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15 Experience Gifts for Everyone on Your List

Skip the mall and forget trying to figure out what size to buy everyone. Experience gifts are the fun, smart alternative to traditional presents.

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Couple on top of the mountain looking at beautiful landscape Friends enjoying time together on hiking trip. Father and daughter enjoying vacation. Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah, USAmargaret.wiktor/Shutterstock

Something to remember

These experience gifts will wow everyone on your list with special opportunities to make memories, be pampered, or step out of their comfort zone. The recipient will be thanking you long after the holidays are over, and, best of all, no one will ask for a receipt or even think about returning these amazing alternatives to traditional gifts. For more ideas, check out this gift guide based on Zodiac signs.


The most unique personalized gift

Starting at $5

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Blow their minds with a celebrity video greeting from the unique digital celebrity message service Cameo. Choose from hundreds of well-known celebs and influencers; you can even get Bethenny Frankel of RHONY to call and say "Merry Christmas!" Too much? How about Shangela from RuPaul's Drag Race or Kyrie Irving from the Brooklyn Nets? You'll get infinite swag points for the completely personalized celebrity shout-out and you sure don't have to worry about anyone else getting your recipient the same gift. These 30 other personalized gifts also go the extra mile.

traveling spoonvia

The tastiest present for foodies

Starting at $50

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For friends and family that love to sample unique foods, meet new people, and explore and eat their way around undiscovered areas, Traveling Spoon is the perfect gift. The online service pairs adventurous foodies with knowledgeable local guides in destinations around the globe. Experiences range from oyster tasting in Ireland to balsamic vinegar making in Italy to cooking classes in India to a multi-course gourmet dinner in a private home in Bangkok. All are unique, and uniquely delicious. Pair it with one of these gifts for jet setters for extra points.

the scandal roomcourtesy The Watergate Hotel

The ultimate overnight for scandal-loving history buffs

$2,500 per night

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For the history buff on your list, The Watergate Hotel in Washington, D.C., has unveiled a unique "Scandal Room" package that pulls back the curtain for a look into the major American political scandal. The "Scandal Room: Arrested at the Watergate" package includes the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to learn all about the scandal from the two arresting officers at the Watergate complex that night, John Barrett and Paul Leeper. Guests get to enjoy a whiskey flight with the retired officers for up to two hours at the hotel's "The Next Whiskey Bar." After drinks, head back to Room 214—used in the 1972 Watergate break-in—which has been decorated in collaboration with Lyn Paolo, the costume designer from the TV show Scandal, with period touches such as binoculars, a manual typewriter, a reel-to-reel tape recorder, and a curated book collection. You'll want to add these 18 other one-of-a-kind adventures to your bucket list.


Our favorite one-size-fits-all gift

Starting at $100

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Who doesn't want to spend a night in a swanky hotel where a housekeeper picks up your wet towels and makes the bed and you can get breakfast delivered right to your room? Make everyone on your list happy with the gift of a night at a hotel on the date and location of their choice. HotelTonight is the most affordable option to pick up the tab; it connects users to unsold rooms across the globe, many of them at swanky boutique and independent hotels, for an average 17 percent less than other booking sites. They may want to consider using it at one of these best hotels in every state.

shelbourne hotelvia

The ultimate treat for DNA detectives

$200 for consultation

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For anyone trying to discover their family's heritage, there's plenty of online resources to choose from—DNA tests, ancestry web sites, digital family tree builders—all of which make fine experience gifts. However, for the ultimate roots-finding experience, get them a meeting with the world's only Genealogy Butler at the Shelbourne Hotel in Dublin. It's ground zero for anyone looking for their Irish roots, and the level of expertise and detail that goes into the personalized reports makes it feel like you hired a private DNA detective to find their roots. Treating them to a weekend at the iconic hotel could truly put this gift at the top of anyone's bucket list, too. We get experience gifts can get a little pricey, so here are some meaningful holiday gifts that don't cost a thing.

courtesy Sky Zone

The best for getting their bounce on

Gift cards from $10; memberships from $25 per month

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Sky Zone, the world's first indoor trampoline park, lets bouncers of all ages try a multitude of gravity-defying, wall-to-wall trampoline attractions that include Ultimate Dodgeball and Ninja Warrior courses. You can get your giftee a one-time visit to try out the jumping fun, or treat them to the new membership program that provides unlimited jumps and unlimited fun at their 200+ locations nationally and internationally. This ultimate guide to Disney gifts is another crowd-pleaser.

broadway show ticketsvia

The no-fail favorite experience gift

Starting at $25

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We think tickets to a show or concert makes the perfect gift for anyone on your list. Coming to the New York area? Get them tickets to a Broadway show from Telecharge—from hits like Come From Away and Dear Evan Hansen to buzz-worthy upcoming shows like Six and Jagged Little Pill. Telecharge also has gift certificates, so they can choose their own theater night, too. Suggest they check out these 15 NYC hidden gems while they're in town.

indoor skydivingcourtesy ifly

Take flight

Prices vary by location

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For daredevils who want to skydive without the risk, there's iFly Indoor Skydiving. After a quick lesson, instructors set you loose to soar in a wind tunnel. Those who have tried it say there's really nothing else like it in the world. Adrenaline junkies will also love these 11 epic vacation destinations.

christmascourtesy ama waterways

The most festive way to get in the holiday spirit

Starting at $2,100 per person

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If decking the halls in gorgeous global style is on your giftee's list, then consider a trip to the wondrous Christmas Markets of Europe on a river cruise with AmaWaterways. These magical journeys immerse guests in the timeless traditions of Europe's Christmas markets in Budapest, Vienna, Strasbourg, Nuremberg, Regensburg, and Cologne. They'll thank you as they sip a cup of hot mulled wine, watch the twinkling lights overhead, and take in all the romantic sights of a perfect European holiday. It's one of our favorite cruises for celebrating the holidays.

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