Creative & Clutter-Free Gifts {Day 3} = Experiences

posted by Andrea | 11/28/2012

Today is the third day in my week-long Creative & Clutter-Free Gifts series… and we’re talking about creative ways to give “experience gifts”. All week long I’ll be sharing lots and lots of creative ways to give practical and clutter-free holiday gifts that should please everyone on your Christmas list!

Monday = Food
Tuesday = Gift Cards
Wednesday = Experiences
Thursdays = Cash
Friday = Charitable Donations
Saturday = Acts of Service

Oh, and I’d love to hear your ideas too, so feel free to leave them in the comment section below!

Day 3 = Experiences

I’ve noticed a huge trend lately, of people giving “experience gifts” — and I like it.

Experience gifts can be a little more time-consuming to plan… and they aren’t necessarily inexpensive, but they are a fantastic clutter-free gift that your recipient will probably remember for a very long time.

Here are just a few experience gifts you might consider giving this year:

1. Trip to the Zoo, Museum, or Favorite Attraction:

Most of the young families I know would absolutely love tickets to the zoo, local museums, water park, theme park, or any other family-friendly attraction. It can get expensive to get out with the entire family, so a free day away or night out will most likely be welcomed!

2. Season Tickets to Sports Team:

This gift could be a bit pricey if you go with a pro or popular college team, but you could also scale it down a bit and purchase an All-Sports pass for high school students (or their parents).

3. Tickets to a Concert or Special Event:

If you can’t afford season tickets (or if it’s a one-time deal) this could be a fabulous experience gift — especially if it’s a group/concert/event that you’re interested in 🙂

4. National Park Pass:

Dave’s parents gave this to us one year and we loved it — it was an incentive to visit way more National Parks than we would have (which also meant lots of bonding time in the car!)

5. Massage/Day at the Spa Together:

Yesterday, I mentioned giving a spa gift card — but if you have the money, why not give the gift of going to the spa TOGETHER. Yes, that means that you’ll have to pay for two, but it also means that you get to enjoy a day at the spa and time together with your friend.

6. Complete Something Off their Bucket List:

If you know the person really well, see if you can help them complete something off their bucket list (swim with dolphins, climb a mountain, get a tattoo, etc.)

7. Craft Day with Friends:

This could be really frugal if you wanted it to be — simply get together with a small group of close friends and work on your favorite crafts/hobbies together while chatting and catching up. It’s basically the gift of your time (and maybe some yummy treats!)

8. Plan a Trip:

Obviously, this could cost a bit more, but they’ll remember it forever… and just think of all the memories you’ll make!

Dave’s parents are giving us an experience gift this Christmas — a week at a cottage this summer with Dave’s immediate family. We are already looking forward to it!

A few other ideas would be a weekend getaway, trip to Disney, a cruise, camping trip, or even just a day trip to a favorite attraction or scenic location.

9. Monthly Dates with Mom (or Dad):

If you have multiple children, it’s nice to have regular one-on-one date nights with each individual child. Let them pick the place (within reason) and spend a couple hours with JUST them, doing their favorite things.

I know there are lots more ideas for fabulous “experience” gifts — but these are a few I thought of.

What are your favorite experience gifts?


Filed under: FamilyHolidays

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  1. Clutter free gifts: Giving the Gift of Organization | Streamlined Living


    […] Andrea Dekker is a blogger who has written many times about various clutter-free gift ideas.  In one post about giving experiences rather than physical gifts, Andrea says: […]

  2. Nikki


    I ran into this blog when searching for ideas for experience gifts and this is just what I was looking for! Another idea for an experience gift might be to give the gift of family photo session! A little spendy, depending on your budget, but we have a fabulous local photographer that is only $100 for a session and the disc of pictures!


    Andrea Reply:

    yay!! Welcome Nikki! and yes, the family photo session is a GREAT clutter-free gift idea. Thanks for sharing!


  3. Jana


    I know I’m a year late, but I had to share my favorite Mother’s Day experience gift ever — well, actually a (cheap) thing and a free experience: A box kite, and a trip to a field to fly it with my kids and husband. That was probably 10 or more years ago, and it still makes me smile!


    Andrea Reply:

    Love this idea Jana — such a great “experience” gift!


  4. Katie


    I love this series – though experiences can get pricey, I had both ends of the spectrum as gifts last year. My sweet in-laws gave me a gift card filled with 12 one hour massages. It came with a personally signed cookbook by a wellness expert and a note saying that mother’s always need a reminder to relax and take care of themselves. It was a great gift – I used the last of the massages this month and loved every moment. My sister-in-law gave us a different kind of experience – something that cost mostly her time (and a photo scanner)- she spent months scanning in all my children’s photos and made a DVD that started with the dinner where we told everyone we were preggers down to the week before Christmas when we all went tree shopping. 16 years of photos – thousands of them scanned in – and though only a few hundred in the DVD, she categorized the rest by decade for me and loaded them on my computer. Seriously fortunate to have such thoughtful, loving people in my life.


    Andrea Reply:

    Wow Katie — you ARE lucky to have such fabulous experience gifts!
    I’ll touch on your sister’s photo idea when I talke about Acts of Service on Saturday… what a very thoughtful gift though. I know how long it took to get our pictures organized and digitized, I can’t imagine doing it again for someone else 🙂


  5. Jen


    This is a great series, Andrea! My favorite yet.
    Just one question. How do you go about giving an ‘experience gift’ when specific dates are involved? What if the person can’t attend or wants to bring someone else along? I just had this conversation yesterday with my daughter. She wants to give tickets to The Promise, which she is in, to her piano teacher. Do we buy another ticket for her daughter so she doesn’t go alone? What is the etiquette here? Thanks in advance for your reply. 🙂


  6. Jeanine


    You’ve given me some great ideas – thanks for sharing! I think experiences and gift cards are my favorite gifts by far. My oldest son got married this past summer, and we plan to give him and his bride a living social to a B & B for a weekend. I even found a cookbook with a recipe from the inn along with a write-up on it. I plan to place the coupon in the book as a bookmark. This will probably be a regular gift from now on, which will be even sweeter when they have kids , and we offer to babysit for the weekend!


  7. Ellen


    This is one of my favorite series you have done. Such great ideas. Really wonderful! I KNOW you will have already thought of this but in the gifts of service section, one thing that young people (or older tech savy people 🙂 ) can offer as an awesome gift is helping relatives or friends w/ technology – whether that be helping a parent or grandparent with their computer or even helping them sell things on ebay (if they wanted that help).


  8. Anne in Ireland


    I agree with Andrea above. This is SUCH a brilliant and inspirational series: thank you so much, Andrea!!! Beautiful, thoughtful and practical ideas. Splendid!
    I am really looking forward to the rest of the suggestions of the week.
    Thanks so much.
    Best wishes to you. xx


  9. Andrea


    Andrea – I just wanted to thank you for your great inspiration these past couple of days. You have some wonderful and meaningful ideas for gifts. Thanks so much for putting the time and effort into sharing them with us 🙂