Sometimes when Christmas rolls around, we go from enjoying the holiday seasons to panicking about what we should get loved ones. It can be grueling coming up with gift ideas.

You don’t want to give your dad, mom, husband or wife the same old presents that seem so cliché year after year. Now you don’t have to. There’s a new trend that you can count on to really hit one out of the ballpark.

It kind of plays into the whole thought process of having a bucket list. In fact, you could give each of your friends and loved ones a bucket list sheet to fill out for you. Tell them it’s for a survey or something.

When you get it back, tap into the trend of “experience gift giving.” This is where you give someone an experience, rather than a tangible present – but I’m going to show you how to combine both elements from an amazing and unique gift idea!

It’s our life experiences that stay with us as memories forever. Tangible gifts get old and outdated. This is one gift they’ll never forget – it will be irreplaceable. I’m going to show you several top experience gift ideas to choose from as examples, and share with you some tangible gift ideas you could pair with them.

If last year is any indication, experience gifts will be hot items again this year. The top five experience gifts are as follows:

Food Tours

A food tour gift can be a fantastic gift that keeps on giving. Food tours are where you go around the city, the state, the country or even the world sampling the cuisine from different places.

If you wanted to do it on a budget, then you could put together a picnic basket filled with a bottle of wine and a picnic set, but include a few gift cards from local restaurants that your friend or loved one enjoys.

You can find inexpensive and high dollar picnic baskets online, with an array of restaurant gift cards to chains such as Outback Steakhouse, P.F. Changs, Macaroni Grill, and dozens more.

You could put together a breakfast, lunch, dinner and dessert gift that included a gift card to a place that serves breakfast like Cracker Barrel, include a Subway Sandwich gift card for a quick lunch, put an Outback Steak House gift card in for dinner, and top it off with a dessert gift card to the Cheesecake Factory!

Your loved one could make it a full day doing a food tour, or break it up into separate food events.

Now you can also make this an amazing, and more expensive gift, too! How about buying a new piece of luggage and filling it with some travel items, along with the menu from the local cuisine stops of another area that you’ll drive or fly to? Maybe through in a couple of airline tickets to an exotic getaway!

Racecar Driver

This is primarily a perfect gift for men – but if you know who Danica Patrick is, you’ll know it’s perfectly suitable for women, too. If you know someone who has a need for speed, then you can find a local or nearby racing facility that lets you give the gift of racecar driving.

For instance, you can buy someone a Nascar racing experience where they get to drive a real Nascar racecar that’s been driven by famous racecar drivers. There are a variety of packages.

For example, you could get them a ride along package where they get to ride with an instructor to see how it’s done. There’s the driving experience where they get to drive it themselves. And there are more all-inclusive packages.

A racecar driving experience includes things like meeting with the crew chief, getting clear instructions and training about driving a racecar, radio communication inside the racecar with your pit crew, a timed racing session, and a certificate that reminds you of your achievement.

So what could you wrap under the tree to go with this experience? If you have to fly in to the Nascar track, then it might include airline tickets to that. But as far as tangible items, you could start with a sleek racing helmet.

Racers also wear a support element for the helmet in case they wreck. In addition to these items, you could get the fire suit, which are coveralls, gloves, and driving shoes – all in a fire resistant fabric!

You might even personalize these items with your loved one’s first or last name and their favorite number. Order it all in their favorite color schemes, too!

Flying Lessons

Many people have “flying a plane” as one of their bucket list items. This is a very popular experience gift – and you can make a loved one’s dreams come true this Christmas season!

Most larger communities have municipal airports where you can buy a package of flying lessons for someone. If you’re not quite sure, then you may be able to find flight simulator gift packages, so they don’t really have to go up in the air just yet.

In the real flying packages, your loved one will typically get some hands on training about the basics of aviation. They’ll be riding in the co-pilot’s seat, but one the craft is up in the air, they get to handle the plane more – as much as they’re comfortable with.

Most flying lessons are approximately 30 minutes long, but they can be longer. It starts with a lesson on flying safety, followed by flight tutorials. Then they take off into the deep blue sky!

If you want to avoid the plane gift, you can opt for a helicopter flying lesson instead. Light aircraft is a bit different, so the gift recipient will get instructions about the differences in takeoff, landing and in-flight elements.

If the person you’re buying for may someday want to get their pilot’s license, then these training sessions often count toward their flight time. But these aren’t the only flying experience you can choose!

If the person you want to buy for needs even more thrills, then look for a dog fight experience. Not a real dog fight – a flying dog fight in the air! There are true Top Gun flight experiences you can buy where they get to go in a fighter plane and learn about tactical maneuvers.

They get to actually take the controls and do spirals, loops and other pulse-racing maneuvers. These are typically recorded for you from the ground so that you can relive the moment over and over again.

Now when it comes to flying lessons – what can you put under the tree for Christmas? You’ll definitely want to start with some wings. A little pin that looks just like pilot’s wings will be perfect.

Other ideas include a pilot’s logbook. This is where they’ll record the details of their flights. You could get them a set of flight training videos or a book that discusses it.

If you’d like to give them some apparel, you could wrap a shearling pilot’s jacket to put under the tree. Or, give them a pair of aviator sunglasses to wear when they’re up in the sky.

Sports Experiences

There are many different types of sports experiences. You can give your golfing loved one a series of lessons from a PGA Pro. They’ll get to lower their score using the instructions the pro gives them after analyzing their swing.

If this is the gift, then there is no end to the number of golfing gifts you can give. From golf apparel to new clubs to the myriad of gadgets like electronic scorecards or golf GPS systems – they’ll love them all.

Is your loved one a baseball fan? Visit their favorite team’s website and see if they offer any VIP fan packages. Take the Yankees for instance. They have something called the Inside Experience (it sells out fast, so shop smart).

This package gives your gift recipient the ability to meet and greet one of the fans’ favorite players. Then they get to tour the stadium and take a picture of themselves posing with the World Series trophy.

They get to attend a luncheon at the stadium if you add that onto the package – and they can also get a Yankees replica jersey. When game time comes, they get a special ticket to the game in the MVP section right between the bases.

Before their experience is over, they go home with a Yankees gift bag. It includes a baseball cap, a baseball, and a copy of Yankees Magazine. This will be a wonderful experience for your friend or loved one.

For Christmas, you could get them a bunch of different sports gifts for the baseball experience. It could include collectibles that have been autographed, fan apparel, or one of the other hundreds of gift options available online.

Dinner Cruise

In many major metropolitan areas, you can find dinner cruises that range from simple and fun to elegant and amazing. Of course, the more special it is, the higher the price tag.

For example, you can give your gift recipient a showboat dinner cruise in Branson, Missouri. They’ll enjoy a three-course meal and entertainment like dinner and dancing.

Or, buy someone a gift like a private gourmet sail in Corpus Christi, where the evening is reserved for two onboard a yacht. A fabulous meal will be served right at sunset, and if they want to, they can even take the wheel and steer the yacht themselves.

You might wrap an all-weather jacket for under the tree. If you just want to make the gift cute, it could be a life jacket. Any nautical gifts would be fun – like apparel with nautical themes.

More Experience Gift Ideas

There are so many ideas you can choose from – not just the five listed previously. Here’s a list of other experience gifts you could consider, below.

Airborne Experiences:

• Hang gliding
• Hot air ballooning
• Paragliding
• Scenic flights
• Skydiving

Food and Wine Experiences:

• Cooking classes
• Wine tasting tours

Driving Experiences:

• Dragster races
• Off-roading adventures

Classes, Lessons and More:

• Art classes
• City tours
• Dance lessons
• Fishing adventures
• Glass blowing
• Pottery classes
• Train rides
• Segway tours
• Surf lessons
• Horseback riding
• Kayaking adventures
• Whale watching
• Whitewater rafting

Go to a site like Amazon.com and look to see what kinds of gifts go with each experience so that you can have the tickets to these experiences wrapped up with something tangible they can use during it.

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