Giving Experiential Gifts

Christmas comes but once a year, and yet it feels like only yesterday you were stressed over what to buy for your friends and relatives.  Another gadget? Another appliance?  Another toy that will soon gather dust in a drawer?  I’m assuming you’ve already bought everyone a copy of The Great Canadian Bucket List. Fortunately, there are gifts out there that are unforgettable, unique, and continue to give joy for as long as the recipient’s memory holds up.   Introducing experiential gifts – the gift of life experience, and these days, it couldn’t be easier to find.

Perfect Day Experiences  is a Vancouver-based company that has been in operation for five years, offering over 500 different experiences across the country.    The idea is very simple:   You visit their website, search for an experience based on a wide variety of criteria, purchase it, and the company sends it along to your friends and family.   They’ll receive a gift card in the mail that allows them to log on to the website, redeem their experience, and choose when they’d like to do it based on their own schedule.     They’ll have one year to do it, in their own time, and chances are it will be an experience they’d never think to purchase for themselves.    The website is handily divided into categories like Adventure, Body and Soul, Air, Driving, Water, Nature, even Junior activities that are perfect for kids.

In the Adventure category, why not buy the gift of archery lessons, or rock climbing, ziplining, or even a glacier climb.   According to Perfect Day founder Paul Brewer, big sellers in this category also include a dogfight in a F-18  Jet Fighter Simulator, couples activities, and Segway tours.   The company only works with reputable and established operators to ensure that everything is safe and professional.  Well, as safe and professional as you can get if you wanted to go for a walk with a wolf (Canmore, Alberta), white river raft (Renfrew, Ontario), or fly about paragliding (Harrison, British Columbia).    For those who prefer their experiences a little more relaxed, consider a Mind, Body and Soul Spa for Two,  a dress and styling session with image consultants, shopping with professionals, VIP distillery tours or even pole dancing lessons.

If you know people who like to get their hands on the wheel, consider a Hummer, ATV, Jeep, Go-Kart, Classic Car, Snowmobile or drag racing experience.   Everyone is different, which is why one person might go for the Harley Davidson cruise, and another the dirt bike adventure.   If you’re not sure which direction you should go, the company also offers a Freedom Voucher in multiple denominations, which can be used to redeem an experience, or put towards one that might cost a little extra.     How much extra are we’re talking about?  For those with very grateful friends, consider giving a full day Nascar driving experience , a Boeing 767 flight simulator, or an introduction to ice climbing.

Paul Brewster tells me that this time of year, Martini Cocktail classes and wine tasting are big sellers, but the biggest seller of all is flying lessons.   Through an experiential gift  company in Los Angeles called 99 Blue Bananas,  I took flying class and couldn’t believe just how easy and fun it is to fly a plane, so long as someone else is with you to take care of all those funny knobs and buttons.   Brewster says his goal is to make the intangible tangible,  since most people have too much stuff anyway, and an good experience – be it inspirational, educational or simply for fun – is something everyone can appreciate.    The fact that it comes on a personalized gift card via mail, nicely packaged and with the flexibility to work with anyone’s schedule, means the recipient receives the gift, the experience, and the memory all in one.   And that goes for couples, kids, and staff members too.

In the end, experiential gifts gets people out their homes and living their lives, enriching their memories and avoiding the clutter of things.   I’m not sure what the spirit of Xmas is exactly, but if everyone could experience the joys of life a little more often, than that would be a perfect day indeed.

Great Canadian Bucket List