30 Ideas For Gifting An Experience

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Getting and giving stuff seems to be what the holidays is all about.  But stuff doesn’t make us happy.  At least long term.  Memories do, though.  In fact, it’s been scientifically proven that they can make us happier with time.  (And the length of the experience is irrelevant…so if you can only afford a 4 day vacation, that’s okay.  You’ll remember it just as happily as a 2 week vacation.)  So why not give the gift that keeps on giving?  Give someone an experience this year rather than another Santa salt and pepper shaker or Xbox game.  Here are 30 ideas.


1.  The obvious, but most expensive:  buy someone a vacation!  (If you want to put a trip to Disney under the tree, I just happen to know a girl that has some insider savings tips.)

2. A day at the spa.

3.  Lift tickets for that snowboarder or skier in your life.

4.  Tickets to a concert.

5.  Tickets to a museum.

6.  Gift certificate to the movies.  (We received this last year.  Was seriously an amazing gift.  Like giving us a date night.)

7.  Tickets to a live play.

8.  Tickets to a sporting event.

9.  Admission to a laser show (like the ones they have at the science center.)

10.  Do something that’s a sacrifice for you, but will make them really happy.  (For the fiance’s birthday, I always watch a scary movie with him.  I hate them.  He loves them.  And he loves when I watch them with him, even if I’m covering my eyes the whole time.)

11.  Gift a night at your local observatory.  (They usually have free nights!)

12.  Tickets to the ballet or opera.

13.  Admission to a historical site.  (For example, there’s tons of colonial sites in my area, along with the Frick house and Fallingwater.)

14.  Rock climbing passes.

15.  A night at a DIY pottery painting place.

16.  A tour of a factory.  This sounds lame, but if you have kids there’s places like the Hershey and Crayola factories, both in PA, that offer tours of their facilities.

17.  A tour of your own city.  Many host free or name-your-own-price walking tours nowadays like Free Pittsburgh Walking Tours.

18.  A restaurant gift certificate.

19.  Reservations for a wine tasting at a vineyard.  (Not my cup of tea, but can think of a couple of people I know that would love it.)

20.  Be an ultra-babysitter.  If you know someone who has kids and you want to give them a night out on the town, that’s amazing.  But do them one better:  give them a hangover recovery day by watching their little ones the next day, too.  It’s true that it’s a big time commitment, but their parents will love you forever.

Ideas that Will Only Be Redeemable When the Weather’s Warm Again.

21.  Zoo tickets.

22.  Reserve a tee time.

23.  Admission to a mini golf place for your mini golfers.  A lot of these places have turned into kid day-resorts with go-karts, arcades, in-door playgrounds, the works.

24.  Skydiving gift certificate.

25.  Gift certificates for zip lining.  (Like the one in North Park.)

26.  Season pool passes.  You could even do this in the cold weather if you got a membership to the Y or something.

27.  Visit a national park.  There’s so many across the country with so many varied activities to do at each of them.  Unless you go on a free admission day, you’re going to have to pay to get in.

28.  Tickets to your local amusement or water park.

Ideas Exclusively for Little Ones

29.  A night out at Chuck E Cheese.  Or someplace of the like.  (Does anyone else remember and mourn the loss of Discovery Zone?)

30.  Anywhere they can jump around for hours.  Like trampoline parks.  Like here and here.

What experiences would you add to the list?

15 thoughts on “30 Ideas For Gifting An Experience

  1. Dani

    I love this idea. I’d much rather get an experience than more “stuff.” I gifted a bf a trip to Florida with Pre-season passes to his favorite baseball team- it was a great getaway that we both enjoyed! Also, though it may not be Christmas appropriate, a “gift” could be throwing them a surprise birthday party, if they like surprises that is!

  2. Jen @ Frugal Rules

    I was nodding my head in an “I-am-all-for-it” kind of way to the ideas suggested above for gifts. Come to think of it, some of them can even help save a substantial amount of money compared to buying so and so items at the department store.

    1. femmefrugality Post author

      We got movie tickets last year….it was great! And I love the murder mystery dinner idea…I attended one last year and it was a blast.

  3. anna

    I agree I would be more excited about restaurant gift certificates than clothes for the date night option. My family gave me tickets to “Rent” a long time ago and I still value that as one of the best gifts ever! Happy Thanksgiving! 🙂

  4. Mel

    I totally agree that doing stuff is more fun than getting stuff. My boyfriend keeps asking what I want for Christmas this year and I keep telling him “let’s do something.” Who knows what that’s going to result in 😛 #17 is my favorite. I remember one particularly broke year in grad school, my roommate and I decided we would spend spring break “Discovering Lynchburg” and we went to every historic/monument/free thing we could find in the area and it was way more fun and memorable than either of us ever expected.

    1. femmefrugality Post author

      Nice! Discovering your own city can really be an eye opening experience. Here’s to hoping there’s another great experience wrapped under the tree for you!

  5. The Frugal Exerciser

    I’m a spa junkie and I always tell the hubby to get me a spa package for my birthday. I have another idea for you, hiring a private chef to come in a cook a romantic dinner. I think restaurant gift cards are usually an excellent gift also. Je te souhaite un bon Thanksgiving.

  6. Becky@frametofreedom

    Great ideas! My sister started gifting experiences last year and we plan on doing the same when our kids are a bit older. Now I have some great ideas!


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