12 Experiences to Gift this Christmas


Often times preparing for Christmas feels more like a sprint to the finish line rather than a joyous, leisurely stroll.  It’s easy to get lost in the hustle and bustle of the holiday, losing sight of the true reason for the Christmas season. We prepare gifts rather than our hearts. Don’t get me wrong, even the wise men brought gifts to prepare for the coming of baby Jesus, but perhaps we’ve taken it a bit too far.

Before Halloween hit, we had received a stack of Christmas ads for local children’s stores. Between store pick-up and Amazon Prime, holiday shopping is easier than ever. However, for that same reason, it is easier than ever to get carried away with gift-giving.

As adults, often times it seems that when we want or need something, we buy it. It got increasingly harder to think of things that family members needed or wanted that they wouldn’t just buy for themselves. It was getting to the point that we were exchanging lists and in some cases even buying our own gifts and just getting reimbursed by the gift-giver.

Experiences Rather than “Things”

In recent years, my extended family has willingly exchanged spending hours at over-crowded shopping malls for experiences together. Rather than racking our brains for items to buy each other, we choose to do things that will allow us to spend time together, making memories. Memories will last far longer than the latest trend in toys or clothes.

Gifts of Experience Ideas for Adults

Plays: Whether at the Ohio theater or the Palace theater, there are a variety of performances offered year-round, appealing to a wide audience. The art scene in Columbus is expansive and impressive, so check out upcoming shows!

Concerts: My family has always been a big fan of going to concerts. There is something so special about seeing your favorite artists perform in person. This seems to be one of our biggest go-to gifts for holidays throughout the year. Columbus welcomes both big and small names throughout the year, so make sure to check out the upcoming line-up.

My husband and I at a recent concert

Cooking Classes: Sur La Table cooking classes are a great way to try your hand at new recipes, learn technique and most of all to have fun. A helpful hint though, it is BYOB. You are sure to walk away with a full stomach, some new skills and all the recipes for the things you made during your class.

Weekend getaways: Whether you’re looking for a romantic weekend for two or more of a family-friendly place, such as Hocking Hills or Kings Island (you could even explore nearby Cincinnati), there are tons of easily accessible places to consider.

If you’re looking for a more substantial trip, you might consider exploring the outdoors by visiting the Smoky Mountains or perhaps observe the sunset on the beach at the Outer Banks or even roam the streets of Savannah. There are so many affordable, fun destinations to visit in state, around the country and even internationally.

AdventureZiplining/ Ropes Courses and Escape Rooms are just a few ideas to make your most adventurous loved one happy this holiday season.

Massage/ Spa Day: Everyone deserves a chance to unwind and de-stress. So why not give the gift of a spa experience? Check out some of the top spas and salons in Columbus for more ideas.

Brewery ToursColumbus Brew Adventures and Columbus Ale Trail are two awesome ways to experience the art and flavors of local craft beers while not having to be the one to plan it all.

Food Tours: Columbus Food Adventures offers a variety of tours to satisfy any foodie on your Christmas list this year.


Gifts of Experience Ideas for Kids

Zoo Membership: The Columbus Zoo is not only an award-winning zoo, but it offers year-around events that appeal to all of the “kids” in your life. A zoo membership pays for itself in just a few visits and grants you admission not only to general admission at the Zoo but to seasonal events such as Boo at the Zoo, Wild Lights and more. It’s sure to be the gift that keeps on giving! Yearly membership ranges from $50 up to $154.99

The Polar Bear exhibit at the Columbus Zoo

COSI: COSI is a hands on science center located in the heart of Columbus. They offer programs, shows and experiences for children and adults alike. Most recently COSI has partnered with the American Museum of Natural History for their new Dinosaur exhibit. Yearly membership to COSI varies in price from $49 up to $329 and grants you discounts to other places throughout the city.

Leagues or Lessons: Don’t be afraid to let family members know what sports team, musical instrument or dance lesson your child is interested in these days. Allow family members to pitch in or even cover the cost of registration or perhaps the purchase of a uniform or necessary equipment.

Whether at Goldfish Swim School or your local community center, swim lessons are an excellent gift for kids of all ages. Goldfish Swim School is offering an amazing deal on their gift baskets packed with an array of family experiences from local businesses and includes two months of swim lessons. Find out more details here: Goldfish Swim School Gift Baskets

Goldfish Swim School Westerville

Another great idea for keeping the kids active all year long is enrolling in classes at The Little Gym of Polaris. They offer gymnastics, dance, cheer, and sports prep.

College Savings (529): Rather than have family members buy the kids yet another toy or something else that they don’t need, why not encourage them to contribute to your child’s 529 (tax deductible for the gift-giver as well!) or regular savings account?  Though the money won’t pay for immediate experiences, it will help pay for their college experiences. Your kids will thank you later! This could even be a great thing to pair with one of the above experiences, which is what our family has done for recent holidays.

Read more about Ohio’s College Advantage Savings Program.

I hope that you find yourself lost in experiences rather than exhaustion this holiday season. May you make memories that last far longer than any materials that we could wish for or give.