The new 'it' gift? Experiences

Last Updated August 2020

If you need to buy a gift for someone who seems to have everything already or if you prefer not to gift objects, you might consider opting for something less consumable and more experiential this year.

This might take the form of a shared activity, a membership, a once in a lifetime experience, or anything that involves doing something rather than getting something. The gift of an experience is memorable and thoughtful and can cut down on holiday consumption. 

If you’re at a loss for what to get for someone on your list, rather than choosing something at random that they may never use or that will needlessly clutter their home, the following are experiences that would make great gifts (and that you might be able to take part in, too).


Shared activities

When you’re giving an experience to someone close to you, like a significant other or a close friend, then choosing something you can do together is a meaningful gesture. 

  • Buying tickets to an event is a good way to share in an activity you’ll both enjoy. Whether it’s a concert, a comedy show, a play, a sporting game, a festival, an exhibition, or something else, buying two tickets is a meaningful gift and ensures that you’ll have someone to go with when the time rolls around. 

  • Attending classes together allows you to share in learning a new skill. Whether it’s pottery, photography, welding, glass blowing, or anything else, you’re sure to come away as more interesting people. 

  • You don’t have to break the bank to give an experience as a gift; even cooking the person a nice meal is a thoughtful gift, because you’re putting time into preparing food for them and because you’ll be able to share some quality time together as you eat.


A membership is a gift that keeps on giving. Whether you pay for a month, a year, or beyond, you can give someone access to something that they will enjoy in the long term. 

  • If the recipient is particularly fond of a nearby place, like a certain museum, park, or zoo, a membership could mean a lot to them because they’ll be able to go as frequently as they want.

  • A subscription to a magazine or a streaming service like Audible (for audiobooks) or Netflix (for TV) is something that a person might not invest in for themselves but from which they might get a lot of use and enjoyment.  


If the intended recipient of your gift is particularly adventurous, you might buy them an experience that caters to that sense of wonder, whether a physical adventure or an opportunity for new knowledge. 

  • Though a hot air balloon ride might not be possible or accessible everywhere, it makes a noteworthy gift for those in areas that have such an offering.

  • A historic or sightseeing tour of a local area or spot would interest history buffs or people who like to act like a tourist in their own city. Plus, they’ll probably be eager to tell you all about what they learned. 

Once-in-a-lifetime experiences

If you’re looking to give a particularly memorable gift, you can’t go wrong with a once-in-a-lifetime experience. This will excite thrill-seekers and adrenaline junkies, and they’ll likely be forever grateful.

  • For those who aren’t afraid of heights, skydiving or paragliding might appeal. Plus, if it’s something you’ve been thinking of doing yourself, you can make a reservation for both of you to ensure you’ll have a partner to share in the experience with you.

  • Racing a sports car on a closed track is something that anyone who likes to drive fast (or who likes sports cars) might find appealing. And when would they ever rent a track for themselves?