By Carley Sheehy

Gift Guide: Unique experience gifts

We all have them... Loved ones that feel impossible to buy for. They have everything. Or they’re (aspiring) minimalists. Or they have a wish list, but let’s be honest, the whole unwrapping of presents seems rather anticlimactic. The best gifts for these said people, and arguably everyone (in my book), are experiential gifts. These gift foster feelings that money can’t buy… memories, quality time, excitement, etc. But the actual gifts themselves, yes, you can buy those and they don’t have to break the bank either. Here’s our gift guide of 10 unique experience gifts under $100.

For aspiring artists (approx $35-$60)

love is art kit

Rated G version: “Paint-and-sip” classes let anyone create a masterpiece with affordable group painting classes, with a drink in hand. This would be something fun and different to do with a friend or loved one.

Not Rated G version: Make one of a kind art with your loved one! This unique and artsy (and kinda kinky) kit helps couples capture the beauty of intimacy with canvas and paints for the bedroom. Not many people can say they’ve done something like this!

For local lovers (varies)

safari west

This is one of my favorite go-to gifts, all about experience. Start by brainstorming what the person loves and then head to online ticket sites for some inspiration. For the purposes of this experience gift guide under $100, you can gift tickets to local sporting events, a walking (food) tour of your city, or a local art exhibit, to name a few. In the SF Bay Area, some gifts I’ve given my minimalist family include zip lining through the redwoods (Sonoma Canopy’s Tour), the Bay Area’s version of a safari (Safari West) and a sunset dinner cruise (Hornblower).

For cooking lovers ($25-$30)

global grub kits

Gift the gift of a cooking adventure! Each DIY global cooking kit helps with the recipe and sourcing of pantry ingredients, but the rest is up to the homecook. They can add their own fresh ingredients to “make it theirs”, and roll up their sleeves to create extraordinary home-cooked, handcrafted meals, like sushi, ravioli and tamales, to name a few. These kits are a great foundation for date nights, dinner parties and family fun, all of which can be enjoyed in the comfort of their homes.

For travel lovers ($80)

cork globe

I’ve always thought there’s something extra special about a globe and having the world at your fingertips (literally and figuratively). For your favorite globetrotters, this cork globe encourages you to stick pins on places you’ve been, letting you spin through past memories and experiences as well as plotting new ones. Whether it’s a flat mat version or an actual 3D globe, this is a great gift for travel lovers, summarizing and channeling their worldly experiences.  

For alcohol lovers (varies; $50)

molecular gastronomy

OK, not just for alcohol lovers, but for people who want to craft and master their own impressive drinks, in the comfort of their homes. You’ve probably heard of beer brewing starter kits, but it doesn’t end there. Now you can get Gin Kits, Wine Kits, Sake Kits, to name a few. Most interesting to me this year is this Molecular Mixology Kit that I’m getting for my hubs (you reading this, babe?). It combines classic mixology with basic molecular gastronomy to make mint pearls and all sorts of fancy cocktail stuff! Actually, all of their molecular kits look interesting.

For people lovers (you choose the amount)

For people who love to meet other people, look no further than Eat With and “the magic of communal dining around the world.” Eat With is an easy way to access the underground food scene in your hometown and beyond, and connect with open-minded and interesting people. Hosts across the world open up their table to guests and share in good food and conversation. 

For little ones (as low as $17/month)

little passports

Bring the world to their doorsteps. You know they love to receive mail! Little Passports mail subscription is for kids 3-12 years old, encouraging exploration of places, cultures, recipes and ideas. Depending on their age, they’ll explore a new country (or theme) every month.

For fitness (class) lovers (you choose the amount)

This is a genius concept that gives you all the flexibility to get your sweat on. From a best-in-class boxing session to getting your yoga on, a Class Pass membership gives you access to thousands of fitness classes in 39 cities. You know that awesome feeling after you’ve had a good workout and all the endorphins that go with it? That’s the gift you’re giving with this one.

For eating (and cooking) lovers (starting at approx $75)

cooking glass gift idea

Whether someone on your gift list is a beginner cook or a self-proclaimed chef, there’s so much to learn. With a little homework, you can find the “right” cooking class, whether it’s a technique class or specific cuisine (side note: I absolutely love to take cooking classes when I’m abroad; it’s the best way to get a real taste of another culture and cuisine). Sur La Table has some great classes available nationwide, but a local cooking school is worth exploring too. It’s the gift that keeps giving, when you bring home your new skills.

For movie lovers (varies; $30+)

microwave popcorn maker

This is something simple and fun you can put together for the whole family. Start with a DVD, movie gift cards or memorabilia of their favorite movie, and then add everything else to make it a movie night experience. You can include candy, microwaveable popper containers and popcorn kernels and drinks. 

Hope we gave you some good ideas for unique experience gifts under $100. Happy shopping!


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