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Sweet, Kooky, and Custom Experiences To Give Instead of Objects This Year

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Day 25 of 30 Days of Thoughtful Giving: Make a day of it.

There's a couple who I know that almost exclusively gifts each other experiences rather than objects for the holidays and birthdays. I admire this kind of gift giving—it's thoughtful, exciting, extends beyond the immediate present. It's good for last-minute ideas because there's really no ordering and arriving on time involved—IOUs and cards will do just fine to inform your giftee what they're getting.

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Photo by Bobbi Lin

Experiences, rather than material things, feel so much more intimate and personalized if you really consider the person you're giving one to, and it may even be something you can join them in so you can do it together. Here are 18 ways to make your gift into a whole day this holiday (and beyond).

for the baker

  • If your baker is new to the art, give them a starter kit and promise to be there for their first loaf. Here are some essentials:
Oxford Double Oven Mitt

Oxford Double Oven Mitt

$42
Food52 x Mosser Chelsea Glass 3-Piece Mixing Bowl Set

Food52 x Mosser Chelsea Glass 3-Piece Mixing Bowl Set

$65
Brotform Bread Rising Baskets

Brotform Bread Rising Baskets

From $28
Food52 Dipped Wooden Spoons (Set of 3)

Food52 Dipped Wooden Spoons (Set of 3)

$29
  • Sign your giftee up for an introductory baking class or a series that'll give them more specialized knowledge in rustic, traditional breads, pastries, or yeast breads. If there isn't a cooking school near you, there's always Skillshare and Craftsy that offer online courses that you can stream right from the kitchen.
  • Do you happen to be an experienced baker and have a friend who loves your loaves? Take it upon yourself to give a personalized lesson.

for the film buff

The Scene That Underscores the Brilliance of Ramen Western 'Tampopo'

The Scene That Underscores the Brilliance of Ramen Wester... by Mayukh Sen

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'The God of Cookery' Will Make You Want to Roll Around in Barbecue Pork Rice

'The God of Cookery' Will Make You Want to Roll Around in... by Mayukh Sen

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  • If there's an independent cinema that offers memberships in your city, gift one! That way, you're supporting someone's movie habit and a local business that is probably really happy to have the repeat customer. There'll probably be free food, discounts on special events, and more for different levels of members.
  • If there are only big chains near your giftee, and they're a documentary or foreign film fanatic, give the gift of an online subscription like Mubi. Describing itself as "a curated online cinema bringing you cult, classic, independent, and award-winning movies," Mubi offers a rotating list of films that changes daily.
  • Filmstruck is a similar streaming service that is presented by Turner Classic Movies and The Criterion Collection—but there are 3 different pricing plans and a specific Criterion Channel that offers the largest selection of the acclaimed series to date.

For the Armchair Traveler

  • Is there someone in your life who really loves a specific part of the world, be it a country, a region, or a city? Prepare and gift a day of activities inspired by that place: Screen movies from that country, serve the regional cuisine, drink what its people drink, play its music, and have a language tutor come by for an introductory lesson.
How to Drink Beer Like You're in Eastern Europe

How to Drink Beer Like You're in Eastern Europe by Greg Freitas

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How to Turn Your Local Beach into the South of France

How to Turn Your Local Beach into the South of France by Greg Freitas

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  • Alternatively, secure spots in a full language course that you can take together (and daydream about the trip you'll take there after).
  • If you live in a city that has neighborhoods with distinct personalities and cuisines or drinks they specialize in, cobble together a tour of sorts: Dumplings, tacos, beer, noodles, etc. Log your favorites and then promise a full dinner at the one that takes the top spot.

for the home bartender

56 Gifts for Better Cocktails (Some to Buy, Some to DIY)
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56 Gifts for Better Cocktails (Some to Buy, Some to DIY)
  • Organize a full day of mixology: Get the ingredients and supplies to make bitters, tonic, syrups, and cocktail cherries from scratch. Experiment with a few pre-made batches and work on a signature drink together.
  • Tote them to and from a cocktail class (so they can have as many drinks as they'd like) and then stop by a cooking or liquor store to upgrade their tools on the way home.
  • Stealthily acquire their keys from a roommate or friend (or if it's your significant other, just be home early) and make dinner and their favorite drink. Have the whole spread already cooking so when your giftee walks in they can't stop you.

For the Sports Enthusiast

  • Go for the quintessential sports gift: Pick up killer tickets to a game, splurge on big beers, and eat more than one hot dog. If you want to go all out, send a car to pick up your giftee to meet you there as a surprise.
  • Ask your person to play hooky during the week and make a leisurely, calming breakfast. Then, hit a fitness or yoga class at a fancy spa and take advantage of the sauna, steam room, and hot tub for a full day of relaxation.
Sherried Mushroom Clafoutis

Sherried Mushroom Clafoutis by drbabs

Apple Peel Tea

Apple Peel Tea by Micki Balder

  • If you live in an area that has great natural resources and parks, invest in a couple annual park passes so you can go hiking or camping with your giftee whenever they want, cost-free.

for the art and design nerd

A Way to Find a Paint That Suits Every Wall in Your Room
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A Way to Find a Paint That Suits Every Wall in Your Room
  • Arrange an afternoon of doing DIYs together, and maybe with a big group—from holiday-specific to cozy winter kitchen additions to ones that look forward to warmer days. Everyone can bring supplies and the giftee takes home the best-crafted.
  • Give someone who's just moved into a new home or apartment a paint color consultation, like Sherwin-Williams Colorsnap In-Home Consultation.
  • Museum memberships are excellent gifts that support a great cause and let an art lover easily return throughout the year to see what's on view.

What kind of experience would you want to be gifted? Tell us in the comments below!

Tags: 30 Days of Thoughtful Giving