The very best experience gifts are winners in so many ways as they :
- are clutter free
- can be sent virtually at the last minute
- and will truly delight even the most difficult people on your Christmas gift lift who seem to have everything.
Great experience gifts can also be a brilliant way to shop local and support independents this Christmas bringing back not only jobs but also profits to our communities.
So I have for you here a seriously huge guide to the best experience gifts in 2021 and 2022.
But what makes a good experience gift?
What Is A Good Experience Gift?
For me a good experience gift is all about getting out there and actually doing stuff.
And really enjoying the moment.
It’s not a digital or virtual gift – although there are now loads of brilliant digital & virtual gifts – and it’s certainly not one of those over priced slightly lame subscription gifts most people honestly tire of after a few months.
Great experience gifts are a wonderful way to help our loved ones :
- Feed their personal passion
- Or do something totally different they’ve never done before or don’t get the chance to do enough.
But they can also be a wonderful way for families or friends to meet up and actually do something awesome together.
The trick as with every great gift is to find the thing that floats our loved one’s boat. It’s all about them and what they will love and not about us.
What totally thrills one person will bore the pants off someone else so use this experience gift guide to find the right gift for everyone on your gift list this year.
Experience Gift Guide
This gift guide is organised into people’s passions.
There are experience gifts for everyone from dare devil thrill seekers and culture vultures to sports fanatics and foodies plus plenty of ideas for those just in need of some pampering.
You can browse the whole guide or use the table of contents below to find a specific gift for a specific person.
Within every section you will find experience gifts perfect:
- for him and for her
- & for every age from little kids to grandparents.
There are some expensive gifts in this guide but there are also lovely little experience gifts that are very affordable.
The guide covers experience gift providers in both the USA and UK as many of my readers are American even though I am a Londoner. But there are also experience gift ideas your family can enjoy wherever they live.
The guide genuinely is huge and has something for everyone so do bookmark it or save for later.
The guide includes some affiliate links which means I receive a small % of anything you pay after clicking on these links.
Experience Gift Companies
Many companies sell experience gifts these days. They can be amazing but can also be very expensive and not live up to the hype.
And in fact some of the best experience gifts are those we put together ourselves.
Throughout this post I’ve got tips and suggestions for you on clever ways to create your own awesome experience gifts by buying direct. Usually this means more money for the people actually creating the experience.
But if you are short on time and and need an experience gift quickly these popular experience gift companies offer everything from adventure and culture to pampering and sports :
UK Experience Gift Companies
- Experience Days
- Red Letter Days
- Truly Experiences
- Into The Blue
- The Indytute
- Imagine Experiences
- Bear Grylls Adventures – this adventure centre at the NEC in Birmingham offers a wide range of thrill seeking adventures.
USA Experience Gift Companies
- Virgin Experience Gifts (previously Cloud9)
- Great American Days
Experience Gifts For Daredevils & Thrill Seekers
Awesome experience gifts for daredevils are easy to find.
You could gift tickets – or a season pass – for the best thrill seeking theme park near you. But the big experience gift companies all offer a wide range of extreme sports and dare devil experiences.
Some of the most popular new experience days are :
- Sky diving : you can now do very cool simulated sky diving in a wind tunnel with iFly World in both the USA & UK which can be a fantastic experience gift for dare devil kids.
- Kite surfing : if you’ve seen kite surfers on the beach it us unbelievably cool.
- Blokart : blokarting offers a similar thrill on the beach to kite surfing but you don’t have to be quite so fit.
- Fly boarding : flyboarding is an adrenalin filled combo of water skiing and flying above the water
- Water jet biking : the latest twist on jet skis. In the UK check out the specialist Jet Ski Safaris.
- Gorge walking & canyoning : gorge walking & canyoning transform the good old family walk or a hike in the hills into a thrill seeking adventure with vertical rock slides, waterfall abseils and more.
- Shark cage dive : a number of great aquariums – including Georgia – and adventure centres like Bear Grylls offer you the chance to face your fear and cage dive with sharks.
- Ice climbing : take rock climbing thrills to the next step with the world’s biggest ice climbing wall in Scotland or the amazing Peabody Ice Climbing Center in Michigan.
And of course all the classic extreme sports experience days are still widely available for gifting including :
- Helicopter rides
- Power boat river rides
- Tank driving
- White water rafting
- Rally driving
- Stock car racing
- Bungee jumps
- Survival courses
- Quad biking
- And more …!!!
The experience gift companies all offer gift vouchers so thrill seekers on your gift list can pick the right experience for them. The coolest experiences are obviously not cheap so it’s worth coordinating family to all chip in vouchers for a really awesome daredevil experience.
Experience Gifts For Ghost Hunters & Mystery Seekers
If the thrill seekers on your gift list prefer their thrills spooky to physical, you are spoilt for choice again for cool experience gifts for all budgets …
- Ghost walking tour : there are cool ghost walking tours in all sorts of spooky cities – we just a did a great one in Draclua’s Whitby – and as they are not that pricey, they are a great affordable experience gift. To find one near you check out these guides :
- Ghost hunting event : or for something a bit more hard core buy a voucher for a ghost hunting event :
- Haunted hotels : for the brave at heart you could book a night at a haunted hotel :
- Haunted house weekend : or you could gift in a stay in a spooky rental, although having stayed in the UK’s most haunted house, I have to say, this is not an experience for the feint hearted or – like me – total scaredy cats!
- Escape rooms : for a super fun experience gift that is not too scary – or too scarily priced – you could book an escape room for the family. It’s $25-30 per person and there are escape rooms just about everywhere now.
- Zombie survival experience : for more immersive scary fun gift a zombie survival experience. They are now available in many major cities:
- Army of The Dead VR Experience : the Army Of The Dead virtual reality experience is now live in New York & London and coming to more cities soon.
- The Dungeons : for a classic spooky experience gift tickets to the Dungeons now in London, York & Edinburgh.
- Murder mystery event : for anyone on your guest list who’s a bit more Miss Marple than monsters gift a murder mystery experience. Lots of companies run murder mystery events including:
- Horror theme parks : for the scariest rides in the UK & USA check out this guide to horror theme parks.
Experience Gifts For Foodies
Experience gifts give the foodies on your gift list the chance to get up close not only to the food they love but the growers and the makers too and even to meet their favourite chefs.
Foodie experience gifts can also again be an amazing way to use our gifts to put money and jobs back into our local communities …
- Cheese making : cheese making is having a renaissance & gifting a lesson can be a great way to support small dairy farmers. There’s a list here of cheese making courses in the UK.
- Vineyard tour : amazing small vineyards are springing up everywhere & a vineyard tour is a great way to support these small businesses.
- Wine tasting : if there’s no local vineyard many small independent wine bars now offer wine tasting experiences for all budgets.
- Brewery tour : more and more of our communities now have a craft brewery again and many of them offer fun experience gift packages. There are brewery maps here for the UK and USA.
- Distillery tour : local independent distilleries doubled in the UK in just 5 years. They nearly all offer experience gifts. Check out this US distillery map or UK distillery map to find one near you.
- Chocolate making : what could make a chocolate lover happier than making their own? Check here for local UK chocolate makers and bean to bar makers across the USA.
- Fermenting : fermenting is a big thing right now amongst foodies so buy them a voucher for a local fermenting class.
- Foraging : or get them onto another foodie trend with a foraging course. There’s a guide here to foraging tours all over the USA or in the UK try UK Foraging, Totally Wild & Best Foraging Courses.
- Meet the chef : a cooking lesson at a favourite restaurant where you get to meet the chef is always a winner with foodies.
- Restaurant with rooms stay : gift a night away in an amazing restaurant with this guide to the best restaurants with rooms all over the UK
- Glamping in a vineyard or foodie farm : for UK ideas try this list of 10 of the best UK glamping sites for foodies.
Experience Gifts For Travellers
Buying avid travellers on your gift list a whole trip away is an expensive experience gift and most prefer to plan their own trip. But there are some cool more affordable experience gifts to help them travel more …
- Membership passes : membership passes such as the America The Beautiful National Parks pass or in the UK English Heritage or RHS Gardens will give frequent travellers free access to all sorts of great sites wherever they are travelling.
- Immersive scavenger hunts : immersive scavenger hunts can be a super fun way to explore your own city or discover new cities. There are a number of companies offering them from as little as $20 including :
- Bushcraft & survival experiences : a brilliant experience gift for travellers who want to get into wild camping and trekking.
- Train ticket vouchers : we’ve had cool trips to Paris & Amsterdam with Eurostar vouchers & Amtrak do gift vouchers that never expire.
- Train sleeper tickets : sleeper trains are awesome & making a massive comeback in 2021. Amtrak has stunning sleeper routes or in Europe check out the Caledonian Sleeper or Nightjet who are transforming night trains across the continent.
- Meet the locals : gift authentic experiences with local experts via Backstreet Academy who help to put money back into local communities and offer gift vouchers.
- Rock climbing : a rock climbing session or course is a great way to gift an experience that will get adventurous travellers exploring even further.
- Heritage railways : a steam train ride is a lovely family experience gift both little kids & grandparents will love.
- Train driver : driving a steam train is a childhood dream come true for many travellers and most UK and US heritage railways offer it as an experience gift package.
- Classic car hire : hire a classic sports car for a weekend on the roads. Most of the big experience gift companies offer these packages but you can also book direct with companies like Classic Car Hire in the UK or Turo and Vinty in the USA.
Experience Gifts For Animal & Wildlife Lovers
There are all sorts of lovely ways to gift experiences to animal and wildlife lovers of all ages on your Christmas gift list …
- Llama trekking : a lovely opportunity to go walking with these friendly, curious animals.
- USA : you can gift everything from short treks in the Smokey Mountains to a whole llama trekking expedition with Wildland Trekking in the national parks.
- UK : book directly with local businesses like Catanger Llamas, Merry Harriers, Nidderdale Llamas or Lakeland Llama Treks.
- Swim with sharks : go snorkelling with the gentle giants of the sea the whale sharks.
- Meet the meerkats : meeting the meekats is a big winner with British kids that is available at most zoos including London & Bristol plus Paradise & Drusillas wildlife parks.
- Zoo keeper day : most local zoos offer this gift experience for kids & adults. They can be expensive & this can be a time when it will be cheaper with an experience gift company.
- Zoo sleepover : many zoos now also have sleepover nights for kids & safari lodges for family breaks.
- Wildlife weekend : you don’t have to travel to the back of beyond for amazing wildlife adventures. There are some lovely local wildlife trips here in the UK and ideas here for wildlife experiences in the USA.
- Wilderness glamping : enjoy the most stunning wilderness locations in the USA from the comfort of a luxury glamping bed or in the UK try Elmley or Knepp where you can sleep amongst the wildlife.
- Sheep dog training : some experience companies offer sheepdog training days but you can also book directly with farms in the Lakes and Yorkshire.
- Falconry : there are all sorts of falconry, bird of prey & owl experience days all over the country where you get to meet and handle the birds and see them fly close up. You can book these through the experience gift companies but if you google near you there’s a good chance you’ll find somewhere great locally.
- Pony trekking : pony trekking might not be anything new but its timeless fun and great for all ages from beginners to experienced riders.
- Bee keeping : bee keeping is making a big comeback and many local apiaries and honey makers offer half & full day experience courses.
Experience Gifts For Culture Vultures & Music Lovers
Theatre or concert tickets can be great experience gifts to buy for all the culture vultures on your gift list but for something super special try one of these awesome experiences :
- Backstage theatre tour : many of the best theatres in the UK and USA offer backstage tours for less than £15/$20 per person so they can be a great affordable experience gift for anyone who loves theatre. There are guides here to the best London and New York backstage tours.
- A bard in the yard : gift a personal Shakespeare experience in their own back garden with a bard in the yard.
- VIP backstage experience : for big concert goers you can gift VIP passes from VIP Nation & Gigs & Tours.
- Private tour of a historic house : gift the chance to explore exclusive historic houses with the Historic Houses Association in the UK or the most beautiful historic houses in the USA.
- Private view at a gallery : you can book private views directly with someone’s favourite gallery or museum or in the USA try Museum Hack or Art Smart.
- Painting holidays : if you’ve got an artist in the family book them a painting holiday. In the UK try HF Holidays, Not In The Guide Books or Art Is Travel.
- Gallery membership : most galleries offer membership cards that give free access to all the paid exhibitions so are a great experience gift for any culture vultures on a budget.
- Art Pass : Or give a card like English Heritage or the National Art Pass that give free or discounted access to multiple cultural venues.
- Location tours : for TV & movie obsessives book them onto a location tour for their favourite programme or movie
- Membership for an opera company : for an opera nut buy them membership for an opera company or festival to give them early booking and backstage access :
- USA : check Opera America to find opera companies across the country
- UK : check out this guide to British opera festivals.
- Theatre vouchers : theatre vouchers are accepted at most theatres and are available from Theatre Tokens, London Theatre & ATG in the UK and Broadway.com in the USA.
Experience Gifts For Sports Fans
Superb experience gifts for sports fans can be super expensive but there are some cool ideas that are much more affordable :
- Stadium tour : stadium tours can be a good affordable experience gift for sports fans. Most football stadiums offer them from less than £20/$30 for kids and even the more expensive packages where they get to meet sporting legends from their club are only £30/$40.
- Local team tickets : tickets for a local lower league sport match are a more accessible way to take younger kids to their first sports events, much more affordable & a great way to connect with their community.
- Season ticket shares : individual season tickets are not cheap but shared between siblings & cousins are more affordable and a lovely way to build bonds.
- Alternative big final tickets : the very big final tickets are crazily expensive but lots of sports fans love watching all sports and sports like athletics, cycling, rugby league, women’s football, cricket in the USA etc can be much more affordable.
- Sports coaching : personal sports coaching is a wonderful way to take people to the next level in a sport they love.
- Sports crash course : or for anyone generally sporty give them a crash course into a new sport like archery.
- VIP & hospitality tickets : if money is no object VIP tickets in a box at their favourite sports events can be an amazing way to meet some of their sporting heroes.
Experience Gifts For Geeks
The best experience gifts truly are about them not us and let our loved ones indulge their true passions even if we don’t share them. For the geeks – of all ages – in your family gift one of these :
- Dinosaur sleepover : all the big Natural History museums with dinosaur collections offer sleepovers for kids.
- Archeology dig : you don’t need to be an archeology expert to join a dig. Dig Ventures offer gift vouchers and run Dig Camp for under 12s or you can gift a spot on the amazing dig at the Vindolanda Roman Fort.
- Fossil hunt : in the main fossil hunting locations in the UK & USA you’ll find fossil hunting tours for the whole family & you can actually book private tours for people, e.g.:
- Digger day : for digger geeks young & old gift them a day at Digger Land.
- Code camp : book wannabe coders a slot on Code Camp.
- Museum membership : or gift membership to a science or natural history museum for free access all year round to exhibitions and special access to private events.
Experience Gifts For Keen Gardeners
We can always buy keen gardeners gifts for the garden and there are lots of inexpensive DIY garden gifts you can make easily but many gardeners love the opportunity to get inspiration from other gardens and other gardeners:
- Garden show tickets : gift tickets to one of the big annual garden shows such as the Chelsea Flower Show.
- Open garden membership : gift the chance to experience beautiful gardens all over the country with RHS or AHS membership.
- Kitchen garden restaurants : inspire them with more ideas for what to grow in their kitchen garden with a meal at a kitchen garden restaurant.
- Farm to fork restaurants : or book them a table at a lovely farm to fork restaurant.
- Garden consultancy : whether they are a garden beginner or ready for a garden makeover book them some time from a gardening consultant.
- Flower farm tour : a day out at a local flower farm can be an inspirational experience for flower growers. Some offer growing, cutting & arranging workshops & classes.
- Lavender farm visit : joining the lavender harvest is a lovely experience gift for herb growers.
- Gardener : for any garden lovers who aren’t able to look after the garden as much as they would like the treat of a gardener coming to do some weeding or pruning or planting can be a real blessing.
Experience Gifts For Those Who Need Pampering
Sometimes our loved ones just need to escape and be pampered and there are all sorts of experience gifts that are perfectly for them exactly that. Take your pick from :
- Hot stone massage
- Spa day or weekend
- Manicures & pedicure
- Awesome hair cut
- Hair colour or highlights
- Hair styling class
- Make up lesson
- Wardrobe consultation
Little Experience Gifts For Stocking Stuffers & Party Favours
Experience gifts can be expensive but there are also lots of little ways to gift experiences for under £5/$5 that are great as stocking stuffers and party favours or if you need to do Christmas on a budget including vouchers for lovely local independent businesses at the heart of our communities including :
- Ice cream parlour
- Pizza palace
- Coffee shop
- Beauty parlour
- Swimming pool
- Ice rink
- Go kart track …
The voucher might not pay for everything but can help our loved ones treat themselves to a little spirit lifting experience whenever they need it most.
More Clutter Free Gifts
The best experience gifts are brilliantly clutter free but there are other ways to give gifts that don’t overload our homes with unused stuff. For more gift ideas for anyone who has decluttered or is decluttering or is trying to live a more minimalist or zero waste lifestyle do check out these other gift guides …
I do hope you found this post helpful and got lots of great ideas for what’s a good experience gift for everyone on your Christmas or birthday gift list. Do bookmark or save it for later.
And for more Christmas inspiration check out my other guides to :
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