What to Know About Giving the Gift of Experiences

We’re in the midst of the holiday season, and you may be scrambling to get last-minute gifts.

Even outside of the holiday season, picking meaningful gifts for birthdays and other scenarios can be a challenge, whether it’s for your kids, the rest of your family, or your friends. 

One option is to give the gift of experiences. When you give experiences, there are so many benefits. 

These benefits include:

  • Science shows experiential gifts bring more happiness than “stuff” you might buy. 
  • An experience-related gift is exciting for a much longer period of time. You can feel excited when you plan it, the person receiving it is excited when they realize what it is, and then they get to look forward to actually doing whatever it is you choose. 
  • Even for kids, an experience gift will provide so much more value than something physical. 
  • You can create lasting memories. If you, for example, plan a family trip to somewhere your kids are excited about, you’ll get the added benefit of all being together and bonding while you’re away. 
  • When you buy experiences, you can feel like you’re getting your money’s worth, no matter how much or how little you’re able to spend. 
  • It shows you know someone on a deeper level when you gift them with something they’re going to enjoy doing. 
  • You’re not spending money on things that might end up being trash, like fast fashion or plastic toys. 
  • If you’re buying an experience for your kids or creating one, you’ll have fewer toys in your home after the holiday so there’s going to be less clutter, which is always helpful. 
  • When you share experiences with your kids, no matter how simple, they have higher rates of academic success, feelings of security, and a better overall sense of identity. 

With that in mind, the following are some tips and things to know about this unique approach to gifting. 

Plan From the Perspective of the Person You’re Buying For

The great benefit of an experiential gift is that it’s something so specifically tailored and individualized to the person you’re buying it for, or at least that’s the intention. 

Take some time to think about the person you’re getting a gift for. Make sure that you don’t get so caught up in the excitement that you plan something for them they won’t enjoy. 

Everyone is different, so come from the perspective of the recipient. What’s truly meaningful and valuable to them?

Do they love adventure, or are they someone that prefers to relax? Are they a person who likes to learn new things or have a creative outlet?

With an experience-related gift, don’t try to push someone outside of their comfort zone or convince them to do something they’re not interested in.

You want it to be special to them, rather than something you think they should do. 

At the same time, while you don’t want to push someone into doing something, you do want to think about creating an experience they might not otherwise do for themselves. 

Travel-Related Experiences

Experience gifts related to travel are among the most fun to give. You may not be able to plan an entire trip for someone, but what you can do includes:

  • Arrange a virtual travel experience if you have a loved one who’s reluctant to physically travel due to the pandemic. 
  • Get them a gift card for a vacation rental. 
  • Book someone a day pass to a resort or hotel. It can even be close to home. 
  • If you have kids, surprise them with a trip somewhere that will appeal to them. 
  • If you know someone already has a trip planned, you could book an added experience for them while they’re there. 

If you’re getting an experience gift for someone very close to you, like a spouse, you might end up planning their dream vacation.

You can work with a travel agent on the details if you’re worried about the concept of planning the entire trip yourself. 

Adventurous Experiences

If you have someone in your life who’s an adventure-seeker, this can provide great opportunities to gift them with something they’ll love. 

For example, you can book a helicopter tour, a ziplining experience, or you can book something like skydiving if they’re daring. 

Active Gifts

Getting out and being active is great for our mental and physical health. Options available for active gift experiences include:

  • Book a bike tour for someone in your own city or perhaps a location nearby. 
  • Arrange for a ski day. 
  • Book a yoga or wellness retreat. 

Food-Related Gifts

Is there anything better than delicious food? There are many ways you can create gifts for the foodie in your life. 

  • Hire a private chef for an evening to make them a special meal at their home. You can also have a chef come to them and give cooking lessons, or you can find a cooking school locally that features private lessons. 
  • Plan a private wine tasting or a brewery or distillery tour. 
  • Book a food tour that goes to all the local best eateries either in your city or town or perhaps another destination.

Learning Gifts

An experience gift can be a way for someone you care about to experience something new in the form of learning. Learning-related experience gifts include: 

  • Book online lessons for something the person has always wanted to learn, like a foreign language or how to play a musical instrument. 
  • Buy an annual subscription to a platform like Masterclass so the person can choose what they learn about. 
  • You can book a local course for the person. 

We most often think about travel ideas when we book experiences, which is a great option.

A lot of the above recommendations can work along with travel plans, but there are other ways outside of trip planning that you can give the gift of experiences too. 

When you gift someone with an experience, it’s a gift that does last them for a lifetime.

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