Welp, you’ve gone and done it now. The big day is just around the corner but you’ve procrastinated too long and now Amazon can’t even get to you in time. That’s a good thing, because this is your opportunity to blow Christmas out of the water with experience gifts that will be remembered long after that thing-a-ma-bob you almost bought in a panic.
Why Experience Gifts are Better Than Traditional Presents
Whenever my kids or partner ask me what I’d like for a gift, I give one of two answers. First, I say nothing because there’s very little out there that I want, and I’m over the whole “buying something for the sake of buying something” experience. The second thing I say is “your time”. I want to be with them, to connect, and be silly. I want connection, and I don’t care if that happens at a coffee shop or in some far flung destination because the chance to just be with someone I love without distraction is the most valuable gift of all.
Here are a few reasons why experience gifts are more meaningful.
- Experiences create lasting memories: When you give someone an experience, they can look back on it and remember the time they spent together, which can be more meaningful than a physical object that may eventually be forgotten or discarded.
- Experiences can bring people closer together: Shared experiences can create a sense of bonding and connection between people, which can be more valuable than a material gift.
- Experiences can be more personalized: It can be difficult to find a material gift that is perfectly suited to someone’s interests, but an experience can be tailored to someone’s preferences and desires.
- Experiences can be more meaningful: Giving someone an experience that aligns with their passions or interests can be more meaningful than a material gift because it shows that you have thought about what they would enjoy and appreciate.
Creative Ways to Present Experience Gifts
The hardest part of giving experiences is finding unique ways to present them. I’ve listed a few ways below that may help inspire you.
- Wrap a gift certificate for a local attraction, such as a theme park, concert, or sporting event in a box like you would with any other gift.
- Buy tickets to a play or a movie and present them in a creative way, such as inside a popcorn box or a CD case (yes, I’m sure you have one floating around in the basement).
- Plan a surprise outing or day trip and present the details in a personalized scavenger hunt or puzzle.
- Gift a subscription to a service that offers regular experiences, such as a monthly wine or cheese tastings, or a cooking class with a bottle of wine or basket filled with gourmet food.
- Create a personalized coupon book filled with offers for experiences, such as a home-cooked meal, a day at the beach, or a game night. Remember that experiences don’t have to break the bank. The real gift is your time.
Experience Gifts They’ll Never Forget
If you are looking for further inspiration then check out this list of incredible experiences below, and for bonus points I’ve even added in unique ways to gift them.
This is a great spontaneous experience gift that can be pulled together on the fly. If you’re a road warrior like me, you can literally throw your partner’s bag in the trunk and escape the day after Christmas for Miami. If you’re hitting the road from anywhere along the 401 in Ontario, it’s about a three day drive. There is something pretty fantastic about driving into a warmer climate when you start from the frozen north. That being said, if you’re time strapped and want to arrive faster, then flights to Miami are pretty easy to obtain out of Toronto, Ottawa, and Montreal. Check out this post for inspiration when you arrive.
Wrap Miami Up!
Stop at your local drug store and grab a pair of cheap sunglasses and sunblock and throw them in a bag with a note that says you’ll need these on the beach. Easy peasy, and you just scored a gift-giving home run.
If the person you’re looking to wow loves adventure, then you absolutely must book a trip with Intrepid Travel. Each experience is unique (and sustainable) and there are very few places on earth they don’t cover. I had the privilege of joining them on their Western USA National Parks Loop this year and have recommended them to everyone I know.
Wrap Intrepid Travel Up!
This one’s easy. Print off a map of the world and write a sweet message inside that says you’re giving them the world this Christmas and ask them to choose their destination. Spend the rest of Christmas Day snuggled up choosing your next adventure together.
One of the best experiences I’ve ever had was boating with Le Boat Vacations along the Rideau this year. This is the perfect gift to give the whole family since everyone can come along. Not only does this effectively eliminate everyone on your Christmas list with one amazing gift, but it ensures your family or friends will have memories that will last a lifetime. For extra points, book a Le Boat cruise in Europe. Check out their special offers here.
Wrap Up Le Boat
Head to Walmart and buy beach towels for everyone, or better yet, pull together a power point presentation with images of things to see and do as you boat along the Rideau.
Broadway Across Canada
One of the biggest joys for me this year was the return of live theatre, particularly Broadway Across Canada productions. This year, I was lucky enough to see Hamilton and Mean Girls, and I’m taking my parents to see Come From Away for Christmas. My parents, in particular, are tough to purchase for, so a night out with Broadway Across Canada is perfect. Gift tickets to your loved ones for one of the amazing shows coming up, or better yet, purchase season’s tickets and guarantee a whole year of fun. You can catch upcoming shows for 2023 here.
Wrap Up Broadway Across Canada
If you have an Elf on the Shelf in your house, print off tickets and place them under his arm, and sit him in the tree Christmas Eve ready for discovery.
If you’re really looking to score points, then book a trip to the Eastern Townships now before it explodes in popularity due to Three Pines. There is no bad time of year to visit the Eastern Townships with activities available in every season, so it’s simply a matter of finding the season that works best for you. Check out this post for a perfect three day itinerary.
Wrapping up the Eastern Townships
Honestly, this is a no-brainer. Hit your local bookstore and grab the very first novel in the Three Pines series from Louise Penny, OR grab the latest book if your recipient is already a devoted fan. Inscribe what you’re gifting inside the book jacket with a message of love.
While you probably don’t have the budget to score Taylor Swift tickets (and honestly who does), there’s a host of other options available when it comes to concert tickets. I’m not a huge fan of Ticketmaster but since they’re the only game around you can scroll through limitless options on their site for 2023 OR consider gifting tickets to something like Bluesfest, Rock the Park, or Boots n’ Hearts.
Wrapping Up Concert Tickets
This one’s easy if you’re pulling it together last minute. Pull together a playlist and share it with them Christmas morning over text with a message explaining what’s up coming up!
Cirque Du Soliel
You simply can’t go wrong when gifting tickets to a Cirque du Soliel show. Check out their website for shows near (Corteo in Ottawa, June 28th) and far (Vegas anyone), and purchase according to your budget.
Wrapping Up Cirque du Soliel
Stop in to your local party/costume store and grab a cheap clown nose. Either put it on and present the tickets or wrap it up in a box with tickets you print off the website.
For my birthday this year my boyfriend whisked me away to the Nordik Spa for the day. For six glorious hours, I shut out every worry I had while floating taking advantage of the thermal experience they offer. Check out any of the gift packages available and give the gift of peace to your stressed out partner this Christmas.
Wrapping up Nordik Spa
There are robes available at the Nordik, but why not gift them a cozy robe they can use all winter. Simply print off your tickets and slip them in the pocket.
The June Motel
Located in Ontario’s Sauble Beach, The June Motel is the perfect gift to give to friends or partners. This motel books up quickly so pick your summer dates and book now! While you hibernate the rest of the winter months, spend time planning out your road trip to Bruce County.
Wrapping Up the June Motel
Grab a bottle of pink bubbly and tell your partner/friend that you have a date night booked. On the night of your date, pop the bubbly, let them in on the gift, and then watch Motel Makeover together.