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The Gift of Experience

Sometimes a gift of experience is not the best thing. Like last night, when I gifted myself the experience of walking the side of the road, gas can in hand, after running my car to E negative.

But sometimes, a gift of experience is something fabulous.

A bunch of cool websites are offering gift services that go way beyond your average gifts. Instead of more crap to pile up in the hall closet, why not give the people you love a truly unique and interesting experience ... that they'll remember long after those other gifts get sent to Goodwill.

#<Trip:0x7fd91e08d758> - image20110829-1-1yvyhi3-0.png connects you with local guides in San Francisco, New York, Paris, London, Berlin and LA who take you on short, subject specific tours of their cities. Think behind-the-scenes of Chinatown in SFO, complete with fortune cookie making, touring Paris by vintage scooter, and my personal dream, guided vintage and fea-market shopping in NYC. serves a ton of US cities, including Indianapolis, Atlanta, and DC. Many of these expereiences are more adrenal than cerebral, like driving a race car, flying helicopters, and skydiving -- but they may just be perfect for a guy who has everything (or really really wants to drive a Ferrari, just once.) I would prefer the DaVinci's Gold Scavenger Hunt which offers a custom treasure hunt through downtown Indianapolis, complete with actors to offer clues and "sabotage," hand made treasure map and encrypted clues.... all for just $1,880. offers many similar options, as well as some really neat gifts for animal lovers. Know someone who would enjoy a one-on-one encounter with wolves at a nature reserve? Or snakes? I don't, but I wish I did!

There's plenty of sites out there - some are a little pricey, but they're a great source for inspiration. Think how you would create a fun tour of your town someone special-- want to visit all the best taco shops? or your favorite bike-able sightseeing spots? Or the all the best farmers markets? Do it!

Also, tickets for a concert, ghost tour, play, burlesque show, museum exhibit, etc.etc. are great unexpected gifts. My only tip? Avoid gifts that have a specific date involved, unless you really know the person and their schedule. Otherwise it can feel like more of a hassle than a gift.

Oh Happy Day has some other great ideas for experience gifts: surprise trips, lecture series tickets, summer camsite reservations (before they get booked)! Thanks Jordan!

Happy gifting!

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