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35 Christmas Gifts That Are Not Actual ‘Things’

christmas gift ideas

Photo by Ben White

Every person knows that as soon as Halloween passes, Christmas holiday season waits just around the corner. There are two kinds of people as far as preparing for the holiday season is concerned: those who plan it for months, and those who seem to do everything, including picking gifts – last minute. In both cases, we should agree that finding the best Christmas presents for our family and friends can be challenging. You see, material gifts are always exciting to unwrap. However, lately there has been a new trend going around – giving experience gifts to loved ones. Picking and choosing the perfect experience gift has never been easier. Besides, it’s rewarding to both the one who gifts and the one who receives it. Let’s find out what you can give as a Christmas present and be sure it will be an experience your dearest will never forget!

christmas gift ideas
Photo by Ben White

 Why gift someone with an experience?

If you are a little bit like us, you know that gift-giving season actually lasts all year long. But nothing can be compared to seeing the perfectly wrapped gift under the tree on Christmas morning. Well, we agree that material gifts are always fun to unwrap. However, recent studies have shown that people might feel happier when they receive an experience gift. And here is why:

1.    An experience gift can be easy to arrange

Have you ever thought about how much time we have to dedicate to wrapping gifts? Especially if you are a person who prefers doing everything by themselves, we have to admit that choosing and wrapping gifts can be very time consuming. Experience gifts, on the other hand, are usually just a click away. Trust us, not spending hours on shopping, shipping or carrying around and wrapping your Christmas gifts won’t make any less of a good friend. On the contrary, you might be gifting your dearest with a priceless memory they will always remember.

2.    It’s thoughtful

Has your friend been longing to sign up for those dance or yoga lessons, but always seems to find an excuse not to? Here’s your chance. Make someone happy by gifting them with something they always wanted to do, or go to some place they always wanted to go. Buying concert tickets for your friend’s favourite performer makes the perfect gift. Don’t forget to take a photo from the moment of excitement when they find out about it!

 3.    A chance to bond with your loved one, family or friends

Picking the right experience gift for your loved ones is very easy with the wide range of options available nowadays. So, whether they are more of an outdoorsy type of people, or prefer a full day indoors, be sure to find an experience gift that will get all of you moving. Tickets for the latest blockbuster, a homemade ‘spa day’ or a zip line adventure, what can be more enjoyable than sharing the fun with the people you love?

 4.    Less cleaning

Yes, we love giving material gifts and enjoy picking out the perfect ones for our friends and family. However, think about how many mums dread the post-gift-opening mess around the Christmas tree, and all throughout the home in general. All the paper and toys over the floor, kids complaining about having to clean them up – the struggle is real. As every parent inevitably experiences this at some point, the joy of receiving material gifts quickly fades, and even the most anticipated Christmas toys very soon become a chore to clean up. This is when experience gifts sound like the perfect idea this year. Just think about the aftermath of opening gifts, all the time saved on cleaning up!

 5.    People are happier with experiences

Which memory would make you happier: that time you got a new scarf or when you tried kayaking for the first time?

As we mentioned earlier, studies have shown that people tend to get less happy with material purchases over time, and happier with experiences. Experiences are also a uniting factor, which means that people are more likely to bond with someone that enjoys the same hobby or has traveled to the same places that you have.

Just think about the anticipation we feel before a trip, event or experience, it has the potential to cause happiness itself! This is what makes experience gifts priceless. Happiness in the anticipation, happiness during the experience and happiness whenever we reminisce the memory.

 Ideas for the perfect Christmas experience gift

If experience gifts are your choice this Christmas, here are a few ideas that will make your choice easier or sparkle your creativity:

1. For the person that loves outdoor activities 

  •    Kayaking: Gifting someone with an adventurous experience doesn’t have to mean that it must happen in winter by all means. Depending on the place you live in, planning a day with kayaking may depend on the weather conditions. So, why not bring your family to the outdoors for a day in the water? It’s fun and renting a kayak is budget-friendly as well.
  •    Ice skating: it’s especially magical in winter. Whether the person who receives the gift is a fan of ice skating, or tries it for the first time, they are bound to love it! Plus, it doesn’t require any special clothes, just a scarf, warm mittens and ice skates, which are usually included in the ticket price. Topped with hot cocoa with extra marshmallows while you are there, it’s a recipe for  the perfect winter experience gift!
  • Zip lining: Make sure the person who gets this experience gift would actually like it, as it’s perfect for the people who love the adrenaline rush. It’s not as cheap as ice skating, but the price varies from one zip line to another. It’s definitely an experience they will never forget.
  • Unusual tour of a city: Even if it’s the city they live in, or a city near by, give your giftee a chance to see it through a different lens. It can include a tour you book online in advance, or simply book a personal tour guide which will take them to places they have never visited before.
  • A boat tour: It can be both a romantic experience gift or you can take your friend or member of a family too. Depending on the place you live in, there are different boat tours offered, and some of them even include a romantic dinner.
  • Flight day excursion: Is your friend an adrenaline ‘junkie’? Then a day spent sky-diving or trying out a flight with a helicopter would be the perfect experience gift.
  • Landscape design consultation: Does your giftee want to learn some new ways to make your backyard prettier and more functional? Book a meeting with a landscape design consultant, and they will be eternally grateful.
  • Flying trapeze school: A really unusual, but a cool gift that promises an exciting day in the outdoors. 
  • Day at the mini golf: A perfect Christmas experience gift for the whole family
  • A day in an amusement park: Can anyone stay indifferent to the chance to spend a day in an amusement park?
  • Crime Scene Investigation Experience for two: Is your friend a fan of solving riddles and crime investigation games? Then this experience gift would be a super cool and unusual way to say how much you appreciate them. 

2. For the person that loves workshops and expanding their skills

  •  Chocolate or cooking workshops: Wouldn’t it be fun to learn how to make super delicious chocolates or try a new type of cuisine with your bestie? Who knows, it might turn out to be your signature dessert or dish and prepare it for your friends and family, too! Sounds like a perfect gift!
  • Wine tasting: A wine tasting day-off for two – is there anything more perfect? Your friend and their spouse would certainly appreciate this Christmas gift more than a bottle of wine.
  • Dance lessons: From tango, rumba or salsa to waltz or jive – there is an array of options. Does your giftee have any preferences? Make sure you find out before purchasing a monthly membership.
  •  Musical classes: Christmas is the time when people think about New Year resolutions. Invest in a trial class for the instrument your dear friend or member of family always wanted to try. Who knows, they might turn out to really enjoy it and continue playing.
  • Kiln or pottery classes: Whether they are curious beginners, or trained practitioners, give your friends the chance to create something that will always remind them of you.
  • Drawing class: Is drawing something your giftee has always wanted to try? Now they can learn the basics and continue creating art. Who knows, they might turn out to be really good at it. 
  • Photography class: Urban photography, taking portraits, learn how to do fashion editorials, making the most out of photographing nature, you name it-the options are limitless. 
  • Yoga for two: It can be a regular yoga monthly membership, or take one step further. Try aerial or disco yoga! It’s super fun and exotic.
  • Terrarium class: A one-of-a-kind experience of laughing, planting, sipping and learning.
  • Kintsugi workshop: Would you and your friend like to learn the art of fixing objects with gold? Then this workshop would be an ideal experience gift for both of you. 
  • Jewelry workshop: Take your bestie to a workshop like this one and enjoy wearing a piece of jewelry that has your personal stamp on it. You can even create and wear something matching as a symbol of your friendship.
  • Cocktail class: A brilliant idea for the friend that is the main entertainer on dinner parties and birthdays.
  • Indoor skydiving: A cool gift for the person who has wanted to try this challenging experience but has been always afraid of heights. 

3.    Other experience gifts anyone would be happy to receive

  •  Massage or a facial: Can you name a person who wouldn’t appreciate the gift of pampering? Yes, we all need it from time to time. A massage would be the perfect way to enjoy the Christmas holidays to the fullest. Besides, as the weather is getting colder, our skin needs more care. Therefore a facial would be a great way to get back some of that summer glow.
  • Tickets to an event: It can be a concert, theatre show, opera or ballet. Bonus points if you buy tickets for two, depending on who the gift is for. Or you can simply purchase a ticket for you as well and join them. Double the fun! Christmas repertoires are fantastic, so don’t miss the chance to gift someone with this type of experience.
  • Escape room: Do you enjoy riddles? Escape reality is a game played in real life, where you have a certain amount of time to figure out how to escape the room. Choose your team wisely and get ready for an amazing experience! You will enter as friends or family, but get out of the escape room as a real team of heroes.
  • Flotation Tank Experience: It might sound a bit unusual, but this gift of flotation in warm water is all about relaxing. Give your friends or family an experience of total relaxation and stress relief.
  • A dinner or a gift card for their favourite restaurant: The more interesting and unusual the restaurant- the better. Give your giftee the chance to try out a new cuisine or enjoy their favourite. 
  • Cinema with cocktails: The Electric Cinema in London offers an unforgettable experience. Delicious cocktails and cashmere blankets while watching films from their rich repertoire. Sounds exciting, right?
  • Comedy show: There isn’t a person on this planet who wouldn’t appreciate this kind of gift. A laugh a day keeps the doctor away, remember? Bonus points if it’s their favourite comedian.
  • One year subscription to Spotify 
  • One year subscription to a mindfulness app: For the friend that really needs it.
  • Cocktails with a view: Organize a cocktail night on the top of a fancy building with your closest friends. This will be an experience they will always be glad to go back to. 

Material gifts or experiences – what is your choice for a Christmas gift this year?

Choosing the perfect Christmas gift can sometimes be stressful, especially if it’s done in the last minute. This year spare yourself the stress and choose to gift your friends and family an experience they have never tried before. There is a wide range of options, so you can hardly go wrong by choosing an experience gift. Bonus points if it’s something they have always wanted to do. That’s how you will be sure that it will give them memories that will last for a lifetime!

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