“Fill your life with adventures, not things.
Have stories to tell, not stuff to show.”

Ok, admit it.  When a special occasion like Valentine’s Day, your anniversary, etc. is approaching, you start to panic because you can’t think of any good gift ideas.

Your pulse starts to race. Your palms begin to sweat.  You start pulling at your hair. 

You start going through a bunch of different scenarios in your head:

We can go out to dinner, but everyone does that. (*yawn*) 

I can buy a bouquet of flowers but that’s so cliché. 

Chocolate?  Yummy but he/she doesn’t want (or need) the extra calories.

Another tie? BO-RING! 

Want a memorable way to celebrate a special day? 

Create and give a unique experience-based gift instead of giving a physical gift.


What is an experience-based gift?

Simply put, it’s a gift of an activity you do or participate in – a.k.a. “experience” – such as a tour, excursion, class, outing, date, etc.  

Why give an experience-based gift instead of a physical gift? 

There are several reasons:

    1. 81% of Americans would rather receive experienced-based gifts than physical gifts! [Source: Sparefoot blog]
    2. Experiences are more memorable and can be customized to the recipient(s)
    3. Shared experiences create a bond between the giver and receiver
    4. You don’t need to find room to store an experience
    5. Many of us are already drowning in “stuff” and are moving toward living more minimalist lives

There are a lot of other reasons, too, but I think you get the idea.

Studies show that 81% of Americans would rather receive experienced-based gifts than physical gifts. Click To Tweet


Ok. Now, we’re getting down to the nitty-gritty.  It’s time to start creating an experience for your friend or loved one.

How do you do this?  Don’t sweat it.  It doesn’t have to be difficult or overwhelming. 

Just follow these steps.

STEP 1 Figure out what your budget is (yes, you can still create a memorable experience if your budget is small!)

STEP 2 – Think about what the recipient is passionate about and/or enjoys doing.

STEP 3 – Research the area where you’d like to enjoy your experience to see what’s available. You can stay in your own area or go out-of-town for the day, overnight, for a weekend, or however long you like.

STEP 4 – Make any necessary arrangements (reservations, purchases, etc.)

STEP 5 – Drop some hints to pique his/her interest.

STEP 6 – Share an amazing experience!


Creating a unique, memorable experience that your loved one will love and appreciate is easier than you think and the possibilities are endless.

Here are some ideas for you.



    • Take a class to learn the basics
    • Do a basic wine tasting at a winery
    • Wine tasting paired with food, chocolate, truffles, or Girl Scout cookies
    • Tour several wineries through a tour company


    • Distillery tour
    • Tasting  


    • Brewery tour
    • Beer tasting


  • Art gallery visit/tour
  • Museum visit/tour
  • Painting Class
  • Paint Your Own Pottery
  • Photography Class


  • Brunch (less expensive than dinner)
  • Happy Hour (discounted apps & drinks)
  • Cooking Class – in person or online
  • Foodie Tour
  • Picnic with favorite food, drinks, dessert
  • Progressive meal – Enjoy an appetizer at the 1st place; a main dish at the 2nd place; and dessert at the 3rd place



  • Ghost Tours
  • Ghost/Paranormal Hunting
  • Murder Mystery Dinner 
  • Overnight Stay in a Haunted Location


  • Bed & Breakfast Stay
  • Couples massage
  • Dance class
  • Observatory
  • Photoshoot (take pictures of each other or hire a photographer)
  • Pottery Class (think of the movie “Ghost” ;-)) 
  • Recreate a special event such as your 1st date
  • Sailing
  • Spa Day
  • Sunset/Moonlight Cruise
  • Train Rider


  • Adventure Park/Obstacle Course
  • Biking
  • Camping
  • Canoeing
  • Hiking
  • Ice skating
  • Kayaking
  • Paddleboarding
  • Play sports together
  • Rock Climbing (outdoors or indoors on a rock climbing wall)
  • Rollerblading
  • Skydiving (outdoors or indoors at a place like iFly)
  • Tubing
  • Walking Tour (guided or self-guided)
  • Whitewater Rafting
  • Yoga
  • Ziplining


  • Food Bank
  • Habitat for Humanity
  • Homeless Shelter
  • Soup Kitchen
  • USO 


Ok, now that you have some ideas, it’s time to decide what you’re experience-based gift will include.

Want to get really creative?  Combine several ideas to create a truly unique experience.  Here are some examples:

  • Rock Climbing + Couples Massage + Dinner
  • Hike + Picnic + Camping
  • Self-Guided Walking Tour + Photo Shoot
  • Cooking Class + Bed and Breakfast Stay
  • Brunch + Tour of Wineries

There’s no limit to how creative you can get! 


Ok, now that you’ve gotten some ideas, you’ll need some ways to keep costs down.

There are a lot of ways to save money that you may not be aware of.  Here are some of my favorites:

  • Airbnb Experiences – Find fun and unique things to do at your destination
  • BedandBreakfast.com – Search for top B&Bs, inns, and more
  • Groupon – Get discounts/deals on restaurants, tours, hotels, getaways, and more
  • Living Social – Similar to Groupon
  • Meetup – Connect with other people who love the same things you do (some events are free, some charge a fee)
  • Restaurant.com – Discounted restaurant coupons
  • Slick Deals – The leading and most trusted online community dedicated to sharing, rating, and reviewing deals and coupons
  • Volunteer Match – Helps you find just the right nonprofit to match your interests

This post contains 1 or more affiliate links. If you buy something through an affiliate link, you won't pay a penny more, but I'll get a small commission. Please see my DISCLOSURE for more information.

Now that you’re armed with all of this information, the question is: Do you feel confident enough to move forward and begin planning a fun, memorable experience for your sweetie?

I hope your answer is a resounding YES!

Did you get some new ideas from this post?
 What was your biggest takeaway?
Share in the comments below.

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    1. I agree, Kathy. I’m continually trying to purge my stuff. My most cherished memories are things I’ve done, not things I’ve been given (except for my DSLR camera that I use to take the pictures for this blog ;)) Glad you liked this post. Let me know if it helped you come up with an experience-based gift and what it was.

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