99 Ridiculously Great Experience Gift Ideas

by - Wednesday, May 23, 2018

So, you love giving gifts. Me too! Gift-giving is my love language, and I take it VERY seriously.

That said, it is now perfectly clear that Americans have WAY too much stuff.

The average American home already has 300,000 objects in it. We all are living in episodes of Hoarders, and that overwhelming collection of (mostly useless) stuff is adding to our stress, taking away from adventures, and costing us major time!

Don't believe me? The average house is now 1,000 sq ft larger than houses built a generation ago. That is 1,000 square feet you have to clean. It's also 1,000 square feet you have to fill. Which is more time working and more time cleaning. All so you can have a bunch of stuff that science has proven is not making us happier.

And it is even worse for our kids! The average American kid has 200 toys. In a regular day, that actually play with 12 of them. The other 188 toys just get thrown on the floor, so parents can clean them yet again.

So before we rush off to buy the kids we love more toys they don't need or gift our loved one junk they don't want or leave Target with 100 dollars of random nonsense we definitely didn't intend to buy, let's STOP!!!

It's time to seriously rethink how we do gifts.

Now, I am not suggesting we skip gifts all together. I LOVE giving other people presents! I think it is the best!

But what if we stopped giving gifts that come in a box? Instead of loading our loved ones up with stuff, why not invest in making new memories with them? Building new skills? Helping them get by in a time where that isn't always easy?

In other words, we can make our gifts better by making them experiences instead of things.

At first, this might feel strange. I mean, you are basically going in empty-handed. You don't always get that big, excited reaction the first look at a new toy might give.

But we know that they will enjoy experiences longer, treasure those memories long after the toy is flooding the landfills, especially if they share that time with you. How many gifts can you remember? But I bet you can tell me loads of favorite memories with the people you love. I have been with my husband for 15 years, and I can't name all the gifts we have given each other, but I could talk for weeks about memories, inside jokes, and crazy trips we have been on. That's what people remember in the end, because that's what makes our life.

So here is my best list of experience gift ideas. I'll be honest with you, they are awesome. Let's do this!

Eat Well, Travel Well

1. Go Big. Take a Trip

Perfect For- A Big Anniversary, A Retirement, Being Showy
If you are going to get someone a huge gift for a huge occasion, it doesn't get better than a trip. You could go to another continent or just check out an area not so far from you. Make some big memories.

2. A Year of Dinner Dates

Perfect For- Anniversaries, Newlyweds, Valentine's Day, A Foodie Friend
Make 12 reservations all at once, and hand off an amazing schedule of ridiculous food as a gift. Super romantic to make that commitment to going big. Puts your gift budget into your eating out budget.

3. Camping Reservations

Perfect For- Outdoorsy People, Adventure-Lovers, Winter Holidays or Valentine's Day Gifts
Most of the bigger or more popular camp sites start taking reservations many months in advance. Do a little research, schedule reserving them into your phone, and voila! Kickass gift of outdoorsiness.

4. One Breakfast a Week

Perfect For- Kids, Grandkids, Birthday Gifts
What we all most need from each other is consistency, presence, and love. What about setting a new routine where you spend an uninterrupted hour just chatting, listening, and eating once a week?

5. Plan a Beach Day

Perfect For- Anyone. Seriously, it's hard to go wrong with the beach.
Buy sunscreen and a secondhand tablecloth you can use as a beach blanket. Put a date on the calendar. This can be a big fun event or a commitment to one relaxing day where you do all the planning.

6. A Piggy Bank (or Savings Account)

Perfect For- Big Dreamers, An Anniversary Gift, Anyone Just Starting Out
I actually think this is truly romantic. We all have goals that get sidelined by life and its many surprises. Don't be the couple from Up- commit to that big dream and use that gift money to start.

7. Hire (Or Be) an Occasional Babysitter

Perfect For- Parents
Gift parents a little bit of time together or for themselves. You could offer to babysit if you think that would be a relief for them (self-assess your baby-readiness), but be sure to have an actual scheduled date, so it isn't just an empty gesture. Or pay a professional they trust.

8. That Special Add On

Perfect For-Newlyweds, Someone off to Travel
For my cousin's wedding, I gave her and her husband prints. The gift was only fine. When the newlyweds were on their honeymoon, she wanted to go swimming with dolphins, but they skipped it  because it was too expensive. If I could do it again, I would give them swimming with dolphins money. Travel is costly, and it's good to know limits, but I think a fun wedding gift is just a fund specifically for splurging on that adventure.

9. A Hot Air Balloon Ride

Perfect For- Kids, Adults, Newlyweds
One of those things everyone should probably do once in life. Fun and really special.

10. A City Bike (or Segway) Tour

Perfect For- Anyone About to Travel, Dorks
I love seeing segway tours. So dorky and fun! It could be a fun surprise gift on a trip you are on, or you could even gift a day of being a tourist in your own city!

11. Spend a Surprise Night Away

Perfect For- Anniversaries, Romantic Gifts, Kids, Parents
This gift would be amazing for ANYONE. It could be fancy, but for a kid, sometimes all you need for awesomeness is a hotel with a pool. A break from the ordinary can be fun and exciting for anyone.

12. Pre-Check

Perfect For- Travelers
Pre-Check is a scam. That said, if you are a frequent traveler, it really can be a nice scam. If you have a big traveler in your life, this could rule(though you will need their help to pull it off). They will think of your every time they don't have to take their shoes off.

Practical Awesomeness

13. A Few Hours with a Handyman

Perfect For- Adults sick of Adulting
Help your loved one (whether it be a parent. a sibling, a spouse) knock some things off their to do list by hiring a handyperson to get the job done. As a homeowner, I now see the stuff we should be getting done is essentially endless, but darn it feels good to complete something.

14. A Cleaning Session

Perfect For- Adults, especially parents
Not sure what to buy a parent with small kids? NO TOYS!!!!!!!! Get them one session with a cleaning lady. Children are entropy machines, and a good percentage of parenting is just trying to not drown in the chaos. They need your help.

15. Cook Them a Big Meal

Perfect For- Mother's Day, Father's Day, A Friend's Birthday
It can be hard to know what to give a friend once we are all grown adults and basically have what we need. Instead, why not cook a big happy meal together, put on their favorite music, and make a night of it. Bonus- they can enjoy leftovers later!

16. Netflix or Hulu Subscriptions

Perfect For- Birthday Gifts, Holiday Gifts, College Graduation Gifts
Most of us have a subscription for our TV (let's all just skip cable- no one needs more ads in their life), so this can be a real treat that you know will get lots of use. Like, tons. As long as British Baking and The Office are on there, somebody is using that Netflix.

17. Gardening Kits or Plants

Perfect For- Parents, Adults, Kids, Apartment-Dwellers, Anyone with Thumbs (Green or Otherwise)
Plants aren't technically experience gifts, but if you buy a few plants and then work together to plant them or pot them, you combine quality time and cleaner, happier homes.

18. Amazon Prime

Perfect For- Adults, 20-Somethings
Not everyone is a huge Amazon user (and for good reason), but if someone you know is committed, this could be a life-changing gift. Just remind them not to use the 2 day shipping whenever possible, because that slower shipping is way better for the environment.

19. Kindle or other digital Books

Perfect For- Readers, Avid Kindle Readers
I still love a real book, with a real cover, and the real smell, but lots of people are not the same, and this way fewer trees come down. Keep it simple with your Kindle-lover.

20. Do Some Laundry

Perfect For- New Parents (Really Everyone, but I am not sure you could get away with it)
One of my family members gave this as a gift to new parents in her neighborhood. She picked up their dirty laundry once a week and dropped off clean, folded laundry the next morning. I would take this over a meal train any day. Seriously, so genius.

21. Pay One of Their Bills

Perfect For- 20-Somethings, Anyone who is Struggling
Lots of people are out there barely getting by. What if you skipped getting them a pointless piece of junk and just helped them get their head a bit further above water? Pay an electric bill or give money to pay against a credit card.

22. Grocery Gift Cards

Perfect For- 20-Somethings, Impossible to Buy For People, Stocking Stuffers.
We all have to buy groceries. This is guaranteed to get use.

Taking Care

23. A Fancy New Haircut

Perfect For- Birthdays, Men, Women, Mother's Day, Holidays
Who doesn't love getting a really snazzy new haircut for a birthday or to kick off the new year? It's one of those splurges we often can't make (or just don't). Add some freshness to a loved one's life.

24. A Real Break

Perfect For- Adults. Any adult.
Remember when Dwight and Jim gave Kelly the gift of a nap on The Office? Was it the best birthday gift ever? Maybe! We all are tired and could use a little break. Think about what your giftee might actually find relaxing, and make it happen! A TV Binge Day. A Reading Day. To do absolutely nothing. Help make that space.

25 Massages

Perfect For- People who Enjoy being touched by strangers
This is 100% not my thing, But most people really love it and benefit from it.

26. A Spa Day

Perfect For- People who think being touched by strangers isn't enough.
From what i can tell, it's like massages but with cucumbers. I may not have a great sense of this, but if the person you love can explain it to you, I bet they would love some time at the spa!

27. Manicure or Pedicure

Perfect For- Anyone with nails, your Bridal Party
Another great way to relax. I also think if you are getting married, skip the personalized nonsense and fembot robes and just pay for your wedding party's nails and hair if you are doing that kind of thing. Being a bridesmaid is expensive- saving them money is a good gift.

28. NAPS

Perfect For- Me, A Baby Shower Gift, Me, Caretakers of Small Children, Me, Me
Shopping for a baby? Take care of their parents (happy mom, happy baby). Offer to come once a week for the first 3-6 months for a few hours so mom can sleep. This gift is EVEN BETTER if this baby isn't their first (because an older sibling makes it near impossible to sneak naps).

The Big Ticket

29. Movie Tickets

Perfect For- Anyone!
Who doesn't like going to the movies? Get tickets for something cool, or if you aren't confident you are getting the right thing, get a gift card. Such a simple gift, but you know it can get use.

30. Museum Exhibit Tickets

Perfect For- Birthday, Christmas, Hanukkah, Valentine's Day, Anniversary
Most museums have a pretty full and interesting calendar every year. If you are at a loss, start looking at calendars for the museum's year. We went to Yayoi Kusama for my birthday. We saw the terra cotta soldiers for Mother's Day. This gift can't go wrong.

31. A Big Ticket or Season Tickets to the Theater

Perfect For- A Big Honking Gift
Tickets to the theater make for a super fun gift, especially if you know something great is coming to town. It doesn't have to be Hamilton to be awesome. If you live in a town with a great community theater, you could get season tickets for a whole year of fun!

32. Baseball (or Some Other Sports') Tickets

Perfect For- People who Like Sports or Stadium Food
A baseball game can be such a fun treat. Either because you like baseball or because you appreciate that baseball knows how boring it is and provides treats. Don't buy more brand stuff for your sports fan- go in with others and send them to the real thing.

33. Amusement Park Tickets

Perfect For- Kids, Adults, People with Whimsy
There is one near you. It is fun. Surprise the kid (or adult who likes fun things) in your life with a special day there just the two of you!

34. Tickets to the Symphony

Perfect For- Fancy Pants People (Or Not!)
Maybe you already know someone who would love this as a gift. If no one comes to mind right away, you should definitely still check the symphony website to be surprised- we have gone to a soundtrack of Zelda performance. The Seattle Symphony puts on the cutest, dorkiest concerts for kids once a month, where they can meet and touch instruments beforehand. Our symphony always has cool events going on.

35. State or County Fair Tickets

Perfect For- Kids, Adults, Summer Birthdays
Much like an amusement park, but with livestock. Check your area's calendar, and spend a day together to make tons of slightly stinky memories.

36. Train Tickets

Perfect For- Toddlers, Train Lovers, my Husband
Trains are actually a relatively green mode of travel. And they get ignored. But you can still take train rides all around the United States. If you want to step it up for a toddler, Thomas the Train travels around the US in the summer, preaching capitalism and efficiency (ok, that part might not be on the signs).

37. Music Festival Passes or Concert Tickets

Perfect For- Music-Lovers, Birthday Gifts
If you want to give one big gift, how about tickets to a concert or to a music festival? My husband and his siblings keep getting their mom concert tickets, and it has been such a big hit! If you want to make it really great, get tickets yourself too and make it quality time.

38. Tickets to a Lecture

Perfect For- The Thinker, The Reader, The Perpetual Student, The Dreamer
Speakers travel around the world giving talks, and we don't often think of these as festive or gift-worthy. But for someone you love, that could be one of the most exciting or memorable experiences of their life! Give them a book by the person with the tickets inside!

39. Stand Up Tickets

Perfect For- People who Like to Laugh, Birthdays, Romantic Holidays
Not all stand up is good, but some is lots of fun. Some stand up tickets might be perfect for a friend or family member who is really into it. The bigger comedians also tour a lot, so you could check and see if a favorite will be nearby any time soon.

40. Boat Tickets

Perfect For- Kids, Romantic Holidays, Summertime Birthdays
Lots of boats go on tours or trips that might be really fun! Not your deal? You could also rent kayaks or canoes and do the boats yourself! My now husband got us a kayak trip once before we were married, and we actually got to kayak next to dolphins in Santa Cruz. It was awesome.

Making Memories Together

All of these are good gifts to give, but way better if you come too! All of these could be great memories to make together.

41. Go Skydiving

Perfect For- Really brave people
Know someone who has this on their bucket list? Feeling really brave yourself? Make this a birthday or Valentine's Day or Father's Day they will never forget and finally go for it. Anytime you check something off that bucket list, you have given a great gift!

42. A Visit to an Escape Room

Perfect For- Sleuths, A Big group gift
Escape rooms are popping up all over the country. Basically, you get inside these rooms and you get to solve puzzles and mysteries to get out. I have heard they make great dates, but it could also be a really fun gift for a group of people. You could buy one trip to the escape room for all of you nieces and nephews to do together. Or your group of friends for Christmas.

43. Paint Ball

Perfect For- People who like getting hit with things, Super competitive people
Ok, another one I don't really get. But if you have an outdoorsy person or someone who needs safe ways to unload aggression, this could be for them. Or just someone who likes paintball?

44. A Day of Mini Golf

Perfect For- Kids, Birthdays, Spring and Summer
Bonus points if you can find one with a really cheesy theme. The cheesier the theme, the better the gift. I thought this was the best thing ever when I was a kid. I would probably still be excited as an adult for some whacking a ball through a windmill.

45. Roller Skating

Perfect For- Kids, Nostalgic Adults, Surprise Romantic Gift
Come on, this is FUN. And the skates make everybody's legs look good. Request some Boys II Men and live out your glory days together.

46. A Treasure Hunt

Perfect For- Kids, Geocachers, Gifts for Parents, Anyone
Cheesy? Yes. Super Fun? Also, Yes. You could go the geocache route or just keep it simple and recreate the Goonies in entirity.

47. A Game Night (or Day)

Perfect For- Adults who wish they were still Teens, Gamers, Father's Day
Gift them the game they really wish they could play and the time to actually play it. Invite friends over and make a big game day in their honor. Devote and delineate hours for just playing, whatever that means to them.

48. Go Ziplining

Perfect For- People who are Brave, but not THAT brave
I've done it. Not particularly scary, and really fun!

49. Ride in a Fast Car

Perfect For- Speed demons
There are tons of places where you can go and try race cars. If your loved one has another fantasy car, you could go test drive them at a store or even rent one from a rental car place.

50, Medieval Times

Perfect For- Everyone? Who doesn't love Medieval Times!?
This jousting show is unabashedly cheesy, but you get to eat turkey legs with your hands and cheer on your favorite knight. We had a blast when we went, and I think it could make a really fun celebration. Maybe not for an actual history buff, but better for someone who likes Monty Python's Holy Grail.

51. Go Golfing

Perfect For- Golfers, People who enjoy polo shirts, Father's Day, Anniversary
Golf can be a fun relaxing day for many, and you can't really fight a day outside. That said, if golfing is not your thing but the person you gift this to loves it, then do NOT come with them for golfing. Your lack of commitment will not be endearing.

52. Spend the Day in an Arcade (or Casino)

Perfect For- Kids, Adults, Birthdays
Go to an arcade (if you don't have one nearby, maybe a Dave and Buster's?) with a giant stash of quarters. And then just play until it runs out. You could do this on a more adult scale at a casino with slot machines, which would also be fun! Especially if they have that Judge Judy slot machine...

53. Go Whale Watching

Perfect For- People who Live on a Coast or Island, Birthdays, Christmas (if you live in Hawaii)
This could be an amazing adventure. Whale watching is a very seasonal thing even if you are lucky enough to live near it, so be sure to keep an eye out, but come on, this is cool!

54. Make a Hiking List

Perfect For- Spring and Summer Birthdays, Outdoorsy
I don't care where you are, you probably have some amazing hikes near you. Make a list (you could work on it together) and commit to getting the list DONE before their next birthday.

55. Snowshoeing

Perfect For- Wintery Birthdays, Outdoorsiness
I love how silly snowshoes look. You could do this for lots of other reasons, but just looking silly is reason enough.

56. A Night Out Dancing

Perfect For- Dancing Queens, not necessarily young or sweet
This could be the best gift for a birthday. It can feel like every year gets further away from being carefree or the simple ability to leap out of your comfort-zone. If you know someone who loves to dance, but never gets the opportunity to do so, help them make it happen by taking them out or planning your own dance party.

57. Have a Picnic

Perfect For-Anyone, Birthdays, even Winter Holidays
Plan a picnic for the two of you (or a whole crowd) and give that as a gift. Spend a day outside playing and eating, no matter what season it is! You have to admit, a snow picnic would be pretty memorable!

58. Rock Climbing

Perfect For- Athletes
Rock climbing feels like another one of those things everyone should try once. Athletic and mentally-challenging, but I think a visit to a rock wall could be fun for adults or kids.

Sentimental Sweetness

59. Gift Certificate for Artifact Uprising, Paper Culture or Minted

Perfect For- The Photographer you Love
In this age of digital cameras and cell phone pictures, I think it is even harder to get pictures printed. A gift card to Artifact Uprising, Paper Culture, or Minted gives lots of options so they can print what they will use! Even better, all three use recycled paper.

60. Recreate Old Photographs

Perfect For- Mother's or Father's Day Gifts
I love the nostalgic pictures where grown children recreate childhood pictures for their parents. It is SUCH a genius idea. If you are at a loss for what to do for your parents, let me tell you as a parent, they would love it.

61. Organize Old Pictures

Perfect For- Grandparents, Parents, and Holiday Gifts
Back when pictures were printed, you could end up with drawers, boxes, and envelopes of photographs with no home. They are hard to enjoy that way. You could organize them into sensible piles or buy a photo album (or ten- Gallery Leather sells ones made in America). Super thoughtful, and I bet you will hear all sorts of stories going through.

62. Make a Compilation Video

Perfect For- Anyone who Thinks Time Moves too Fast (and Parents of Young Kids)
One of the best gifts The Boy ever gave me was to put all of our home videos into one long video I can watch later. Our videos are just all over the place, but putting them into one long thread (and he even edits them down) means we can just sit down and watch the year.

63. A Really Thoughtful Letter or Card

Perfect For- Anyone
I know! Too simple, right? But this can mean more to someone than anything you could buy. I have special cards from beloved family members in a little box in my side table, and I love to read them when I am feeling down. When I moved across the country, The Boy gave me a love letter in the form of a pile of index cards that said things he loved about me on them. It can take all sorts of forms, but if all we really need is to hear we are loved, why not just work on that?

64. Write them a Poem, Make them some Art, Do a Dance for Them, Write Them a Song

Perfect For- Anyone who Loves You and What you Have to Give
As Daniel Tiger says, "find your own way to say, I love you" If words aren't your thing, but you want to show them how much you love them, think about the ways you do enjoy being creative, and work from there! It could sound silly, but I know they will love it.

65. A Professional Photo Shoot

Perfect For- Anyone who is Always Behind the Camera
Professional photos can be expensive (and for good reason! They are a lot of work), so most people don't get them as often as might be nice (especially with quick-growing spawn). Want to make someone's day? Give them (or their kiddos) a moment in front of the camera.

66. A Surprise Visitor

Perfect For- Anyone Grown Enough to Miss Someone, Birthdays
I read some beautiful stories about someone flying in an old best friend or a sibling who lives very far away for a huge birthday surprise. It may not be the easiest gift in the world to give,

67. Post Cards

Perfect For- People who Love Giving and Receiving Mail, Big Family Gifts
My Aunt Joanna makes postcards on old family pictures, stamps them, and writes the addresses in. Then each member of our family gets a pile for Christmas that we can send to each other all year long. So you get mail (with fun family pics) and you get credit for being thoughtful without actually doing much work. Such a thoughtful gift!

68. A Homemade Recipe Book

Perfect For- Mother's Day, Large Family Gifts
Have a family that loves to cook and eat together? What about taking everyone's best recipes and the staples of every family event and make a small recipe book for each person to take home? Recipes and food speak directly to our hearts as a family, so this could really connect everyone.

A New Class of Gifts

Bonus points for class gifts if you can teach these lessons yourself!

69. Music Classes

Perfect For- Kids and Adults! Birthday Gifts that keep Giving
We bought our niece piano lessons for Christmas, and I think it is one of the best gifts we have ever given anyone. It's so cool to come home and to hear her play her lessons for us- she is so excited! I also know one (freaking awesome) adult taking piano lessons now, and she loves them as well. That is just one option- you can find music lessons and instrument lessons for everyone, from infants to senior citizens.

70. Cooking Classes

Perfect For- Good cooks and Bad cooks, Anniversaries, Couple Gift
I got this for The Boy for Christmas, and we still haven't used it! It should be fun and informative for him, and hopefully, I won't embarrass him to much.

71. Yoga Classes

Perfect For- Birthday or Winter Holidays, Perinatal self-care
Yoga classes can be a perfect way to relax or get connected to your own body. I loved taking yoga while pregnant and I have heard great things about Mommy and me infant yoga classes as well (helping new moms right after birth). This could be a perfect gift for a baby shower or for any birthday.

72. Dance Classes

Perfect For- Couples, Anniversaries, and Brave Singles
I took a dance class in college, and it was a lot of awkward touching. The thing that surprised me most is that it was mostly dudes! Now, we debate over and over whether to take couple swing dancing lessons or something like that. It seems like such a fun thing to do as a couple, but you could also gift this to someone who was single and good at meeting new people!

73. Pottery Painting and Sip and Paint

Perfect For- Anyone! Freaking everyone loves those sip and paint things
Not as formal of an art class (though you could take those too), but I love the idea of making something together as a gift. Giving a creative person you love the opportunity to make more stuff is an excellent gift.

74. Sewing Classes

Perfect For- Again, basically anyone.
This is one of those skills we all need, but do we have it? Sewing lessons might make a great graduation gift or gift for anyone (of any gender) in their 20's. Or their 30's. Seriously, why don't we have home ec anymore?

75. Horseback Riding Lessons

Perfect For- Animal lovers, Kids
I learned to ride a horse every year at church camp, and even though it wasn't my favorite (I love that archery, weirdly enough), I still think it was a wonderful thing to learn. And it's always great for anyone to recognize the autonomy and feelings of another being, especially animals. And I bet there are lots of women out there who wanted to learn this as girls, but never had a chance, making this gift especially cool.

76. Cake Decorating Classes

Perfect For- Perfectionists, Bakers, Sweettoothy guys and gals
So fun! Ok, I am lying. We did this class once at a sad Michael's, and the teacher was very vocal about not liking us and just wanting to go home and watch The Voice. No really, this happened. So maybe check if the teacher has reviews before diving in.

77. An After School Class

Perfect For- Kids!
I teach after school classes for my job at Seattle Recreative, and I think they would make a really special gift. It's a few weeks of learning something unique and special, they can meet some new friends, and it especially helps break up the winter months (though summer camp gifts might also be pretty great).

78. Scuba or Snorkel Certification

Perfect For- People who like looking at Fish, Honeymooners, Travelers
People who do this seem to absolutely love it! If you know someone who always wanted to try, why not help? Another great idea for a gift for honeymooners.

79. Martial Arts or Kickboxing Classes

Perfect For- Sporty Giftees, Winter Holidays (to Kick off that New Year's Resolution), Kids
Am I the only one who thinks kickboxing classes sound really fun?

80. Sessions with a Trainer

Perfect For- People who wouldn't feel Really Really Hurt. Seriously, think it through.
I think this would be a perfect gift for someone who is ready to get exercising but isn't really sure how to start.

81. Language Lessons

Perfect For- Kids and Adults
Kids are well-suited to language learning, so if you want to help the kids you love get ahead, language classes can be a really special gift. So many adults wish they learned a second language but didn't, but it is never too late! Especially with a great teacher.

Doing Good

82. Gifts to a Charity

Perfect For- Christmas Gifts, Gifts for Kids,
I just heard about a family that allots 50 bucks of their Christmas budget per kid to charities. They let the kids decide which charity it goes to. New favorite Christmas gift tradition!

83. Volunteer Dates

Perfect For- Teens, Your Parents, Partners, Do Gooders You Love
Set up a monthly date where you volunteer for the charity that means the most to them. Love is caring about what the other person cares about. Put that caring into action (and you will be blown away about how much that turns into quality time together).

84. A Tree

Perfect For- People who Enjoy Breathing Air, Me
Trees are one of the best gifts we can be giving- our Earth needs tons of them to keep the air cleaner and fight climate change. Buy them a few trees for their birthday and help plant them! Don't have the space (or ability) to plant? You could gift them trees from the Arbor Day Foundation.

85. Sponsor Something in their Honor

Perfect For-  Teens, Adults, 20-Somethings who Care
Many charities, from World Wildlife Fund to IRC, have special projects you can sponsor as a gift. I love the idea of sending a girl to school as a Mother's Day gift or sending water to children with limited access as a birthday gift. If nothing else, you give the giftee that feeling they did something good (and that is a goood feeling).

Members Only

86. A Children's Museum Membership

Perfect For- Families, Kids, Animal-Lovers
We got a zoo membership from my mom this year, and it has turned out to be such a perfect gift. If you are vegan or take ethical issue with zoos, you could apply the same gift idea to a children's museum instead! It takes a lot of pressure off of visits. If we go in and only stay for an hour, it is no big deal. So nice if you have little kids.

87. Museum Membership

Perfect For- Families, Art-Lovers, Winter Holiday Gifts
Again, we got this as our gift from my Dad this year, and I absolutely love it. We can go to cool museum events and get the info on what's coming up early. With little kids, it is so much better to plan lots of little visits than big ones, so if we don't have to feel guilty leaving after an hour, we can go a lot more.

88. Science Center Membership

Perfect For- Thinkers, Scientists, Kids
Science Centers also offer cool memberships that can help you get tickets to their Imax theaters. Also, our planetarium does Motown and Beyonce-themed light shows. That business is priceless.

89. Yearly Pass for State or National Parks

Perfect For- Adventurers
Such a simple gift perfect for anyone who likes to get outside! And it gives people the excuse to get out there if they haven't yet.

90. AAA Membership

Perfect For-Anyone who Drives, Graduation Gift
This is the perfect gift, especially for anyone starting out in the world, who doesn't understand just how helpful AAA is yet. Those people also tend to have crappy cars. Seriously, you can't do better.

91. A Membership to an Organization they Care About

Perfect For- 20-Somethings, Graduation Gift
We all have things we care about, that we feel connected to, that we may not be able to do as much as we wish we could. Consider getting your loved ones memberships to organizations that are working on what they care about, from Sierra Club to Mom's Clean Air Force. Most of these organizations have memberships with small fees- pay up front and get them started!

eating gelato out of the container

And for Random Fun

92. Apps

Perfect For- Anyone with a Phone or a Tablet
Just want to give a little gift but you don't want to spend a lot of money? Apps are fun, and you can probably find the next game or tool to obsess over, packaging-free.

93. Music Playlists

Perfect For- People with Ears
Don't have any money to spend, but you want to give a thoughtful gift? Make them music playlists! Do one inspired by the occasion. You could make a cd, or you could just offer to upload the music onto their device yourself.

94. Build an Amazing Bucket List.. And Help Complete It

Perfect For- Huge Romantic Gestures
Have you seen the Parks and Rec where April tries to make all of Andy's bucket list happen? It's super romantic. The people you love have dreams, maybe you can sit and talk about them together. Maybe you can work together to make one of them happen. That's a HUGE gift.

95. Become a "Sponsor"

Perfect For- Someone getting started
Is your giftee starting a business? Saving for a car? Dreaming of going back to school? Give them some funds specifically for pursuing those goals.

96. Audible Subscription

Perfect For- Big Readers, People with Long Commutes, Stay at Home Parents
I know lots of stay at home parents swear by Audible, because they never have the chance to read, but they can listen to books while doing all the glamorous tasks of parenthood. It would also be great for the commuter so they can make the most of that time.

97. A Costco Membership

Perfect For- People Who Live Near a Costco, People who Already Love Costco
My mom has an obsession with Costco- this would be the perfect gift for her! Seriously, you know it would get tons of use. Isn't it nice to know your gift would actually get use?

98. Wash their Car

Perfect For- People who love their cars, Father's Day, Mother's Day
People love car washes! You could potentially buy them gift certificates for their favorite washing spot, or you could wash their car yourself. Might be a really fun gift for little kids to give their parents.

99. Take Care of their Yard

Perfect For- Anyone with a yard
This is another one of those adulting things that isn't always much fun. If you don't have money, but you do have some time, you could start mowing their lawn! Such a simple gesture, but you save them time and show you care.

99 Ridiculously Great Experience Gift Ideas

99 Amazing Experience Gifts for the Holidays

99 Great Experience Gift Ideas

Wow, we made it! Have any ideas that we have obviously missed? What is the best experience gift you have ever received?

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  1. wow, what a great list! I love the grocery idea or the year of dates the most, but so many good suggestions!

  2. This is such a great resource! I think my husband would love it if I made camping reservations for him for father's day. Great ideas!

  3. So many great ideas in this post! I always favor giving and receiving experiences over material things. Hopefully these kinds of gifts will become the norm : )

  4. What a beautiful and comprehensive post!! I'm saving this for my boyfriend!

  5. Really awesome blog . Thanks for sharing .please carry on . wool blanket camping.

  6. Awesome list! Bonus that many of these non-physical gifts are FREE! We've been doing anti-gift bdays (and Christmas) with our family for a few years. Some of the kids fave experiences have been a (free!) visit to a farm with their uncle, a day of (free!) sledding w Gma and Gpa, and having some friends over for a (free!) scavenger hunt in the forest.

  7. What great ideas you got here. Love particularly the ones where you donate your time :)

  8. What great ideas you got here. Love particularly the ones where you donate your time :)



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