A Minimalist Christmas: 15 Experiential Gift Ideas

A few weeks ago, I shared a list of my favorite consumable gift ideas (read: stuff that goes away) in anticipation of the holiday season. I also promised that I would follow up with a list of experiential gifts! So here you are — some ways you can gift an experience for the holidays, a birthday, or an anniversary.

This is an easy way to keep your Christmas more minimal if someone you know is starting to declutter or simplify their lives. And if that person is you, it’s the perfect list to pass along if you are asked what you want for Christmas!

Psssst… Experiential gifts are especially ideal for last-minute gift hunting, as it typically requires printing a ticket at home or swinging by a local business to pick up a gift card.

NOTE: There is a little bit of overlap between the two categories, as many experiential gifts are also consumable.


Movie Tickets

My sister and brother-in-law gave me movie tickets for Christmas a couple of years ago and it was such a perfect gift. I rarely go to the movie theater (because $ and Netflix) but it is such a special experience whenever I do! You can find movie ticket bundles to save a few bucks — at Costco (four AMC tickets for $35.99 or four Regal tickets for $37.99) if you are getting tickets for two people or two couples.

Concert Tickets

Do you see an upcoming show that you know your friend or family member would love to go to? If it’s in the budget, this is an especially exciting and thoughtful gift! I got tickets to see Fleet Foxes at the Ryman in May for Brandon’s birthday (which was in February) and he loved the anticipation of knowing the concert was on the horizon for several months.

Theater Tickets

Likewise, tickets to see a performance at a local theater provides a sense of anticipation. You may even be able to opt for a gift card so the gift recipient can choose the show they want to see.

Game Tickets

What’s their favorite sports team? Surprise them with a ticket to see an upcoming game! Better yet, buy two tickets and go with them.

Blue Apron

My brother and sister-in-law gave a free Blue Apron meal to us for our wedding and it was one of our favorite wedding gifts! If you haven’t heard of Blue Apron, it’s a meal delivery service — or maybe I should say an ingredient delivery service. Each box comes with delicious, chef-designed recipes and quality ingredients that have been perfectly proportioned. Choose from various gift card amounts, including $60, $120 and $240 — which covers a one-week, two-week, or four-week delivery, respectively. This is also on my list of “consumable” gifts, but it definitely qualifies as an “experiential” gift, as it allows the recipient to have an experience of following the recipe instructions and creating their very own at-home masterpiece.

Massage or Spa Treatment

Spoil them with a luxurious massage or spa treatment. While some massages can exceed $100 in value, you can opt for a simple facial or more budget-friendly spa treatment. Or perhaps get a gift card to a local nail salon so your recipient can get a manicure or pedicure!

Cooking Class

Encourage their culinary skills by purchasing a cooking class! Many culinary schools (and stores like Williams-Sonoma) offer cooking classes on a regular basis — covering everything from kitchen basics to elaborate pasta-making courses.

Yoga Pass for a Month

Kickstart your loved one’s New Year’s resolution to pick up yoga by buying their first month of free yoga. Who knows? This may inspire a lifetime of yoga after immersing themselves in the practice with no financial setbacks. If you’re looking for an at-home yoga course, I would highly recommend Gaia. If you have a higher budget, you could purchase a $99 annual pass, allowing unlimited access to their 8,000+ videos.

Wine Tasting

I mentioned wine in my consumable gift idea list, but it should definitely be mentioned again! Gift tasting tickets to their favorite local winery or one they haven’t tried before. And if they don’t live near many wineries or tasting rooms, you can opt for wine delivered to their door. A wine subscription makes for a fun, indulgent gift for the wine drinker in your life. Although I haven’t tried it personally, I hear great things about Winc. They make it super easy to gift their subscription by allowing you to personalize the amount you would like to give and add a personalized gift note.

Language Course

Is your dad always talking about how he wants to learn Spanish? Consider gifting a language course to make his dream a reality! Splurging on a more hefty course like Rosetta Stone is the perfect gift to go in on with other family members. This package includes a lifetime software download, a 24-month subscription to Rosetta Stone, a grammar guide, and a dictionary. While this is technically a physical gift that comes in the mail, it airs more on the side of experiential in my opinion.

Airbnb Gift Card

Inspire exploration and travel with an Airbnb gift card! The gift card arrives by email, can easily be applied to any Airbnb account, it never expires, and can be used at any destination in the world. Even a tiny amount can help cut down on travel costs for the recipient’s next adventure.

Airbnb Experiences

Speaking of Airbnb, they have a collection of experiences tailored to your specific area — many of which are similar to what you see on this list, such as cooking classes, yoga and fitness, mural tours, concerts, and more. Peruse their collection of experiences for future gift ideas!

Dinner Gift Card

I also mentioned this in the consumable gifts post, but it’s worth mentioning again! Gifting a restaurant gift card kills three birds with one stone; you are second-hand purchasing a consumable gift, prompting the recipient to enjoy an experience, all while supporting a small business. Also, you can often do this from a distance, as many restaurants offer online gift card purchases.

Photoshoot

A photography session is an incredible gift! Coordinate with a local photographer to set up and pay for a family, couple or solo photography session. They will be so thankful to have professional photos taken, even if it’s at a quick mini session.

Creative Online Class

Inspire the creative friend in your life by paying for an online course to hone their skills or pick up a new hobby. Brit + Co has an impressive roster of classes to choose from, covering just about everything under the sun — including watercoloring, calligraphy, knitting, sketching, hand lettering, photography, jewelry making, nail art, printmaking, Photoshop, embroidery, and much more. And the best part? All classes can be taken from the comfort of your couch.

What experiential gift(s) would you add?

Let us know in the comments below!

Looking for more ideas?

As mentioned, I put together a list of consumable gift ideas (like coffee, wine, honey and candles) to enhance your minimalist Christmas!