From Black Friday to Super Saturday, advertisers bombard us with messages to buy a seemingly endless stream of items for the holidays — particularly gifts. And while buying less stuff helps curb your consumer carbon footprint, it’s easy to give in to the pressures of the season and buy gifts that may end up creating more waste.
Although most of us won’t give up gift-giving completely, it’s crucial to reduce the impact of our shopping habits.
Experience gifts, which are gifts of experiences or adventures instead of physical items, are a great low- or zero-waste solution. And good news: The positive feelings from an experience last longer than from material gifts.
Keep reading for the best experience gift options in the Quarantimes.
For the Endless Learner
Online courses are surging in popularity. For the person in your life who loves to expand their horizons, you can find classes on everything from crafting to cooking to entrepreneurship.
- MasterClass is offering a “give one membership, get one free” deal.
- Brit & Co. offers an All Access Pass for “all-you-can-learn” classes at $10/month.
- Skillshare offers a seven-day free trial if you want to try before you gift.
For Active Type
This has been a tough year for people who are always moving, but some have adapted by taking socially-distanced solo or partner outings.
Get them back into nature:
- Choose your own adventure with a gift card from Cloud9Living.
- Gift them an annual pass to all U.S. National Parks and Federal Recreation Lands.
- DIY camping trip: Offer to babysit, offset gas, or pay for space in a campground with an IOU for the beginning of spring.
Introverts are a diverse bunch, but most believe home is where the heart is.
Keep them in their comfort zone:
- Top them up with a renewed subscription to their e-reader or streaming service.
- Put a smile on their face with a virtual game night with friends (like Jackbox Party Packs) or buy a Steam Gift Card for an online gamer who knows exactly what they want to play.
- Teach them to nourish their new best buddies with a plant care class from The Sill.
For Businesspeople or Entrepreneurs
These movers and shakers have been busy pivoting through all of 2020, but they haven’t necessarily seen it all.
Invest in their professional development:
- Get them a ticket to online networking events — browse the offerings at Eventbrite or find the right fit at Enterprise League.
- Gift them an email subscription service (like Substack) to help them grow their business.
- Take a load off their back with a gift card for a local massage parlor — because we all need a break sometimes.
Once your favorite foodie looks up from their sourdough, encourage them to try a new experience.
Whet their appetite:
- You can never go wrong with a gift card to their favorite restaurant for takeout — or dine-in, when safe.
- Show them the food of the world in their kitchen; for example, how chocolate or Italian pasta is made via — get this — AirBnB online experiences.
- Reserve them an online cooking class or local, socially-distanced food tour through Cozymeal.
The lockdowns have deprived many art and music lovers of their favorite museums, concerts, and other gatherings, but these gifts might make it up to them.
Paint them a new picture of this year:
- Get them cultured with a guided tour they wouldn’t otherwise have access to — from a Brooklyn street art experience to an expert’s take in the Louvre — via Viator.
- Book them a seat in the Zoom room of a virtual Paint and Sip class (for artists) or Write Party (for writers).
- Make them scream with virtual concert tickets for their favorite artist from LiveNation.
For the Forlorn Traveler
Travel-lovers are grounded for the foreseeable future, but there are plenty of experience gifts to perk them up again.
Get them looking forward:
- Prepare them for the foreign language they’ll encounter on their next trip with a one-year Rosetta Stone subscription.
- Book them a night (or several) in a local, well-sanitized luxury hotel so they can staycation in style.
- Send them on a city scavenger hunt courtesy of Let’s Roam.
- Invest in a future trip with a sustainable, carbon-neutral Tinggly box. Your recipient can choose from more than 600 options and redeem their experience any time within the next five years.
DIY Experience Gifting During a Pandemic
Quarantimes or not, many feel a physical gift is an integral part of holiday festivities. If you’d like to give your experience gift a physical manifestation, such as tickets to an event or art depicting the activity, be sure to pair it with these low-waste gift wrapping alternatives.
And if you need an outlet for your creative juices when far away from loved ones, consider a DIY experience gift. Virtual murder mystery party or kid-friendly escape room, anyone?