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Unique Holiday Gift Ideas That Aren’t Physical Gifts

Unique Holiday Gift Ideas That Aren’t Physical Gifts

^ in my Mrs. Claus best 😉

As you probably know (because I literally cannot stop talking about it), I put together an extensive Holiday Gift Guide featuring all of my gift suggestions based on gifts I’ve received in the past, have gifted to loved ones before, or am shopping this year as gifts for others or myself. They all are useful, meaningful, and all around special gifts. But, at the end of the day they are just things. Don’t get me wrong, I really really like and enjoy stuff just as much as the next blogger or 24-year-old girl who loves fashion and decorating, but the older I get the more I find myself wanting to simplify. Get rid of the stuff, donate the excess, unplug, take time for myself, and focus on experiences rather than things. Anyone else feel the same way from time to time? At the end of the day, I am so thankful that I am able to treat myself and others to physical gifts from time to time and definitely don’t take that for granted for a second, but I am noticing a switch within my gifting patterns.

For example, this year for my dad’s birthday we got him tickets for our family to see the Philadelphia Flyer’s play (a team he has followed and loved my whole life). We had the BEST time at the game and it was something we all enjoyed together. Last year for Christmas I surprised my boyfriend, Johnny, with a helicopter tour of NYC and he treated me to see the Radio City Music Hall Christmas Spectacular show (as he knows I love festive things like that!). This year, we found ourselves leaning away from the traditional gift giving route again and are changing things up even more. Instead of giving each other physical gifts for the whole year—for holidays like Christmas, his birthday, our anniversary, my birthday, etc., we decided to spend all of that money (and his SPG points that he earned while traveling for work for six months this spring/summer) and plan a fun trip instead. His love language is quality time, and mine is acts of service, so this approach actually really works for us anyways. So one Sunday in October we spontaneously (just kidding—we are both extremely rational humans– him more so than me admittedly 😉 ), booked a direct roundtrip flight for April to somewhere tropical!

We have researched it at length, have a whole lot of things we want to do while we’re there (he does not sit still people, ha), and are already having so much fun looking forward to it, even though it’s four months away. I swear, gearing up for a long-awaited trip is half of the fun! Or is that just the dreamer/planner in me?!

Anyways, I will of course be gifting a variety of physical gifts to everyone in my life this Christmas, but Johnny will just be getting a nice card (although I may surprise him by scheduling something exciting for us for the trip!). If you are also contemplating giving a more experiential gift, I listed a variety of ideas below. Regarding presentation, my mom (expert experiential gift giver) has always printed out a picture of the event—(say if it’s Taylor Swift concert tickets she will print out a few pictures of Taylor and write “You Are Going to See Taylor on July 22!!!”) and then frame it in a cute lucite frame that she can then wrap so you have a physical gift to open up that will represent the experience. Just another fun idea to make it extra special—because chances are, the person you’re gifting this experience to is one of your absolute favorites. 🙂

Experiential Gift Ideas

  • Weekend getaways or staycations (or full blown trips if you are really splurging or want to go in on the gift together like Johnny and I are doing this year).
  • Concert or game or Broadway tickets that you can enjoy together.
  • Massage or spa treatment (I asked Santa for a gift certificate to get a massage over Christmas this year!).
  • Make a donation in someone else’s name. I did this for my little sister’s birthday last year after Hurricane Irma hit our favorite islands in the BVIs.
  • Special dinner—i.e. have the restaurant set up a table in a special room or outdoors, create a custom menu with the restaurant, enjoy a dinner with wine pairings, etc.
  • Any of the wine & painting classes—I think these are so fun with girlfriends or your mom + sister!
  • Gift certificate for Class Pass or a workout class that they’re into—i.e. Soul Cycle, Pure Barre, etc. I might ask Santa to treat to me to the Sweat app subscription this year– it’s something I use all the time for work outs that clears my head and makes me feel SO good.
  • Pack a picnic basket with their favorite wine, snacks, and a portable dinner (do Wawa hoagies count?? YES), and drive to a scenic spot and have a picnic in your trunk while listening to Christmas music… (I just got carried away there).
  • Something WILD. Helicopter ride over your favorite city/island? Parasailing? Snow mobiling? Snorkeling? Sky diving?
  • Make a book on Shutterfly or Apple (you can do this directly from the Photos app on your Mac) of all of your favorite pictures together. This is less experiential but still very special. My little sister did this for my family after our trip to Italy and I’m pretty sure my dad cried.
  • Go to a cooking class together. I have friends who recently did a Momofuku Milk Bar cooking class for a birthday cake and they LOVED it!
  • Hold a scavenger hunt and have the person you’re gifting to go on the hunt to find whatever gift you’re surprising them with in the end!
  • Give the gift of free time (we could ALL use a little bit more of that) and write out a coupon for a free day off for your mom, best friend, whoever, that tells her to pick a day that you two will do NOTHING but binge watch episodes of Friends, put on face masks, and order in food. Then, coordinate the whole day yourself so she doesn’t have to lift a finger. THE DREAM.

I seriously could keep going because these are so much fun to think of. Maybe they’ll spark an idea or help you plan something extra special in a completely unique way this year. 🙂 xx

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Audrey Hepburn
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