34 Experience Gift Ideas During a Pandemic

Every holiday season, the minimalist websites I follow share lengthy lists of experience gift ideas for people who want to reduce the physical clutter in their lives. However, this year, a lot of those lists are sad reminders of all that we can’t or shouldn’t do right now because of the current state of the world. Our travel options are limited, we can’t easily attend in-person classes or events, large concerts or live theater are pretty much out, and many entertainment activities have been curtailed.

That doesn’t mean we can’t give clutter-free gifts this year. It just means we have to be more creative about what we give. If you’re looking for experience gift ideas that are safer during a pandemic, read on.

  1. Restaurant gift cards. For takeout or curbside service, or for al fresco dining if the weather is nice where you live.
  2. Coffee gift cards. Pick up some cards for favorite coffee shops.
  3. Car wash gift cards or tokens. 
  4. Yard service gift certificates. Think lawn mowing, landscaping, tree trimming, etc.
  5. Oil change gift cards. 
  6. State park or national park membership. For your friends or family who like to hike and social distance in the great outdoors.
  7. Tickets for online concerts. You can find concert listings at sites like Billboard or Live Nation.
  8. Tickets for online theater performances. Look for performance listings at sites such as Time Out.
  9. Online escape room. Instead of visiting an escape room in person, you can solve the puzzles virtually. This is a great way to have fun with friends who live anywhere because you all gather on platforms such as Google Meet. One of our favorites is Wisecracks Comedy Escape Room.
  10. Fruit baskets. There are plenty of options, but my favorite site to order from is Edible Arrangements.
  11. Flowers. Have a flower arrangement delivered from a local florist. Many small local shops offer ordering and delivery via their websites. Or if you can’t find a local shop, try a site such as 1-800 Flowers or FTD.
  12. Plants. Many florists sell plants in attractive pots if you want to give a gift that lasts longer than cut flowers, but delivery of live plants can be pricey, so if your recipient lives locally you might consider purchasing a plant in person and dropping it off on their porch. Just be sure to promptly let them know about the delivery so they can take the plant indoors if the weather is cold.
  13. Chocolate. You can go with store-bought locally purchased chocolate, or order online from sites such as Ghirardelli or Harry and David. Many online florists offer chocolate delivery as well.
  14. Coffee. You can do a porch drop of coffee beans or ground coffee, or try sending a coffee subscription box.
  15. Wine. If you prefer something a little edgier than coffee, try a wine subscription.
  16. Desserts. Again, you can drop a nice basket of assorted desserts on a loved one’s porch, or sign them up for a monthly subscription so they can get ready-to-eat desserts or baking kits in the mail.
  17. Meats and cheeses. If you’re looking for a delivered box of goodies, try Harry & David (which also sells a variety of other treats such as popcorn mixes and fresh fruit such as pears) or Hickory Farms.
  18. Novelty food. Have an adventurous eater on your shopping list? Try a subscription for Universal Yums, which sends a monthly box of snacks curated from different countries.
  19. Outdoor exercise gear and clothing. With more people turning to at-home or outdoor exercise in their neighborhoods, gift fitness enthusiasts with winter hats, gloves, or scarves. You could also give tennis shoes, or big ticket items such as a kayak, tennis rackets, basketball hoop for the driveway, or a bicycle.
  20. Indoor exercise equipment. Know someone who isn’t comfortable going to the gym right now? Consider getting them a yoga mat, fitness bands, an exercise ball, weights, or a larger item such as a stationary bike or treadmill.
  21. Craft subscription. If you know kids who like to craft, we have used and like Annie’s Creative Girls Club.
  22. Science kit subscription. Kiwi Crate offers science kit subscriptions for kids along with subscriptions for other interests such as art, geography and culture, or early learning.
  23. Magazine subscription. Give a physical magazine that gets delivered to the recipient’s home, or give an e-subscription.
  24. Newspaper subscription. As with magazine subscriptions, you can gift a physical newspaper subscription or an online subscription.
  25. Meal subscription. Gift a weekly box of ready-to-prepare meals from sites such as Blue Apron or Hello Fresh, so your friends or family can avoid making trips to the grocery store.
  26. Educational subscription. For kids, we have received Little Passports subscriptions that were a big hit. Subscriptions vary based on interests, but for our subscription, each month we received a packet with information, activities, and souvenirs related to a different country. Also, Kiwi Crate also offers a variety of educational subscriptions.
  27. IOU coupons. You can make these coupons yourself — especially if you’re crafty and want to make them look special. Safe activities for a gift recipient who does not live in your house and is not in your social bubble can include offers to do tasks such as yard work, washing cars, cleaning siding or gutters, painting a shed, preparing and dropping off meals, walking the dog, etc. For someone in your own household, you can create IOU coupons for cooking meals, cleaning the bathrooms, at-home date nights, putting the kids to bed while your partner enjoys a break, etc. Your imagination is the limit here.
  28. A streaming subscription. With everyone staying home and potentially watching more television and movies, it’s especially valuable to have subscriptions to streaming services such as Disney+, Hulu, Netflix, etc.
  29. Music gift cards. Try Spotify, Amazon Music Unlimited, Apple Music, etc.
  30. Broadway HD subscription. For the theater lover in your life, gift them the ability to stream Broadway hits anytime.
  31. Kindle Unlimited subscription. Gift the readers in your life with an opportunity to read anything.
  32. Amazon Prime gift membership. With everyone ordering more online these days, gift a subscription that offers free fast shipping and other benefits.
  33. Online classes. Search for virtual classes in cooking, art, photography, music, etc.
  34. Online foreign language lessons. For polylingual friends, try a gift subscription to a site such as Babbel or Rosetta Stone.

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