What are the best gift ideas you’ve ever had? Experience-gifts are the ones I love most and remember the longest. Science even backs up that experiences make you happier than things. So we’ve put together some of our favorite experiential gifts for both adults and kids, as well as ones that inspire travel and exploration.
As nice as it is to open that toy or sweater, having something to look forward to after the hustle and bustle of the holidays are over is more exciting. So without further ado, here are the best gift ideas that keep giving even after the decorations have been put away. Experiences can be hard to wrap up and put under the tree, so keep reading for ways to box up your special gift, so the recipient gets the thrill of unwrapping too.
Luxury Airstream Escape
Ever dreamed of staying in a luxurious Airstream? This is your chance. Every detail is divine – plus they deliver and set it up for you within 200 miles of Atlanta for no extra charge. Memory foam queen mattress, organic cotton sheets, fully stocked kitchen. Wow!
Wine Tasting for Two
Try new bottles, or old favorites at Vino Venu. You get to put as little or as much as you'd like on a wine card, and taste selections you're sure to fall in love with. Save a little cash by ordering appys in the wine-tasting section, rather than making a reservation (though if you can indulge - it is totally worth it!)
Flying High in a Helicopter
Henry County is the place to be for an epic experience. The Army Aviation and Heritage Center offers affordable helicopter rides in real Huey choppers. After that, head over to Jailhouse Brewing for delicious craft beer. I love that you can hang out here drinking your beer...and order food from across the street. They just bring it over to you!
National Park Kit
If you've got a friend or loved one that loves the outdoors, then get the a National Park Kit! No - you can't buy one....you have to make it - which makes it more special. Start with a National Parks Pass! (Hey, don't forget that Kennesaw begins charging a fee this year!) Add a Guidebook, with a Junior Ranger Park Passport, an adult version for collecting stamps, as well as a stamp set!
Enjoy a Secret Dinner Experience
Have you heard of Hush Dinner Club? Shhh! Keep it between us. Sign up on their site and get notifications each month about the event (general info about the theme), dates, times and prices. Tickets are more that reasonably priced and generally include food, wine, tax, tips and everything! You just come and enjoy! Once you pay for your ticket, the location and further details are revealed.
Date Night at Burgess Hotel
It's been a long time since I looked so forward to a new Atlanta hotel opening, but Burgess Hotel has my full attention. What is being heralded as Buckhead’s “first boutique hotel”, The Burgess Hotel, is a product of a who’s who in the world of food, beverage and design. FIA and Mr. B. Bar are the accompanying restaurant concepts here, opening with renowned talent Daniel Porubiansky. He worked with chef/owners Anne Quatrano and Clifford Harrison for ten years at the company and six years as executive chef leading operations at theaward-winning Bacchanalia, Star Provisions and Quinones. Wow!
VR Gaming for Adults
Looking for some fun? Skip the escape room and head to Revery VR Bar! Revery is the first adult-only VR Bar in the nation, and it’s right here in Atlanta! Now don’t get the wrong idea…it isn’t “adult-only” because of the VR content. It’s actually a bona-fide bar that just wants to offer a relaxing kid-free zone for adults. And the VR is an added bonus!
Atlanta Food Walk Experience
This 3.5-hour long historical food walk experience includes 15 delicious tastings of soul food, barbecue, Lowcountry cuisine, Creole-style candies, and Southern delicacies Atlanta’s historic downtown neighborhoods. Along the Atlanta Food Walk, learn about the civil rights movement, Atlanta past and present, and the city’s current food culture. It's unmatched! BOOK HERE NOW!
Indoor skydiving is available to everyone in Atlanta that is 3 yo and older (yes, even grandma and grampa!) Our youngest is 4 yo and he loved every minute of it! We prepped him with some videos before-hand so he’d know what to expect, and that helped. I have to admit that seeing the boys fly was even more fun than flying myself!
A few years ago, when we decided to take all four kids to Nova Scotia, I used a new (to me) company to create share-worthy photos. It’s called Flytographer. (Use this code and get a $25 credit!) We used it again this year in Miami...and it was amazing. You can hire a photographer for a shoot here in Atlanta...or plan one for your next getway! What a wonderful way to gift the memory of togetherness.
Give an entire year of discovery with the gift of a museum membership! It's great for kids, families, or couples. For families or kiddos, I highly recommend Fernbank Museum of Natural History...and for couples, go with High Museum or Booth Western Art Museum. If you don't want to spend the dollars on an entire membership, then get them tickets which can be used toward a full membership on their visit.
What could ever be better than sleeping with the whale sharks??!!?? Go as a family...or bring all your besties to the Adult Overnight! You’ll get access to the Aquarium at 6:30pm to start your adventure. You’ll have two different guided tours (one that night and another the next morning,) dinner and breakfast, your sleeping mat, and next-day entry to the aquarium including the 4D theatre, the sea lion show and dolphin show…plus all the other amazing things included in a ticket.
Looking for a unique experience? Try the 2 person 90-minute glassblowing lesson at Decatur Glassblowing. For only $170 total, each person will get to make at least one piece, choosing from multiple items.
VIP Wine Tour
Experience North Georgia's Wine Country in a fun way! Either book a private tour or join the classic Full Day Wine Tour with Artisan Picnic Lunch and Tastings at 4 North Georgia Wineries As the South’s Original All-Inclusive Wine Tour, VIP Southern Tours includes everything to make your day fun, carefree and educational. You can sit back and relax as their exclusive chauffeur takes you to the Southeast’s best wineries.
Murder Mystery Dinner
I won’t lie – I had my doubts the first time we went to a murder mystery dinner…but I was overwhelmed with how enjoyable The comedic Murder Mystery Company dinner truly is. A murder mystery dinner show takes only the 3 minutes necessary to make a simple reservation online– but it INCLUDES dinner and entertainment – the kind that gets you talking and giggling with your date…not just blankly staring up at a screen “together” for 2-3 hours.
Project Chimps provides lifelong care to former research chimpanzees at its 236-acre forested sanctuary in the Blue Ridge Mountains. The sanctuary open occasionally for special events, field trips, volunteer vacations, and private tours. We went this year and loved every minute of it.
How to Wrap Experience Gifts
The memory of an experiential gift may last a lifetime, however, an IOU isn’t too exciting to open, especially for kids. If you’re planning to give an experiential gift this holiday season, here are some ideas on ways to wrap it up to make it more exciting.
Ask about Premiums. When purchasing an experience for the holidays or even a membership, ask the organization about premium items. Often attractions offer a certificate, tote bag, stuffed animal or other item with a gift purchase. If they don’t offer a premium, ask if you can purchase something inexpensive from a gift shop or online to wrap up with the membership or tickets.
Wrap a Book About the Adventure. Wrap a brochure or book about the show, attraction, or something you’ll see during your visit (we’ve used books we already own or even a book from the library). Not only is it something to open, but it educates the recipient about what they’ll experience and get them excited for the visit. For younger children a picture book like If I Ran the Zoo can help them visualize what to expect on a trip to the zoo.
Purchase something Small. Purchase a small toy, ornament, hat or other object that represents what you’ll be doing. I find it perfectly acceptable to wrap up something you already own for this purpose – especially if it’s your own children. For instance, wrap a CD or video for a Broadway show, a toy boat for a wake boarding lesson, pick up a rock in the yard for rock climbing at Atlanta Rocks, Stone Summit or caving at Cloudland Canyon. If it's a golf lesson or trip, wrap up golf balls.
Package a Certificate Creatively. Create a certificate for the recipient and get creative with the packaging. Include a helium balloon that rises in the air as they open the box. Nest wrapped boxes with a clue in each one to what the recipient will find at the end.
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After 18 years in software development, Lesli bailed on the corporate scene. When she’s not traveling, she’s hiking in the mountains or checking out Atlanta’s culinary scene, whiskey in hand.
Lesli has two kiddos -Cooper and Elliot- plus two bonus kids currently at UGA, and she’s happily married to her soul mate.
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