These experiential gifts are the perfect last-minute holiday present ideas

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Melanie Sutrathada is In The Know’s lifestyle contributor. Follow her on Instagram and Twitter for more.

An alternate title for this roundup was, Things that people can order last-minute online that they don’t need to wait to ‘arrive’ on time. Because let’s be real – experience gifts have huge perks: They are super thoughtful and memorable, and they take about 0.4 seconds to order. That, my friends, is what we call a win-win!

Some of my favorite gifts of all time have been experiences, like concert tickets to the Spice Girls Reunion Tour in London (my little sister earned so many brownie points for this one) and dance lessons so that I could finally learn how to ballroom dance. These gifts will forever stand out in my mind. There’s something about an experiential gift that feels so special and fun, especially if the person you’re shopping for wants to make memories and add some much-needed excitement to their life.

So, here are my favorite experience gifts to give and get — no matter what time of year it is.

Share a one-of-a-kind virtual experience

Shop: Airbnb Experience, prices vary

Credit: Airbnb

A mindfulness tea ceremony led by an expert in Japan? Sangria and secrets with drag queens? These one-of-a-kind virtual experiences are such a fun and unexpected gift and will be a much-deserved upgrade from your standard Zoom calls.

Enjoy the gift that keeps giving

Shop: Winc Monthly Wine Club, $39+

Credit: Winc/Facebook

Here’s a gift that is a sure-fire way to crush gift-giving. Whether you’re a fan of merlot, chardonnay or rosé, Winc Monthly Wine Club will help you discover new wines, starting at just $39 for three bottles. When you join, you take a short quiz that helps to personalize your subscription to your palette, and then you’re off to the races. I’ll be honest — I know nothing about wine (besides the fact that I like to drink it), so trying out Winc has been eye-opening and a real crash course in wine. I would 1000 percent rate this subscription service 5 out of 5 stars.

Learn from the best

Shop: MasterClass, $180

Credit: MasterClass/Facebook

This has to be one of my top gift choices ever because there are so many opportunities to learn. I bought myself an annual subscription last year and am continuously impressed by the experts and knowledge available on the platform. From cooking with Gordon Ramsey to dancing with Misty Copeland, MasterClass offers something for everyone. Aaron Sorkin teaches screenwriting. Alicia Keys shares her songwriting and producing processes. RuPaul shares his secrets for self-expression and creativity. An annual membership is an absolute game-changer as a gift.

Dive into your heritage

Shop: Ancestry DNA Kit, $59

Credit: Ancestry

These DNA kits give you so much information and a perfect way to keep you connected to your family while helping you to discover your family’s story. I took one a few years ago and still talk about the results because of how specific and awesome they were (I’m 1 percent Finnish!). With this kit, you’ll get your ethnicity estimate and find out where you’re from in over 1000 regions. You’ll also see a list of people who share parts of your DNA and learn about their connection to you.

Give the gift of style

Shop: Stitch Fix, $20+

Credit: Stitch Fix

If you’re anything like me and have a tendency to leave gift shopping until the last minute, this gift is here to save the day. Stitch Fix is a new way to shop that curates outfits based on your style and lifestyle. Whoever you gift Stitch Fix to can shop instantly on the website or order pieces selected by their own personal stylist.  All you have to do is print your gift at home and write a quick handwritten note or email the gift on whatever future date you choose (this is my go-to so that I don’t accidentally miss the date). It’s a new shopping experience that helps whoever you gift it to incorporate new clothing, shoes and accessories into their wardrobe.

Give the gift of the great outdoors

Shop: America the Beautiful Annual Pass, $80

Credit: Pexels

I have a few regrets looking back at 2020, but my number one regret has to be not taking a camper van on the road and exploring the national parks. I’ve been following a few influencers on the ‘gram who have been living their best life traipsing from one national park to the next. The FOMO has been so real as I write this from my teensy tiny shoebox of an apartment in New York. That said, it’s not too late to get some adventure in. Gift friends and family an entire year of awesome outdoor experiences through this pass to the national parks, and you just might inspire them to explore, too. It’s a great gift to give those near and dear, even while we’re far apart.

Change lives through the power of language

Shop: Rosetta Stone, $7.99 per month

Credit: Rosetta Stone

Have a friend who’s been wanting to learn to speak French? What about Spanish? Maybe both? You can learn more than 24 languages through Rosetta Stone, making it a gift that will last a lifetime. This language learning program is now a flexible app-based experience that immerses learners in real-life scenarios, instead of having you flip through flashcards for hours.

Meet the beauty subscription box of your dreams

Shop: Birchbox, $15

Credit: Birchbox

It’s the gift for beauty lovers — especially those who are tough to shop for! I gifted a three-month subscription box to a friend for her birthday earlier this year, and she still texts me to this day to say thank you whenever she discovers a new product she loves. Each month, you get 5 makeup, skin and hair care products that run the gamut from face masks to dry shampoos. It’s one of the coolest ways to discover new additions to your beauty routine without having to leave your house or put on pants.

We’re so obsessed with this topic that we could go on and on! There are still so many other ways to gift experiences: beer making kits, indoor herb gardens, concert tickets (for you know, for way in the future), spa treatments and even a helicopter ride for two over the Grand Canyon. The possibilities are endless when it comes to experiential gifts that will definitely put regular presents to shame!

If you enjoyed this list, check out the ultimate Schitt’s Creek gift guide!

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