10 ‘Experiences’ This Holiday Season That Keep on Giving

Even with all of the creative gift guides circulating around the internet this time of year, maybe you’re still scratching your head wondering what to get the person who seems to have everything. Tickets, subscriptions, and memberships are experiential gifts people will enjoy long after the holidays are over.


Studies have shown that experiences make us happier than things do. With an experience, the opportunity exists to create lasting memories, plus there’s usually a social component to boost our happiness – especially if it involves an activity that can be enjoyed with a significant other, close friend, or family member.

Many organizations and local businesses are offering special holiday promotions and deals right now, so it’s a great time to take advantage of discounted rates for experience gifts that the recipients in your life will appreciate.

Here are just 10 suggestions (among many that exist!) that deliver beyond their value and/or keep giving all year long:

1. Tickets to a Concert, Show, or Sporting Event

Is there a comedian, musician, or team coming to town that you know a loved one would absolutely be dying to see but isn’t likely to spend the money on tickets? Since this can be an expensive purchase, it would certainly make a great group gift if you find others to chip in.


2. Movie/TV Streaming Service

A subscription to Netflix, Hulu Plus, Amazon Instant Video, or PlayStation Vue makes a great gift for your entertainment-loving family and friends. Most services have gift card options as well as the ability to pay directly for the subscription service by credit card.


3. Magazine Subscription

This is a great gift for a child or adult. Think Highlights magazines for the kiddos and anything from Food Network to People magazines for grown-ups. An annual subscription will be a continuous gift all year long!


4. Audiobook Membership

In the last year I’ve really discovered the value in listening to audiobooks for times when I just don’t have an opportunity to sit down and crack open a novel. With the advent of technology, you can now download and listen to “books-on-tape” in your car, on your phone, and while you’re doing your dishes, folding laundry, or performing another mindless chore. An Audible membership would be great for the wannabe bookworm who doesn’t have as much time to actively read during this season of his or her life.

5. Classes

I could think of so much that falls under this category – continuing education in the way of something like a photography class, ballroom dancing lessons, a financial planning session, or a cooking demo. You could buy a series of classes from a studio or give a gift certificate so the recipient can choose the class that fits his or her schedule.


6. Family Membership to Zoo, Museum or Popular Attraction

When my daughter turned two, experiences started becoming a more worthwhile endeavor for us. The zoo, children’s museum, and if you live in larger communities – an aquarium or amusement park – are all places that you would probably visit frequently if you had a membership for unlimited visits. And the best part about this is the ultimate gift of childhood memories. A family membership is an ideal option so when it works schedule-wise both parents can participate with their child(ren).


7. Investment in College Education

Contributions to a college savings account (also known as a NEST 529 account) will keep growing and growing throughout the year and beyond. There’s not much better than the gift of higher education. Obviously the child or grandchild may not appreciate it right off the bat, but it will be an invaluable gift in the years to come when they’re not worrying about how to pay for college.


8. Movie Theater Gift Card

Going to the movies used to be a lot more affordable than it is now in this day and age (gosh, that makes me sound old); these days it’s become more of a luxury. I’ve often passed up a movie because of the expense and the inconvenience vs. watching one at home. But now that the theaters have stepped up their game by adding more comfortable seating in the way of dream loungers and a wider variety of food on the menu, it makes the prospect of going much more tempting. I would venture to guess that’s the case for many others if they had a gift card that made the choice a no-brainer!


9. Babysitting “Coupon”

Is anybody’s love language “Acts of Service”? If it is, you know there’s not much that speaks as loudly as actions. How amazing would it be to receive the gift of free childcare from family or friends to enjoy a night out? If it makes you happy, think how much it would mean to someone else. 1) They’re saving money on a babysitter and 2) They can leave their kids knowing they’re in the hands of some capable people they trust. Win-win!


10. Restaurant Gift Certificate

A gift card or certificate to someone’s favorite restaurant is always a good standby option. Or replace restaurant with café if you know the person is a regular at a local coffee shop. If you’re going the restaurant route, make sure the amount you give is enough to cover two entrées plus gratuity (unless you’re taking them out!), and if you’re feeling extra generous, maybe enough for an appetizer or dessert.


Many of these experiences could be combined if you’re really in the giving spirit. One thing I left off the list was a spa day. I’m not sure what woman wouldn’t enjoy a little pampering. What experiences would you add to this list?

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