What’s the purpose of gift-giving, really? Besides checking someone off a list, giving your loved ones something that you know they’ll enjoy is an acknowledgment that they matter to you. While even the smallest of presents will surely be appreciated, giving the important people in your life a memory they’ll truly cherish is, well, priceless—which is exactly why experience gifts are our fave way of showing your giftee you care.
Although the idea of gifting someone with an experience may not sound like the most budget-friendly endeavor, never fear, there are plenty of immersive options out there that fall under a range of price points. From virtual workshops and classes to nature adventures and daycations, here are 25 of our favorite experience gifts you can give this holiday season.
1. The Adventure Challenge Family Camera Set
Best for a Digital Cleanse
Does your fam need a much-earned break from cell phones or the computer? Help them reconnect with a few hours of pre-planned fun with this family set, which contains a book of 50 secret-but-detailed activities suitable for adults and kids ages 4 to 15 years, as well as an instant camera to snap pics of all the fun. Here’s how it works: Family members choose an activity by parameter (say, a free activity that takes an hour) and then scratch off one of the sections on the journal's pages to reveal the surprise activity underneath—like a lotto ticket. The only rule? There’s no take-backs once the adventure is revealed. It’s fun, silly stuff, like having kids take a swing at small pieces of fruit being pitched at them by an adult (the most hits wins), or blindfolded baking competitions where everyone eats the results. Giftees can then paste their instant pics in the book next to a one or two-line descriptor for a memorable keepsake that will keep on growing as the adventures do.
2. Amazon Explore Virtual Tours
Best for the Armchair Traveler
Did COVID-19 put a damper on your loved one’s travel plans? Give the perfect gift to your favorite person with wanderlust in the form of these private and group livestream tours from around the world led by local virtual guides. Users can pick a date and time to accompany a tour guide narrating, say, the ancient ruins in Rome, as they watch and listen on the computer, asking questions of the guide about anything they see or hear along the way. A Harry Potter fan may enjoy exploring landmarks in London while a someone else might prefer to browse the kawaii merch in Tokyo’s Harajuku district—the options are endless!
3. Uncommon Goods She Explores Book
Best for the Adventurer
For those who prefer to blaze their own trail, there’s this gorgeous book that features, in words and pictures, 40 great outdoor-loving women who are tough, resourceful and love to get around. Subtitled “Stories of Life-Changing Adventures on the Road and in the Wild,” this book features their tales of road tripping, cooking over open campfires, backpacking with babies—the adventures are endless. It’s a safe bet that this will inspire any giftee to get up and off the couch—pronto.
4. MasterClass Annual Membership
Best for Creatives
Does your recipient like to write? Maybe they’d enjoy some hints on how to get started from popular humorist David Sedaris. Or do they like photography? How about a lesson on how to use light from legendary celebrity chronicler Annie Leibovitz herself? Songwriting or performance? They’ll definitely want to hear from Grammy award-winning performer Nas. This one-year membership will give them access to all of the above and more with online instruction from more than 100 of the world’s most accomplished practitioners in media and the arts—among other pursuits. (And if you order by midnight on November 29, you can score an annual membership for yourself and one to gift to someone else for the price of one.)
5. YesChef Classes
Best for the Foodie
This series of chef-led cooking classes is accessible to the new cook but will be most appreciated by a person who understands the particular challenges of being a pro chef and the talent they possess. Each instructor provides 12 or more cooking classes that last around 25 minutes each, with dozens of techniques and tips being demonstrated and recipes shared. From James Beard award-winner Nancy Silverton’s pepper steak recipe to Israeli cuisine expert Erez Komarovsky’s explanations of everything from spice grinding to lamb kebab-making, these classes promise to be any foodie’s digital equivalent of a much-loved cookbook with pages spattered from repeated use.
YesChef is also offering a BOGO deal, where if you order by midnight on November 29, you'll be able to score two annual passes for the price of one.
6. Virgin Experience Gifts
Best for the Hard-to-Buy for Friend
If you’re aren’t totally sure where to start when it comes to experience gifts, Virgin Experience Gifts has you covered. With dozens of options across the country—we’re talking spa days, white water rafting, wine tastings and so, so much more—you’re guaranteed to find something they’ll adore. Just narrow your options down based on location, foot the bill and watch their face light up when they realize they’re going on a hot air balloon ride over the countryside’s rolling hills.
7. Escape the Crate Clue Puzzle
Best for the Puzzle Solver
Think of this as an escape room in a box. Packed with brain-busters and riddles, its contents will have you and your team will working through a mystery, searching for clues and solving puzzles to advance through the game. The box comes with all the goods needed to fully immerse yourself in the experience, including props, hint-filled papers and envelopes and illustrations—there are even clues hidden on the box itself!
8. Cameo Video Recording
Best for the Pop Culture Lover
If your bestie always has the latest goss on what’s going on with the Housewives and Ru Paul’s Drag Race, knows which celeb is dating who and fills you in on all the TikTok drama, gifting them a video from Cameo will make their Christmas—if not their entire year. Scroll through the site’s hundreds of actors, musicians, athletes, internet personalities and politicians (everyone from Snoop Dog to Mandy Moore is on the site) and pick one you know will get them excited. Once you make your selection, you write a script and send it in, but keep in mind it has to be 250 characters or less, so keep it short and sweet.
9. Shaker and Spoon Subscription Box
Best for the At-Home Mixologist
Introduce your gal pal that never misses happy hour to this everything-but-the-booze box set. Each one comes with three cocktail recipes and all the necessities needed to make more than 10 drinks (!). All she’ll need to do is add her favorite alcohol, and voilá! Guzzle-worthy cocktails made within the comfort of her own home.
10. Rosetta Stone Classes
Best for the Learning Enthusiast
If your mom has been wanting to pick up Italian for years, Rosetta Stone is the one-stop-shop to making her dreams become reality. With more than 25 languages to choose from, Rosetta Stone helps its students become fluent speakers through real-world scenarios, interactive lessons and audio clips from native speakers. Before you know it, she’ll be saying “Caio” with the best of them.
Best for the World Traveler
It may be cheesy, but the biggest gift you can give to someone who loves you is your time. Whether it be your best friend, your significant other or your mom, at the end of the day, spending quality time to those closest to you is so important. A wonderful way hold your loved ones close and show you want to spend a weekend lounging around together is booking a little staycation at a VRBO location. With thousands of locations across the country that fall under every price point imaginable, you'll find the perfect spot to take those you cherish the most on mini vacay filled with lots of quality time spent together.
12. Obé Fitness Membership
Best for the Gym Buff
Obé Fitness sessions offer your best gym buddy the ability to take on 20 live classes daily, plus, they’ll have access to more than 6,000 on-demand workouts. That means wherever they are, whether it be their home, a hotel or even the office after-hours, they can get their sweat on.
13. Spafinder Gift Card
Best for the One Who Needs A Little TLC
You’ll be hard-pressed to find a loved one who wouldn’t be thrilled at the prospect of a pampering spa day. With a SpaFinder gift card they can book massages, facials, manis and pedis—even full spa weekends—at any available locations near their home.
14. ClassPass Membership
Best for the City Dweller
ClassPass is an ideal option for fitness lovers looking to try out something new or experiment with different types of workouts. Members can enroll in a variety of classes, from hot yoga and pilates to boxing boot camps, without having to sign up for a month-to-month membership at any one gym. If your buddy is a beauty lover, ClassPass members also receive access to dozens of spas and salons in their city, so instead of trying out different gyms, they can hop around to test out different mani/pedi spots.
15. The Sill Planting Workshop
Best for the Plant Parent
A plant is always a welcome gift, with or without a holiday at hand. But you can up the ante with an online workshop that will teach the budding plant mom in your life how to keep their little green babies, happy, healthy, and, most importantly, alive. Classes start at $0 (yes, some are free!) and cover everything from potting 101 to succulent care, helping your giftee say goodbye to that wilted fiddle leaf in their living room corner and hello to their brand new green thumb.
Best for the One Who Needs A Daycation
From California to New York (and everywhere else in between), ResortPass will offer your giftee the opportunity to spend the day at dozens of chic hotels, utilizing any of the fun-filled amenities. Does your sister have a pool party for her kiddos coming up? Gift her ResortPass so that she can use the cabana at one of her local hotspots for the perfect party venue. Or is she starting to feel burnt out and is in need of some R&R? Well in that case, she can head over to the spa for an afternoon of pampering and relaxation.
17. Fender Play Membership
Best for the Soon-to-Be Rockstar
You know that your niece has been wanting to take guitar lessons (or ukulele, bass or violin lessons) forever. No matter what instrument she feels the most compelled toward, you can help her get started by gifting her with a year of online music lessons through Fender Play. Once you do, she’ll have access to popular sheet music, advice for playing with the proper form and progress tracking tools, so she can finally start rocking out.
18. The Crafter’s Box Digital Workshop
Best for the DIY-er
Select from an array of artisan-led digital workshops that can guide your crafty friend through courses that focus on knitting, pressed floral crafts, tapestry weaving, hand-dipped candles, handmade paper and so much more. Students will receive all the tools and materials needed to follow along and successfully create crafts they can proudly display throughout their house.
19. bande Membership
Best for the at-Home Workout Fiend
Select between a starter or an unlimited package to give your friend that became obsessed with at-home workouts during quarantine access to live-streamed workout seshes—from barre and dancing to boxing and strength training—provided by different coaches that are experts in the field.
20. Blue Apron Subscription
Best for the Cooking Novice
They say the way to someone’s heart is through their stomach, so give them the gift of a home-cooked meal. This food service will send pre-selected meal plans directly to their door, each of which will come equipped with easy-to-follow instructions and all the ingredients needed to help them level up their kitchen game.
21. Winc Wines
Best for the Oenophile
Everyone loves to receive some vino during the holidays, so get your bestie's wine fridge stocked and ready for the upcoming holidays by signing her up to be a member of Winc. She starts off by taking a quiz so that Winc can suggest wines that will fit within her preferred palate. If she receives a bottle she doesn't enjoy, she can send it back free of charge. Although we doubt that'll happen, from their chards all the way to their cabs, each bottle Winc produces is better tasting than the last.
22. Tablet Hotel Membership
Best for the Jet-Setter
You know your mom is a little picky when it comes to where she's staying for vacations. So why not sign her up to become a Tablet Hotel member so she can stay at a luxurious, boutique hotel for some much-needed R&R? Tablet essentially pulls together only the highest of reviewed hotels and puts them in one spot. If a hotel gets poor reviews, it's removed. What you're left with is a list of hotels that have received nothing but gushing remarks by patrons who have stayed there previously. In short, it's the perfect way to escape daily life.
23. America the Beautiful National Parks & Federal Recreational Lands Annual Pass
Best for the Nature Appreciator
If camping in Yosemite, exploring Joshua Tree or hiking through the Grand Canyon are all things that practically scream your nature-loving bestie’s name, gifting them an America the Beautiful park pass is a no brainer. This annual pass covers entry cost to thousands of federal recreation sites across the country. That means your pal will be able to check off all their bucket list items—one at a time.
24. Italic Membership
Best for the Fashionista
There are dozens of fashion-based, personal shopper memberships out there, but Italic is one of our favorites. Sign your little sister up for a membership, with which she can receive a stylist’s advice and curated boxes of apparel that have been hand-selected for her tastes. Plus, being an Italic member offers other perks she's def going to want to take advantage of, like more than $100 in store credit, early access to new drops and deals, a gifting concierge and invites to member-only sales and events.
25. Disney on Ice (& Other Family-Friendly Live Shows)
Best for Families
If you're looking for ways to surprise the kids—and they already have enough toys—check out Feld Entertainment's roster of live shows heading to your area. The company's responsible for performances like Disney on Ice, Sesame Street Live and Monster Jam, so there's a safe bet you'll find something for the whole fam, no matter what everyone's into. And, if you book before midnight on December 4 using code 2021CW, you can save up to 35 percent on tickets.