21 Experience Gifts for People Who Don’t Want ‘Things’

For new memories and all the belly laughs.

August 18, 2022
Photo by Julia Gartland

My husband and I have an understanding when it comes to gifts: Instead of getting each other physical items, we gift experiences. I mean, I’ll still welcome a nice piece of jewelry any day but I’d rather take a weekend trip or tune into a crafting class. In fact, some of the best gifts I’ve given him are experiences, such as a personalized video from a basketball player on the New York Knicks via Cameo and a tie-dying class from Uncommon Goods.

While there might not always be a physical present to unwrap, experience-based gifts are truly the gifts that keep on giving. You’ll make new memories and laugh until your bellies hurt, and you’ll still wind up with physical momentos afterward such as photos from a trip, a finished arts and crafts project, or a delicious meal that you cooked together.

From virtual cooking classes, art demos, and even videos sent in from their fave athletes and celebrities, here are 21 experience gifts for anyone who says they don’t want anything for the holidays.

Photo by Headspace

1. Headspace Membership, $12.99+

The past few years have been rough for everyone, so a membership to the Headspace app can help them become more mindful and teach them how to better deal with stress, anxiety, and more. Depending on your budget, you can start them on a monthly or annual membership.

Photo by Interior Define

2. Interior Define Design Services, Free

If they’ve been hemming and hawing about furniture and room layouts, try setting them up for a free design consultation at custom furniture brand Interior Define. Experts can help them customize couches, accent chairs, and more for their budget and style and help them figure out where pieces can go in their space, so there are no surprises come delivery day.

Photo by Nuuly

3. Nuuly Membership, $88

For those who are looking for a closet refresh, try a monthly subscription to Nuuly. They can rent six items each month, whether it’s easy-breezy T-shirts, fun cocktail dresses, formal gowns, and even maternity wear. Once the month is over, they can choose to hold on to items, buy them, or send them back to unlock another rental spot. As someone who’s used the service the past couple of months for summer weddings, work events, and more, Nuuly has come in clutch more times than I can remember.

Photo by Classpass

4. ClassPass Membership, $19+

ClassPass has expanded its fitness studio membership to spas and salons, so your loved ones can treat themselves to whatever they fancy.

Photo by Winc

5. Winc Membership, $29.95+

For oenophiles who have dreams of visiting Napa Valley, a wine membership from Winc is the next best thing. We named it the best wine subscription for people who don’t know what they like​​ because you can take a quiz that curates wines based on your preferences—and it only gets better over time with feedback. Grab four bottles of vino—with free shipping—at a much more budget-friendly price tag than a round-trip plane ticket. (Okay, so this is a physical gift but we don’t think they’ll complain.)

Photo by Modsy

6. Modsy Renovation Packages, $999+

Those who want to completely remodel their spaces or are building from scratch would appreciate a renovation package from Modsy. It’s a big-budget gift but one that’ll be worth it once they see how well-laid out their space could be. I previously tested its interior design package and was blown away at how it reworked my living room, so I can only imagine how dramatic the reno package would be.

Photo by Obé

7. Obé Fitness Membership, $24.99 monthly+

If your gift’s recipient wants to become more active, they might enjoy a subscription to online workout classes at Obé. You can choose a monthly, quarterly, or yearly pass—or you can just sign them up for a free week-long trial to see if they like the classes first before committing.

Photo by Getaway

8. Getaway Gift Card, $100+

A gift card to Getaway means they can unplug, recharge, and live their coziest life. The cabins are about two hours away from major cities like New York, Portland, and Seattle, so this is a great gift idea for someone who has access to a car.

Photo by CrateJoy

9. CrateJoy We Craft Box, $30+

Young crafters (and their parents) will love opening this subscription box each month to find their latest project. Each box comes with a fun theme and enough materials for two kiddos to use. There are always deals on the subscriptions, so keep an eye out!

Photo by Amazon

10. Sculpd Pottery Kit, $65

A Sculpd pottery kit means they can try their hand at pottery without venturing out of their PJs. It comes with enough clay and materials for two people to make four small pots or two large ones. Or they can go wild with their own creations.

Photo by Sunday Scaries Club

11. Sunday Scaries Club Meal Prep Class, $38+

Help them get inspired to meal prep with live classes with writer and founder of This Needs Hot Sauce Abigail Koffler and personal chef Erica Adler. The classes stream on Sundays so they can prep meals for the week ahead, and are recorded too for easy playback.

Photo by Uncommon Goods

12. Uncommon Experiences, $25+

For the crafters, Uncommon Experiences has a ton of fun virtual classes such as flower arranging, tie-dyeing, painting, and more. Most of the classes come with kits which are included in the purchase price, so there’s no scrambling to shop for materials.

Photo by Havenly

13. Havenly Design Packages, $99+ $79+

For anyone who’s moved into a new space, a design service like Havenly can help them reimagine small or cavernous rooms alike with layout designs, furniture and decor recommendations, and even paint colors. Its latest partnership with Reese Witherspoon’s Reading Room Book Club is a great way to create a little reading nook in an overlooked spot.

Photo by Tilly

14. Tilly Outdoor Design Package, $375+

If they were lucky enough to land some outdoor space, they’ll appreciate landscaping help. Tilly offers virtual landscape designs to help them figure out layouts, along with the maintenance basics like the best plants for their space, how and when to weed, and more.

Photo by MasterClass

15. Masterclass Annual Membership, $15+/monthly

If they love to learn, they’ll get so much out of a Masterclass membership. They can get tips for anything they’re curious about straight from experts like actor Samuel L. Jackson, cellist Yo-Yo Ma, and even conservationist Dr. Jane Goodall.

Photo by Cameo

16. Cameo, varies

Commission their favorite actor, athlete, or celeb to create a personalized video message with Cameo for the most unique gift. I’ve sent my husband a video message from a basketball player on the New York Knicks and my niece a sweet message from an Elsa impersonator from Frozen—you should’ve seen their excited faces as they watched the video!

Photo by The Sill

17. The Sill Online Courses, Free

Green thumbs and plant parent newbies can tune into The Sill’s free virtual workshops for plant-care tips, DIYs, and more. And if they don't have any greenery (yet!), grab a cute little plant to go along with the classes. For more gift ideas for plant lovers, head over here.

Photo by AirBnB

18. AirBnB Experiences, varies

In addition to unique stays like the potato hotel or fun treehouses, AirBnB has fun online and in-person activities hosted by local experts such as making pasta with Italian nonnas or going on a haunted hiking adventure.

Photo by USGS Store

19. The National Parks And Federal Recreational Lands Annual Pass, $80

If they can’t wait to explore the great outdoors, help them out with a pass that lets them visit all the national parks across the country for free. Well, free for them.

Photo by Atlas Obscura

20. Atlas Obscura Experiences, varies

Choose from free and paid online or in-person experiences inspired by and featured in the popular Atlas Obscura book, such as foraging or learning how to read tombstones. It’s perfect for anyone who loves unique, off-the-beaten-path adventures.

Photo by Purple Carrot

21. Purple Carrot Meal Subscription, $59.50+

For anyone interested in a plant-based lifestyle, a curated meal subscription plan like Purple Carrot might jumpstart their taste buds. You choose the amount of weekly meals in the plan and they choose their own menu—a win-win for both of you.

This post was updated in August 2022 with more great experience gift ideas.

How do you plan on spending time with your loved ones this season? Let us know below!

This post contains products independently chosen (and loved) by our editors and writers. Food52 earns an affiliate commission on qualifying purchases of the products we link to.
Food52's Automagic Holiday Menu Maker
View Maker
Food52's Automagic Holiday Menu Maker

Choose your holiday adventure! Our Automagic Menu Maker is here to help.

View Maker

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • Annie
  • Sujatha
  • Windischgirl
  • DMStenlake
Jada Wong

Written by: Jada Wong

Jada is the market editor at Food52 with a decade of experience writing and editing for online publications such as Refinery29, Cosmopolitan, and Insider.


Annie September 4, 2022
I happen to really like this list and the mix of food, outdoors and health, and lifestyle experiences.
Sujatha December 7, 2021
Unfortunately a lot of of things on this list are just that -- THINGS! For an article that talks the anti-overconsumption talk, this one sure lists a lot of things to buy. Seems to me to be increasingly the way of the Food52 website over the years, less emphasis on recipes but more and more stuff for sale.
Windischgirl December 21, 2016
We're on a tight budget this year so I had to be creative! Shhhh...don't tell but this is what I got my kids: one of my spare slow cookers for my oldest, who just moved into his first post-college apartment. For my 22yo man-about-town, I unearthed a vintage cocktail shaker from a back closet, polished it up, and found a 1950’s cocktail book for $1 (he spent this past summer mixing up G&Ts for us). I found a thrift-store hand-crank pasta machine--unused and in original packaging!--for my daughter, who has fed us homemade lasagne and ricotta-pea capeletti.
Everyone else on my list receives a loaf of homemade bread, some real-fruit fruitcake, or an assortment of homemade cookies...because we really have all the belongings we need.
Maybe Christmas dinner should be lemontinis and appetizers, followed by some slow-cooked ragù over fettuccini?
DMStenlake December 24, 2016
The best gifts are from the heart ❤️ and hearth! This sounds like a beautiful Christmas! We do what the author's friends do and give ourselves an adventure. Sometimes a new place but usually someplace we both enjoy. Away from the hustle and craziness of the city holidays. Just the two of us and the fur-kid. Merry Christmas 🎁🎄 and remember your blessings in the New Year! 🐾🐾☮️