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Memorable Experiences Worth Giving This Holiday Season

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This holiday season, if you're looking to get away from a typical material gift and give something more exciting and enriching, there are incredible experiences all over the country that make unique and memorable gifts. Here are some of the best experiential gifts to treat everyone on your list.


Saundra Latham contributed to this report.

Empty Movie Theater
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Take Over a Movie Theater

$99 and up from Cinemark

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If there's a cinema buff in your life, you can do better than a new streaming stick or a collector's edition of their favorite film. Cinemark allows you to host private watch parties for up to 20 guests at theaters across the country. They can choose from several popular films, and the price is a lot more reasonable than you'd expect, depending on time and film.


Related: Awesome Gifts for Couch Potatoes and TV Lovers

Online Class
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Try Out a MasterClass (or 10)

$15 per month and up from MasterClass

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Whether you know someone who's celebrity-obsessed or just loves learning, a subscription to MasterClass and its expert-led courses could be the gift that keeps on giving. Each class includes an average of 20 lessons, but they aren't a huge time commitment at roughly 10 minutes a pop. The gift membership offers a full year of access to the entire MasterClass library. They can take a creative-writing class from Margaret Atwood, learn about conservation from Jane Goodall, or drop in on a chess lesson from Garry Kasparov.


Related: Best Free Online Courses for Retirees

Best Flower Delivery Services
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Arrange Flowers Like a Pro

$150 from American School of Floral Design

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Many nurseries offer flower arranging classes for amateur florists, as do botanical gardens, arboretums, and college extension programs. The American School of Floral Design has schools and classes across the country, as well as COVID-friendly online classes. Participants are sent a full box of flowers so that they can easily follow along from their own homes.


Related: The Best Gifts for Plant Lovers

Online Cooking Class
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Make Something Tasty With Cooking Classes

$29 and up from Sur La Table

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Indulge the foodie in your life by giving them cooking classes that will help sharpen their skills in the kitchen. If you're lucky, they may even treat you to a meal after. Sur La Table's famed cooking classes have moved online and offer a huge range of dishes, from fresh pasta to stir fry. Each class lasts about 90 to 120 minutes.


Related: 11 Online Cooking Classes to Sharpen Your Skills While You’re Stuck at Home

National Park Pass
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Tour the National Parks

$80 from USGS Store

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For the outdoorsy folks in your life, a chance to explore the nation's national parks might be the greatest gift of all. With the National Parks and Federal Recreation Lands Annual Pass, an avid hiker or camper can enjoy the nation's natural wonders all year long. The pass allows the holder and up to three adults access to more than 2,000 federal recreation sites.


Related: Outdoor Gift Ideas Under $50

Florists Designing a Christmas Wreath stock photo
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Help Someone Get Crafty

$80 per year from Craftsy

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We all know someone who always seems to be knitting, scrapbooking, sewing, or otherwise finding outlets for their creativity. Think of Craftsy as a sort of MasterClass for crafty types. It offers more than 1,500 expert-led classes in an array of disciplines, including crochet, watercolors, jewelry making, knitting, and more. 


Related: Old-School Crafts Due for a Comeback

1970 Porsche 917 KH "Gulf"
1970 Porsche 917 KH "Gulf" by Qropatwa (CC BY-NC-ND)

Drive a Pricey Sports Car

Price varies from Porsche Experience Center

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There's no better gift for a car enthusiast than the chance to get behind the wheel of a vehicle that they would otherwise likely never be able to touch, let alone afford. The Porsche Experience Center in Los Angeles, Atlanta, and Birmingham, Alabama, allows drivers to pilot the latest Porsche models on thrilling courses. There are also exceptional restaurants, state-of-the-art driving simulators, and a selection of vehicles from the Porsche Museum in Germany and collectors in the United States.


Related: Popular Gifts for People Who Love Cars

Making Chocolate
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Make Decadent Chocolates

Prices vary from Ecole Chocolate

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Chocoholics will love the gift of chocolate-making classes that they can complete in the comfort of their own kitchens.  Ecole Chocolat offers an intensive professional chocolatier program and a bean-to-bar program for professionals and home chocolate makers, as well as options for those who want to learn more about chocolate but not as a profession.


Related: Delectable Gifts Under $25 for Food Lovers

Forget sweet, try
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Take a Day Off

Price varies from TaskRabbit
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Everyone can use a break from chores, projects, tasks, and "honey dos." Whether it's a DIY project they've been meaning to get to or just the weekly housecleaning routine, give someone a break by hiring someone from TaskRabbit to do the job instead. The gift of extra free time is priceless.


Related: 22 Ways to Relax From the Comfort of Your Own Home

Learn a New Language
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Learn a New Language

$49 and up from Babbel

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It's never too late in life to learn another language, and lessons can be an amazing gift for an eager learner. Babbel offers gift codes that allow the recipient to unlock access to 6 months, 12 months, or 24 months of lessons for a single language. Pay a bit more and they can dabble in all 14 languages that Babbel offers, from Spanish to Turkish.

Spa
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Indulge and Unwind With a Spa Day

Price varies from Spa Finder

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Sometimes the best experiential gifts are the ones where the recipient doesn't have to do a thing. Treat a special someone to a day at a spa, where they can get a massage, soak in hot springs, lounge in the sauna and steam room, and enjoy lots of pampering. Gift cards through Spa Finder cover thousands of locations across the country.


Related: Inexpensive Products to Ease Stress at Home

Painting
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Relax and Create During Paint Night

$15 and up from Yaymaker

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Whether they're an aspiring artist or more of a paint-by-numbers enthusiast, an evening painting their own masterpiece offers the chance to get artsy while enjoying a drink and a little socializing. Yaymaker offers virtual painting events for those who would prefer not to participate in person.


Related: The Best Gifts for Artists and Creatives

Take a Scenic Glider Ride
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Take an Exhilarating Glider Ride

Price varies from Virgin Experience Gifts

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The perfect gift for that friend or family member who has always wanted to take to the skies, a scenic glider ride promises stunning views and the thrill of a lifetime, without all the noise from an airplane engine to distract them.Virgin Experience Gifts offers glider rides in a variety of locations including from Boulder, Colorado, where highlights include breathtaking views of the Flatirons, the Continental Divide, and more. 


Related: 22 Bucket List Experiences for Adrenaline Junkies

Rock Climbing
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Go Rock Climbing

Prices vary from American Alpine Institute

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If someone you know has always wanted to climb or improve their climbing skills, treat them to lessons. The American Alpine Institute offers climbing courses for all levels around Washington, California, Alaska, Nevada, Utah, and Colorado. On the East Coast, try out Eastern Mountain Sports Climbing School in New York, Massachusetts, Connecticut, and New Hampshire. Prices vary greatly depending on skill level, length, and location.


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Try a Trapeze Class
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Fly on a Trapeze

Prices vary from Trapeze School New York

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For the friend or family member who always fantasized about joining the circus, trapeze schools offer them the chance to float through the air with the greatest of ease. Trapeze School New York offers classes for all levels in flying trapeze, silks, trampoline work, acrobatics, and more, and it also has locations in Los Angeles, Chicago, and Washington, D.C. 

ropes course
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Feel the Rush of a Treetop Adventure Course

Prices vary from Go Ape

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Treetop adventure courses challenge participants to make their way across tricky rope bridges, climb across shaky platforms, and woosh down zip lines. Go Ape has 14 courses sprinkled around the country, and prices vary based on location and activity, but expect to pay about $40 or $50 at least. Gift cards are available, and the company has extensive COVID-19 safety protocols in place.

Online Dance Class
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Find the Beat in Dance Classes

$20 per month from Steezy Studio

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Whether they have two left feet or already feel at home on the dance floor, dance lessons are a fun gift for all skill levels. Most studios offer several levels, from beginner to advanced, and you can usually find a range of classes, including ballroom, tango, salsa, swing, modern, jazz, and even square dancing. Steezy Studio offers unlimited access to more than 600 classes.

Graceland, Memphis, Tennessee
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Follow in the King’s Footsteps

$75 and up from Graceland

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If there's an Elvis Presley fan on your holiday shopping list, treat them to the ultimate experience by sending them to Graceland in Memphis, Tennessee. There they can tour the home of the King, immerse themselves in interactive exhibits, and eat at the smokehouse or diner. COVID-19 safety protocols are in effect. For the more diehard fans, there are VIP tours that add more exclusive activities, including the ability to skip the line or get insight from an expert guide.


Related: Cool and Creative Gift Ideas for Music Lovers

Music Lesson
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Make Sweet Sounds With Music Lessons

$150 per month and up from School of Rock

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Whether they've always wanted to learn to play an instrument or are looking to improve their skills, music lessons certainly aren't limited to kids. If they love to sing, don't forget that voice lessons are widely available, too. School of Rock offers online classes for kids and adults of all skill levels on guitar, bass, drums, vocals, and keyboard. 


Related: The Best Gifts for Music Lovers

Try Indoor Skydiving
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Be a (Sort-Of) Dare Devil With Indoor Skydiving

$65 and up from iFly

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While skydiving from an airplane might be a little too advanced for some people on your gift list, indoor skydiving offers a less-lofty experience that's still a thrill. It's also suitable for people of all ages, from kids to seniors. Treat them to a gift card from iFly Indoor Skydiving, which has locations around the country and is available to participants as young as 3. Equipment is sanitized after each use, fresh air is used inside wind tunnels, and check-in is contact-free.

Scuba Diving
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Explore Under the Sea With Scuba Lessons

Prices vary from Professional Association of Diving Instructors

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If someone on your holiday gift list has always wanted to scuba dive or is looking to get more experience, you can make it happen with the gift of lessons.  Professional Association of Diving Instructors (PADI) offers lessons for all levels. Beginner classes start with online learning and transition to both confined water dives and open water dives with local instructors. It's just under $200 for a beginner PADI Open Water Diver course, and there are continuing education classes from around $60.

The Blending Lab in Los Angeles
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Blend an Ultra-Customized Bottle of Wine

$100 from Blending Lab

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A good bottle of wine is a common holiday gift, so why not mix things up and give someone the chance to blend their own wine? The Blending Lab in Los Angeles is offering virtual wine blending classes that allow participants to learn how to taste wine, find out what makes each grape varietal unique, learn how to blend their very own kind of vino. A blending kit, wine, and virtual class for two, are included.


Related: The Best Gifts for Wine Lovers

Solve an Escape Room
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Think Fast in an Escape Room

$30 and up from Breakout Games

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Escape rooms are hugely popular and offer participants the challenge of solving puzzles with their teammates in order to get out of a themed room. Each room is unique, and the themes range from spy adventures and casino heists to prison breaks, haunted houses, desert islands, and more. Breakout Games has locations around the country that offer private sessions, contact-free check-ins, and more frequent sanitation.


Related: Incredibly Fun Toys for Adults

Go Paintballing
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Have Some Messy Fun Playing Paintball

$30 and up from Skirmish Paintball

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A fun way to get someone's heart racing while testing their aim, paintball makes for a great holiday gift.  The incredibly elaborate castles and towns of Skirmish Paintball in Pennsylvania offer what might be the nation's ultimate paintball experience, with plenty of room on the courses for social distancing. Gift cards are available, too.

Farm Animal Rescue
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Help Out on the Farm

Prices vary from Farm Stay USA

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What do you get for that city dweller or suburbanite who's longing for greener pastures? A farm stay can offer a meaningful, memorable experience beyond a regular weekend trip, giving participants a chance to help chip in on working farms and ranches. Farm Stay USA is a good guide to options all over the country, whether you're looking to give an intimate experience or a stay on a larger farm. A picturesque Vermont farm, for instance, gives visitors a chance to collect eggs and cuddle barn kittens, while an Arkansas farm offers classes like cheesemaking and an array of animals, including alpacas and even lemurs.