While you may instinctively gravitate toward the mall or an online shop as gift-giving season approaches, consider switching up your holiday traditions. This winter, give your loved ones the exciting gift of an experience that they can cherish for months — or even years — to come.
Here’s a round up of experiences, outings and events you can give your friends and family this winter. Whether your recipient is reserved and crafty or a total outdoor enthusiast, this curated list includes niche experiences that are bound to spark extra holiday cheer.
Indoor experience gift ideas
When giving an experience, you’ll want to make sure to organize something that your recipient will love. If your friend or family member prefers to escape the winter cold, select one of these many indoor experience ideas.
1. Purchase movie tickets for your cinema-loving friend. In addition to the ticket stubs, add theater candy and popcorn to complete the experience. If you want to go the extra mile to create a movie experience like never before, consider booking a private theater rental for a group. Prices start at $99, making this a more affordable option than you might expect.
2. Reserve a seat at a sporting event. You can’t go wrong with gifting tickets to sports fanatics. Check out college athletics and professional events, like the Minnesota Wild. Add in a new jersey, winter hat or foam finger to make it an extra-special gift.
3. Plan to see a concert. If your loved one has a favorite band or looks forward to live music events, a concert could be the perfect gift! Tickets at a small, local venue could make the experience even more personal.
4. Stay overnight at an indoor waterpark. Whether you have a family of young ones or are hoping to enjoy a staycation with a hot tub, an indoor waterpark can be a fun experience for groups. The Edgewater Hotel in Duluth and Great Wolf Lodge in Bloomington or Wisconsin Dells are all popular options.
5. Take a day or weekend trip. Plan an entire trip to Chicago, Red Wing, Stillwater or a nearby small town with charm. Include an itinerary and accommodation details with the gift. To give the recipient a bit more control over the experience, offer them a list of three swanky restaurants to choose from.
7. Get a membership to a gym or workout class that your recipient has been wanting to take, but can’t justify paying for on their own. Homeowners burn extra calories doing household chores, but they might look forward to hot yoga classes or a full weight room even more. (Remember, don’t give this out of the blue as the recipient might infer that you’re trying to tell them something. This should be used if your friend or family member has explicitly stated they want to take a class or join a gym, but can’t justify the cost of doing so.)
8. Buy a restaurant gift card for a night out to enjoy together. Pick their favorite spot or a trendy, new restaurant in town. Here’s a roundup of the top-voted restaurants across the metro area, if you’re feeling stumped.
9. Book an escape room. If your friend loves to solve puzzles, this is the gift for them. Not only does this experience allow for quality time to have fun together, it’s a great gift for those who want to try something totally new.
10. Plan a cooking class. Perfect for a date night or a fun evening with friends, cooking classes can be done in traditional class settings or over Zoom (where you’ll buy your own ingredients and cook comfortably in your kitchen). Cooks of Crocus Hill and Way Cool Cooking School both provide in-person and virtual options.
11. Order a clay kit for a do-it-at-home pottery night. Whether you sculpt individual projects or create something together, crafty people are sure to get excited about these clay experiences.
Outdoor experience gift ideas
If your loved one is fond of the snow and winter weather, or prefers an event with control for social distancing, choose an outdoor experience to give to them.
12. Go downhill sledding. Check out the best sledding hills in the Twin Cities, and be sure to order some hot chocolate after. This gift is cost-effective and will appeal to winter lovers.
13. Rent a limo. Whether you schedule the vehicle to escort you around downtown for a date night in the city or you use it as a chauffeur to view the holiday lights, a limo ride will certainly leave a lasting impression.
15. Plan a cross-country ski or snowshoeing date. This is the perfect option for those who enjoy the snow but would prefer to remain on horizontal terrain. The Loppet Foundation maintains well-groomed trails and offers rental equipment for newbies in beautiful Theodore Wirth Park.
16. Go ice fishing. It’s no surprise that residents of Minnesota and western Wisconsin love to be on the lake, even in the winter. Take on the water in a new way this season by planning an ice fishing outing on the area’s lakes.
17. Plan a rock climbing tour. A variety of rock climbing excursions are available throughout the state, and this Duluth-based guide service offers beginner-friendly classes, too.
Give the experience of a lifetime!
If you have time, decorate an envelope with a certificate for the experience inside or package a small item that hints at the experiential gift along with a note. Whether you sneak the snow tubing gift card in a pair of new warm mittens, or tuck the cooking class details into a brand-new chef’s apron, there are plenty of ways to help your gift seem extra-special for the recipient.
Giving to a mortgage gift fund can help prospective property buyers attain the ultimate experience they’re wishing for — a life in their dream home. If you or someone you know is searching for a home this holiday season, reach out to Edina Realty or your agent to get started on a home search.