Gift Ideas – Other Experiences

Gift Ideas – Other Experiences

We’ve covered a variety of options in experience gifts, but there are so many more ideas. People think of Christmas as a time to pile on the presents, but folks get tired of getting stuff and collecting knick knacks. There is a movement afoot to celebrate Christmas by providing experiences to people who are too caught up in the hurly burly of everyday life to make time for their actual passions.

The Arts

experience the artsThe arts afford a lot of worthwhile experiences that people can indulge themselves in. Painting, writing, dancing, sculpting and other arts provide a great deal of relaxation and self-expression. People are generally too caught up in the practical realities of everyday life. By giving a gift that encourages them to engage in artistic expression, you are helping to extend their lives through stress reduction and also adding to the collection of beautiful things that humanity has ever created.

One way to inspire artistic expression is to provide your loved ones with art supplies. There is nothing that demands the imagination go into action like a blank page and a box of crayons or paints.

experiencing danceAnother source of stress relief, exercise and pleasurable self-expression is a night of dancing. Whether you treat your recipient to formal dance lessons or simply tickets to a dance or gift certificates for a night club, giving someone an opportunity to dance is a wonderful gift of experience. Couples can have a chance to reconnect, draw closer and share new memories when they spend an evening out dancing.

Service Projects

Another wonderful thing that you can give someone for Christmas is an opportunity for them to serve others. As it says in the Book of Acts,

In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’ ”
Acts 20:35

serving-othersIt is truly more blessed to give than to receive. Anyone who has ever given a gift to a child knows the joy of watching their eyes light up. It is even more so when you take the time to help those who, for whatever reason, cannot help themselves. Volunteering at a food pantry, soup kitchen, visiting shut-in seniors, hosting a Christmas party for needy children, gathering winter clothes for underprivileged people, gathering household necessities for people who have suffered a catastrophic loss, all these things are worthwhile activities that elevate the soul of the giver. When you give selflessly, you gain immeasurably. What a wonderful gift to give to someone who is in a rut or caught up in the rampant materialism of our current age. Doing for others does wonders for us.

Gift Ideas – Sailing

Gift Ideas – Sailing

Sweet treats of the holidays are definitely part of my wheelhouse, but some people really enjoy the salt air of the sea! For the intrepid sailor on your Christmas gift list, there are a variety of sailing adventures available. Certainly, these depend on your access to a river or coastline, but if you’re not near the sea you can always ship them off to an appropriate locale as part of the gift.

schoonerIf you’re like my dad, you can’t stand the snow and the cold that looks ever so scenic around the holidays. I’m a big fan of snowy days and brisk breezes, but give my father his tropical climes and palm trees for Christmas. If your loved one is like my dad, an American Sailing Tour off of Key West might be just the trip they’ve been waiting for. Their 48 foot schooner, the Summer Breeze, takes two hour cruises for six people to ensure that there is room to spread out and relax to enjoy the cruise. Their professional crew are lifelong sailors who really enjoy providing this experience for their guests.

yachtA little closer to home for me is Captain Ed Garr‘s thirty-two foot cutter, the Namaste, which sails the waters of Lake Erie. He tells us that with summer temperatures moderated by the waters of Lake Erie, spectacular sunsets, and winds higher on average than the windy city of Chicago, the area around the Port of Erie offers some of the finest sailing to be had. Whether you’re a first time passenger, or aspire to “MAN THE BOAT”, the art of sailing is at your fingertips courtesy of Captain Ed throughout the summer months. Book a summer cruise for your sailing enthusiast or even give the gift of sailing at Christmas in July.

dinner-cruiseCloser still are the dinner, lunch and brunch cruises aboard the Spirit of Philadelphia and the Freedom Elite. It’s a posh evening afloat with marvelous buffet cuisine, bottomless cups of water, tea or coffee, live entertainment and spectacular views of the Philadelphia skyline. Be aware that if you choose a dinner cruise, they require formal attire. Slacks and jackets for men and dresses, skirts or nice slacks for women are needed to board the dinner cruise. For the lunch and brunch cruises, less formal wear is permitted. Cruises last about three hours, starting off from Penn’s Landing south toward the Naval Shipyard then northward to the Ben Franklin Bridge and back again.

Check for options near your location, but these examples give some ideas of how you can give your loved ones an alternative to the odds and ends that they usually accumulate at Christmastime.

Gift Ideas – Sports Experiences

Gift Ideas – Sports Experiencesfootball

Rather than finding a tie or some socks for that special someone, give them the gift of exercise. Some people are die hard sports enthusiasts and there is no better way to give them a memorable gift than to immerse them in their favorite sport. Whether it’s team sports like football, baseball, soccer and volleyball or whether it’s individual endeavors like golf, skiing and martial arts, your sports enthusiast has a lot of options for you to give them a sports experience gift for Christmas


golfThere are many different types of sports experiences. You can give your golfing loved one a series of lessons from a PGA Pro. They’ll get to lower their score using the instructions the pro gives them after analyzing their swing.

Check your local listings for country clubs and golf courses to see what options are available to you. In my area, the Mahoning Valley Country Club, the Olde Homestead Golf Club and the Schuylkill County Country Club all offer lessons and special offers for golf enthusiasts and would-be golfers alike.

If this is the gift, then there is no end to the number of golfing gifts you can give. From golf apparel to new clubs to the myriad of gadgets like electronic scorecards or golf GPS systems – they’ll love them all.


baseballIs your loved one a baseball fan? Visit their favorite team’s website and see if they offer any VIP fan packages. Take the Phillies for instance. They have something called the Philadelphia Phillies Phantasy Baseball Camp (it sells out fast, so shop smart). They have a package for people who want to be players, general managers and Phans. These packages give your gift recipient the ability to meet and greet one of the fans’ favorite players.

The packages each have their own perks, but some of the treats include VIP seating, catered lunches, a personalized Phillies uniform, autographed ball and a video of the great times at camp. This will be a wonderful experience for your favorite Phillies fan.

Gift Ideas – Flying

Gift Ideas – Flying

flyingAs Christmas draws near, consider whether or not Santa should be the only one flying around. Some of the people on your Christmas shopping list might want to spend some time in the wild blue yonder rather than getting bogged down with more tchotchkes.

Flying Lessons

Many people have “flying a plane” as one of their bucket list items. This is a very popular experience gift – and you can make a loved one’s dreams come true this Christmas season!

Most larger communities have municipal airports where you can buy a package of flying lessons for someone. If you’re not quite sure, then you may be able to find flight simulator gift packages, so they don’t really have to go up in the air just yet.

In the real flying packages, your loved one will typically get some hands on training about the basics of aviation. They’ll be riding in the co-pilot’s seat, but one the craft is up in the air, they get to handle the plane more – as much as they’re comfortable with. Most flying lessons are approximately 30 minutes long, but they can be longer. It starts with a lesson on flying safety, followed by flight tutorials. Then they take off into the deep blue sky!

pilotIf you want to avoid the plane gift, you can opt for a helicopter flying lesson instead. Light aircraft is a bit different, so the gift recipient will get instructions about the differences in takeoff, landing and in-flight elements. If the person you’re buying for may someday want to get their pilot’s license, then these training sessions often count toward their flight time. But these aren’t the only flying experience you can choose!
If the person you want to buy for needs even more thrills, then look for a dog fight experience. Not a real dog fight – a flying dog fight in the air! There are true Top Gun flight experiences you can buy where they get to go in a fighter plane and learn about tactical maneuvers. They get to actually take the controls and do spirals, loops and other pulse-racing maneuvers. These are typically recorded for you from the ground so that you can relive the moment over and over again. The Sky Combat Ace school is available in Henderson, NV and El Cajon, CA. If you want to go for an international adventure, there’s MiGs over Moscow where you can fly Cold War Soviet MiG fighter planes over Moscow or Novgorod, Russia.

Some options that are local to my area are Moyer Aviation and Hi-Tech Helicopters in Tobyhanna and there is Acepilot Training in Allentown at the regional airport.

Balloon Tours

For those who are less interested in thrill rides and more into sweeping vistas and romantic jaunts, hot air balloon tours might be an excellent experiential gift. Lazily drifting over hills and valleys as you dip fondue and drink wine is more to some people’s liking than zooming around like the Blue Angels.

balloonsHot air balloon ride vendors offer a variety of tours that include photos, dinner or breakfast reservations, B&B stays and, of course, stunning scenery. Balloon rides are intimate, relaxing and highlight the natural beauty of your local area when seen from a bird’s eye view.

Check your local listings for vendors in your area. Some of the best options near me are AirVentures in Paoli, Balloon Chase Adventures in Moscow and the United States Hot Air Balloon Team in Bird in Hand.

Gift Ideas – Driving Experiences

Gift Ideas – Driving Experiencesdriving experiences

Is there someone on your Christmas shopping list who might say “I feel the need. The need for speed.“? If you know someone who enjoys a white knuckle drive, we’ve got some exciting gift ideas to thrill your friends or family.

Racecar Training

If you know someone who has a need for speed, then you can find a local or nearby racing facility that lets you give the gift of racecar driver training.racecars

For instance, you can buy someone a professional racing experience where they get to drive a real racecar that’s been driven by famous racers. There are a variety of packages. The Pocono Raceway isn’t too far from where I live. They have a stock car racing experience as well as a variety of other racing adventures that you can give as an unforgettable gift.

For example, you could get them a ride along package where they get to ride with an instructor to see how it’s done. There’s the driving experience where they get to drive it themselves. And there are more all-inclusive packages. Another racing school that is local to me is Bertil Roos’ Racing School at the Pocono International Raceway, but is also available through raceways in New Jersey, Virginia and Florida.

A racecar driving experience includes things like meeting with the crew chief, getting clear instructions and training about driving a racecar, radio communication inside the racecar with your pit crew, a timed racing session, and a certificate that reminds you of your achievement.

So what could you wrap under the tree to go with this experience? If you have to fly in to the race track, then it might include airline tickets to that. But as far as tangible items, you could start with a sleek racing helmet. Racers also wear a support element for the helmet in case they wreck. In addition to these items, you could get the fire suit, which are coveralls, gloves, and driving shoes – all in a fire resistant fabric!

You might even personalize these items with your loved one’s first or last name and their favorite number. Order it all in their favorite color schemes, too!

Off-Road Adventures

offroadFor those who aren’t excited about driving around in circles or are squeamish about driving hundreds of miles per hour, off-roading might be a more suitable gift. There are a variety of companies providing opportunities for off-road driving adventures, dirt biking and ATV excursions.

In my area, I was able to identify quite a few wonderful opportunities for rustic racing and exploration. AOAA Full Throttle in Coal Township, Pocono ATVs, Rausch Creek Off-Road Park in Pine Grove, Lost Trails in Dunmore and Xplor-Int an Off Highway Vehicles in Nottingham are all within an hour’s drive of my home. I’m sure there are plenty of excellent options near you. Each of these vendors list exciting offers for the outdoor enthusiast on your Christmas shopping list. Give them a call and reserve an outdoor experience your loved one will never forget.

Gift Ideas – Food Tours

Gift Ideas – Food Tours

A food tour can be a fantastic gift that keeps on giving. Food tours are where you go around the city, the state, the country or even the world sampling the cuisine from different places.

Cooking Classescooking

The first step in giving gifts of food related experiences starts at home. Some people of the people on your Christmas gift giving list simply love cooking. To add to their joy of cooking, you can give a gift of cooking classes. A site that lives for teaching the fine arts of cooking is Sur la table. They list classes throughout the country that your loved one can attend and enjoy. Another site that thrives on teaching the skills of producing wonderful food is Taste of Home. Find your nearest class and make a reservation as a gift.

If you search for “cooking classes” plus your ZIP Code, you may find a wonderful service like the one I have in my area who provides in-home cooking classes. Chef Gloria Luzzatto has her Glorious Gourmet PCS service in my neck of the woods. Be sure to book her early, she’s only one person and her calendar is likely to fill up quickly!

Food Tour

restaurantIf you wanted to do it on a budget, then you could put together a picnic basket filled with a bottle of wine and a picnic set, but include a few gift cards from local restaurants that your friend or loved one enjoys or some that they haven’t been to before.

You can find inexpensive and high dollar picnic baskets online, with an array of restaurant gift cards to chains such as Outback Steakhouse, P.F. Changs, Macaroni Grill, and dozens more.

You could put together a breakfast, lunch, dinner and dessert gift that included a gift card to a place that serves breakfast like Cracker Barrel, include a Subway Sandwich gift card for a quick lunch, put an Outback Steak House gift card in for dinner and top it off with a dessert gift card to the Cheesecake Factory!

Your loved one could make it a full day doing a food tour, or break it up into separate food events.sandwich

Now you can also make this an amazing, high end gift! How about buying a new piece of luggage and filling it with some travel items, along with the menu from the local cuisine stops of another area that you’ll drive or fly to? Maybe throw in a couple of airline tickets to an exotic getaway! Other high end options are touring local or regional wineries and taking a dinner cruise on a nearby river or coastline.

Gift Ideas – Experiences

Gift Ideas – Experiences

When Christmas rolls around, we sometimes go from enjoying the holiday season to panicking about what we should get our loved ones. It can be grueling coming up with gift ideas. You don’t want to give your dad, mom, husband or wife the same old presents that seem so cliché year after year.

Now you don’t have to. There’s a new trend that you can count on to really hit one out of the ballpark. While many do not, some people have an explicit bucket list. This new trend is “experience gift giving.” This is where you give someone an experience, rather than a tangible present. If last year is any indication, experience gifts will be hot items again this year. Let’s look at how to combine both elements to create an amazing and unique gift idea!

It’s our life experiences that stay with us forever as memories. Tangible gifts get old and outdated. This is gift doesn’t collect dust or get regifted. They’ll never forget an adventure. It is irreplaceable.

The most common gift for people who have no idea what to get their friends and relatives is gift cards. Some people see it as a cop out. Some people see it as a pragmatic solution to provide their loved ones what they love.

An experience gift angle for gift card giving is to give gift cards to a place your friends or relatives don’t usually go. If you have been to a restaurant and have enjoyed your experience, you might give the gift of a nice dinner to your list members. Great memories can come from dinner conversation and who doesn’t like a good meal?

Another simple experience gift that fits well with the holiday season is taking a sleigh ride. Conduct a search for “sleigh ride” with your ZIP Code included to find local vendors who run sleigh rides. Obviously, this is more prevalent when you live out in the boonies like I do, but even in New York City you can find a variety of horse and carriage rides through Central Park. So, in the countryside or way downtown, there are often very nice options for giving someone on your list a charming holiday experience that they’ll never forget.

Some of the more popular experience gifts are food tours, racecar adventures, flying lessons, dinner cruises, sports camps, skydiving and travel. We’ll be talking in a bit more detail about some of these categories in the next few posts.


Gift Ideas – Wine and Cheese

Gift Ideas – Wine and Cheese

Wine and cheese pairings make wonderful Christmas gifts for friends, family and acquaintances. wine grapesYou definitely want to make sure that the recipient drinks wine, because not everyone enjoys an alcoholic beverage. But if they do, there are some fantastic choices for you to send them.

One of the premiere brands to consider in this realm is – and those selections can even be ordered on Amazon, too – where many of them have free Super Saver shipping.

For example, the Bordeaux Style Gift Set with Scharffen Berger Chocolate & 2 Wine Glasses from Madsen Family Cellars with a bottle each of their Gold Medal Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot provides two stemless wine glasses and a bar of gourmet Scharffen Berger Chocolate.

cheeseThen there’s the Raspberry Chocolate Wine Gift Set by Westport Winery which includes a bottle of their raspberry chocolate dessert wine “Red Sky at Night”, a pair of Westport Winery cordial glasses and box of five raspberry velvet chocolate truffles.

A mouth-watering option is the medium sized Savory Sophisticated Gourmet Food Basket with Caviar by Art of Appreciation Gift Baskets with Fine Black Capelin Caviar and a variety of crackers, cookies, pretzels, nuts, dips and sauces in a simple, willow basket adorned with ivy vines.

wine glass

The Italian Classic Gift Basket by igourmet contains a stunning array of cheeses, olive oil, Balsamic vinegar and more items produced in Italy that are attractively packaged in a dark stained wood planter. This gift basket contains cheeses that would pair well with some of your favorite wines.

A wonderful package of Christmas themed wines is the Season’s Greetings Christmas Wines Mixed Pack. It’s a festive collection of Moscato, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Cabernet Sauvignon, White Zinfandel and Riesling wines that would pair well with a number of the gift baskets mentioned here.

For instance, a lovely gift basket that would pair nicely with the seasonal wine collection above is the Well Stocked Gourmet Basket with Smoked Salmon by Art of Appreciation Gift Baskets. It is a generous and impressive helping of the good life with an oval willow basket filled with everyone’s favorite gourmet chocolates, confections, and sophisticated snacks.
wine escape

With a classic assortment of savory snacks and sweet holiday treats, there will be something for everyone as friends and family gather around to enjoy in the Holiday Greetings Christmas Gourmet Food Gift Basket by Art of Appreciation Gift Baskets. There are a variety of sweet and savory items assembled in a red and gold stamped tin basket to delight that special someone on your gift giving list.

The North Coast Tasting Flight Wine Mixed Pack from the William Hill Estate Winery provides a Red Blend, a Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon, a North Coast Cabernet Sauvignon, a Napa Valley Chardonnay, a North Coast Chardonnay and a Sauvignon Blanc to please the palate of friends and family.

wine and cheese The Happy Holidays gift basket by Wine Country Gift Baskets is a wonderful treat to pair with your favorite wine. With festive favorites like Walkers shortbread Scottie Dogs, peppermint candy, butterscotch, milk and dark chocolate, hot cocoa and more, it’s sure to please the most discerning connoisseurs on your shopping list.

Finally, the Let It Snow gift box by the Seattle Gift Basket Company is fun and festive. It contains cashews, sausage, a Chocolate Espresso Bar, dark chocolate blueberries, Lindt Truffles and something that my family and I enjoy in lieu of champagne for special events, Martinelli’s Sparkling Cider. If you want something that seems like champagne but that you can share with the kids for a holiday toast, Martinelli’s provides a variety of sparkling fruit juices to fit the bill.

Gift Ideas – Candy

Gift Ideas – Candy

Candy is one of the sweetest gifts to give your special friends and family at Christmas! You have options all year long, but there are some unique selections you may want to choose as gifts this year.candy

Candy Crate offers retro gift boxes of candy from various decades. You can get a gift box of candy from every decade dating back to the 1940s as well as vintage candies from the 1800’s and 1900’s. This generally makes a great birthday gift, but it’s perfect for Christmas, too.

All of the gift boxes differ according to what was popular during that decade. For instance, the 1940s gift box will include candies like bubble gum cigars, Slo Pokes, taffy, candy cigarettes, Sugar Daddies and much more. The 1980s gift box would feature candies popular then, such as Jolly Ranchers, wax fangs, Fruit Stripe gum and more.

Candy Crate even has some Christmas-themed gifts you can consider, like the Nutcracker Tower Candy Gift Box that’s filled to the rim with classic candies like candy canes, coal candy, peppermint puffs and more.

Ferrero Rocher is a popular Christmas candy you probably see featured in stores you frequent during the holidays. Each piece of candy is carefully wrapped in a gold foil, making the appearance of the gift as striking as the taste!

candyIf you’re buying for kids, then you may want to send the Art of Appreciation Gift Baskets Fun and Games Snacks and Treats Care Package Gift Box. It’s filled with lots of classic, portable games, popcorn and candy.

A more elegant candy gift basket for adults or families that’s made by the same company is the Art of Appreciation Gift Baskets Large Sweet Sensations Cookie, Candy and Treats Gift Basket. This comes with butter cookies, toffee, truffles, wafers, buttermints, cream puffs, caramel corn, cookies, cake and more.

Or, you might order another Art of Appreciation gift – the Sweet Sentiments Cookie, Candy and Snacks Gift Tower. This is a gorgeous set of gift boxes designed with red and gold details. The boxes are packed with luscious sweets like toffee, chocolate truffles, shortbread cookies and bonbons. The decorative boxes are well worth keeping for reuse.

Broadway Basketeers makes a sweet treat that’s perfect to give as a gift – the Celebration Gift Tower with Sweets & Nuts. These boxes are also very ornate and they’re stuffed with taffy, toffee peanuts, caramel cookies (salted), and traditional chocolate chip cookies.candy

Before you buy a candy gift for someone on Christmas, please be sure they don’t have any specific food allergies, like peanuts or tree nuts. And if they have special dietary needs like gluten free or sugar free versions, you can find gift baskets that cater to their needs!

Gift Idea – Meat and Cheese

Gift Idea – Meat and Cheese

Meat and cheese gift baskets are a great food gift to give during the holidays. They’re perfect appetizers for entertaining, so hosts and hostesses appreciate the thoughtful gift. There are many brands and variations of the gifts to choose from. Having snacks of this sort handy is a real benefit when family and friends drop by for a spontaneous holiday visit.meat

The Hickory Farms company is well-known for its delicious summer sausage, but they have so much more to offer, and their brand is synonymous with gift giving around the Christmas season. The company even offers free shipping to the military – a very patriotic act by this company! In addition to sausages and cheese blocks, they also sell signature nut gifts and fresh fruit, too.

The Swiss Colony company is a household name, just like Hickory Farms. They are known for their sausage and cheese blocks, but there’s one gift box in particular that’s always a hit. It’s the Swiss Colony Sausages ‘n Cheese Bars, which comes in 4, 6 or 8-piece options.

You can get their 4-piece pack, which includes Kreme Kaese and cheddar cheese, and their original and summer sausages. The 6-piece Swiss Colony gift box includes the previous four items, but you get to add in some Colby cheese and a garlic beef sausage for your gift recipient. And the 8-piece pack gives you all previous selections, along with a Caraway beef sausage log and Swiss and Edam cheesecheeses.

Other brands have some amazing offers, too. A company called Wisconsinmade makes a tantalizing food gift basket called the Deluxe Meat and Cheese Gift Box. It includes beef summer sausage and salami, a variety of cheeses in the flavors of tomato basil cheddar, cranberry cheddar, and roasted garlic. It comes with a cheddar cheese spread and a few mustard options, including stone ground, sweet and hot, champagne, and honey. A box of wafer rolls completes the gift basket.

Check out the Art of Appreciation Gift Basket called Smoked Salmon and Seafood Gourmet Gift Box. It has a fishing themed container, so it would make a great gift for a special man in your life. It includes sausagessalmon fillets, an herb pate, smoked salmon pate, cheese straws, and a variety of crisp crackers for the recipient.

Another excellent gift option for the meat lovers in your life is one of the many selections from Omaha Steaks. A marvelous sampler is their Family Value Pack which includes top sirloins, roasted chicken breasts, burgers, jumbo franks and stuffed baked potatoes. As a chaser, you can also get the Assorted Individual Cheesecakes to keep the holidays sweet.

The holidays always bring savory images of the sausages and cheese logs offered by vendors like Swiss Colony and Hickory Farms. These seasonal treats are a great way to entertain guests or to enable your loved ones to entertain their guests when they receive these packages and baskets from you.