IF YOU’VE SPENT ANY AMOUNT OF TIME online so far this holiday season, you’ve likely run into a post or two about the value of experiences over items. More presents mean more clutter, after all, and we just don’t need any more of that.
While many of these think pieces are about surprising children with experiential gifts, there's value in the lesson for adults, too. This time of year is ideal for spending quality time with the people you've chosen to have in your life, and what better way to accomplish that than by having an adventure together? Here are 10 ways to put an experience under the tree this year.
Witness Cirque du Soleil’s Luzia
Promising a medley of “places, faces, and sounds of Mexico,” Luzia comes to Sam Houston Race Park from January 11–February 24. Perfect for: The friend with a flair for the theatric who loves all things bright and colorful. (You know the one.) $45+.
Learn to cook with India1948
From Anita Jaisinghani, the mind behind Indika and Pondicheri, comes a host of classes focused on teaching participants how to honor and prepare Indian recipes. The first lesson of the year is on Eggs, Grains, and Vegetables at Pondicheri. Perfect for: The burgeoning chef in your life with a passion for cultural culinary pursuits. $100 per person.
Dive deeper into a hobby
Is your mom a pro at the purl stitch? A knitting bowl will keep all that yarn organized in one place. Maybe she's more into journaling, and you know she'll need fresh stationery to kickstart the new year. Any gift can become an experience when it helps further an already-established routine. Perfect for: Any crafty loved one with an established interest. Ceramic yarn bowl: $48, Etsy.
Or jump-start a new one
No hobby? No problem. There are starter kits for everything from brewing beer to building computers, so you're bound to find one that fits your loved one's personality. Perfect for: Anyone with a little free time—newly retired dads, we're looking at you. Beer-making kit: $58, Amazon.
Frequent the museum
Did you know that a membership to the Houston Zoo pays for itself in two visits, or that becoming a member of the Houston Museum of Natural Science includes reduced rates for lectures and classes? Now you do. Perfect for: Kids and kids-at-heart who love to learn. Zoo memberships: 79+; HMNS memberships: $60+.
Keep the spirit alive past Christmas
Without a doubt, subscription boxes are truly the gifts that keep on giving, and there are no shortage of Texas-based options. With most companies offering yearlong or one-, three-, and six-month plans, you can pay in advance for mail-order gifts that keep showing up long after the tree has come down. Perfect for: The pal who deserves a regular pick-me-up. Velvet Crate holiday package: $50.
Have dinner in the movies
Whether you’re looking for a romantic date night or an evening out with your favorite cinefile, iPic Theaters in River Oaks District is the ultimate upscale cinematic experience: think cozy seating (reclining pods with blankets) and in-theater service for all your candy and cocktail needs. Tickets: $16–$32.
Keep track of it all
Fine, maybe a calendar is more of an item than an experience, but is a practical gift that's useful for a whole entire year. How else is your loved one going to keep track of all these new plans? And who doesn't want the experience of looking at Houston-area baby goats for the next 365 days? Perfect for: The friend who never says no to a good time. Blue Heron Farm 2019 calendar, $17.
Eat your heart out
Galveston’s Restaurant Week runs from January 26–February 10, giving you plenty of opportunities to make it over to the island for some delicious post-holiday meals. Plan ahead with the list of participating restaurants and make a weekend of it. Perfect for: The discerning, budget-conscious foodie and his or her plus-one.
Learn to fly
For the more active folks in your life that are simply never satisfied with a candle or a notebook, check out iFly Indoor Skydiving and be prepared to have your mind blown. Gifting the ability to free-fall for a full 60 seconds without the danger of actually jumping out of a plane is basically like giving your friends temporary superpowers, and that’s something nobody forgets. Perfect for: Adrenaline junkies. Flight packages: $69.95+.