Style/ Beauty

29 experience gifts that are so much better than a wrapped present under the Christmas tree

While pyjamas, books and candles are nice, sometimes the best gift under the Christmas tree isn’t one you can unwrap at all. Experience gifts – from theatre tickets or a unique cinema experience, spa days and beauty treatments to gin tours, wine tasting and fancy afternoon tea – are perfect gifts for the person who already has everything. And they make dreamy anniversary gifts or birthday gifts, if searching for upcoming 30th birthday gifts is taking president over Christmas.

So, what is experience gift?

An experience gift is essentially footing the bill for some kind of fun activity – an ‘experience’, if you will – whether that’s a ride in a hot air balloon or a romantic hotel break. It’s gifting someone with lasting memories versus giving someone something materialistic that they can physically unwrap. But, beware: experience gifts can be expensive. Especially if you’re going BIG. Wellness retreat in Sri Lanka, anyone?

How do I give an experience as a gift?

Trying to surprise someone with a road trip to the Lake District or a surfing lesson in Cornwall can be rather tricky. So be prepared for a little snooping in the recipient’s diary or telling a few white lies if your gift requires booking firm dates upon checkout. A.k.a. you may need to ask their boss if they can have some time off work. Luckily, with many Virgin Experience days, you can pay for the experience, present your loved one with an e-voucher and get them to book the dates themselves.

Of course, if you don’t want to surprise them, one way to give an experience gift is simply with a gift card or writing an IOU note. Sure, it’s not as exciting. But in the end, it’s the thought that counts.

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What are the best experience gifts?

If you’re shopping for a beauty lover, you can’t go wrong with a facial or a spa day. FaceGym offers dynamic, non-invasive facials using muscle manipulation techniques, while a getaway at one of Virgin Experience Days’ luxury spas – whether you’re looking for two night breaks or short weekday trips – is a great gift for anyone. Most of them come with spa treatments and food and drink included. 

Speaking of eating: for the foodies in your life, Hotel Chocolat’s Bean to Bar Chocolate Making Experience is a total (sweet) treat. And for the adrenaline junkie? Consider indoor skydiving, a flying lesson or bungee jumping. 

Looking for some more gift ideas? We’ve got Christmas gifts for dads, gifts for husbands, personalised gifts for every member of the family, perfume gift sets, cookery gifts, wine gifts and even yoga gifts for the downward-dogging, tree-posing woman in your life. Head over here for wellness gifts, this way for gifts for teenage girls, gifts for sisters, wedding gifts, bridesmaid gifts and unique gifts. Happy shopping!

From a day at the race track to tickets for the theatre, keep scrolling for our edit of the best experience gifts and exciting days out.

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