Experience Christmas presents and kits so that you can gift memories to your loved ones − something that will last long after a normal gift breaks down.
Research suggests − along with real life experiences we've all had − that experiences and the resulting memories last much longer than the latest gadget, the newest toy, or the glitz and glossiness of wrapped presents.
Study author Ryan Howell, from San Francisco State University, introduced this concept when he presented his research findings at the 2009 annual meeting of Society for Personality and Social Psychology.
One of his conclusions is the importance of “memory capital”, or the idea that you might get bored with a new item after six months or so, but having an experience to remember and think about will bring repeated happiness over a lifetime.
So, building off of all this great research, let me help you gift experiences instead of gifts this year.
Experience Christmas Presents (You Can Actually Afford)
An experience Christmas present is one that creates an experience for the gift recipient. An experience can be an event, an occurrence, a moment − it allows them to be active and participate in something.
Sounds wayyyy cooler than buying another pen for someone, right?
The only problem is, lots of experience gifts cost a small fortune. Top 10 experience gift lists include things like scuba-diving, piloting an airplane, skydiving, travel, and all sorts of things that, even though they are completely awesome, can leave you with a holiday hangover to pay off for the next six months.
Psst: if you DO end up having a holiday hangover, no worries − bookmark my article on Frugal January strategies.
So, today I want to give you tons of experience Christmas gift ideas and experience kit ideas that will still create that experience for your loved one, but without the huge price tag.Experiences & the resulting memories last longer than the latest gadget, newest toy, or wrapped presents. Click To Tweet
Here are some experience Christmas presents ideas, by the type of person on your list.
Experience Gift Ideas for Her
How can you gift an experience for the woman/girl/mother in your life?
Let these experience gift ideas for her help you out.
Experience Kit #1: Chocolate Taste Testing
Download and print (on durable paper) the Dating Diva's free chocolate tasting printable. Then, go to your grocery store's gourmet chocolate section and pick out 4-5 bars of all different kinds of chocolate.
Here's some great chocolate bars we've personally used with our own chocolate tasting night:
- Divine Dark Chocolate with Pink Himalayan Sea Salt
- Green & Black’s Organic 85% Dark Chocolate
- Theo Chocolate Organic Chili Dark Bar
- Endangered Rain Forest Dark Chocolate (72%) with Forest Mint
- Divine White Chocolate Bar
- Endangered Tiger Species Natural Dark Chocolate (72%) with Espresso Beans
Experience Gift #2: Craft Store Class
For example, at our local Michael's store, I found a Frida Kahlo Pet Painting class, and a basic jewelry making and assembly class, both for $25 each.
Joann's store has all kinds of classes, as well!
Psst: you could print out a sheet describing the class, then stuff it into one of these free printable money card holders to gift them.
Experience Gift #3: Wine Tasting Road Trip Kit
Set up a wine-tasting tour, complete with a map outlining all the little-known places to taste wine around where your gift recipient lives, and then also a wine tasting journal they can write in.
When thinking of places to look for wine tastings, look past local vineyards and wineries.
- High-end grocery stores
- Art exhibits that pair-up with wine tastings
Other things you can add to this kit?
- Gas gift card so they can get around to all these wine tastings
- Road map with little sticker dots at each destination
Experience Gift #4: Empowering Questions Therapy Cards
Anyone can go through this deck of Empower Questions therapy cards to learn so much more about themselves.
Experience Gifts Ideas for Him
Tired of gifting ties, pens, and beer accessories?
Here are some great experience gift ideas for the men in your life.
Pssst: you'll want to check out my 151+ stocking stuffers for men, all $10 or less.
Experience Kit #1: Hot Sauce Tasting Kit
My husband's side of the family is obsessed with all things spicy. I've got a bit of an aversion to spiciness (though my taste buds have been stretched to “medium” salsa now that I've lived in Texas for the past 8 years).
Inspired by their spicy taste-testing events, I thought it'd be fun to set this up for someone else. Include a printout like this one that details all the different kinds of peppers used in hot sauces. You could also include a list of helpful foods to cut the spiciness they'll feel during the tasting event and name it “Hot Sauce Chasers.”
And of course…include actual hot sauce! Find a hot sauce store, go to the hot sauce section of your grocery store, or visit the food aisle of places like Marshall's. Miniature bottles are best as you can then afford to include 4-5 for their taste event.
Bonus coolness? Bottle up your own homemade hot sauces (my husband makes them from his mother's peppers!).
Experience Gift #2: Tickets to a Chili Cook-Off
We live in Texas, so it's not hard to find chili cook-offs to go to. Can you find a local chili cook-off, and either buy tickets for the man in your life, OR, print them up a cute coupon that says “good for” the chili cook-off tickets for when they come out?
Experience Kit #3: Fire Kit
Does your guy (like my husband) love fires?
My husband just loves to build fires in our fireplace or our fire pit, and I'm creating this experience kit with him in mind.
Here's what you'll want to include for a fun, and unique, fire experience:
This is a cool piece of survival gear that can help them make their fires at home (or in the backyard), as well!
Don't tell my husband, but I snagged him a set of this fire colorant. He's going to love it (not to mention, our son will as well)!
Print outs of several awesome, manly, recipes they can make over a fire, like any of the foil packet campfire recipes here.
Experience Gift Ideas for Couples
What are good couples gifts for Christmas? Ones that help them engage with one another, get to know each other better, and/or laugh (snort-worthy ones are the best!).
Experience Kit #1: Date Night in a Box
You may have heard of date night subscription boxes…but did you know that many of those companies allow you to purchase just one box at a time?
Here are some cool couple's date night boxes for you:
- Crated with Love: These one-time boxes include themes like The Honolulu Heist Date Box, Our Vegas Variety Show Date Night, and a Zombie Apocalypse Date Night. (Hint: go through my link, then scroll all the way to the bottom of the site and in the footer you'll see a link to “One-Time Boxes”. Use coupon code “FRUGAL” for $5 off).
- Date Night In: You can just choose one box for yourself or to gift to a couple.
Experience Kit #2: Italian Food Night Kit
Set the stage for a romantic evening of cooking an Italian dinner together. In this kit you can include a CD of Italian music, a jar of gourmet pasta sauce, and a bag of gourmet pasta (hint: check the food areas of stores like Marshall's and Ross for some imported specialty items). Include a packet or small mason jar of a dipping oil seasoning mixture for bread, and add a little note card with directions for how much to measure out and how much olive oil to add.
And if you're feeling particularly saucy? Make them a bottle of homemade limoncello.
Experience Kit # 3: Escape Room in a Box
Create a really fun date night for your couple friend with this Escape Room in a Box: The Werewolf Experiment.
A mad scientist is on the loose, and you’ve got to solve 19 puzzles together or else…you turn into werewolves (that mad scientist sounds cranky! He probably just couldn’t get his kids to sleep…).
Did I mention, you have just one hour to accomplish this? No setup required! (If your friends have Alexa, they can sync it up and Alexa will actually host their game to make it feel like they're in a real Escape Room).
Experience Kit #4: Babysitting Coupon
Okay…I'm sure this is because we have a 3-year-old, but I'm here to tell you that if you gift a couple a free night of babysitting? They will loooovvvveeee you for it.
Think about it − they can then go out and experience something together!
When my husband and I have been gifted a free night/day of babysitting, we've:
- Toured one of the most gorgeous Hindu temples together (that happened to be just 14 minutes from where we used to live in Houston)
- Went to a Holi festival together
- Put on our cowboy boots and hunt out at the rodeo
And every single one of those nights/days was an experience we'll never forget.
Experience Gift #5: Couple's Truth or Dare Decks
I consider giving a couple a deck of truth or dare cards (or a deck of conversation starters) an experience gift because it will definitely engage the two of them and make things…exciting!
Here's a few to consider:
1. Our Moments
This is a couple's conversation starter deck.
Experience Gift Ideas for Kids (and Families)
I'm a Mama, and I definitely prefer experience gifts for kids − ones that will engage them, make them think, and get them learning in a new environment − over more toys.
Psst: Since I also teach kids about money? You might want to check out these interactive, money toys for kids.
Experience Kit #1: Snowman Kit
Do you live in a cold climate? Set up the experience of building a snowman by putting together a Snowman Kit. There are several variations of this going around Pinterest, so pick and choose what you'd like to include. This particular kit includes free, snazzy tags you can print out to dress up whatever you decide to put together.
And for those of us living where there's a better chance of getting trampled by one of Santa's reindeers on the way to the grocery store than seeing real snow? Check out cute Snowman play dough kits like this one.
Experience Kit #2: Geocache Kit
Have you heard of Geocaching? It's an outdoor treasure-hunting game using GPS devices. You find your way to the coordinate points to find the hidden geocache (or “cache”, a container with something secret in it). And these are located all around the world!
It's a great activity to get families, couples, and individuals out in nature on the hunt for something.
Create a geocache kit that includes a printout of the rules, a printout for how to get started, a compass (you don't need one to find it, but would make it more interactive for the little ones), a pencil, and a notebook. You could also include things like a water bottle, bug spray (or bug spray wipes), and anything else someone might need to go out in nature.
Bonus: you could include a listing of some of your favorite geocache sites, plus their coordinates.
Experience Kit #3: Factory Tour Kit
Is there a food factory tour located near the kids and family you'd like to give gifts to?
Load up a basket or bag with that company's products, and then in the card, tell them that you'll be taking them to the factory tour.
You can find all the factory tours across the U.S. here.
Let me give you an example:
- The Herr's factory is near where I grew up. So, if I was gifting this to my sister's kids, I'd get them excited by buying packages of Herr's potato chips in several varieties (sour cream and onion − the best sour cream chips you'll ever taste − barbecue, and maybe something a bit more wacky, like Old Bay) and putting them into a gift bag. Then, in the card, I'd let them know their aunt would be taking them on the Herr's Factory tour in the next year!
Experience Gift #5: Annual Family National Parks Pass
The reason I include the annual family national parks pass in this “affordable” roundup of experience gift ideas is because, even at $80, if you normally buy a gift for each person in a large family, buying this instead could cost you less.
Really, the ideas are endless. Do you have some of your own you can share with me below?
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