Monday, December 1, 2008

Christmas and Other Holidays: Gifts of Experiences

Would you like a massage? A facial? A night at a Bed & Breakfast in your area? I sure would - and I like giving gift certificates for this type of thing. Here are some other ideas; some of them are quite geographic-specific, but there could easily be similar offerings in your part of the world.

gift certificate for Guggenheim museum, Bilbao, Spain

1. A museum membership

I know someone who got a gift membership to the San Francisco Asian Art Museum, and thought it was one of the best gifts ever. The picture above is from the Museo Guggenheim Bilbao.

zoo membership card

2. A zoo membership (or annual pass)

The card shown above comes from the Phoenix Zoo; you could also give a membership for a local aquarium, bird park, or whatever.

Dozin' with the Dinos

3. Tickets for events

You need to be careful here, because someone may already have plans for the date in questions. But tickets to plays, concerts, operas, and sporting events can be very welcome gifts.

And then there are somewhat more unusual tickets. I've already mentioned museum memberships - but what about museum events? Does Dozin' with the Dinos sound intriguing?

Tickets to special events like the Boston Wine Expo are another good possibility.

And even something as simple as a pair of tickets for the movies (or a movie theater gift card) can make a nice gift.

yoga class gift certificate

4. Classes

Again, you need to be cautious about scheduling issues, but classes options are numerous: gourmet cooking, art, karate, yoga, dancing, golf, and many more.

mural tour

5. City tours

Intriguing city tours abound, at all sorts of prices. San Francisco has Victorian home walks, Chinatown walking tours, mural walks, and seaplane tours - and much more.

Other examples include custom and private New York tours and the ghost tours (and other city tours) in Edinburgh.

gift certificate

6. Coaching and other self-improvement

You need to be careful with these kinds of gifts. In speaking about giving the gift of some coaching sessions, Joe Palmer captured the issue perfectly; you must be sure that gift recipients are
"willing and committed" to honor themselves with coaching, and that the gift is not a form of "feedback" to the recipient.
Gifts in this category could include life or business coaching, a wardrobe or personal style consultation, sessions with a personal trainer, and even organizing services.

airfare gift card

7. Travel experiences

This again could get tricky with scheduling and such - but one way to handle it would be to buy airfare gift certificates that the recipients could use however they wanted. Individual airlines sell them, and there's also Airfare Gifts.. (Note that with this option, the recipient will need to pay a 5% fee when booking the flights.)

whale watching

Want even more ideas? Giftybox provides a way to offer a wide range of experiences. And for more inspiration, take a look at Alan Rider's web site. He's not selling anything - just encouraging you to go out and have extraordinary experiences, and pointing you to resources that can help with that.

And finally, I'd like to share these words from organizer Amanda Wiss of New York. Some of her examples touch on types of gifts already mentioned above, but I love her emphasis on the togetherness aspect.
I’m a fan of experiential gifts that you do with the person, so you also spend quality time together. Some examples:

1. My mom and I have taken cooking classes – nothing better than a day at the Greenmarket and then preparing the meal!

2. Friends and I have arranged to have a knowledgeable person come one evening and teach us about wine – a small private tasting in someone’s home, which is a fun way to learn and enjoy your friends too. I’ve heard chocolate tastings are popular too, though really the options are limitless here!

3. My cousin and I have gone on walking tours together in each of our respective cities – a fun way to explore your own backyard with someone from out of town. Seeing Chinatown, the Greenmarket, Little Italy - and sampling delicacies along the way is a ton of fun.

4. My final experiential suggestion is giving someone tickets to an evening they’d enjoy with you – theater, a movie, a book reading. For example, before my grandmother died I took her to an event in her hometown with an author whom she loved – and it was a lovely way to spend a night together.

Want more clutter-free gift ideas? You can find links to all articles in this gift-giving series here:
Christmas and Other Holidays: A Clutter-Free Gift Guide


Michele said...

Jeri, this series on holiday giving is excellent. It has a lot of depth and thoughtfulness, and even though I've read a lot on the concept of low clutter giving, I've found lots of new ideas here.

Jeri Dansky said...

Thanks, Michele! I've read many good articles on clutter-free giving, but I thought I could contribute a bit beyond what I've already read.

I'm glad I'm succeeding in giving you new ideas!