I've learned over time that an experience gift is THE perfect gift - it can't be returned or taken away! If you've struggled to come with gift ideas for how to spoil your loved ones on their birthdays or during the holidays, then hopefully my Top 10 list for experience gifts will inspire you to get creative this year.
We all have someone in our lives that stretches our gift idea muscles. Unfortunately for me, that person is none other than my #besthusbandever, Speed. Ugh…for him and for me! Let me tell you about the Garmin GPS gift fiasco.
Gifts Gone Wrong
Once upon a time, we lived in Maryland – land of the endless convoluted highways. Traffic there was SO terrible that poor Speed would get hopelessly lost on the beltway ALL.THE.TIME. We would spend more time trying to FIND a place than AT the place. Remember, this was the “olden days”, the fabled time before cellphones and car navigation systems!
Due to this oh so common occurrence, one year I got Speed a portable Garmin GPS. It had just come out and seemed to be the answer to all of our travel problems! He clearly needed it, so it was PERFECT. High five for me for being so smart!
Cut to a couple months later. I’m riding in my friend Chris’s car when I notice that ~he~ has the EXACT same GPS that I’d just bought Speed. Excitedly pointing it out, my heart drops to the floor when Chris says, “Um, Speed just gave this to me.”
WHAT?! How dare he!? He didn’t even ask if it was ok with me or tell me he was going to give it away! I felt embarrassed in front of my friend, and hurt that my gift was rejected. Didn’t Speed appreciate the effort that I put into getting him the perfect gift?! As you can likely guess, I was super bummed.
Why an Experience Gift
Obviously, no matter how perfect I thought the GPS was for him, he clearly didn’t think so, and that’s what really mattered. So the following year, I knew I had to get creative! Being the resourceful girl that I am, I thought, “Well, what can I get him that he can’t give away?!”. The only answer that came to mind was… an experience!
See, even if Speed loved and kept all his gifts, all “things” have a finite shelf life. At some point, they’ll be unusable. An experience, however, allows us to create memories that last forever wrapped up in feelings that we get to enjoy over and over again! Experience gifts are the gifts that keeps on giving.
In the 20 years we’ve been together, I’ve given Speed motorcycle track days, nights out with his friends with a hotel stay, skydiving tickets, etc. And he’s given me the gift of flying my mom & sister out to spend a few days with me, spa packages and my very first concert with Bryan McKnight. It’s these types of gifts that we remember and still talk about to this day!
Experience Gift Challenge
So don’t despair! If you’ve ever been in this situation before, where you can’t seem to find the perfect gift, then you’re in luck! I created a top 10 list of potential experience gifts your special someone will be sure to love!
Now, keep in mind that this person could be your spouse, your child, or even a beloved friend. The range of options can range from $20 to however much you want to spend – the amount doesn’t have to be a lot and doesn’t really matter.
Remember, an experience is priceless! The goal is to trade money for memories, and truly make your gift stand out from the ordinary. This is one occasion where a gift card can be considered a very personal and thoughtful gift.
Top 10 “Experience” Gift Ideas
Here are my top 10 picks for experiences you’ll want to keep in your back pocket as gift ideas. Although some of the following examples are Hawaii-specific, you can likely find these kinds of experiences in your own town. This list can serve as your inspiration! Disclaimer: This post is NOT sponsored.
Experience Gifts of Help
1. Personal Training Package. We all overeat during the holidays. Good news is that most gyms have great deals all year round (New Year’s, swimsuit season etc), so you should be able to snag a nicely discounted package to jump start your partner’s #FitBod resolutions!
2. Dog-sitting Services. How many times have you wanted to do a staycation, but couldn’t because of the adorable fur babies in your family!? Imagine if you got a gift certificate for even ONE night of dog-sitting so you can hang out worry-free at a fancy hotel by the pool with a margarita?! Ok, maybe that’s just my fantasy. On O’ahu, we like to use two professional boarders: our friend Kiana (home-based, contact me privately for contact info) and Carly from VIPaws LLC.
Experience Gifts for the Foodie
3. Winemaking Class. Are you lucky enough to have wineries in your area? Oeno Winemaking stands alone as the only winery in O’ahu. A winemaking class is pretty unique and has to be a whole lotta fun! With Oeno, you get to taste the wine, make the label, bottle the wine, put the labels on, then enjoy your wine. We haven’t done this, but our friends have recommended it and absolutely loved it. Sounds like a memorable experience to me!
4. Chocolate Making Class. My pick here would be the Madre Chocolate Bar Class. Madre Chocolate is hands-down my favorite chocolate on O’ahu. Taking a chocolate making class would be a great way to appreciate the work that goes into crafting such a great product, and will give your partner something to talk about for a very long time. Plus, who doesn’t like chocolate?! What’s cool about Madre Chocolate is that they have locations all over the US Mainland, so you may be able to find one of these classes near you!
Experience Gifts for Developing Skills
5. Firing Range. Although I’ve fired an M16 assault rifle in the Air Force, being able to shoot a handgun has always been a goal of mine. Who knows when that skill will come in handy?! Going to a gun range like X-Ring Security can teach your partner a useful skill. If inspired, go together – a friendly competition can also lead to bragging rights. Check for any additional requirements with the gun range in advance.
6. Horseback Riding Tour. If your partner has ever wanted to go horseback riding, there are usually a lot of beginner friendly options, like the Turtle Bay Resort Horseback riding experience we went for our anniversary. Not only is it a family-friendly activity, it can also be romantic depending on which tour you choose. The other option is to buy your partner horseback riding lessons.
7. Dance Classes. I’m Puerto Rican, so clearly I’m biased, BUT salsa dancing is A LOT of fun, and learning to do it the right way from an instructor will pay off in years of creating fun memories down the road. Salsa lessons are available on O’ahu at Hawaii Salsa 101. It doesn’t have to be salsa dancing, though. Speed and I have tried swing and hip-hop too. Choose a type of dance you think you’re partner would love to try!
Experience Gifts for Having Fun
8. Jazz Club Tickets. Concert tickets always make a great gift, but going to see a more intimate show at a jazz club can make a concert experience even more memorable. You can get much closer to the artist, and most likely there won’t be a bad seat in the house. I went to Blue Note Hawaii with a friend to see one of her favorite vocal artists, and we still talk about it to this day! The food and drinks were great, and the cozy venue makes me want to go back with Speed.
9. Escape Room. Escape rooms have become very popular in recent years, for good reason! You’re locked in a room with your group, and you have a certain amount of time to unravel the clues and “escape” the room. Super fun to with friends, family or coworkers! I’ve done the Breakout Room Waikiki experience with my recruiting team, and even Former President Obama escaped their room with 12 seconds to spare. Talk about cutting it close!
10. Dream Car Day Rental. Have you ever driven a luxury car? If not, this could be your chance! The Velocity Dealership in Honolulu offers the Velocity Driving Experience, where you can rent a Bentley for the day. That’s definitely something your partner will never forget!
Experience Gift Options Are Endless
As you can see, there are a lot of options for gift-giving when it comes to experiences. Hopefully this list inspires you to think outside-of-the-box as you deliberate on what to gift your loved ones this year. You may end up becoming the best “gift giver” in the family!
What was the best “experience” gift you’ve ever received? Let me know in the comments!