We have all been stuck trying to find a gift for someone and just have no clue what to give them….Maybe they have everything they want, or you don’t know them, or have a budget for something grand. Recently in a scientific article about benefits of experiential purchases they concluded "We suggest that prioritizing value may encourage people to prefer material items instead of life experiences."
We live in this consumerist world, of Amazon, Walmart, door busters, black Friday, cyber Monday, freaky Friday and super Sundays but for what? More crap that in 6 months they won’t remember who gave it to them or why. A lot of us have what we want, or the things we need, like a bill paid but that is not really something we want for a holiday present. What can I get my folks, or friends and support local small business? Memories! Experiential gifts, things that will be something they remember for ever and remind them of our relationship. If you are in Seattle I linked to my personal favorites in the article as well.
Here is a list of our top experiential gifts in no order: * Denotes free option
Take your loved one to see their favorite band or theater! It will be something you can share and remember forever. I personally love the Tractor Tavern, in fact I was there recently and saw a show for just $15! And the new layout is great.
In fact this can be free if you are a Bank of America customer with their "Museums on us program" or in Seattle check out my favorite museum The Frye which is free all of the time. Check out the MoPOP for the coolest museum events in town, from movies to the best Halloween party
Offer to Babysit*
Babysit for your friends who need a date night and have kids, they may never remember you did this for them but they will remember their date with their sweetie.
Escape Room Games
This is the hottest new thing and it keeps growing in the public zeitgeist. The best part of this gift, you can just organize it as a holiday outing with friends, family or co-workers as the gift. Or get a gift certificate for someone at their local escape room company. It is great for a gift for a family member in a far away place, there are escape room games all over the world! Click here to learn how to find an escape room near you.
Show some Class with an Art Class
Get them a gift certificate to an art class. Imagine your artsy friends’ reaction to the gift of a painting class or jewelry making class. Take it together and share the fun.
Movie Tickets (Away or At Home)*
Sometimes just being treated to see a film and some popcorn is enough to satisfy anyone’s soul. But it is expensive, so treat all your friends to a movie night at your place for a holiday gathering and watch your favorite holiday films while lounging in your living room. Provide the snacks and the Netflix and for a few bucks you made everyone’s holiday brighter.
Roller Derby Tickets
I don’t know about where you live, but in Seattle there is some great roller derby! It’s a fun night.
Have that eclectic friend who loves the odd and interesting? Take them on a little road trip with your friends to somewhere they won’t forget! The best part is it is usually just the cost of some gas, you can pack snacks and be on your way. If you are in Seattle you can find some cool unique gifts at Ballyhoo Curiosity Shop in Ballard. If you're in New Jersey you can check out Lucy, Americas oldest roadside attraction. I spend many summers going in the gift shop inside.
Motorcycle Riding Certification Class
Ok, this is an awesome gift for anyone who wants adventure! Even if they would never buy a motorcycle, this is a really fun way to spend a weekend and get a new skill. They provide everything in most cases except the boots and gloves.
Helicopter Flying Lesson
I took one a few years ago and it was the coolest thing I ever did! It was not expensive, for about $125 I had a 1-hour lesson and a 30-minute flight. *parachute not included. Combine this with the motorcycle riding certification and you’re all set for the zombie apocalypse.
Get you and your friend tickets to the next comicbook or sci-fi convention. Seattle has ECCC, Sakuracon, PaX, and so many others I know taking one of my friends to one of these for a day would be the best!
To re-cap, the best gifts create a memory. You may not always be a part of the memory you help create, but they won’t forget who gave them the experience. Can you remember who got you what gift last year? I bet you can’t. But you remember the last five concerts and who went with you most likely. Give a class to someone and they will have a more than a memory, they will have a new skill or hobby.
About the Author
When not taking helicopter flying lessons, Seth Wolfson is the co-owner and creative director of Hourglass Escapes in Seattle. He has been in the film and theme park industry since 1989 and has worked for Universal Studios, Disney, Ripley’s Believe It or Not Wax Figure Shop, and more. His work is at makeupfxartist and you can hear him speak on art, make-up effects and escape rooms on the podcast Original Lines episode #5 or on an episode of “So you’re in Seattle” with Gregr and 107.7 The End. See his other blogs here. He is available for consultation on your next project by emailing him at firstname.lastname@example.org