experience gift ideas

Experience gift ideas so that you can gift experiences to your loved ones — something they'll remember 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.

Experiences & the resulting memories last longer than the latest gadget, newest toy, or wrapped presents. Click To Tweet

Study author Ryan Howell, from San Francisco State University, introduced this concept when he presented his 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.

One of the best things about this is that you can gift experiences to others without spending large sums of money on things like concert tickets or airfare.

Instead, put together a kit to set up an experience for your loved one.

Here are some experience gift ideas: 

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: 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.”

Include recipes with hot sauce as an ingredient, such as these Chicken Fire Poppers and Buffalo Cauliflower Bites.

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 Kit #3: 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 #4: 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.

Other kit ideas? You could put together the following:

  • Fishing Kit
  • Origami Kit
  • Car Cleaning Kit
  • Wine Tasting Kit
  • Walking Tour Kit

Really, the ideas are endless. Do you have some of your own you can share with me below?

4 replies
  1. Michelle Crouch
    Michelle Crouch says:

    Hi Amanda,
    These are great ideas! I am a writer too, and I’m actually trying to get in touch with you for a story I’m writing on whether to delay getting married if you have debt. I’d love to interview you! Please let me know if you are up for it. My deadline is Friday. Thanks!

  2. Avery Breyer
    Avery Breyer says:

    I LOVE this idea. I grew up in a family of knick knack collectors, and when I got married and moved out on my own, I was the odd one who liked a more minimalist decor haha

    Anyhow, personally, I find having too many things just creates more work – you’ve got to dust them, move them around to dust around them, if you move to a new place you have to pack them all up and it takes FOREVER.

    Experiences are great though – as you say, you remember them forever. Looking back over fun experiences brings happiness in a way that things generally don’t.


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