Experience Gifts: How to Give a Gift that Actually Means Something

Between birthdays, anniversaries, graduations, weddings, Mother’s Day, and Father’s Day, it seems like we’re always browsing store windows for gifts. Every once in a blue moon (say, one out of ten gifts we buy), we hit the jackpot and find a gift with meaning, a gift with value, gift that says exactly what we want it to say.

But the rest of the time? We’re grasping at straws, falling back on standbys like watches for boyfriends and husbands, books for Dad, earrings for Mom. It’s not that these aren’t sweet gestures. After all, we spend hours poring through the bookshelves looking for what we hope will be Dad’s new literary obsession, or picking through rack after rack of jewelry for Mom’s new favorite earrings. But year after year, watch after watch, the whole thing starts to feel like a song-and-dance, like Groundhog Day.

U.S. Polo Assn. Men’s US8170 Analog-Digital Black Dial Gun Metal Bracelet Watch

Skagen Men’s 233XLTTN Titanium Watch

And it never seems to pack the emotional punch we’re looking for.

We’re looking for a way, essentially, to say, “I love you,” or “Thank you,” or “Thinking of you.” But think about this: We’re trying to say something emotional with something material. Is this even possible?

Maybe it is (I suppose wedding rings do have a purpose), but there’s an easier, simpler way to cut to the heart of things. And it’s called an experience gift.

Adventure gifts, experiential gifts, gift experiences—they go by a few names, but they all refer to the same broad spectrum of gifts, available across the country in big cities and stunning landscapes. They are wine tasting sails and city food tours. They are mountaineering courses in national parks, opportunities to drive a stock car, and once-in-a-lifetime Fighter Pilot for a Day excursions. They are everything and anything that has ever been a dream to someone, neatly packaged with the details ironed out by a professional.

The beauty of experience gifts is that they bypass the clutter of average, material gift-giving and capture the soul of it all: life, and memories. When you give Mom mosaic lessons, you’re giving her an experience gift, an opportunity to learn something meaningful and interesting, and in the process she makes a memory she’ll have forever (unlike the ring that jeweler tried to talk you into).

Pioneer 12 Inch by 12 Inch Postbound Travel Frame Cover Memory Book, World Map

Home Essence 0388 Bookbound Photo Album, Fabric Old World Map and Faux Leather Front

Experience gifts don’t collect dust on the coffee table, or moth holes in the closet, or clutter the shelving in the garage. They collect interest, these experiences, and continue providing returns for years to come. Yes, a gift that actually keeps giving. Imagine that, dreamer.

Now, go find a dream for you and yours.

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