A Gift They Will Always Cherish: Experiential Gifts Are Better Than Material Ones

Have you ever “regifted” an item during the holidays? If so, you’re not alone. Research indicates that a staggering 31% of unwanted presents get recycled in this manner, hopefully finding a new happy home where they can be appreciated.

The sheer number of unwelcome presents — the same study says that Americans waste some $15.2 billion USD each year buying gifts that recipients don’t care for — is an indication that we are cluttering up our lives with too much stuff. Recently, lots of folks have been unloading their excess thanks to the influence of minimalism maven Marie Kondo. But wouldn’t it be better to not bring all this junk into our homes, or give it to others, in the first place?

Enter experiential gifts. Rather than forking over cold hard cash for a material present that will end up unused in a drawer or under someone else’s Christmas tree, why not give your recipient an opportunity to do, learn, or make something? Read on for some great ideas for truly thoughtful gifts.

An Airbnb Experience

Even if you haven’t used the peer-to-peer lodging site Airbnb, you’re probably aware that it exists, and that people all over the globe are renting out rooms or entire properties to others. But have you heard about Airbnb Experience?

Just as Airbnb steers users away from an impersonal, cookie-cutter hotel stay, so does Airbnb take the traditional guided tour and turn it on its head. It’s a fantastic way to explore a city or to experience its attractions in the same way that locals do. You can learn how to make pasta alongside an Italian nonna, explore the vegan restaurants of Brooklyn, meet and greet some equine friends with a horse whisperer, take a “Gangsters and Ghosts” tour of Chicago, or explore the architecture of Savannah.

Best of all? You don’t even have to travel to have a great experience! Check out the offerings in your local area or a day’s drive away at Airbnb Experiences.

A Chance to Learn Something New

Think learning stops when you graduate college or complete the training period at a new job? Think again! Learning something new is not only a fun way to spend your free time, but it can also help you make new friends and may even keep dementia at bay down the line.

Places like the Brooklyn Brainery are popping up all over the U.S., offering people a chance to learn things like hand lettering, sushi rolling, the art of craft cocktails, embroidery, blogging, butchery, and much, much more. These are great options for people who are hands-on learners.

Of course, there is also loads of learning to be done online. Check out digital music lessons from Audible Genius (, try your hand at sewing or quilting from Bluprint, or learn how to write humorous essays from David Sedaris on Open Culture.

A Subscription Box

Who doesn’t love getting mail? Especially nowadays, when so much of our communication is conducted via smartphone, getting something in the mail is an exciting prospect. Give your loved ones an ongoing present to open each month with a subscription box.

There are boxes tailored to virtually every interest, demographic, hobby, or desire. Whether you’re buying for a vinyl records aficionado, a fine-cigar fan, an aspiring yogi, someone who can’t get enough ramen noodles, or just a stressed-out mom who could use some self-care, there is a subscription box to suit that recipient. In fact, the difficult part of this gift isn’t finding a box to fit — it’s choosing just one of the many available options!

Check them all out at Cratejoy.

What Experiences Will You Give?

As you can imagine, these ideas barely scratch the surface of experiential learning. Spend some time browsing online, and you will find a nearly endless variety of experiences that can be given as a gift. Depending on your relationship to the recipient, you may opt to have these adventures together or send them out to explore their passions solo.

If you could choose an experience for someone to give you, what would it be? What are some of your most memorable gifts? Start a conversation in the comment section!

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