This year I published ten gift guides, pinned 150+ more gift ideas, shipped what felt like 139479 orders from my own boutique… and yet I think I saved the best for last. The holiday season is about so much more than shopping for the perfect present for every friend and family member — it’s about creating memories and moments you’ll cherish for years to come. That’s why I love gifting activities and experiences in lieu of traditional wrapped presents and decided to share a few of my favorite ideas with you. (Two years ago, I signed my entire extended family up for a private krav maya lesson the morning after Christmas. I don’t think any of us retained much about self-defense, but it made for one of the most hilarious Christmases in recent memory.) I love to partner up with my siblings and brainstorm activities that our family members will love. It’s also really fun to have an activity or event to look forward to in the new year!

Psst! This is also a great tactic for those of you who still have a number of people to buy gifts for. If you’re stressing about either paying an arm and a leg for expedited shipping or duking it out with hundreds of other shoppers at the mall, ask yourself whether there’s a thoughtful experience you could gift instead! No shipping, no wrapping, maybe just a print-out of tickets and a thoughtful note. Without further ado, 35 activities to give as gifts:

35 experiential gifts activities and events instead of traditional presents!

{pin it for future reference!}

  1. Aerial yoga class (dying to do this!)
  2. Art lessons
  3. Baking class (I’ve done macarons but cookie or cupcake decorating would also be cool!)
  4. Broadway tickets (see three plays I saw this year and recommend)
  5. Calligraphy workshop (I took this one)
  6. Ceramics workshop (check!)
  7. Cirque du Soleil tickets (my favorite has been La Nouba in Orlando but I’m dying to see O in Las Vegas!)
  8. Coffee tasting
  9. Concert tickets (Will gave me Taylor Swift tickets for our anniversary!!!)
  10. Cooking lesson
  11. Comedy club (love the Comedy Cellar in NYC)
  12. Dance classes (I would totally take a hip hop class with my sister…)
  13. Day at an amusement park
  14. Hang gliding (my brother and I went in Switzerland and need to find a place to go in the U.S.!)
  15. Horseback lesson
  16. Hot air balloon ride (bucket list item!)
  17. Gift certificates to favorite restaurants (we love doing this for our parents)
  18. Language classes
  19. Mani/pedi gift certificate
  20. Membership to a local theater (we loved the Westport Country Playhouse as kids!)
  21. Mixology class
  22. Movie theater gift card
  23. Museum membership (I just joined the MoMA)
  24. Sailboat ride (we did this on Nantucket but you can go in New York too!)
  25. Skydiving
  26. SoulCycle classes
  27. Spa day (best mom present ever)
  28. Sports tickets
  29. Surfing lesson
  30. Sushi making class
  31. Tennis lessons
  32. Trapeze lesson (this.is.so.fun!)
  33. Turkish bath (if you’ve met me in real life, chances are you’ve heard about the Turkish bath my mom, sister, and I went to in Istanbul… suffice it to say my mom is probably the only one who would repeat the experience but it made for a great story!)
  34. Whitewater rafting
  35. Wine tasting

A few resources for booking events like these: Gilt City, Groupon, Ticketmaster, and Vimbly. And if you’ve already finished your holiday shopping, consider getting your family involved in a charitable activity on Christmas Eve! We like to bake cookies for the nurses at the hospital where my mom works and sing Christmas carols to patients. Are there any activities your family participates in each Christmas? What experiences have you given as gifts? I’ll add more as I think of them (I have a feeling I’ll be referring back to this post pretty often!) and I’d love to hear your ideas in the comments!

24 thoughts on “35 EXPERIENTIAL GIFTS

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  1. Love this idea! Usually a bit more personal. I bought sports tickets for my boyfriend this year and we usually surprise each other with concert tickets throughout the year so we can enjoy events together. Some great ideas on your list!


  2. what a fantastic post! The gift guides are great but this is such a unique list.

    I plan on borrowing a couple ideas to add to my resolution list for the new year.

  3. Experience gifts have always been something in the back of my mind, but I am determined to give them when everyone in my family is a little bit older and can really appreciate them a lot more. I will definitely be pinning this – my hometown doesn’t have a lot of opportunities for some of them, but they are great to keep in mind for the future!

    Happy holidays!!

  4. I know a lot of guys have loved the ‘racing track’ experience…they get to drive like crazy lambo’s and ferrari’s. my sister got her husband one for his birthday and i think it’s to date the #1 day of his life (besides i’m assuming marrying my sister…and the birth of his son) idk, close third though!

  5. Love this post! Last year I got Stephen a butchering class where we butchered half a pig (stay with me) and then got to take home 16 lbs. of fresh pork! I know that sounds crazy but we LOVED it – and it made us forever more conscious about where our meat comes from. 🙂

    Happy Holidays!

  6. This post was extremely helpful and I agree with you, it’s not about the perfect wrapped gift. It’s about spending time with your family and making plans to create new memories! Thank you.

    Also, turkish bath story forever.

    1. This is so great, Mackenzie! For hot air balloons—there are a few festivals in upstate NY, usually in late summer/early fall. I’m hoping to make it up to one this year!!