Why buy stuff when you can give memories, with these Christmas gift experiences, instead?
By Chere Di Boscio
No matter how well intended, gift giving can be such an incredibly wasteful activity. The gift bag or box is often used just the once, the wrapping paper is immediately binned, and often the gift itself is unwanted and goes unused. There can be little doubt that the most eco-friendly Christmas gift, then, is an invisible one. What’s that, you say? Who’d want to get something invisible?
Allow me to clarify. Rather than buying a material gift that someone may not use anyway, giving luxurious experiential gifts is a concept on the rise. There are thousands of possible gifts you could give that don’t involve purchasing anything material: classes to learn something new, going somewhere different, or spending time in new and exciting ways. But if your recipient is super busy, no worries–there are still plenty of unique presents that need no wrapping, take no superfluous packaging, and involve no later disposal.
Curious? Read on for some of the most creative gift experiences for Christmas and beyond–and best of all, no need to go shopping!
15 Unusual Christmas Gift Experiences To Give This Year
1. A Star Is Born
Did you know you can name a star after someone you love? Companies like Name A Star allow you to pick one special star in the galaxy and officially name if after a special person in your life. Prefer something tangible to go along with that? No worries: the company offers a simple framed certificate of authenticity, as well as:
- Certificate of Registration – Showing the new Star Name, the date of registration and the star’s telescopic co-ordinates
- Registration Document – A document detailing what you have named the star along with the stars full technical details. A personalised message also appears on this
- Star locator instructions – A step by step guide to find the precise position of the star that has been named
- Colour map of the night sky – A wall chart showing all the constellations and stars visible to the naked eye
- Star registration details – Confirmation of the star details into an official register
It’s a charming gift that the recipient will think of every time he or she looks up at the night sky–and it doesn’t cost the moon, either!
2. Relaxation and Revival
A relaxing spa day is one of the best gift experiences for anyone, of any age or gender. If your budget is limited, you can aim small, gifting a simple a manicure or pedicure, but if you’re more flush with cash, why not go for a whole weekend at a local detox or yoga spa? Some of our favourite organic spas are: Ti Sana for detoxing, Vilalara Wellness Spa for an MOT, and Phyt’s for a quick pick me up manicure or a deeply relaxing massage, but check your local area or sites like this for great suggestions, too.
3. Put an Elephant Under the Tree
Fostering or adopting an endangered animal is a thoughtful gift for anyone who adores the wild beasties. Choose their favourite animal, be it the intelligent elephant, rough and ready rhino, gentle orangutan, or any number of other possibilities, and contact an animal charity like the WWF or David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust to make a donation in their name.
The charities will usually send a picture of the animal and some background and regular updates, so it really feels personal! The recipient can also follow up on the growth and progress of his or her new ‘pet’, and can revel in the knowledge that this gift will not only save an animal, but will likely help save others from poachers, too – one of the best gift experiences that animal lovers will truly appreciate.
Image: Sheldrick Trust
4. The Gift of Knowledge
One of the best gift experiences is the gift of knowledge! So why not sign your recipient up for a course? Arrange for a local yoga/guitar/French teacher to come to the recipient’s home for a few lessons. Not sure where to look? Check local universities, language schools, or even boards like Craig’s List, for teachers of various skills in your area.
Whether it’s yoga, a language or cooking class, new forms of knowledge make for a gift that will last a lifetime!
5. Join the Club
Whether your recipient loves wine, film, whiskey or even organic food, there’s surely a club they could join, which will give them regular new samples of whatever they’re passionate about, either weekly, monthly or bi-monthly. Who wouldn’t want to get an organic beauty box delivery from Love Lula, or Birchbox for example? Or a weekly organic veg box from Abel & Cole? It’s the kind of gift that makes Christmas feel like it lasts all year round!
Image: The Beauty Lookbook
6. Sign Them Up to a Subscription
Looking for gift experiences for the couch potato in your life? Keeping up to date is easier than ever with online news and magazine subscriptions. Go to iTunes or Amazon to sign your loved one up for their favourite films or reads for a year, or sign them up to Spotify Premium, Netflix or another movie program in your area that will allow them to download all the films and music they love, all year round.
7. What’s in the Stars
If your loved one is worried or uncertain about the future, a personalised astrological reading could put their mind at ease. With all objectivity, I swear that Eluxe’s astrologer, Claudia Vannini, is spookily on the mark, every time. For a personalised reading, she requires some basic information: the exact time and geographical place of birth. Then, she will create 2 reports, a 60 minute audio report with predictions for the coming year, and detailed reading specifically tailored to the recipient that is sure to blow their mind! This is one of the best gift experiences for that mystical, spiritual person in your life.
8. Vouchers with Vavoom
This is an oldie but goodie: make a book of totally personalised gift vouchers for the recipient, promising your talented services to them. Husband have an achy back? Create 5 one hour massage coupons, and allow him to redeem them for his backrub whenever it acts up. Roomie hate doing the dishes? Give her 10 coupons she can redeem to get you to do them instead! More ideas include: home made meals, pick ups from school or work, small chores like doing the grocery shopping, or even just preparing a special, oiled bath with candles, music and floating petals.
These can be home-made and personalised, or you can go to luxury sites like TRULY or Redletter Days for great ideas, ranging from a dinner for 2 at a Gordon Ramsay restaurant to Whisky tasting in Soho.
9. Love, in the Name Of…
A charitable donation in the name of a loved one is a touching gift that brings good karma, too. This is especially thoughtful when the donation is made in the name of a recently deceased loved one.
For example? As a wedding gift, my aunt dedicated a wing of a local library to my cousin’s mother, who had recently passed away. While my cousin got many lovely presents, this is the one she will never, ever forget.
One of my own, personal favourite gifts was a tree planted in my name in my favourite country.
10. Personalised DNA Skincare
If your recipient feels like he or she can never find the exact type of skincare products that are perfect for them, their dreams have come true! This experience takes the recipient’s DNA and bases a skincare serum on the genetic requirements for that particular person.
It involves: a consultation with a PhD-qualified Scientific Advisor at GENEU’s flagship store on New Bond Street, London; having a DNA test, which assesses collagen degradation level and needed levels of antioxidant protection; a lifestyle assessment, to gain comprehensive insight into personal needs and a four week supply of a custom made anti-ageing serum. Once a profile has been generated, details will be kept on file so that future purchases may be made on request. Talk about bespoke beauty!
11. At Your Service
If your recipient is super busy, one of the best gift experiences you can give them is simply more time for themselves. So why not gift them a regular service? Purchase three months of cleaning, dog walking, babysitting or whichever service they could best use to have more ‘me’ time in the their week.
12. Be Like Bond, James Bond
For some, living out a childhood wish could be the best gift ever! If your recipient loves spy novels or always wanted to be a spy, now they can….kind of. For two months, Truly Experiences allows your loved one to live the way a spy would. Designed by actual UK spies, this gift experience is completely bespoke, and develops skills like covert communications, disguise, agent recruitment and surveillance techniques.
The receiver will live through a real-time surveillance operation, and as the adventure unfolds, every action they undertake will determine the next turn. The experience will culminate in an overnight stay in one of Europe’s spy capitals, and when the mission is complete, a visual record documenting the whole activity will be presented.
13. Encourage Talent
Reckon your recipient has some singing talent? Forget gifting a karaoke machine and give them the chance to professionally record a tune themselves! This gift involves the creation of a unique CD, recorded by a world-class sound engineer at Resident Studios in the UK. A vocal session will be engineered by Andy Rugg, who worked with Coldplay on their last two multi-platinum albums.
The receiver can record four songs of their choice, with backing tracks and lyric sheets provided by the studio. Andy will edit and mix each track, putting them on CD to create the ultimate gift for the musician in your life.
Can’t afford Andy? Look for recording studios in your area and arrange for a session to be booked instead.
14. Give Someone Their Life Story
We may have saved the best idea until last: capture life stories for future generations to share with a personalised autobiography created with Lifebook. Involving approximately 13 hours of weekly face-to-face interviews spread over three months, your or your loved one’s words and photographs will be transformed into a beautifully illustrated book.
But the real gift here is one of memories: this present allows your parent, grandparent, or friend to relive and share their own precious life memories, all bound into a book of around 160 professionally written pages, beautifully presented with personal photographs in a hardback edition that is nothing short of a family treasure.
15. Get A Celeb ‘Hello’!
Got a friend who’s a bit obsessed with a celeb or two? This is one of the best gift experiences for them!
Check out Cameo to see if the celebs your friend loves the most is on there. If they are, you can have them record a personal message for your loved one. How cool is that? and you can have them record a personalized message. From football players to Housewives, there are so many to choose from!