9 Ways to Give the Gift of Experience

Holiday shopping season is here—but that doesn’t mean you need to spend the next few weekends silently screaming in a mall. Recent research tells us that money spent on doing gives us more enduring happiness than money spent on having—in fact, just the anticipation of an experience brings us a lot of happiness, more than anticipating material things.

Some shoppers are already putting it into practice—consulting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers reports that shoppers aged 18 to 34 will put more than half of their holiday spending toward experiences. Need a little inspiration? Here are 9 experience gifts to give this year:

Art Classes

Knitting workshops, drawing classes, pottery classes—besides making for an unexpected, outside-the-box gift idea for kids and adults alike, they’re also good for the brain. Research shows that crafting can help ease stress, increase happiness and protect the brain from aging-related damage. For those over 21 years old who need a little nudge to tap into their inner artists, grab a gift certificate to paint and wine parties all over the country, including Pinot’s Palette and Paint Nite.

DIY Beauty Experiences

Got a beauty buff on your list? Instead of a gift card to Sephora or a holiday gift set that may or may not suit them, let them create their own beauty products. There are workshops all over the country that let anyone create their own lipsticks, perfumes and more.

Bike Share Memberships

Whether or not the bike enthusiast on your list already has a ride at home, a bike share membership can get them moving more—like commuting home, even if they don’t want to commute to work by bike. Check out bike share membership options in your city or, if they travel, consider grabbing a handful of day passes to a city they visit often.

Cooking Classes

People who cook most meals at home eat fewer carbs, less sugar and less fat than people who cook less often (or not at all). If you’ve got someone on your holiday shopping list who’s resolving to eat healthier or cook more in the new year, help them along with classes offered by your local cooking school (or a retailer like Sur La Table)—you’ll find something for all levels, including classes in kitchen basics, knife skills, homemade pasta, winter soups and more.

electric run 

Fun Run Entry

Give the gift of an endorphin boost this holiday season. For serious runners and occasional runners alike, consider an entry to a themed 5k. There’s really something for everyone, from the rainbow-hued Color Me Rad run to the nighttime Electric Run (BYO glow sticks). Turns out that burning off those eggnog calories can actually be fun.

Amusement Park Season Passes

Screaming your face off on a rollercoaster can make for some great post-holiday stress relief, it turns out. Treat the thrill-seeker in your life to tickets or season passes to their favorite nearby amusement park. Or look for local skydiving lessons or bungee jumping locations.

Play or Musical Tickets

Whether you’re heading to a Broadway show or to the neighborhood theater down the street, a night of live theater isn’t just a great gift—it also enhances empathy and tolerance, according to recent research.

Train Tickets

Got a friend who’s planning a European adventure? Help them get around with a EuroRail pass. Not only will it lighten the financial burden of their trip, it’s a gift that takes advantage of the happiness boost we get from planning and anticipating vacations.

Choose Your Own Adventure

If you’re shopping for someone you don’t know very well (or someone who’s difficult to please), let them choose their own adventure. Tinggly offers gift cards to experiences all over the world that recipients can choose for themselves—from swimming with dolphins and parasailing to spa days and yoga camps.


An Introvert’s Guide to Surviving the Holidays
How You Can Celebrate a ‘Buy Nothing Christmas’
What’s Your Love Language?


Sonia Minwer Barakat Requ
Sonia Mabout a year ago

Some good ideas thanks for sharing

Maureen G
Maureen G2 years ago

I would love a gift of "time".......like helping me in the garden........fix small things around the house........clean all the ceiling fans that I can't reach...etc etc

Edith B
Edith B2 years ago

I would love gifts like these, but my preference, that I say every year and am ignored would be a small donation to a local animal shelter in my name.

Rose Becke
Rose Becke2 years ago


Siyus Copetallus
Siyus Copetallus3 years ago

Thank you for sharing.

golden s.
star peace3 years ago

thanks for posting

Donna T.
Donna T3 years ago

thank you

Chad Anderson
Chad Anderson3 years ago


Joemar Karvelis
Joemar Karvelis3 years ago


Nikki Davey
Nikki Davey3 years ago

So many shops stock overpriced gift sets of things we'll never use.