Gifts

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

For new memories and all the belly laughs.

by:
December  7, 2021
Photo by Julia Gartland

My husband and I have an understanding: Instead of getting each other physical gifts, we give 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 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 your fave athletes and celebrities, here are 18 experience gifts for anyone who says they don’t want anything for the holidays.

Photo by Winc

1. 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

2. Modsy Renovation Packages, $999+

Those who want to 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

3. Obé Fitness Membership, $19 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

4. 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. Now through December 14, if you grab a $100 gift card for a loved one, you can get a $25 credit toward your own escape. And if you get a $300 gift card, your credit will go up to $100. One for you, one for me...

Photo by CrateJoy

5. 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 (currently, you can take $50 off orders $200+ with code GOLDRINGS or get your first shipment for free with a prepaid 6- or 12-month plan with code FIRSTBOXFREE), and if you order by December 18, you'll get the first box by Christmas.

Photo by Urban Outfitters

6. 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

7. Sunday Scaries Club Meal Prep Class, $35+

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 Goldbelly

8. Goldbelly Live!, $129+

If you can’t cook up a storm with them in the kitchen IRL, you can still do so virtually via Goldbelly. It’s one of our favorite services to send food gifts, and now it’s hosting classes with chefs, bakers, and more from across the country. Each class comes with a kit that has all the ingredients so there’s no need to hit up the grocery store.

Photo by Uncommon Goods

9. Uncommon Experiences, $20+

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

10. Havenly Design Packages, $99+ $49.50+

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

11. Tilly Garden Coaching, $30/Monthly

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

Photo by MasterClass

12. 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. Right now, there's a 2-for-1 deal so you can grab one for your loved one and get another for yourself, too.

Photo by Cameo

13. 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 Frozen’s Elsa—you should’ve seen their excited faces as they watched the video!

Photo by The Sill

14. The Sill Workshops, $15+

Green thumbs and plant parent newbies can tune into The Sill’s workshops for plant-care tips, DIYs, and more. Most of the virtual and in-person classes don’t require any plants, though it’s helpful to bring your own if you have specific questions.

Photo by AirBnB

15. 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

16. The National Parks And Federal Recreational Lands Pass Kit, Annual Pass, And Brochure 2021, $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

17. 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

18. Purple Carrot Meal Subscription, $51.94+

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 December 2021 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.
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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.

3 Comments

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! 🐾🐾☮️