Experiences, Not Things: The Millennial Christmas Gift Guide

Christmas Gift


What to get the people who have everything…

It’s hard to believe it’s that time of year already, but here we are. Last year I wrote The Couples Christmas Gift Edit, a list of do’s and don’t for him and her that was surprisingly popular among my network of friends. It was a strange feeling to be responsible for most of the gifts my family and friends received!

So this year I decided to do something a little different and focus on gifts for millennials. Why? Well, I’ve been banging on about experiences over material goods like any good millennial, and that’s when it clicked. Why are we still gifting things when we can gift experiences?

It wasn’t too long ago that experience gifts were a novelty, limited to theatre tickets or a massage. Today, skies the limit! Literally, you can go indoor skydiving or take actual flying lessons – just for fun! Millennials are all about new experiences as well as being more conscious consumers. I’m actually starting to wonder how much longer ‘material goods gifts’ will even be a thing.


Hot air balloon

Photo by Austin Ban on Unsplash


The Value of Experiences

As a recent recipient of a voucher for a cinema date night with champagne in a fancy hotel that only plays old movies, I learned something.

At first, I scoffed at the gift. Oh great, I thought. Like I need a voucher for the cinema. But I wasn’t going to let it go to waste (classic, zero-waste millennial that I am). We went to see Casablanca, which turned out to be an incredibly romantic night out and something we would never have otherwise done. The movie was incredible. It’s now an evening that comes up frequently in conversation and in our memories.

Moral of the story, don’t underestimate the power of an experience gift. They can often be much more memorable and appreciated than the gift that lives forgotten in a drawer somewhere or, god forbid, has already been re-gifted to someone else.


Casablanca movie quote


Choosing An Experience Gift

The wide range of experiences on offer is a testament to the rise in experience gift popularity. I’ve selected three categories, Food, Travel, and Lifestyle, to give an overview of the types of experiences out there. Many companies do experience gifts. A few to check out include Virgin, Groupon, Buyagift and Not on the high street. You can also now buy experiences from Air Bnb!

If you can’t decide what to get, leave it up to them and gift an experience voucher where you decide the amount and they decide the experience. I’ve based these examples around London but I’m sure you can find companies offering similar experiences local to you. If there’s one thing about millennials it’s that we’re a global bunch!




Food experiences

Photo by Avel Chuklanov on Unsplash

Dinner for Two: Extra points if you know of a particular restaurant or celebrity chef they are interested in but haven’t yet tried. There are great deals on London’s most popular restaurants as well as Michelin dining. It’s a free meal, what’s not to love? A few suggestions include dinner at Benares, Afternoon Tea at Harrods, or dining at the Ritz.

Cooking Class: Learning to make something is great fun and you get to eat it too. There are many cooking classes to choose from, anything you can think of really. How to bake bread, cakes, pizza, how to fry the perfect steak, prepare sushi, cook a curry, make mozzarella cheese at home, you name it. A few interesting options: Dim sum making class with prosecco, sushi and sake masterclass at Inamo, cheese making at the school of cookery, or a full day pasta making workshop.

Something to Drink: There are tastings and courses for beverages too. Millennials are especially interested in supporting local independent producers. A tasting or brewery visit is a great way to discover new brands and learn about how they’re made. There are many options for wine, beer, gin, whisky, tea and even champagne tours in or just outside London. For tastings, consider a champagne tasting for 2, full day whisky school, or microbrewery tasting.




Travel experiences

Photo by Robson Hatsukami Morgan on Unsplash

Air Miles: A simple, underrated gift idea. Air miles equals free flights or upgrades, whichever. No, it’s not the most exciting gift, but yes, it is one of the most useful gifts you could give. This article explains air mile gifting options for several different air carriers. For BA executive club members, you can gift up to 100,000 Avios to another club member.

Weekend Break: It’s much more practical to gift a weekend break than a whole holiday, although I don’t think any millennial would object to the latter! There are many types of weekend breaks. Spa breaks, city breaks, countryside glamping, as well as retreats for yoga, meditation or detoxing. For something extra special, Mr and Mrs Smith Get a Room Gift Card lets the recipient choose from a curated list of luxury hotels.

Days Out: A lot of us take the place we live in for granted and don’t explore our homes the same way we do a new destination. Millennials are turning the tide on this, interested in knowing more about the history, architecture, and culture of where they live. Virgin have many options for days out in London, from river cruises to landmark and city tours, with a similar offering from Buyagift. Both also do sports-related tours as well as attractions and theme parks.




Lifestyle Experiences

Photo by Ben Duchac on Unsplash

A Course or Class: Learning never ends for millennials. This could even spark a new interest or talent you didn’t realise you had! Some class ideas: cooking, photography, foraging, terrarium making, knitting, pottery, dancing, beekeeping, and blacksmithing. Another fantastic company to check out is Carousel, which runs some really interesting experiences in their Baker Street workshop (see blog post ).

Fitness: If there’s one thing millennials really care about, it’s their health. I know how this sounds for the older smoker generations but health is bible for millennials. Most of us renew our commitments to the gym after Christmas and New Year, so it’s really the perfect time to gift a gym class voucher or membership. Class pass has a great selection of classes to pick and choose from around London. For hardcore fitness freaks, they would be thrilled to receive class credits at Psycle or Barry’s BootcampVirgin have some lighter, more unusual sport options, such as archery, clay-pigeon shooting or fly fishing.

Adventure: This is one of my favourite categories. I love adventure activities where I can pretend to be Lara Croft and work on my ninja survival skills (see blog post). Millennials are particularly concerned about the sustainability of our planet and doomsday scenarios, where basic survival skills will be key. Although I love activities like rafting, rock-climbing, bouldering, and zip-lining, I draw the line at bungee-jumping and skydiving. So it’s good to know the limits of who you’re buying for. Buyagift and Virgin have loads of adventure packages for you to check out. Virgin also have a page dedicated to driving experiences, including Formula 1 tickets and the chance to drive up to 6 supercars.


Let me know what you think of these gift ideas in the comments below πŸ™‚

…This post is not sponsored but Virgin, I think you owe me one!



Feature Image by Ben White on Unsplash

Lara Olivia
Lara Olivia

Freelance writer and blogger obsessed with food, travel and good stories.

Find me on: Web | Twitter | Facebook


  1. Mike
    26 November 2017 / 2:42 am

    I just copied and pasted your fantastic suggestions, Lara!! My Christmas shopping is all for friends each year and I’m jazzed to have a few outside-the-box gifts again this year! One of them is this new thing (at least here in Reno) where folks get “locked” in a room and get clues for an hour on how to get out. I checked it out the other day and it’s so much fun! Another one I’m excited about is a date night I’m giving my best friends will watch their kids for them for the evening. I’m known for being a supposed Scrooge each year but it’s all a big ruse!! πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚

    • 26 November 2017 / 3:21 pm

      Hey Mike, thank you! Glad you found them useful πŸ™‚ Yes that game is super popular here in the UK too, they’re called escape rooms. I still haven’t done it yet but many of my friends have and loved it. We once gave our friends babysitting vouchers too, I think that’s probably the best thing you can give couples with young kids! πŸ˜›

  2. 23 November 2017 / 4:32 pm

    I agree, thanks for sharing! I tend to give digital gifts to avoid waste – which means, kindle books rather than paperback and netflix subscriptions (or similar) rather than DVDs. There are just so many options. But spending time together is the most valuable gift – something like time tickets may be a fun idea.


  3. 23 November 2017 / 9:47 am

    These are some such good ideas! It’s so hard to buy gifts for someone who already has everything and doesn’t know what they’d like as a gift!
    Much love, Caitylis x x

    • 23 November 2017 / 10:49 am

      Exactly, and what they liked last year might be different this year… I also like the idea that you’re encouraging them to try something new or something they wouldn’t normally do. πŸ™‚ xx

  4. 23 November 2017 / 9:33 am

    So many great suggestions Lara! Sometimes is so hard to find a gift when everyone seems to have almost everything. In cases like these, i think travel gifts or classes always work the best way!

    • 23 November 2017 / 10:47 am

      Thank you! Definitely, so hard to know what people have or don’t have whereas we all want to eat, travel and learn more!

  5. 23 November 2017 / 8:25 am

    Woww…..what an awesome gift ideas for Christmas. I totally love it this idea and that food picture just remind me of my traditional food feast in my country, Indonesia. This tips it gives us so much inspiration, thanks so much for sharing.


    • 23 November 2017 / 10:46 am

      Thank you, yes I love that photo too. I was looking for a nice food photo on Unsplash and it caught my eye. The colours are so vibrant and the food looks amazing.

  6. 23 November 2017 / 4:20 am

    I would love for someone to give me a gift of miles. These are all wonderful gift ideas. I like the cooking class idea too.

    • 23 November 2017 / 10:44 am

      Me too! I travel a lot and need miles more than socks! πŸ˜›

  7. 22 November 2017 / 9:37 pm

    Ahhh you’ve given me some awesome ideas for presents this year!! Just when I was struggling to think of what to get for my family!


  8. Jasmin N
    22 November 2017 / 8:58 pm

    The fact that my hubby is giving me tattoo gift card instead of Ted Baker bag makes me so excited. I’m all on board for these kinds of gifts πŸ™‚ lovely post!

    • 22 November 2017 / 11:30 pm

      Thank you! Do you know what tattoo you’ll get? πŸ™‚

  9. 22 November 2017 / 8:41 pm

    Haha, I love love love this post!

    I’ve been more inclined to give experiences this year, I just think it’s a bit more special. I’ve booked a holiday for my boyfriend and I, a flying lesson for my stepdad and a lovely afternoon tea for my mam. Fingers crossed someone buys me a cookery course, maybe I’ll leave my laptop open to this post for my boyfriend to find πŸ˜‰


    • 22 November 2017 / 11:32 pm

      Thank you so much! πŸ™‚ I’ve been wondering what I’m going to buy this year and was actually surprised to discover just how many experiences you can buy as gifts nowadays! It seems the balance is shifting πŸ™‚ xx

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