75+ Easy Holiday And Everyday Gift Giving Experiences

with 4 Comments


Is the stress of the holiday gift-giving season starting to make your shoulders tight already? Has the meaning of the holidays gotten lost in the constant assault of holiday gift ads everywhere you turn? How does anyone afford the holidays without going into deep debt? Especially this year!

Why Have We Become Over-Consumers?

In case you are new here, my husband Craig and I live full-time in our RV. We have been living a full-time travel lifestyle for almost 4 years now, and WE LOVE IT. It has taught us to slow down and live a more intentional life which involves living in a smaller, mobile space to experience the joy of full-time travel and adventures. But, the holidays are still an area of stress for me. I am a giving person, and I love to see our grandkid’s eyes light up with excitement at a new toy.

While that moment fills me up for a short time, it wains pretty quickly, especially when I see the piles and piles of toys from other well-meaning relatives and friends too. How can one child play with 50 toys? It’s just not possible. And the worst part, they will most likely NOT remember a specific toy. At least not unless it’s tied to an experience. And sometimes they are. I am not lobbying for no toys for the kiddos at all. I mean, it’s part of being a kid.

When I was a child, we didn’t have an overabundance of “things” growing up. I think that’s one reason I’ve spoiled our own kids and grandkids with too many toys and gadgets because I didn’t want them to want for anything like I did. At least I thought I wanted more back then. WOW, I did a fine job of passing on the “over-consumption” gene, didn’t I? While I take most of the blame, it is safe to say that society played a huge role. When all you see from September through December are ads everywhere for the latest and greatest holiday gift ideas, always “things.” It’s bound to suck you in occasionally.

PIN for later!

Holiday Gifts That Keep on Giving

If I think back to my most memorable holiday gifts growing up, a big one comes to mind. My first concert! It was a Captain and Tennille concert. Even if you never heard of them, you surely heard of “Love Will Keep Us Together”! Regardless, it was my favorite gift because of the experience it gave me. It truly made me appreciate live music (yeah, it was no Chopin, but for a 12-year-old, it was magic) and to this day, going to concerts is one of my favorite hobbies because of how it makes me feel. I will always be grateful for that experience.

I want that back for myself and, most importantly, for our kids and grandkids. I want to focus on giving them new experiences that will create meaningful and lasting memories. Ones that could shape their lives. And, I want to help you do the same, especially if you are struggling to bring the joy back to the holidays and kick the stress to the curb.

So happy you are on board with me. Believe me, when I say this will be hard for me and maybe you too! I am so conditioned to buy the shiny objects – hello, Amazon. I know we CAN do this together. I’ve created a list of experiential gift ideas from myself and other nomads like me—those who have probably done a much better job than me at focusing on experiential gift-giving. I truly hope these ideas and stories will spark your own creativity this holiday gift-giving season. Let’s all get back to a joyful holiday season.

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that I know 2020 was a very stressful and unusual year for most. Some of these gift ideas will not be possible until we get back to some new normal, but there’s no time like the present to start dreaming about simple things like being able to hug each other and perhaps going to see a live concert. This year more than ever, let’s give each other EXPERIENCES to look forward to.

Easy Holiday Gift Giving Experiences

Most of these holiday gift experiences, sorted by interests, allow you to purchase, plan, or hand-make right from the comfort of your home. There is a variety of costs from just your time up to hundreds of dollars. These ideas are fun, creative, and outside the box approaches to the traditional monotony of shopping for gifts. And most of all, it could be the experience of a lifetime for the recipient that will be cherished for years to come.

The Adventurer, Traveler and Nature Lover

This section is jam packed. I’m sure it has something to do with the fact that this is totally me!

  • America the Beautiful National Park Pass – Surprise the hiker and nature lover in your life with an annual pass for admission to any National Park in the US. The pass is $80. For military, 4th graders and those with disabilities it is FREE. Seniors can get a lifetime pass for $80. Our Canadian friends also have the Discovery Pass which gives admission for one year into 80 parks.
  • Tinggly – Tinggly is genius. It’s an online inventory of adventures and experiences all over the world. Lindsey Nubern of Nuventure Travels highly recommends Tinggly, “While we were traveling internationally in Thailand and Bali, we were gifted a couple Tinggly experiences. Tinggly has experiences for couples and solo travelers all over the world and you can find one close to home too! We’ve traveled over 20 countries as a couple and the cooking class we had in Bali was one of my most cherished experiences as a traveler.”
  • Unique AccommodationsStay in a treehouse, boat, igloo, yurt and more. Giving a gift to a quirky and unforgettable night’s stay will move you to the favorite column pretty quickly.
  • AirfareFlight Gift offers 300 airline options to purchase online. You choose how to deliver the gift: a printable PDF of an airline ticket, a physical paper airplane or an email with a video message from you. You can also purchase for a specific airline such as Southwest.
  • Air BnB – Consider giving someone a weekend getaway or longer to the place of their choice, in the type of accommodation of their choice. Once you get to the AirBnB website, scroll to the bottom to find Gift Cards.
  • Name a Star – For the star gazers in your life, give them the gift of having a star named after them.
  • Camping Weekend – Schedule a completely planned weekend away for or with the adventurer in your life. You can pitch a tent or rent an RV.
  • Boat Building Workshop – Our good friend Tracy gifted her husband Bill enrollment into a workshop at The Great Lakes Boat Building School. It proved to be an unforgettable experience that will be appreciated for years to come when rowing his 18 foot, 75 pound hand-made wooden boat.
Bill enjoying his hand-made wooden boat.
  • Hot Air Balloon Ride – Let your life take flight. There are so many packages available in all parts of the world. Sunrise, sunset and some with meals included. The sky’s the limit.
  • 501 Questions: A Travel Game, Second Edition – Lindsey of Nuventure Travels created a second edition of her best selling book that will be sure to spark conversation around travel and other interests. Sometimes the experience of true conversation and the ideas and lessons learned from it can be the greatest gift of all. I know I have learned so much more about my immediate family from asking a few powerful questions.
  • Language Lessons – Want to help someone get prepared for international travel or has learning another language been on their must-do list for ages?
  • Hiking & Adventure Gear – Give a gift card to REI or other adventure outfitters to load up on the gear needed for their next outdoor experience.
  • Adventure Tours – Give the gift of a stunning and memorable tour at a National Park, a cruise or other point of interest. Some fun experiences we will always cherish were: Lake Powell 8 hour boat cruise to Rainbow Bridge and back, Pictured Rocks Sunset boat tour and Airboat Swamp Tours in New Orleans. We had someone get us a cruise gift certificate for a wedding gift. We used it to do a zip-lining adventure in Belize. This afraid of heights girl overcame some fears for that one and I will never regret the experience.
  • Helicopter Ride – Consider a helicopter ride over a national park, coast line, volcano, glacier and more. We did this at the Grand Canyon and it gave us a thrilling perspective that we will never forget. It’s very important to do your homework and research safety ratings and reviews. We chose Maverick and were very satisfied with their service and safety record.
After our life-changing Grand Canyon Helicopter Experience.

The Sports Enthusiast

  • Sporting Event Tickets – Give the gift of experiencing a football, baseball or any other live sports event vs the typical viewing from your couch at home. There is nothing like being with fans who love the sport and team as much as you do.
  • Sports Activity Passes – Some sports and hobbies can be expensive to maintain. Give the gift of ski lift tickets, ATV trail passes, white water rafting and much more.
  • Sports Equipment – A big part of many sports is the equipment needed to play the sport. The cost could keep someone from their favorite experience. From snowboards, kayaks or hiking boots, the gift possibilities are endless.
  • Sports Lessons – Do you know someone who has mentioned wanting to take up a new sport but not knowing where to begin? Get them lessons for a sport they are curious about or want to hone their skills at. Activities such as skiing, golf and horseback riding. Ashley Mann, a former full-time RVer and owner of RV Inspiration, shares a memorable gift experience, “One of my favorite gifts while we were living in our RV was when my mom paid for me to take ski lessons.  It was something I was actually really wanting that wasn’t “stuff”, and it gave me a new hobby that I will continue to enjoy for years to come.”
  • Sports Adventure Packages – For out first anniversary, I got Craig a sky diving lesson. I knew he would enjoy jumping on his own versus being tandem with an instructor. – he’s a dare devil like that. Pretty sure he also thought I took out a big insurance policy on him. ? The package included 8 hours of instruction, the flight, the jump and having it all videotaped. He said it was the most exhilarating experience of his life and still talks about it..
Sky Diving is perfect for the thrill seeker in your life.

The Health & Wellness Guru

  • Massage – Cindy Scott from Cinders Travels and host of the Locals Know Best podcast series, has some great advice. “It’s so easy to forget about taking care of yourself during the hustle and bustle of the holidays. If you know someone who’s always tending to everyone else’s needs, there’s no better way to show them your appreciation than by gifting them a little TLC in the form of a facial or massage! As far as picking the right spa goes, I recommend going with Massage Envy because they have storefronts all over the United States. Over the past two years of full-time RV life, there have been very few stops I haven’t been able to find a Massage Envy. So no matter where your friend or family member lives, they should be able to find a location near them.”
  • Virtual Exercise & Wellness – There’s no excuse for not making it to the gym these days. Bring expert exercise classes and wellness right to your home virtually. Theresa Macy of Integrated Natural Health offers virtual, live yoga classes that are “more than just pretzel shapes on a mat. These classes will help you focus on breathing, stretching, self-care, mindfulness and much more.”
  • Wellness Retreat – If someone in your life is looking to find an escape to re-focus their mind, body and/or spirit, give them a wellness retreat. This one in Sedona looks magical.
  • DNA Discovery – Help someone discover more about their genetics and family lineage. Who knows they may gain a family member or get a life-saving cancer screening they never thought about until finding out unknown family medical history. 23 and Me is one of the highest-rated options.
  • Memberships – Gyms, Cross-Fit and YMCA annual memberships. There are numerous apps for the mind, body and spirit such as Simple Habit, Calm, Reflecty and many more.
  • Healthy Meal Service – Services like Freshly can be life-changing for those who need help focusing on healthy eating.
  • Health Maintenance – Being on the road full-time creates challenges when I need my regular Chiropractor visits to stay well. I found a life-saver one time when I injured my back. The Joint Chiropractic is located across the country, usually close to major cities. Having a gift card from there would definitely give me peace of mind.
  • Spa Day – Plan a spa day for someone special where they can choose from a category of services.
  • Food Sensitivity Tests – Help a loved one uncover what is making them feel sick or just plain blah.
  • Essential Oils – For the natural medicine friend in your life or those curious about it, give them a starter kit of essential oils.
Communing with yourself and nature.

The Homebody

  • Disney Plus, NetFlix and HuLu – Who doesn’t love a good binge watching session. We recently gave our kids and grandkids access to our Disney Plus account as an early holiday gift. There’s nothing like passing on the Star Wars tradition to your family.
  • Fire Stick or Apple TV – Help your relatives kick their cable addiction and save them some money in the process.
  • Virtual EventsLetsVidya is a virtual event site created by Sonya Schweitzer, a fellow full-time RVer for the last 4 years. The intention is to “bring people together to create memorable experiences! Pub Trivia, Murder Mystery, Wine/Food Pairings, Beer Tasting, Mixology Classes, Cooking Classes, Paint Nights and so much more. Socially distant shouldn’t mean socially absent.”
  • Gaming Gift Cards – For the gamer in your life, get them a gift card for Xbox, Nintendo or PlayStation.
  • Virtual Home Improvement Classes – Woodworking, gardening, hardscaping classes to name a few.
  • Home Maintenance – Give someone the gift of time by arranging a lawn cutting or landscaping service.
  • Crafting Classes and Supplies – For the home crafter there are online classes, in-person classes and supplies to get them started or keep them motivated.

The Thriver

  • Online Courses – There is a plethora of online learning for practically anything you can imagine. All you have to do is search the internet. From how to make the perfect garden for your climate to learning the best wine pairings, it’s out there. Udemy offers a wide range of categories.
  • Higher Education – Is someone you know making a career change or still thriving to get that degree? Gift them some tuition money.
  • Ancestry – Research and learn about your family tree.
  • Downsize to dRiVe – Do you know someone who needs help getting rid of all their “stuff” to experience life more, possibly by RV? Click here to be added to the waitlist of a new Downsizing course I’m creating- launching in March of 2021.

The Reader

  • Audible – For those who love reading but can’t find the time. They can plug into a good book on a long commute in a car or on public transportation.
  • Kindle – For those not wanting piles of books but still wanting the joy of reading at a reduced cost to the traditional book.
  • Book of the Month – Yes this still exists! Surprise someone with their own choice of reading material each month.
  • Memory Journal – Have your grandparents or parents share their most memorable life experiences in a journal for generations to enjoy.
  • Book Signing – Give the gift of someone meeting their favorite author. One of my most influential books in starting this full-time life of travel was Driving Miss Norma. I still get a warm feeling thinking about the time I got to meet the authors of the book, her son and daughter-in-law, Tim and Ramie. Miss Norma chose living life to the fullest over cancer treatments at 90 years old and went on a grand adventure with her family in their RV. Having the opportunity to express to Tim how much his mother’s journey influenced our lifestyle was priceless. We were both in tears.
Tim Bauerschmidt, son of Miss Norma, and I at the Easton Market in Easton, PA. ,

The Music Lover

  • Concert Tickets – Whether your recipient is into heavy metal or classical music, there will be live concerts available (post-COVID) in every musical genre.
  • Music Lessons – I’m sure someone in your life has said, “I really wish I had taken piano/guitar/drum lessons.”
  • Music Apps – Apple Music, Amazon Music, Spotify, Pandora and more. Save someone the cost of buying new CDs and having to store them.

The Foodie, Coffee and Adult Beverage Lover

Put on your feed bags and get ready for another big list because I’m ALL this, ALL the time!

  • Beercation – At Living a Stout Life, April and Ken are offering the coolest, or should I say, stoutest, experiential gift ever!  Craft Beer!  And by that they mean a Beercation Consultation. A Beercation Consultation is a consultation that will result in your friends and family ending up with their best beercation ever! Living a Stout Life will do the research for them based off of their desires, and all they have to do is follow the itinerary. They get the experiences without the hassle of the research. Not ready yet for a beercation? Try a customized virtual tasting session instead. 
  • Food Subscriptions – Snacks, gourmet foods, butcher block meat, fresh veggies and much more are available monthly subscription boxes. You are sure to find something for all taste buds.
  • Beer/Wine Subscriptions – Just like the food subscriptions, wine and beer is also available monthly from different regions.
  • Family Recipe Book – Do you have special recipes that your family always craves? Use an application like Canva to create a recipe book now so that the memories created by your special dishes last for generations to come.
  • Home-Cooked Meal Service – For those that want to eat healthier or are just too busy to create home-cooked meals, there’s a service for that. Hello Fresh and Green Chef are a good place to start.
  • Cooking Classes – Check your local area for cooking experiences. Find one near a special someone and gift them a fun and unique night out while learning a new skill.
  • Home Brew Kits – Give someone the experience of brewing their own beer.
  • Wine Making Kits – Wine lovers need to get in on the action too.
  • Restaurant Gift Certificates – I don’t know about you but when I have a gift card to my favorite restaurant it gives me so much joy because it ensures a wonderful night out with my husband where we don’t have to cook or clean up.
  • Winery & Brewery Limo Tours – Organize a tour for your family or friends as a gift experience.
  • Food & Beverage Festivals – What better gift for a true foodie! Buy them tickets to one of the country’s best food festivals.
  • Homemade Goodies – Who doesn’t love something made with love and the gift of your precious time? I make some ranch pretzels that my friends have affectionately renamed “crack” pretzels because they can’t get enough of them. I make them and place in a nice holiday tin or mason jar with a ribbon. Ashley also mentions, “I always hope for a jar of candied jalapeños a.k.a. “Cowboy Candy” every Christmas.” Think of something you can ship to those you can’t see for the holidays.

The Arts & Culture Lover

  • Art Gallery Gift Certificate – For the lover of fine art.
  • Comedy Show – Who doesn’t love a good laugh. I still remember a wonderful night 10 years ago when we did this for my Mom as a surprise.
  • IMAX Movie Experience – Seeing a movie in IMAX is a step above for the movie lover. Maybe their favorite movie is playing for a limited time.
  • Broadway Tickets – Times Square classics to first run shows are always a grand experience.
  • Museum Membership – I would not call myself a Museum-goer but when we went to the World War II Museum in New Orleans it was a life changing experience. You get assigned to a soldier, learn their story and follow them through their journey. I really felt transported to the battlefield. My friend Cindy wrote an excellent post about the museum. There are also Discovery and Science Museums just for kids.

The Animal Lover

  • Zoo passes – There is a zoo for every animal lover.
  • Horseback Riding – Even though I may not be very good at it, I will always remember our horseback ride through the woods in the Pocono Mountains. When I recently watched the horses riding through Bryce Canyon it opened my eyes to all the wonderful places to ride.
  • Adopt a Dog or Cat from a Shelter – Not only would you be saving an animals life, but you would be giving a gift that will keep on giving love and memories for many years.
  • Adopt a Manatee – The program provides efforts to help protect manatees and their habitat. Unlike other animal adoption programs, the manatees in their adoption programs are real, living manatees with known histories.
  • Animal SponsorshipBest Friends offers the ability to sponsor an animal in someone’s name at their sanctuary in southern Utah. You can send a special e-card or a printable card that lets your loved one know all about their pet and the lifesaving impact of their sponsorship.
Just some of the sweet animals that need sponsoring.

The Entrepreneur

  • Online Business Courses – Help your business owner friends hone their skills to grow their business. I know as a freelance writer I am like a sponge with a couple courses going at once. Some of the most popular sites are Udemy and Skillshare.
  • Coaching or Mentoring Programs – Gift a business coaching session for those wanting to grow, maintain or re-structure their business.
  • Crowdfunding – Sonya also recommends Kiva. It is an international nonprofit, founded in 2005, with a mission to expand financial access to help underserved communities thrive. “Loans are almost always paid back so you can continue to invest in other people and their businesses. When gifted, the recipient can follow along to see how their gifted investment is making a difference.”
  • Business Retreat – Plan a retreat for the business owner in your life and their employees.

The Whole Family

  • Family Vacation – Instead of buying a lot of gifts, why not treat the family to a vacation that will create memories for a lifetime.
  • Amusement Park Passes – Know someone heading to Disney or Universal soon? Give them the gift of experiencing a park or two.
  • Volunteering – Spend the day as a family or group of friends giving back to the community together. Opportunities such as a homeless shelter, planting a garden or rehabbing a house will enrich your lives in ways a gift never could.
  • Donation – Take the money you would normally spend on gifts and collectively decide as a family who will receive the donation.
  • Blanket of Special Memories – Have some old t-shirts or other special material? Make it into a blanket to remember someone by.
  • Photo Gifts – Calendars, mugs, puzzles and blankets are just a few of the ways you can turn a favorite photo into a lasting memory.
  • Purposeful Money Gifts – Lindsey also shares a story of her friend. “As a wedding gift, her mother-in-law gave her and her husband 12 envelopes with the instructions to open one envelope each month of their first year of marriage. Inside each envelope was $50 to be used on a special date night each month to a new restaurant. My friend said she loved it because the envelopes gave them anticipation each month to go on a date night and it was a lot of fun to be treated to a night out.”
  • Babysitting Coupons – Offer your time to give a couple some much needed time alone.
  • Pen Pals – Yes, this still exists. You can be a pen pal to someone in another country, someone who enjoys your same interests or just someone who wants to converse with a stranger and learn from them.
  • Crafting Kits – Choose a family crafting project to create togetherness and a sense of accomplishment to look back on fondly.

Your Holiday Gift Experience Ideas

Phew, what a list! I hope it was helpful to get you on the path to giving holiday gifts that create a memorable experience to be cherished for a lifetime.

Now it’s your turn. We would all love to read your holiday gift experience ideas in the comments. And most of all, we want to hear the story and feelings behind why the gift was so special to you or the recipient.

Happy Holidays to you and your loved ones.

Breckenridge, CO ❄️
You CAN RV in the snow!



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4 Responses

  1. Glenda
    | Reply

    Love these ideas! I am definitely getting our godson (who is only 2) a national parks pass! This way his parents can have fun as well and begin creating memories. 🙂

    • Avatar photo
      Tina Klinefelter
      | Reply

      Such a great idea Glenda! I hope they create many memories for years to come. We love our national park pass each year. We plan a lot of travel around the parks so it comes in handy.

  2. Lindsey
    | Reply

    Wowowowow! Where do I start? There are so many good ideas! Thank you for compiling this list!

    • Avatar photo
      Tina Klinefelter
      | Reply

      My pleasure. Hope it helps you with some exciting gift experiences this year. Thanks for reading!

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