Gifting Experiences Instead of Stuff

One thing most of us have realized during the pandemic: we could all do with (and did with) less STUFF. What is “stuff,” exactly? Stuff is, “matter, material, articles, or activities of a specified or indeterminate kind that are being referred to, indicated, or implied.” For the purposes of this article we are referring to all the stuff that fills your home and your life that you don’t really use, need, want, or even remember—but you have, simply because you do. Gifts you feel bad getting rid of, items of some sentimental value, things you used to use, items you’ve put away and forgotten. Which is why we’ve got a list of gift ideas which are experiences, instead of more stuff. Gifts that won’t take up room on a shelf, on a counter, in a desk, or in the garage. Happy shopping!

Escape RoomsConundrum in Redmond has real life and virtual reality escape rooms, as well as axe-throwing and an outdoor adventure game. Bellevue’s Reality Break Escapes has escape rooms, parties, and portable escapes. Puzzle Break offers a big selection of virtual escape rooms available online for up to 6 players; 7+ players can do their virtual team-building experience with no limit to the number of players.

Self-Care — First, consider the recipient’s idea of a self-care experience and put together something as unique as they are. Is it a massage and a facial? Wine tasting with friends? A mani-pedi and alone time at a café? Self care—any activity that we do deliberately in order to take care of our mental, emotional, and physical health—is different for each person, so tailor your experience accordingly.

Streaming Service — If your gift recipient loves music, TV, or gaming, a gift to a streaming service they don’t already have would be awesome. Vulture has a super guide on how to give streaming services as gifts.

Gift Cards to Local Places — Gift cards to local restaurants or swanky movie houses are a terrific way to give a gift while supporting a business that needs the customers. No matter where your special person lives, there are surely fabulous places they love to patronize.

Cooking Classes — We’ve done team-building evening classes at Sur la Table, which were super fun and delish! PCC offers cooking classes for adults as well as kiddos. Cozymeal has cooking classes held by local chefs in their homes or another designated private space. Whisk in Bellevue has wonderful variety of class types, including Date Night.

Immersive Mystery Games — Go beyond board games! My husband and I have subscribed to Hunt A Killer, an immersive mystery game told through six “episodes” or boxes—we have to solve it using all the items and clues in each box. A cheaper, shorter version is Unsolved Case Files. Neil Patrick Harris’ Box One took us a week and it was insanely fun and clever. JPost has a super list. What a fun date or family night!

Memberships to Nearby Attractions — Many museums, zoos, aquariums, and live theaters are offering discounted memberships with extended periods. This would be a delightful and thoughtful gift that also helps those institutions stay afloat. Here’s a huge list!

Community Center Events— Your local community center has a wealth of activities, events, and enrichment—check it out and take advantage of their many offerings at very reasonable prices.

Buy Them Some Class — Know someone who is an insatiable learner? For about $15/month, MasterClass brings renowned experts into your home for an amazing class. A subscription gives you access to the likes of Gordon Ramsay, Annie Leibovitz, Steve Martin, David Sedaris, Dr. Jane Goodall—just to name a few—and can be streamed into your home at your convenience. Every class comes with a downloadable PDF workbook, and new classes are added monthly.

Not sure where to begin? A Tinggly gift box lets them choose from hundreds of experiences with a range of prices; it can be sent to anywhere in the world.


Gifting an experience is such a thoughtful gesture as it’s clear to the recipient that you really put some thought into what they’d love to see or do. And when they’re in the middle of their hot air balloon ride, or their tae kwon do class, or at the botanical gardens, they will definitely have you in mind, because you made that experience possible!

“Collect moments, not things.” ~ Unknown


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