This holiday season, give the special people in your life gifts that will make a lifetime of memories. Termed "experiential gifts," your loved ones can enjoy experiences suited specifically for their lifestyles.
Think of the things each person likes to do, whether it's dining and movies, visiting museums, seeing the sites or daredevil adventures, such as skydiving and whitewater rafting. There are gift subscriptions for ongoing activities -- for example, theater subscriptions, concerts and sports games. Memberships to museums, botanical gardens, gyms, yoga studios and seasonal passes to local attractions can be for one, a couple or an entire family. You'll be giving a gift that provides fun, culture and time together.
Depending on your gift recipient's penchant for travel, there are many local opportunities for scenic helicopter rides, regional food tours, wine tasting evenings, amusement parks and more. There are several locations in New York, California, South Carolina, Tennessee, Pennsylvania and more where a person can experience the rush of a zip line adventure. Imagine the thrill of soaring over the streets of New York City or through the San Gabriel Mountains, over the Splashway Family Waterpark in Texas or the cliffs in Marseilles, Illinois. Contact the zip line companies directly for gift cards. There are also companies specializing in adventure activities such as Cloud9 Living (http://cloud9living.com), which provides activities throughout the U.S.
Treat your loved ones to spa days, massages and luxurious skin-care treatments at more than 8,000 locations nationwide with Spa and Wellness Gift Cards by Spa Week (http://www.spaweek.com). Museum memberships are available for every interest and passion: art (Museum of Modern Art, N.Y.C.), space (Space Center Houston), science (The Franklin Institute in Philadelphia), music (The Musical Instrument Museum in Phoenix), history (Natural Museum of History in Los Angeles), hands-on kids (Boston Children's Museum) and automobiles (America's Car Museum in Tacoma), plus sports, cultural and maritime museums -- or you could give a day pass or gift cards to the museum's souvenir shop for one-time visits. Seasonal family passes for area amusement parks not only give the gift of admission but also provide terrific togetherness time.
Those of us who enjoy buying the more traditional presents but dislike seeing unwanted gifts landing in the back of closets can easily combine experiences with the traditional. Get that slightly tacky but adorable candy dish and wrap it up with a season or event pass to Hershey Park. An adorable carry-on travel bag and tickets to a far-away destination, by plane, train or cruise, also makes a great gift pairing. Tickets to dinner theater and offering yourself for babysitting services provides a thoughtful and worry-free evening out for a couple. Find a concert at a local venue and a CD by the performer for a memorable gift that will long be remembered. Be sure to purchase flexible option tickets unless you are positive of your recipient's schedule and availability.
Give the gift of fun and adventure on the water from all-out cruises to whale-watching tours and dinner cruises. Lunch and dinner sightseeing cruises are available in almost every city that borders water. A Giftioni certificate (http://www.giftioni.com/gift/dinner-cruise) comes in its own presentation box with a personalized message and can be found in several cities. Carnival gift cards (https://www.carnivalgiftcards.com) can be given for part of or the full payment on a cruise, and they make a terrific gift for the new retiree looking to take a trip, a couple planning a honeymoon or just someone who likes to travel worldwide.
More daring adventures include skydiving, bungee jumping, scuba diving, caving, balloon rides, Indy car racing and even being a fighter pilot for a day. The list is endless. Local stores offer abundant end-cap choices of restaurant and movie packages and other goodies. Still not sure what to give? Groupon gift cards (https://www.groupon.com) are good for discounts on top-rated getaways around the world; merchandise such as jewelry, sports accessories and household items; spas and gyms; store discounts; storage rentals and moving services; and entertainment ranging from bowling and aerial circus classes to date-in-a-box subscriptions.
We get a special joy from giving gifts and seeing smiles from the people we love. Imagine the pleasure you'll feel when you hear them talk about their experiences for years to come.