30 Best Experiences To Gift This Holiday

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Best Experiences To Gift This Holiday
Self

There's undoubtedly lots of fun and exciting Christmas gifts to buy someone you love this holiday season. While most Christmas gift ideas include the newest phone model or piece of tech, not everyone is materialistic.

Instead of coming up with gift ideas that involve a physical present they can unwrap, buy them a gift they can actually be a part of. Experiential gifts, or experience gifts, are special because they are memories. Exciting, romantic, personal or educational — they will stay with your loved one (and you) always, and hopefully will provide great photos to match.

1. Boozy Ice Cream Making Class, New York City

A boozy ice cream making class is hosted year round at Tipsy Scoop’s production facility in Manhattan. During the two-hour class, you learn how to make two boozy ice cream and sorbet flavors (and flavors change depending on the season/holiday). You take home two pints of the ice creams that you made in a Tipsy Scoop insulated tote bag.

RELATED: 32 Best Tech Gifts Of 2019 For The Tech-ie In Your Life

2. Float Therapy, Chicago, IL

Float Therapy is a powerful tool for muscle recover, deeper sleep and mental clarity. You'll float effortlessly for sixty-ninety minutes in ten inches of water, which is made up of a silky solution containing 1,000 pounds of pharmaceutical-grade epsom salt. Floating is a wellness practice meant to yield powerful insights and self-awareness.

3. Top Hops Beer Classes, New York City

At Urbanspace 570 Lex in New York City, Top Hops is offering beer classes 1-2 times a month this fall season at the iconic GE Building at 51 St. and Lexington Avenue. Beer fans get a chance to dive deeper into various topics — from a Beer 101 class for novices, to falls beers and hops.

The classes, which last an hour, are taught by instructor Kevin Brooks, Top Hops’s charming and esteemed beer expert from Orchard Street. The class is limited to 12 people, allowing for an ideal learning experience.

4. Desert Ice Skating, Scottsdale, AZ

Made with real ice, the 6,000 square foot desert ice skating ring at The Fairmont Scottsdale Princess provides skaters the opportunity to experience a classic winter tradition surrounded by the beauty of the Arizona desert and starry night sky. The rink is all part of Christmas at The Fairmont, where every winter the resort transforms into an enchanting holiday wonderland with festive decorations and over four million sparkling LED lights. In addition to iceskating in the middle of the desert — what a concept! — you can roast marshmallows, make s'mores together, and get your picture taken with Santa Claus.

5. Candle Making Classes, Greenville, South Carolina

At Magnolia Scents by Design in Greenville, South Carolina, these make great gifts for your mom, your BFF, your significant other, or even your child's teacher. The class itself is really fun and informative, and it's something you can experience together. Plus, you get to keep your custom-made candle at the end.

The class is only $25 per person and includes the candle, so it's a great value. You could even give someone a GC for $50 so they can take the class and bring someone with them. The store is also a microfactory, which means everything is made in-house, by hand.

6. Soul Sessions, Nationwide

Briana Borten, a leader and teacher in a new category of spirituality, offers unique "Soul Sessions," a 60-minute energy aligning, soul invigorating, connection nurturing session on the phone (completely bookable online!). Get clear guidance around specific situations, have a light shone on your shadows with immense love and compassion, and receive intelligent direction from your soul about how to move forward on your path.

7. Pinzgauer Historic Sonoma Vineyard Tour, Sonoma, CA

On the Gundlach Bundschu's Pinzgauer tour, climb aboard a 12-person, 6-wheeled Pinzgauer (an Austrian made military vehicle) and get way off the beaten path on a Sonoma vineyard tour. Explore Gundlach Bundschu's storied Rhinefarm estate, a 320-acre property.

Guests will taste through five estate selected wines at stops along the way, learn modern grape farming techniques, and soak up views of the vineyard and Arrowhead mountain on this off-road adventure. About halfway through, guests disembark the vehicle at a private tasting space to enjoy a local cheese and charcuterie plate paired with wines, and unlimited relaxation amongst the vines.

RELATED: 32 Best Boozy Gift Ideas For The Lush You Love

8. Wndr After Dark, Chicago, IL 

wndr Museum is a fantasyland of immersive art activations that'll inspire and delight all the senses. The wndr experience is one in which the thoughtful curation of world-class art, work by provocative emerging artists, as well as guest-made artwork creates a dreamy journey that reveals the wonders of the world around you. In December, wndr turns the lights down and the music up for wndr After Dark: watch as the museum transforms into a winter wndrland. Rock your best holiday sweater and grab your hot chocolate!

9. Nutcracker Tea at the Waldorf Astoria, Beverly Hills, CA

Los Angeles Ballet offers a terrific package for the holidays: 4 reserved seats for Los Angeles Ballet Nutcracker Tea at the Waldorf Astoria Beverly Hills, which includes two mystery boxes (gifts), photos with Santa and the characters from The Nutcracker, an overnight stay for 4 at the Waldorf Astoria Beverly Hills with hot chocolate and dessert service, a special children’s story time visit with a character from The Nutcracker, and a LAB Ballet Bag that includes a Nutcracker doll, tiara, decorated and autographed pointe shoe and an autographed post of The Nutcracker, valet parking, plus seats to a performance.

10. Distillery Tour, Hudson Valley, New York

At Hillrock Estate Distillery in Ancram, New York, you can purchase tours for your loved ones with three different options. The Hillrock Distillery Tour & Tasting includes a behind-the-scenes tour of the distillery, malt house, and rickhouse located at the center of the estate, surrounded by rolling grain fields. Conclude the tour with a tasting of five of Hillrock's award-winning whiskeys.

11. Wine Riot, Nationwide

Blending the old with the new, Wine Riot is a tour across American meant to introduce new wines to a growing millennial audience. Wine Riot 2.0 is an opportunity to pick the brain of local Sommeliers, taste wines from regions all over the world, compete in head to head challenges with friends, or simply sip on your bubbly favorites while taking it all in.

12. Pastry Making Class, Brooklyn, New York

At Michel et Augustin, they teach a class for students to learn how to make a chocolate tart, which is their rendition of their famous cookies. Students make the tart shells with 5 simple ingredients plus a decadent dark chocolate ganache, all in under two hours.

13. 3D Dinner, Napa Valley, CA

Travel to The Culinary Institute of America ("CIA") at Copia, a foodie wonderland in the heart of Downtown Napa, to partake in the magic of Le Petit Chef, a two-hour 3D dining experience. Discover the vibrant sights, sounds, scents and tastes inspired by Marco Polo’s legendary travels along the Silk Road.

The two-hour expedition includes a delicious spice trail-inspired six-course dinner prepared by Copia’s creative team of CIA chefs. Throughout the meal, 3D animation projects onto guests’ plates as a playful story unfolds with the world’s smallest chef — Le Petit Chef — as the guide. 

14. Santa Suite at Swissotel, Chicago, IL

This 41st floor, 5-rom Presidential Suite at the Swissotel is transformed into a stunningly whimsical display, only suitable for a visit from Mr. Claus. The over-the-top space is decorated in the spirit and magic of the season, complete with fifteen Christmas trees, a table set for Santa and his special guests along with snacks and giveaways to spread good cheer. For the older kids at heart, there's Swisshotel Après Ski After Dark, a new pop-up bar concept in the suite where you can enjoy photo-worthy cocktails and shotskis and dance the night away with DJ sets on the mountain — all while overlooking gorgeous nightime views of the Chicago River. Doesn't get more festive than that! 

15. Grand Cochon US Culinary Tour, Nationwide

Created in 2008 in response to the lack of education around heritage breed pigs, Cochon555 is a nose-to-tail culinary event dedicated to supporting family farmers and educating buyers about the agricultural importance of eating heritage breed pigs, some of which are on critical watch lists.

Cochon555 is a theater for innovative food and drink experiences. At any given event, over a hundred-plus cooks, chefs, restaurant and bar owners, renowned sommeliers and barkeeps, can be found working in concert to create luxurious moments. Cochon works with every type of restaurant and bar imaginable — from farm-to-table to Michelin star — and all participating chefs share one core value: they source products responsibly. 

16. Private Wine Tastings with Kerrin Laz, Napa Valley, CA

Led by proprietor Kerrin Laz, former wine director of Dean & Deluca, K LAZ at CIA Copia offers guests the rare opportunity to taste and learn about some of California’s most compelling, cult-status wines and inaccessible gems. Gift the wine enthusiast in your life a private tasting with Kerrin herself where they can sample some of her newest wine discoveries. 

17. Falconry Class at The Biltmore, Asheville, NC

The Biltmore, once the luxurious family home of George and Edith Vanderbilt is a marvel of elegance and charm, as magnificent today as it was more than a century ago. Faithfully preserved and filled with original furnishings and masterpieces of art, no other residence in America offers a more authentic and inspiring view of Gilded Age life. And they recently created a brand new way to see the extensive grounds: a falconry class!

The 90-minute class begins with an explanation of the sport and an introduction to these majestic birds of prey. Guided by a professional falconer, you'll learn how to handle a trained hawk or falcon, then experience the inimitable thrill of a raptor flying to and landing upon your gloved hand: a truly one-of-a-kind opportunity to interact with one of these awe-inspiring creatures.

18. Safari West, Sonoma, CA

Safari West is a Wildlife Preserve and African tent camp fully accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums. Safari West is home to nearly 1,000 animals, including African antelopes, primates, and predators, plus a variety of avian life from around the globe.

Lodging options feature custom-built tents imported from Botswana, featuring a private viewing deck. During guests’ stay, they can embark on a safari where they’ll go eye to eye with a cheetah, mingle with exotic wildlife, and look a white rhino in the eye. 

19. Yellowstone River Sunset Tour, Pray, MT

Relax with a scenic evening float down the famed Yellowstone River in a handmade, wooden drift boat from Cajune Boatbuilders. These limited-edition river dories are locally crafted from the finest materials and provide the smoothest and most stylish river trips around. Enjoy a 2-3 hour guided float through the heart of the Paradise Valley with views of the Beartooth Mountains and chances to view wildlife. The trips starts 3-5 miles upstream from Sage Lodge and floats right to a cottonwood river bottom on its lower property where you'll enjoy the Montana sunset with a complimentary streamside service of gourmet cheese boards, light hors d'oeuvres, wine and beer.

20. Yacht Yoga, Dana Point, CA

Take the studio outside with yacht yoga. Dana Point’s Dana Wharf recently added yacht yoga to its arsenal of charter experiences. With a private lesson led by iHeartYoga teacher Kacee Tilly, small groups embark on the hour-long excursion and practice yoga surrounded by pristine water and oceanside landscapes. Guests will enjoy a relaxing morning or evening, often with the occasional sea animal sighting. 

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21. Hatchet Throwing, Nationwide

Escape the mundane of holiday gatherings and step into the rustic scene of hatchet throwing. Stumpy’s Hatchet House was the first and only hatchet throwing facility when its doors opened in 2016.

With its matchless backyard ambiance, tree stumps, long farm tables, vintage American flags, string lights, and subtle scent of pine, you will be left feeling like you’re at your best friend’s backyard party that you never want to leave. Not to mention, hatchet throwing is the perfect way to chop holiday stress.

22. Fender Stay & Play, Nashville, TN

After visiting the Grand Ole Opry, Music City Walk of Fame and the Country Music Hall of Fame, visitors can head back to their hotel on Music Row to expand their knowledge through the Fender Play In-Room Experience, which offers a curated menu of iconic Fender instruments, including the Stratocaster, Telecaster and Jazzmaster–for guests to use alongside the immersive learning platform, the Fender Play app.

Guests who book the program will have guitars, basses and ukuleles from Fender’s most popular series–including Player Series, Vintera Series, California Series, and California Coast Series–delivered to their rooms along with a preloaded iPad, Mustang LT25 amplifier, and headphones to complete the experience.

23. Breathtaker Alpine Coaster, Aspen, CO

Give the gift of flying down a mountain this holiday season with a ticket to Snowmass Village, Colorado’s Breathtaker Alpine Coaster. Riders will wind their way through more than a mile of forest at speeds up to 28 miles per hour. Passengers are able to control the speed of their individual car for the duration of the seven to nine minute ride.

Located mid-mountain, the Alpine Coaster sits adjacent to Elk Camp Restaurant, where riders can enjoy a post-ride dining experience during the day, or select evenings of Ullr Nights. 

24. Challah Baking Class at Breads Bakery, New York City

What better Hanukkah gift than learning to make challah? At the challah classes at Breads Bakery in New York City, guests of the class learn how to make challah and use the same dough for other items, including chocolate babka.

Participants leave class with a basic understanding of the ingredients used and the process of fermentation, how to knead dough and what signs to look for, and a wealth of ideas for shaping and flavoring your challah dough. Each person will take home their challah loaf, individual rolls, and everything else made together in the workshop.

25. Waterfalls in the Smoky Mountains via Airbnb Experiences, North Carolina 

Feel the exhilaration of standing on the edge of a waterfall, and sliding down the slippery rocks to the bottom. Then, climb back up and do it again (and again and again).

But first, load up your gear and hike to a secret location in North Carolina's Great Smoky Mountains. You'll set up camp, prepare meals as a group, and eat together around a campfire.

26. Thomas Keller’s MasterClass, Nationwide

For the person who loves to cook and for professional and aspiring chefs, Chef Keller’s class focuses on selecting and preparing a wide variety of seafood, sous vide cooking and making desserts — including his famous apple pie, perfect for the upcoming holidays.

The course builds on fundamental skills outlined in Chef Keller’s first and second classes, and rounds out the mega-chef’s robust culinary series on the MasterClass platform.

27. Grilling Classes, St. Louis, MO

Weber Grill Restaurants is offering grilling classes with the original grill masters. With Weber Grill Academy locations in Lombard, Schaumburg and St. Louis, patrons will learn in a custom-designed learning facility dedicated to the art and skill of grilling.

28. Steak Dinner In A Barn, Evanston, IL

Amy Morton is the daughter of legendary Chicago-born restaurateur Arnie Morton, who founded Morton’s Steakhouses. She's also the brains behind The Barn Steakhouse, which pays homage to him and the classic American steakhouses he helped inspire.

Set inside a restored 19th century brick barn, the restaurant features Heritage Black Angus steaks as well as other refined dishes ranging from bison bolognese and steak tartare to roasted vegetables provençal. An extensive selection of Old and New World wine offerings and creative cocktails round out a modern steakhouse experience you won't soon forget.

29. Hot Air Balloon Ride, Scottsdale, AZ

A bucket list item! Hot Air Expeditions has been making memories with guests in sunny Arizona, providing hot air ballooning experiences locally for over 28 years. Family owned and locally operated, this adventure is pure mid-air magic.

Whether you’re a first-time flyer, or ballooning connoisseur, floating over the stunning Sonoran Desert will leave you in awe of nature’s beauty and the peacefulness of flight. 

30. A Christmas-Themed Bar, Chicago, IL

If you're a fan of the holidays, Santa Baby Bar is THEE place to go. Featuring wall-to-wall Christmas decor, multiple bars, new social experiences, Santa & character appearances and a whole lot of Christmas spirits, this is the one-stop shop for people who simply cannot get enough Christmas spirit. Sip a (spiked) hot chocolate in the Gingerbread Village, enjoy a cocktail in the Alpine Ski Lodge, ask the big man himself if you've been naughty or nice in Santa's workshop or hit the dance floor with DJ SC. It's Christmas cheer like you've never seen it before. And fine, ok — we get it, not everyone loves Christmas; fear not! For those Grinches, there is a literal Grinch-themed bar at Santa Baby's neighbor, Rudolph's. There's even a Grinch piano — where the man himself is known to stop by to churn out a few tunes — and an igloo where you can eat and drink upstars on the roof!

RELATED: 30 Best Ugly Holiday Sweaters For Any Festive Party

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Aly Walansky is a NY-based lifestyles writer who loves browsing for cute gifts (and great sales) on the Internet, so she found a way to make it part of her job! Find her on Twitter or via email.​

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