Experience gifts are one of my favorite gift ideas that don’t add to clutter. It can be a free experience gift that you gifted through your time, or it can be an expensive getaway that replaces an expensive gift. That’s what is so great about experiences, they can be enjoyed at all budget levels, and they can be enjoyed by all ages.
Memories last a lifetime. This is why experience gifts make some of the best minimalist gift ideas.
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Experience gift ideas: The perfect minimalist gift ideas
Give tickets to an event
Consider giving the person on your list tickets to something they would enjoy. You could even offer your babysitting services for free if you are not going with the person to the event. Ideas for events are:
- Concert tickets
- Festival tickets
- Theater play
- Orchestra tickets
- Opera tickets
- Lift tickets to a ski resort
- Sporting event tickets
- Movie tickets with enough money to cover popcorn and a drink
Give a membership to a local venue
Want to give an amazing family gift? Give a family membership to a local venue.
Every year my sister-in-law gave us a family membership to the local Children’s Museum. With my husband working every other weekend, it was a gift that kept giving, as it gave us an outlet for something fun to do, even on the snowiest of days. We used it all year round, and it was amazing.
Ideas for memberships:
- Children’s Museum
- The Museum of Nature and Science
- Botanical Gardens
- Other Local Museums
- Local theater memberships
- Children theater memberships
Give a gift certificate to local favorites
One year we were so broke that I asked for gift certificates to our favorite restaurants. It allowed me to take a much-needed break with the kids, and not feel guilty about breaking the bank.
Even if the recipient is not hurting for cash, a night out without the financial guilt is a nice break!
Ideas for local favorites:
- Ice Cream Shop gift certificates
- Favorite restaurant gift certificates
- Bowling night
- Skating rink admission
- Local brewery gift certificates
Give the gift of your time
Sometimes the gift of your time is the most helpful (and budget-friendly) experience gift.
I would absolutely love it if someone would babysit our kids for free so we could have a date night without dropping $50 before even walking out the door. The gift of time is valuable!
- Babysitting Services
- Cook a favorite meal for someone
- Cleaning services
- Organizing services
- Help chopping and stacking firewood
- Help carpooling the kids for a period of time
- Free after-school care for someone’s kids
Give a class
Give someone the opportunity to learn something new. Most communities have a variety of classes for all ages.
You can research classes through a daily deals site like Groupon, through your local recreation center, local businesses or even local community colleges. The possibilities are endless! Examples of classes you can gift are:
- Foreign language
Go on a trip
A trip is the ultimate experience gift! It can also be the most costly, but you don’t have to go all out and put down the money for a full week’s vacation to some exotic location.
You can take a day trip or a quick weekend getaway. Consider doing a family trip somewhere instead of doing an expensive birthday party or lots of expensive toys for Christmas.
Get creative and give a travel journal to the recipient so they can remember their favorite memories.
Ideas to consider:
- Day trip to a local attraction.
- Weekend trip to a nearby tourist city (bonus if you can use hotel points for a free stay!)
- Go on an airline’s website and consider a random city on sale!
- Disney World (Crazy expensive but probably my favorite place to take the kids!)
- Great Wolf Lodge
- Brewery bus tour or bike tour
- National Park or State Park
- Camping trip
- Amusement park
Spoil the person
One of my favorite things to receive is a gift that allows me to feel spoiled. Many moms don’t spend the money to spoil themselves because it can be expensive! Give the gift of being spoiled without them having to feel financial guilt!
Things you can do to spoil someone in your life with an experience gift:
- Spa date
- Hair appointment
- Chiropractic appointment
Give the busy person in your life the gift of time! I love this type of experience gift, as it helps relieve stress. It can make life easier, even if for just a short while.
Anything that can save a busy mom or dad time so they can spend more time with their family is a winner in my book! Examples of time-saving experience gifts:
- An Instacart subscription (grocery delivery)
- An Amazon Fresh subscription (unlimited grocery delivery)
- eMeals (meal planning sent straight to their email, customized for their family – see my review of emeals here)
- Plan to Eat (an online meal planning service)
- Amazon Prime Gift (free 2-day shipping and a host of other time-saving services!)
- Audible subscription (an ability to listen to books on the go!)
Experience Gifts for Moms
Moms deserve the best. I know many moms who want nothing more than time back for Mother’s Day, a birthday or for Christmas. If you are looking for the perfect experience gifts for moms, here are my favorites:
- Spa date
- Manicure / Pedicure
- Theater tickets
- A nice dinner out (where you book the babysitter!)
- A movie (that she picks, no matter how corny)
- Someone else to cook dinner
- Take over baths for the kids for at least a week
- A night out with her girlfriends (with a ride coordinated so she can partake in drinks)
- An Audible subscription
- A yoga or Barre membership
- A weekend getaway
- A paint and drink class (bonus if you buy an extra ticket for a girlfriend)
- A day to hike wherever she wants to go
- A pool day
- A beach day
- Wine tasting
- A photography session that you found and booked all by yourself (moms want to be in pictures, but we end up taking them all!)
- Sneakily take pictures of mom for a few weeks leading up to the gift-giving event. Then, turn them into a digital photo album. Shutterfly makes it stupid easy. (Not really an experience, but she will love it!)
Experience Gifts for Men
For the man that has everything, it can be hard to know what to get them. For the best minimalists gifts for day, experiences gifts often rank high on my list! Use these ideas to hopefully find the best experience gifts for dad or for any other man on your list.
Here are my favorite experience gifts ideas for men:
- Beer making kit or beer-making at a local brewery
- Brewery or distillery tour
- Pub crawl
- Concert tickets
- Sporting event tickets
- Exotic car rental for the day
- Flight lessons
- Bungee jumping
- Indoor sky diving
- Snowmobile experience
- Wine tasting
- A guilt-free night out with his guy friends
- Movie night (he gets to pick, no matter how violent, scary, or dumb)
- A weekend get-away
Experience gifts for kids
Studies have shown that kids retain their memories for experiences more than any other gift. Give them the gift of a memory, rather than more plastic junk or talking toys you will be throwing out in a year or less.
Here are my favorite experience gifts for kids:
- An ice cream date (ALL the toppings they want. No limit. And no aggravation when they get a belly ache halfway through and give up! This is my favorite experience gift for toddlers.)
- A movie date (Let them pick out candy, drink, and popcorn)
- A trip to the candy store.
- A membership to a local venue. (The Children’s Museum and zoo are our favorites!)
- A trip to the bookstore. Let them pick out a set number of books to take home.
- Waterpark passes
- A night in a hotel with a pool. (We recently did this for one night over Spring Break, in our own town, and they LOVED it!)
- A trip to the aquarium.
- A full day and picnic at the park.
- Cooking class
- Sign up for a sport-related class or membership (dance, karate, soccer, baseball, etc.)
- A new game and game night (without your electronic devices)
- Ice skating or roller skating
- Skiing or snowboarding
- A camping trip
- Theater tickets (bonus if a children’s theater production)
- Concert tickets
- Indoor trampoline park
- Pottery class
- Ropes course
- Horseback riding
Experience gift ideas are the best!
Experience gifts are the best! They don’t add to clutter, and they require a great deal of thoughtfulness that isn’t just trading money with gift certificates for birthdays and holidays. I love experience gifts. They open the door for opportunities and memories to be made with the ones you love most.
Have a minimalist in your life? Experience gifts are really nice for them, as it allows them to enjoy receiving thoughtful gifts that won’t add clutter to their homes.
Experience gifts are also wonderful gift ideas for the person who has everything or the special person in your life who says they don’t need a gift.
Consider giving an experience gift the next time you are faced with shopping for a birthday present or when the holidays roll around. Even more importantly, see if you can be part of the experience gift with the recipient, and make memories you can remember together.