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this holiday: skip gifts, buy experiences

A few years ago, my husband and I stopped buying gifts for each other during the holidays.  We realized, that if there were items or products we wanted, we ended up buying it throughout the year.  So finding something our partner wanted under the tree became difficult, if not stressful.

Our solution?  We started buying experiences for each other instead of gifts. Now, we not only buy experiences for each other, we buy experiences for others on our list as well.
What does an experience look like?

Local Experiences

The first year, my husband bought me a day at the spa, and I bought him and our daughter indoor sky diving.  Together, we purchased gift cards to our favorite restaurants, to spend throughout the year.

This was a great option to remind ourselves to unwind and take time for ourselves.  When we had something to celebrate, we used the gift cards and instead of worrying about finances, we could just “splurge” on our own dime that we already had expensed.  No excuses!


The next year, we went in together and bought a trip to China – for the three of us.  We bought a deal on LivingSocial for 10 days to fly from San Francisco to Beijing and Shanghai and it included airfare, hotels and most meals.  What an incredible experience to spend with the three of us.



Mini Me still talks about how lucky she was to travel to the other side of the world and see how they lived.  We saw Bugatti dealerships in the suburbs and poverty along the river.  She was given a great understanding of the pros and cons of communism and what a beautiful country China is.

My family helped us with this vacation by contributing to us on a Visa gift card.  If you can’t gift an entire vacation, but know of a family or friend who is going somewhere, you can always contribute to their vacation plans by providing a gift card, or travel accessories (suitcases, gift card to travel stores, etc).  Even better, a gift card to Shutterfly to help them print their memories or put them in a scrapbook after they return could be a nice touch!

Subscription Services

I am all about the subscription services this year.  I’ve been treating myself throughout the year with Birchbox, StitchFix and PopSugar Must Have Box.  (reviews here and here)  These are great for treating myself, but even better for gifting.

I just purchased Birchbox gifts for my mom and aunt for their November birthdays.  Both of them received their boxes this week and LOVED them.  What a great way for them to join in the fun!

Beyond beauty and fashion, there are TONS of subscription services for everyone on your list:

Wine  (Tasting Room)
Food (Nature Box)
Celebrity Curated (Quarterly)
Geek (LootCrate)
Kids (Kiwi Crate)
and even Dogs (Barkbox)

If you want to still give gifts, these are the gifts that keep on giving.  3-, 6-, or even 12-months later, your recipient will still thank you each time they get one of these boxes in the mail.

The best thing about gifting experiences is that you are helping the recipient create memories beyond just opening a box under a tree.

A few years ago, we found my daughter was getting “gift fatigue” after she opened so many gifts and couldn’t even remember what she got from us or Santa.  By consolidating the expenses into one big experience, she will continue to remember it, years after.


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