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Experience Gift Ideas for Everyone On Your List

Experience Gift Ideas for Everyone On Your List

Do you have someone on your holiday gift list that is tough to buy for? A person who has everything or doesn’t seem to want anything? Experience gifts can make perfect gifts for anyone on your list. This Christmas, consider giving experiences instead of stuff. And don’t worry, here are 15 experience gift ideas to help inspire you to find the perfect thing for everyone on your list this holiday season.

Why Experience Gifts Make the Best Gifts

Experience gifts are about creating memories. And memories often last longer than the batteries in the latest toy or gadget. Memories are unique to the giver and the receiver and are not something you can buy off the shelf.

Experiences are different every time. For example, each time you take a class or go on a hike, it’s not identical to the previous lesson you took or hike you went on.

Gifting experiences let you provide a unique adventure every time. They are often also things that can be enjoyed by the recipient and not just looked at or put in a cupboard somewhere and forgotten in the future.

The bonus of giving experiences is that there is often no physical product that will end up in the landfill. Some estimates state that up to 5 billion pounds of unwanted Christmas gifts end up in landfills every year. If you want to help do your part for the environment, then buy your loved ones’ experiences.

15 Experience Gift Ideas


There are so many different types of classes available, and nowadays, most classes can be taken virtually instead of in person. Think of a course that may be interesting or new for the loved one you are gifting it to.

Here are some class ideas:

  • Karate
  • Art/Drawing
  • Dance
  • Skating
  • Lego Robotics
  • Coding
  • Yoga

Pick an activity that your loved one already enjoys or something new they’ve always wanted to try. 


Does your loved one currently have a gym membership or other membership? Why not offer to pay for a few months or even a whole year. If they already have a membership, then you for sure know that they will use and appreciate your present.


A subscription that involves something the recipient receives in the mail can be an ongoing exciting gift. Subscriptions can be a monthly book or magazine subscription for little ones or one of the many subscription boxes designed for children or adults.

Snail mail is not too common anymore, so receiving a subscription in the mail is a surprise. And often, subscription boxes are curated monthly without the contents kept secret in advance.

Annual National Park Pass

Do you have an adventurer on your list? Why not get them an annual national park pass? They can use it to gain access to all of Canada’s national parks throughout the year. Park passes are a great experience that the whole family can enjoy.

And a convenient gift if the family or individual you are buying it for lives close to some of Canada’s awe-inspiring national parks.

Quality Time

Quality time can come in many forms. You can choose to spend time with your loved ones doing whatever they want. Or maybe you make time to share your talents with a friend.

Like to sew, knit, or crochet? Why not teach the next generation how to get started?

If you have little ones on your Christmas list, taking time to bake and decorate cookies with them can be very exciting and memorable.

If you want an event that both parents and kids enjoy, then why not offer to host the kids at your place for a sleepover. It can make for a fun night for the kids and a night off for the parents.

Performance Tickets

Buying friends performance tickets is giving an event where they can witness the talents of others. Some ideas are tickets to a local theater performance, sporting event, comedy show, dance recital, or music concert.

You could buy them just one ticket and buy yourself one to go with them. Or gift two tickets so they can choose who to take to the event.

Bonus points if you can get tickets for an exclusive event that your loved one cannot get their own tickets for.

Museum Passes

You can purchase a single-use museum pass or an annual pass for ongoing adventures. If you buy a one-time ticket for a friend or family member, they can go and enjoy the current exhibit. But if you buy an annual pass, they can go back numerous times to see the rotating exhibits usually hosted by museums.

Passes to a museum are a great gift for a family as it is an experience they can all enjoy, and most museums have a children’s section.


Offer to take friends to the driving range, batting cages, theme park, or bowling. You will both enjoy the time together doing an activity that maybe you don’t do every day.

Activities are also great as group gifts. Getting out and being physically active is always better enjoyed with others.

Helping Others

Maybe the gift you choose to give this year is all about helping others? Helping others could be donating in the name of the gift recipient or sponsoring an animal or child with specific organizations.

But helping others doesn’t always have to cost you money either. Making an effort to volunteer your time can go a long way and teach many valuable life lessons. Schedule a date to volunteer with the people you want to give to this holiday season.

Family Adventures

Are you looking for a gift that the whole family can enjoy? Why not give them the gift of an adventure?

Family adventures could include a picnic, hike, scavenger hunt, movie night basket complete with movie tickets or a stay-at-home movie, or passes to go ice skating. Take the time to put together an adventure that will let the whole family spend time together. Parents will appreciate the effort you put into designing a bonding experience that creates lasting memories for them and the kids.

Gifts that Pamper

Around the holidays, we could all use a little extra pampering. It can be as easy as putting together a gift basket containing bath bombs, a pedicure set, massage oil, and spa slippers. Products that pamper are ideal gifts for couples.

Or go all out and get your loved one a pass to go for a float in a sensory deprivation chamber. Floating can be very relaxing. But make sure the person you are gifting it to is not claustrophobic so that they can genuinely enjoy the float. Most float houses offer new clients deals, a bonus that will help you save a bit of money too.

Meal Kit

The dreaded what’s for dinner question is all too common in Canadian households. Meal kits take the guesswork out of dinner. They come once a week with all of the ingredients and instructions required to make several meals throughout the week.

There are many meal kit companies available to Canadians. And some of them offer great options for people with dietary restrictions or allergies. Before you gift a meal kit to someone, shop around as most companies provide some form of sign up discount.

Makers Kit

Have a wine or beer lover on your list? Why not get them a winemaking or beer making kit as a gift? They can enjoy making unique homebrew and can (hopefully) eventually share it with you.

But makers kits aren’t just for alcohol lovers. You can create (or buy) kits to make your own candles, soap, and even greeting cards.

Wine Tasting

Wine tasting can be a fun thing to do among friends. Living close to wineries or vineyards makes this easy. One friend offers to be the driver, and as a group, you can hop from one location to the next, trying the wines on the menu. This type of wine tasting often comes with a small fee but includes a “tasting amount” of various wines.

Or, if you don’t live close to wineries or vineyards, you can host your own wine tasting. Go to your local liquor store and buy a few different bottles of wine to try. Remember, when tasting wine, you don’t have to drink a whole glass of each type; or you definitely can.

If you are hosting a wine tasting session, it is good to have some finger food to go along with the tasting. And always make sure that everyone involved has a safe way to get home.

Personalized Coupon Book

If all else fails, why not make your special someone a personalized coupon book? Create coupons for experiences you know your family or friends will love and enjoy.

Or, if this list over-inspires you, you can make a customized coupon book that includes many of the options listed above. Create custom gift-certificates for the recipient to enjoy several activities on this list.

How to Wrap up an Experience

Sometimes it can be challenging to wrap up an experience, especially if there is no physical item involved with the gift. But wrapping the present is not a time to get frustrated. It’s time to get creative.

One option is not to wrap anything at all. You could create a digital item explaining the gift that you are giving. The benefit of this is that there is no waste produced.

But if you have a physical product as part of the experience, why not wrap it in a fabric gift bag? These gift bags can be used and do not add any waste to the landfills.

Another option is to create a custom gift-certificate explaining the experience gift and wrap that up. Depending on the experience gift you choose, you may include a small physical item representing a token of the experience. So if you are offering to bake cookies with someone, you could wrap up a few cookies or a copy of the recipe card. Wrap up a trip to the driving range with a few golf balls or an art class with a few paintbrushes.

Or, use your imagination and come up with a unique way of wrapping any one of these experience gifts.


  1. Sabrina

    I have believed in this theory for many years and my children (10 and 6) have come to love their experiences much more than the toys that ultimately end up on a shelf collecting dust. We have done skating lessons, basketball lessons, art lessons, Harlem Globetrotters (LOVED by all!) and this year we are going to do Fallsview Indoor Waterpark and perhaps a play (thinking Aladdin). Good luck with your transition, but I am sure your kids will come to love it as much as mine! 🙂

  2. Alix

    Our favourite family gift to receive is a membership to a local museum. We enjoy it all year.

  3. Heather R

    This is so very not frugal but we’re taking a trip to DisneyWorld instead of doing Christmas gifts for the kids this year. We haven’t gone anywhere in the past few years and I’m very excited to surprise them with this. Even my mom and sister are coming so we’re just not exchanging presents at all. My kids have shown me that they are more into experiences than toys and we just want to give them the most ultimate experience that we can think of and have been saving for.

    • teachermum

      While not frugal on the whole, you can do Disney frugally–we’ve been doing that for years! Hands down, the best vacation value for your dollar.

      I’d love if our family would all agree to give up gift giving and do a family vacation. Time and memories are priceless.

      • Heather R

        Teachermum is there a particular website or book you can recommend on doing DisneyWorld frugally? I welcome any advice.

        • A M

          We have done this too – has some great deals and if you are on Pinterest there are many pins on how to do this frugally. My main advice would be to go off season (November or April is good) and stay on site (transportation is all provided by Disney including from the airport). If you can get a free dining deal it is fantastic as now meals are included as well and with a bit of google search on how to use the plan you will find you don’t need to buy anything more than a couple of snacks. For tickets try DW Savers or Undercover Tourist or use Air Miles if you have them. They will all mail the tickets to your house so you have them in advance and offer discounts. DO NOT buy tickets from the guys you find on every street corner in FL.

          • Heather R

            Thank you so much for your advice! I’m going to check out that website:)

        • teachermum

          Heather, shoot me an email at teachermum at hotmail so I don’t go on and on and one here…

          Great tips listed below in AM’s post.

          Off the cuff:

          Know the value seasons.

          Know the value resorts.

          Do your math for several scenarios. Free Dining sounds like the best deal, but it isn’t always and it isn’t completely free. You pay full room rates to get it and depending on what you will eat, you may or may not be able to do better with room discounts and careful dining choices.

          Basic eating strategies? Bring/buy groceries for breakfast in the room while everyone gets ready. Bring along your own snacks (you are allowed to bring food into the parks, just not glass bottles) but indeed account for at least one Mickey ice cream bar! Eat counter service (quick service) only (as opposed to Table Service (waiter in a sit down restaurant). Disney counter service is NOT McDonalds. has all the menus for all the eateries on-site. Watch what people are ordering as you wait in line as some entrees are easily large enough to share. Anyone can order a kid’s meal at a counter service place-it’s often plenty for an adult. No drinks with meals-a cup of ice water is ALWAYS free from any location at any time. For our family of four, drinks at two meals would be close to $20/day, let alone anything in addition.

          Undercover tourist has the best ticket prices. By far, the cheapest tickets are the longest ones (per day cost) so only do Disney to get the best bang for your buck. We have no problem, even after 15+ trips, filling 10 days with just Disney. Non-frugal? A few Disney days, a few Sea World days, a few Universal Days…

          They have free transportation from the airport to the hotel but it may be worth your while to rent a car for a day when you arrive to make a grocery stop-if you prefer bottled water to local, that alone can save you the cost of the car!

          Don’t book any extras and skip souvenirs (gasp!).

          I could go on, and on, and on…

  4. Caroline

    My mother started doing this for our children some years ago and some of the presents have included a flying lesson in a Cessna, and outing to see the circus, a basketball game, going to the butterfly conservatory. It was a good way of giving an experience and quality time.

  5. James Slattery

    My family often took me to plays (same day discount at Dundas Square booth of Toronto Tix), city garden tours (I LOVE gardening), sports games or camping. All great memories.

  6. mpars

    I LOVE going to the theatre/opera/symphony etc and as a student I get 50% off tickets at the NAC and other Ottawa venues. My bf loves this too because every year for my birthday (and sometimes for Christmas too!) he knows that tickets to a show will be my gift. Simple for him, a fun date night for us, and everyone is happy! He lets me pick the show that I like and works with our schedule (since box office opens after my birthday) and I really enjoy the anticipation in the days or weeks before we go.

  7. Angela

    Very smart…we have also been trying to scale back the amount of “stuff” the children get at Christmas, as it is so much more than about getting.

  8. A M

    We have 4 children and really they don’t need any more “stuff” so have been concentrating on this approach for some time now. We receive a cheque from my Dad each year and we try to look for an experience that we wouldn’t otherwise get to enjoy. Last year we went to Horseshoe Valley for 2 days and this year we are trying to get a good deal for Great Wolf Lodge (my kids have been asking FOREVER to go there but it has always been too expensive). When we pool the money from all 4 children though, it opens up so many more options and exciting places that we can go and becomes much more fun and meaningful than 4 more toys.

    • Karen

      Perfect example of giving experiences, especially by “pooling resources.” Thanks for sharing.

  9. Louise

    We also do this. We often let the grandparents in on the gift so that they can get something needed for the class or somehow complimentary. This year we are thinking about a membership/season’s pass to the zoo or a season’s pass for the the local provincial park to enjoy all year. Before we had kids we regularly got Raptors tickets for Christmas.

    • Karen

      I recently looked into get zoo passes with Air Miles. That makes it really affordable (depending on which zoo you live closest to).

  10. Linda

    I don’t have children, but my parents and I have done this type of thing from time to time. One time, I got my Dad’s clock in the vehicle fixed. He thought he went over a bump and it started again lol.

  11. Jenn

    Great article articulating the reasons we should cut out or alter the gift-giving habit at

  12. sabadi

    If considering a puppy, this is a good article some ideas on how to do it well. And please consider adopting! It’s soooo rewarding to offer a needy puppy or dog or cat or rabbit or turtle or any pet animal a good home. It can be an opportunity to teach kids about the value of pets as not just commodities or things to have/own but a forever member of the family that can be carefully chosen to fit that family.

  13. Andrea

    Please do not give dogs/ cats/ rabbits/ guinea pigs etc. for Christmas. Animals are no gifts or toys. They are partners and new family members. Make their first day in your family a quiet and not the most stressful one. You could maybe have all the pet supplies under the Christmas tree and then go and pick your new furry friend up from the shelter a couple of days after Christmas. 🙂
    Everyone will benefit from this!

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