Gift Ideas: Give the Gift of New Experiences This Holiday Season

by Bianca Bujan

The bright lights and chilly nights always get me excited as winter nears, but each holiday season, I cringe as Christmas approaches. While I love the festive fun to be had during the dizzying month of December, I worry about the hoards of holiday gifts that are soon to fill my house. I love that friends and family want to spoil my kids, but with three children and a packed-to-the-walls playroom, the last thing we need is more stuff. 

gift ideas secret santa with westcoast family around a christmas tree

One year, as my children sat in piles of paper, surrounded by the gifts given to them by their grandparents, aunts and uncles, my brother and sister-in-law handed them each an envelope, and I was happily intrigued. Inside each one was an annual pass to Science World. I thought this was the best gift idea because not only had it been years since our last visit to the Vancouver attraction, but I took comfort in knowing that we could visit as a family, without worrying about the big price tag that would be attached to visiting as a family of five.

Related: Holiday Events Still Happening In 2020

If you really want to impress your family and friends this Christmas, consider giving the gift of experiences. From cooking classes for the grownups, to lessons for the kids, these thoughtful gifts will be greatly appreciated, and will reduce the amount of stuff that gets stocked up too.

To help you get started on your holiday shopping, we’ve created a list of experiences that we think will make great gifts this Christmas:


For me, the best gifts are the things I’ve been wanting to try, or the places I’ve been wanting to go – things that I haven’t been able to book or justify purchasing with all of the other financial obligations that plague my pocketbook. Forced rest and relaxation when I need a getaway to unwind, or weekly classes that I’ve considered taking, like ukulele lessons, top my wish list this year. Here are just some of the experiential gift ideas to consider for the grownups on your list:

Pre-book a weekend getaway for two*

Your partner or spouse would love to be surprised with a romantic weekend getaway – the perfect way to unwind after a busy holiday season sans kids. BC has lots of great destinations to consider, like Harrison Hot Springs, where you can soak in the warm pools, enjoy a soothing spa experience, and stroll around the lake at any time of the year. 

*While it’s not advised to travel right now, it’s always fun to give yourself something to look forward to – once it is safe again to do so.

for her gift ideas - woman shopping with gift card

Related: Gift Ideas: 6 Cookbooks You Need To Give (And Get) This Year

The gifts that keep on giving

Schedule a cooking class, or a shopping spree with a stylist and store gift card for two, and gift your friend, partner, or coworker with an experience that you can enjoy together! 

At a time when we’re doing our best to stay well, what about a program from Nourished by Alyssa B? Choose from a one-on-one health coaching session, a monthly subscription or a 4-week Nutrition program, this gift can fit different budget levels and is good for the whole family. nutrition coaching programs for weightloss and health


Has the little one on your list always wanted to try horseback riding? Why not present them with a gift card for a few lessons at the equestrian centre closest to their home? For aspiring dancers and artists, a gift card for classes at Arts Umbrella will get their creative juices flowing. If music is more their speed, consider classes at Tom Lee Music.

kids gift ideas secret santa

For those picky tweens, gift cards are a top choice. Consider enhancing your gift by adding an experience to their gift, such as a gift certificate to Lush, with an added opportunity for the tween or teen on your list to enjoy a hands-on bath bomb class or party with friends!


Gifting a family with an experience not only reduces the amount of stuff they receive, but it encourages them to spend time together, bonding over new activities.

Ski passes are great for families who love to hit the slopes, or consider annual memberships to Science World for long-term family fun. For more budget-friendly gift ideas, consider one-time event tickets to city favourites like FlyOver Canada, or the Stanley Park Bright Nights Christmas Train.

When it comes to experiential gifts, the options are endless! We hope our list of ideas has helped you to get started on your holiday shopping. Consider giving gifts that will create lasting memories for those you love, and give them something they can do this December.

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