7 Holiday Gift Guide - Thinking Outside the Gift Box

This years Holiday Guide is a bit different because you aren't going to find anything that you can wrap or that can be opened. Instead you will find my favourite activities and classes that you could opt to give instead of a traditional gift. Outside of stocking stuffers I will exclusively be giving experiences to our family and friends. I am tried of the sea of plastic and toys that get played with for an hour and either break or get left untouched for months. I'm hoping that this year will be the first of many that are free from "things" and focus more on spending time doing things we love.

It is key to remember that with experiences you do not need to book the actual date for the gift receiver. If you need to based on the activity that is fine but you could also pick the activity but let them book the actual date and time to ensure it fits into their schedule. 

Experiences for Adults

Adventure Packages - If there is someone in your life who lives for a rush then get them an experience that is sure to deliver. Kayaking, white water rafting, stunt racing, rocking climbing, scuba lessons, ATV'ing, ice fishing, and skiing/snowboarding passes are all great options to consider. 

Creative Packages - Guitar lessons, painting classes and photography classes are great options for a creative person. Painting and photography classes are happening in interesting places too. Like walking tours of distillery's and in swanky hotel bars. 

Foodies - Look for general cooking or baking class for someone who is just starting out and then for the more advanced find specific classes in sushi making, raw food cuisine or chocolate making.  If you don't want to send them to a class find a personal dinner with chefs who focus on local cuisine or book them high tea at a fancy hotel. 

Fitness Packages - You can go with traditional classes like yoga or a boot camp or you could look for something unique like aerial suspension yoga, dance classes and kick boxing. 

Spa Packages - Who doesn't love the spa?! Instead of getting a regular gift card look at the packages they offer and find that that fits the person you are buying for. Most spas are good about allowing them to switch components of the package if one part doesn't appeal to them. 

Tours - There are so many great places to tour that you probably wouldn't even realize you could buy passes for. Like hydroelectric plants (ie: Niagara Falls or Hoover Dam) or ghost tours of heritage properties. Tours of local craft breweries and wineries are also a great idea for someone who likes to try different types of beer and wine. Often you can find packages that will take you to both breweries and wineries!

Experiences for Families

If you are buying for an entire family consider renting them a cottage for a week (let them pick the week) or renting a theater for a private movie showing. 

Experiences for Kids

Art and Music Classes - Classes that offer a wide variety of art and musical options will probably work best unless you know specifically that they want to learn to play say the guitar. Redefine what you consider art and look for lego building classes. 

Cooking and Baking Classes - There are lots of options out there for kids who are interested in being creative in the kitchen.  The best places to look for classes are your local farmers market, grocery stores and city run community programs. 

Fitness Classes - Look for packages of 1 or 2 months so if they have enough time to adjust but if they don't like it you aren't out a lot of money for buying a larger package. Great classes to look for include: yoga, swimming and martial arts. 

Gardening Classes - For the kid with the green thumb consider getting them classes from a local nursery. You could even offer to help them build their own garden at home after the class.

Museum Passes - A lot of museums will offer discounted annual passes for children or families. Check out the future exhibit listing to see if there is anything of interest before you buy if it isn't a museum that has a permanent kids area. 

Science Classes - If they love shows like Phineas and Ferb then look into science classes from the local museum, universities or discovery center. Science classes can be a great way for kids to use their imagination and learn to try new experiments. 

Don't know where to find Experiences?  Look on deal websites like Groupon, Wagjag and Team Buy. Community centers, libraries, YMCA, city run kids programs, grocery stores and farmers markets. 

Photo credits
Yoga kid - J. Star via photopin cc 
Snowboarding - Sean Molin Photography via photopin cc 
Guitar - pasotraspaso via photopin cc 

Related Posts - Check them Out
2012 Gift Guide
2010 Gift Guide
Green Toys We Love


  1. I paid for my nieces art class for her birthday in November! :)

    You could also add donation like the WFF. You still get a stuffed animal but it is super cute for the kids to get an adoption kit! Love your ideas.

  2. We have done the WWF donation a few times and people do enjoy them. We also "adopted" an animal l for our niece on year from the zoo.

  3. Instead of birthday presents for my grandchildren in September I paid for the first 2 months of dance for my granddaughter and took my grandson out to eat and bowling for his. Still waiting for a league for his age group for bowling.

  4. Those are great gifts to give!

  5. I love your adventure gift ideas. Who really needs more stuff? I vote for a spa gift. Should I give you my address? :)

  6. Do you mind traveling to Canada ;)

  7. LOVE cooking classes! Great ideas!