Sometimes giving an experience or making a donation in someone’s name is a more meaningful gift than giving physical stuff. Here are some ideas for alternative gifts. I personally would love any of the gifts described below!
1) Zoo or Science Museum Membership
We have memberships to our local science museum and zoo and I have been thankful for these so many times I have lost count! I always have somewhere to take the little one where she can run around and play the day away. Most zoos and museums have a “plus one” and/or family membership that is between $50-$100.
Also, did you know that most zoos and museums offer reciprocal admission to other locations? That means that if you travel somewhere you can often get into local zoos and science museums for free or at reduced cost. You can learn more at these two sites: AZA Reciprocal Admission Program and ASTC Passport Program.
2. Cooking Classes or Wine/Beer Tastings
I have absolutely loved all of the cooking classes I have ever attended. They are so interesting, you leave with a bunch of new recipes, and you almost always get to taste some wine with the food samples! Many locations that offer cooking classes also offer wine and beer tasting events as well. I am lucky to live close to a Southern Season which has an amazing array of cooking classes starting at $30. You can find local places that offer cooking classes with a web search. Did you know that some Sur La Table stores and Whole Foods Markets offer cooking classes as well?
3. Share Airline Miles
Most airlines will allow you to share your miles with family or friends by transferring the miles to their accounts. You will have to pay for the transfer but it should be significantly less than what you would pay for the equivalent airfare. For example, right now with Southwest it would cost $40 to transfer 5,600 miles which is generally worth over $100 in airfare. This would be a great gift if you have an excess of miles and have a family member with wanderlust. Thanks for the idea, Aunt Joel.
4. Adopt an Animal
If you have an animal-loving relative or friend a great gift can be to symbolically “adopt” an animal in their name. The World Wildlife Fund has a great species adoption gift center where you can find an amazing array of animals to adopt! With a $55 donation the recipient receives a certificate, small plush, animal photo and a gift bag. Plus your donation supports WWF’s efforts to protect wild animals and their habitats.
Or you can support my favorite non-profit the Jane Goodall Institute and make a donation in a loved one’s name to the Chimp Guardian program. You’ll also get a plush chimp and certificate to give.
5. Certificate for Date Night Babysitting
It is notoriously hard for parents (especially new ones) to find time for each other. Consider giving the gift of your time to a couple so they can go out for a much needed date night. If I saw a coupon good for one night’s babysitting up on the fridge every day, I would be way more likely to make time for a night out! You can print a nice coupon book from another one of my favorite non-profits, The Center for a New American Dream.
6.Amazon Prime Membership
This is a gift that keeps on giving for a whole year. An Amazon Prime gift membership gives someone not only free 2-day shipping on millions of items on Amazon.com, but also access to movies, TV shows, digital music and more on Amazon. This service has saved us hundreds of dollars and so much time that I long ago lost track. A one-year gift membership costs $99. This really would make an awesome gift!
7. Gift Certificate for Indoor Playground or Water Park
Winter time is a great time to visit an indoor playground (such as Monkey Joe’s) or make a trip to an indoor water park. You can often find deals on these places through Living Social or Groupon.