot of good stuff out there besides Hamilton. I think Rent is actually coming back around.
Set up an alert on a site like Ticketmaster or Songkick to get notified when their favorite musician or band is coming around. StubHub is great for getting good deals on last minute concerts.
Wine & Paint night
My mom and I did a “Paint Your Pet” night at one of those “wine & paint” places nearby and we found out my mom is a super capable artist! These are great without wine as well.
Tai Chi classes
This is great low impact physical activity for people who need to chill the f*** out.