gift guide

The Best Experience Gifts for Anyone on Your 2021 Holiday List

This year, gift more conscientiously

Memoir crafted by StoryTerrace.

If you read the news, you might have heard about supply chain issues and shipping delays disrupting the holiday shopping season.

There's also been a shift in attitudes surrounding consumption and whether we really need all this stuff.

Enter experience gifts.

Some are tangible and some are intangible. They're meant to be thoughtful and hopefully, more sustainable. So whether you're looking for a virtual experience or something to do in person, we've got some experience gift ideas for the kids, parents or friends in your life.

Here are our editor's picks. NBC does not have any relationship with these sellers and items are sold by the retailer, not by NBC.

Blind Date With a Book Box $33.96

You can choose from a range of genres including young adult fantasy, historical romance, crime/mystery, "once banned books," and others. Then select whether your recipient would enjoy hot cocoa or tea. The gift box also includes a bath bomb, fruit bar, cookies, a handmade natural lip balm, and a handwritten note sealed with a wax stamp.

Not all books are new as some are in "pre-loved" condition. Buying vintage and used goods instead of new is a great way to shop sustainably.

The 512 Box by Assembly $75

For all the foodies in your life, this curated gift box by Chef Philip Speer aims to bring the restaurant experience home. The ingredients are gluten-free and vegan, and the packaging is fully recyclable and compostable with compostable bags.

All boxes are guaranteed to arrive by Dec. 25 and in the box you’ll find Mexican hot chocolate, meringues, corn nuts, candied pecans, sweet granola, a chocolate bar, fresno salsa, salsa macha, adobe marinade, escabeche, an Assembly tea blend and access to Assembly's digital recipe boards to help you craft chef-quality dishes.

InstaCake Cake in a Card $18.99

If a warm hug isn't possible this year, send them some tidings of comfort and joy with a personal cake.

A heartfelt card will accompany everything they need to make a single serving cake in about a minute in the microwave. The Holiday cake is made with Madagascar vanilla, real butter and eggs and topped with frosting, festive sprinkles and a candy cane.

Because everything is pre-measured for an individual serving, you can feel good knowing there will be little to no food waste.

Gathering a Garden Board Game by eeBoo $23.99

Sometimes we forget that all our kids really want is to spend more time with us.

Even when it's cold and horrible outside, your family can create memories together by playing this fun and educational board game.

Kids ages 5 and up will develop basic skills like patience, counting and an understanding of different categories of fruits, vegetables, herbs, flowers and birds.

Unlike other board games made of flimsy materials and plastic pieces, this one is crafted with heavy, recycled board that can be handed down from family to family.

World's Best Free Experiences by Tinggly $0

It's true what they say -- the best things in life are free.

Tinggly has been "giving stories, not stuff since 2014." In addition to their other gift boxes ranging in price from $59 to $609, they offer this e-voucher that is completely free!

You'll have the opportunity to write a personal message to accompany the e-voucher. The recipient will then receive an ever-growing list of free worldwide travel experiences that they can take inspiration from for their next trip. They just have to figure out how to get there.

A few of the experiences on the list include wandering through a leftover "Star Wars" movie set in Tunisia, singing at Bearpit Karaoke in Mauerpark, Berlin, walking the treetop walk at MacRitchie Reservoir in Singapore, getting cultural at NYC's free museums, and many more.

World Vision $25+

If you want to give something meaningful this holiday season, take a look at the gift catalog by global humanitarian organization World Vision. Each purchase comes with a free, personalized card that can be mailed, emailed or printed as late as Christmas morning. 

For $25, you can provide two chickens to a family in need. The eggs and the chickens can feed a hungry family but they can also be bred to create a steady income and a better quality of life.

For $150 you can purchase two family emergency kits to fight the spread of COVID-19 in the U.S. Each kit includes a week’s worth of food for a family of five, hygiene and protective items, educational resources, and more.

Any donation can be made in the name of a loved one. The card will include a message from you, a photo and a description of the charitable gift.

StoryTerrace $1,950 - $7,450

StoryTerrace is a writing service that pairs you with an accredited ghostwriter to help capture and tell individual stories – memoirs, a collective of experiences, family recipes, or whatever you want memorialized in written word.

The ghostwriter will spend hours, or even weeks, learning about the person's life. Once complete, the book will be beautifully bound with photos and sent to the recipient as a keepsake. Every package includes 4 color hardback copies along with an easily shareable digital version.

The price tag can certainly be a bit of a shock so this might work best as a group gift. Perhaps adult children can consider gifting this to a parent or several grandchildren can split the cost in order to have their grandparent's story preserved for generations to come.

The "complete" and "novella" packages include a welcome gift box for the recipient. The deadline to order for guaranteed delivery by Christmas is Dec. 17th. If you choose to forego the gift box, StoryTerrace can email the recipient a gift certificate.

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