Top 10 Gift Guide: Your Loved One Hard to Shop For? Gift Them An Experience Instead

It never failed. I would buy Speed a gift he'd been lusting after for MONTHS...the most PERFECT thing... and next thing I know, he'd give it away to a friend or family member!!! What I learned over time was that an experience can't be given away and makes a perfect gift. Read on to see my Top 10 recommendations for "experience" gifts.

Gifts Gone Wrong

Let me tell you about this one time I got Speed a plug-in Garmin GPS unit as a gift. This was back in the “olden days” when they weren’t a standard feature in cars, and I was so proud of myself for thinking of it!

At the time, we lived in Maryland. Traffic there was terrible and poor Speed would get lost on the beltway ALL THE TIME. Living on an island has done wonders for his sense of direction as he rarely gets lost anymore, even when we travel!

But back to the story. So, I get him this GPS that he so clearly needs, thinking it’s perfect, right!? Except, not 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 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?!

I was so offended and angry that I went a whole year without buying him a gift for ANY reason whatsoever. Not his birthday, not Father’s Day, not even a Hallmark card. Clearly, I was pissed.

PinitTop 10 Gift Guide: Your Loved One Hard to Shop For? Gift Them An Experience Instead.

Getting Creative With Gifts

Over time, though, I obviously had to get over it. It’s not like I was never going to buy him a gift ever again! I had to accept that Speed isn’t a “things” person. He IS the most thoughtful person I know and I love him more than life!

I had to realize that regardless of how ~I~ felt about it, at the end of the day what Speed did with his gifts was HIS business. MY business was changing how I felt about the situation.

Sigh. It was time 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 & 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. And with those memories come feelings that we get to enjoy over and over again! It’s the gift that keeps on giving.

Besides, aren’t the feelings we experience when we give and receive gifts the whole reason we do it in the first place!? In the 20 years we’ve been together, it’s the “experience” gifts that Speed and I remember the most.

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Gift Challenge

If you’ve ever been in this situation before, desperately trying to find the perfect gift for someone in your life that just hard to shop for, then this year I challenge you to gift them an experience.

That 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.

Because 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 will be considered a very personal and thoughtful gift. If you love shopping on Black Friday, then take advantage of the amazing prices to get some great deals!

Top 10 Experience Gifts

Here are my top 10 picks for experiences you’ll want to gift this holiday season. Although the following picks 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 and I’m not receiving any compensation. All opinions are entirely my own.


1. Personal Training Package. We all overeat during the holidays. Between Thanksgiving and Christmas, I can easily gain 10lbs. Good news is that most gyms have great deals during Black Friday/Cyber Monday, so you should be able to snag a nicely discounted package to jump start your partner’s #NewYearsBody resolutions! For O’ahu peeps, Powerhouse Gym Aiea is having an incredible deal on training packages this weekend! Follow their IG page to get details! P.S. I just started blogging about my fitness journey with them…you can find my first post here.

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.


3. Winemaking Class. 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!

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!


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 & 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 this 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. Our family LOVES cars! Sometimes we’ll take Max to the Velocity Dealership in Honolulu so he can check out their new luxury sports cars. The salesforce at the dealership are always super nice and treat him like a valued customer. They offer the Velocity Driving Experience, where you can rent a Ferrari or a Bentley for day. That’s definitely something your partner will never forget!

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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 on Black Friday and beyond as you deliberate on what to get your loved one this holiday season. You may end up becoming the best “gift giver” in the family!

Would you gift your partner or loved one an experience? If you already have, what kind of experience did you gift them? Let me know in the comments!


“In the experience is the emotion. In the emotion is the gift.”
– Patricia Brooks

What do you think?

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  • Mashibaby
    January 15, 2019

    These are great ideas for gifting experiences!!

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Top 10 Gift Guide: Your Loved One Hard to Shop For? Gift Them An Experience Instead