Make Memories with 6 Experiential Gifts for the Whole Family

posted: 12/18/15
by: Blythe Copeland
Happy family in winter clothing at the ski resort, winter time

Tired of scouring the stores and the internet for the same old toys, games, books, and clothes? This year, up your gifting game with experiences instead. By giving everything from art museum passes to roller coaster rides, you can make sure your gifts are the best ones under the tree.

1. Museum membership

Whether it's a membership to the children's museum in your city or passes to the art museum for you and your best friend, buying yearlong access to a museum is often cheaper than paying each time you go -- especially when you add in parking and other perks. Not the museum type? Look for similar deals at the zoo, aquarium, historical sites, or parks in your area.

2. Classes

From swim classes for your preschool age nephew to karate lessons for your teen daughter, and from wine-tasting seminars for your parents to photography tips for your wife, signing your friends and family up for classes that help them develop their hobbies and interests is a generous and unique gift. It's also a perfect present for people of any age; you're never too old to learn something new.

3. A vacation

Make it easier for them to get out of town with a pre-planned vacation. This can be as simple or as complicated as you want to make it: Give new parents a gift card to a must-try restaurant in your nearest big city paired with passes to a museum so they can enjoy a day away from the little ones, or treat your entire extended family with ski passes and plane tickets to Aspen. Whether you're planning a huge trip for a huge group or a simple night away at the spa for your sister, they'll come back raving about your gift-giving skills.

4. Theater or show tickets

Giving the gift of tickets to a show doesn't have to mean splurging on Broadway for your nearest and dearest -- although you'll have plenty of memorable options if you do. Look for professional shows traveling through your city this year, or research your local ballets, choirs, and symphonies to see which upcoming programs match your recipient's interest. And don't forget the kids, either: Send your niece to see "Frozen on Ice" or "The Nutcracker," or look for your younger brother's favorite band's touring schedule and grab a pair of tickets in a nearby city.

5. Amusement park passes

Tickets to an amusement park may not seem like the most exciting gift to open in the middle of winter, but they'll give your recipients something to look forward to when the weather clears. Whether you're buying for someone who loves roller coasters or water parks, or kids who love cartoon characters or Sesame Street, you'll find a park to match their interests. These are a great gift to pair with travel plans, too, by giving tickets to a park in a different city.

6. Local activities

Watch your city's Groupon and Living Social deals pages for experiences that you might not even know exist in your city -- everything from vineyard tours or haunted houses to trivia nights and walking history lessons. This is also a great way to find practical experiences to share -- professional organizing services, a few hours of house cleaning, yoga classes or gym passes. Bonus: Since the coupons offer discount prices, you can stretch your budget that much further.