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11 Last-Minute Experience Gifts to Give this Holiday Season

The best gifts come from the heart. And don’t require waiting on shipping.

It’s the most wonderful time of the year…unless you hate giving gifts. Finding the perfect present is hard, especially for the person who has it all. Instead of convincing them they need that DIY root beer kit, we’re giving experience gifts this holiday season.

Why Give Experience Gifts?

Most adults buy things as they need them. Sure, we might be thrilled to receive a new pair of socks or a cool gadget from our Secret Santa, but ultimately those gifts just add to our ever-growing piles of stuff.

Experience gifts are thoughtful and provide something to look forward to once the winter blues set in. An Italian cooking class will do more to lift their spirits than another cashmere sweater. Although we do love cashmere sweaters. Ya know, if you already got us one.

An added bonus to this type of present is the speed. If you’re running behind on holiday shopping, many experience gifts can be purchased and delivered virtually within seconds. You look thoughtful without having to brave the malls on December 23. 
experience gifts - cooking class

 

11 Last-Minute Experience Gifts We Love

1. Tickets to a Sports Game

For die-hard sports fans, nothing will light them up like tickets to see their favorite team. 

Even if you can’t afford to dole out the dough for an NFL or NBA game, tickets to see a minor league team will still make for a memorable experience. Cue the peanuts and cracker jacks.  
experience gifts - sports game

 

2. Cooking Class

Amateur chefs, foodies, and people who nearly burn the house down every time they turn on the stove would all be thrilled to receive a cooking class. With classes offered both in-person and virtually, your loved one will become a pro at whipping up all different cuisines, from Italian to Greek to Korean. 

The fact that you’ll be their go-to taste tester is only an added perk. Definitely not the whole purpose.

experience gifts - cooking class

 

3. Staycation

Give the gift of room service and 800-thread-count sheets via a staycation at a local hotel. Maybe it’s that posh hotel right in their city, or a cute bed & breakfast a short drive away. 

And if you’re partnered? You just earned your spot as their plus one. Jealousy looks cute on us.

experience gifts -staycation

 

4. A Customized Day on the Town

Is their love language “quality time”? They’ll swoon over this gift.  

Here’s how to do it: create a homemade certificate for a day of fun, and customize the itinerary to their interests. We’re thinking breakfast at a local cafe, an afternoon at the spa, and tapas for dinner? 
experience gifts - customized day

 

5. Spa Day

Nobody is disappointed by a trip to the spa. Unless it’s your Grandpa who hates being touched. 

You can either put together a whole itinerary for them complete with a massage, facial, and acupuncture treatment, or simply pass along a gift card. Either way, they’ll be zen and you’ll be the gift-giver of the year. Not that we’re competitive or anything.

experience gifts - spa

 

6. Art Class

Unleash their inner artist with a spot in a cool art class. With options including pottery, painting, sculpture, or knitting, there’s a class for everyone. Especially your sister who picks up a new artsy hobby every month.

experience gifts

 

7. Concert Tickets

If the sting of losing out on Taylor Swift Eras Tour tickets in the Ticketmaster debacle of ’22 hit them particularly hard, make up for it with tickets to another awesome concert in your area.

Here’s our friendly reminder to double-check their schedule first, otherwise this gift will end up being a disappointing reminder of what they’re missing.

experience gifts - concert tickets

 

8. Book of the Month Subscription

Okay this one is not fully an experiential gift, but Book of the Month does provide the regular experience of reading. You can make it even more experiential by getting a subscription yourself and hosting monthly book clubs to discuss.

Chatty reader friend approved.

experience gifts - Book of the Month

 

9. Local Food Tour

Many cities offer food tours where attendees get to visit local restaurants, bakeries, and bars for a taste of the cuisine. Sign your foodie friend and a plus one up for a day full of noms with this fun experience.

Gift topper idea: Tums. 

experience gifts - food tour

 

10. Theater Tickets

Is Hamilton coming to town? Snag a couple of tickets as an experience gift this season. If you really want to go big, some theaters offer season tickets.  Just how large was your holiday bonus this year?

experience gifts- theater

 

11. Storyworth

Storyworth is an especially great gift for parents and grandparents. Each week over the course of the year, your loved one will be emailed a thought-provoking writing prompt. All of their responses are then printed into a book for them to keep. You can even order extras for others in the fam.

Let the sappy family stories commence.

experience gifts

By Jess Lohr

Jess is the co-founder of Adultescence, a podcast, blog and social media brand for twenty-somethings making the transition from life in college to adulthood. She writes about dating, friendship, money, and career. She also specializes in consumer insights, and is passionate about helping brands infuse the voice of their customers into their marketing, product, and CX strategies.

In her free time, you can find Jess spinning at The Handle Bar, obsessively consuming personal finance content, and playing with her adorable (but chaotic) puppy, Luca. You can follow her on Instagram @jesslohr or on LinkedIn.

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