November 28, 2018

Experience Gift Ideas That Impress

Experience Gift Ideas for the Holidays, Christmas Steps Decor, NYC Brownstone, Helena of Brooklyn Blonde

With the holidays in full swing & if you’re anything like me, then you’re probably still wondering what to get your loved ones. While tangible gifts have their time and place, over the years I’ve come to prefer “experience gifts” more than anything else. In fact, when I took a poll on Instagram, it seemed that many of you felt the same way. With an experience gift comes along memories that can last a lifetime.

For Keith’s birthday this year, I planned a night in Philly (without Nate) since it’s close enough to drive to, but also known to be a fabulous food city. The plan was to stay in a beautiful hotel and eat our way through the city with breakfast, lunch, dinner, and of course, cocktails. No matter where you live, it’s such a fun way to spend a weekend and something a little different than the norm. I gave him the “gift” on his birthday but it was planned for 6 weeks later. So we had adequate time to plan and to get excited for our upcoming plans. As many of you might know, having things to look forward to is just the cherry on top.

Now I know that a section of these gifts are geared towards NYC, but I’m also including some wonderful ideas that are available to send by mail and ones that can be used & enjoyed no matter where you live.

Experience Gift Ideas

New York Based Gifts:

Whether it’s with your significant other, your girlfriend, or one of your parents, these gifts are some of my favorite on the list. For those of you who don’t live in New York, planning a trip to the city that’s based around the gift can take this experience to an entirely different “wow” level. The best part – while it’s a gift for one of your special people, you also get to be part of this special life memory.

ABCV & Facials at Rescue Spa: 

A couple of weeks ago, I had one of the most amazing meals at ABCV and right after, had a facial scheduled right across the street at Rescue Spa (one of the best in the city!). Later that day, I received a DM asking me for suggestions of “a special way to spend an afternoon with her mother who was meeting her in NYC.” I immediately thought of that afternoon I just had and how it would make the most perfect day. Now obviously I know this can cost a pretty penny, but I had to include this.

Another idea: Rather than exchanging gifts with a friend, why don’t you suggest both of you spend the day together and split the costs. I happen to love all of the ABC restaurants (ABC Kitchen, ABCV and ABC Cocina) and they’re all within a 1-2 block radius of each other. Currently ABCV is my favorite, but check out the menus to see which one tickles your fancy. They’re all so good!

Magician at the NoMad: 

I have not actually seen this yet but I’ve heard from over 20 people (and some very tough critics) about how incredible it was! It’s actually on my list and this post is prompting me to get it as one of my gifts for Keith (one that he will probably know about after reading this..)

Blue Hill Farm Restaurant at Stone Barns: 

For those of you who are not familiar with Blue Hill, it’s the insanely famous restaurant from star chef Dan Barber. Barber basically started the term “farm-to-table” in our neck of the woods.  A friend of mine recently suggested this as a gift idea and I was like, “YESS!!” This has been on my ‘wishlist’ for eons and I just realized how much I want to gift this to someone (Keith!) partly for selfish reasons. It’s always on the “50 best restaurants in the world” list and I’ve heard from many sources that it truly lives up to the hype.

An Oyster & Wine Class: 

Someone mentioned this idea on my Instagram post and I was like, “How did I not know this existed?” Oysters and wine are two things I always dream about, especially when paired together! I cannot speak about it personally but I’m so intrigued; and the person who commented said it was an amazing day!

Sur La Table Cooking Class:

Many of you recommended this! You get to work with chef instructors, in your nearest Sur La Table store hosting classes, and learn how to prepare recipes along with understanding home cooking techniques & more.

Pizza School

For several weeks, especially after getting a pizza oven for our backyard, Keith has been hinting at wanting to take pizza-making classes. A reader recommended Pizza School, saying she had the best time. This is another one I am seriously excited about!

AIRE Ancient Bathhouse: 

This is one of my favorite things to do with my girlfriends or with Keith. If you haven’t been, it’s the most luxe place and you’re guaranteed to leave rejuvenated and relaxed. You can simply lounge around in their baths and steam rooms but if you want to take it up a notch, add on a massage. Either way this makes the perfect gift for someone who appreciates a little spa treatment.

Cake Class at Milk Bar Bakery

Learn the steps to assembling the most popular Birthday Cake recipe or making the signature Crack Pie from start to finish, with a bonus lesson on turning leftover cake scraps into truffles while your creation is in the oven.

Race a Ferrari or Lamborghini:

Channel your inner racer driver by getting behind the wheel of one of these cars and taking it to great speeds around or down the straightaways of a world class race course.

A Night of Jazz: 

After doing a ton of research about the best jazz clubs in the city, the two most recommended places were The Django (inside the Roxy Hotel) and Smalls Jazz Club. Keith and I are huge jazz fans and I’m itching to make a night out of it. My idea plan is to start out with dinner at a nice restaurant and finish off the night with some jazz music and cocktails. Another idea: Make it a vacation or staycation. We stayed at the Roxy Hotel once and really liked it! It’s sprawling but had such a fun energy.

Afternoon High Tea:

Another top recommendation. I’m not sure what places outside NYC offer this, but I know The Palm Court at The Plaza Hotel hosts one that’s very authentic and popular. Afternoon Tea is offered daily from 12pm -4:30pm and a reservation is required; I suggest booking a month in advance if you know you’ll be visiting or in the area.

Dinner at a Michelin Star Restaurant:

This is a wonderful gift idea for those looking for something extra special, like celebrating an anniversary or milestone birthday. New York City is home to several outstanding Michelin Star restaurants. See the complete list here.

Experience Gifts by Mail/Subscription Gifts:

Okay, technically the below gifts are tangible gifts but I love how they’re built around having an experience. One year, Keith got me a coffee of the month gift and it remains to be one of my favorite gifts to date. I love coffee and having a monthly shipment to look forward to, always got me so excited. Another year, a friend of mine got me a cheese delivery and it was so much fun to create a movie, cheese and wine date around the gift itself.

Levain Cookies: 

If you’ve experienced Levain cookies before, chances are, you get the hype. These happen to be my favorite cookies in the world. There’s always a line out the door and while I normally do not do lines, I’ve waited on the Levain line several times.

Katz’s Deli Delivery:  

This infamous kosher-style deli has been serving up sandwiches since 1888! Known for its pastrami on rye (considered one of NYC’s best), Katz’s Deli has been popular amongst locals & tourists alike. For those not in the area, you can gift them with a taste of New York with a Katz special delivery. Choose from classic & seasonal subscriptions to complete 3-course dinners & big game platters!

Murray’s Cheese Delivery: 

What’s better than a box of cheese delivered to your doorstep, once a month for one year!? Murray’s Monthly Club memberships bring the best of Murray’s cheese & meat assortments for 4, 6, or 12 months. You can pick between 4 memberships – Cheese of the Month, Meat & Cheese of the Month, Pair of the Month, or Meat of the Month. Membership includes free shipping & a monthly newsletter with detailed tasting notes, cheese profiles, histories, and pairing suggestions.

ONEHOPE Wine Package: 

With a mission to bring people together through memorable wine & experiences, ONEHOPE stands out with its commitment to supporting causes with donations made with every purchase. Unlike most subscriptions, the wine packages to select from are available as one-time gift purchases, as well as speak more specifically to the recipient – for the dog lover to the garden enthusiast & much more.


A monthly food subscription made for the healthy, gluten-free snacker. Choose from 1, 3, or 6 month subscriptions, with selections of Classic, Gluten-Free, Vegan, or Diet box options made up of 30 full-sized products to enjoy!

Blue Apron: 

This subscription is perfect for the person who loves to cook at home. Or wants to improve on his/her skills in the kitchen. Each box delivered includes original or seasonal recipes along with super fresh, pre-measured ingredients. Choose from Two-Person to Family Plans with 2, 3, or 4 recipes per week options.

Blue Bottle Coffee: 

Perfect for the coffee lover! Offering custom subscription options from coffee type to quantity delivered. If you’re not sure what kind of coffee you’d like most, then you can take the coffee quiz to find out what best matches your taste.

Stich Fix: 

If you or someone you know needs a new wardrobe but hates shopping, then this subscription might be the golden ticket. With Stich Fix, you’ll get 5 pieces of clothing, shoes, and accessories to choose from based on your personal style. Try them on, keep what you like, and return the rest! The best part: both men & kids can join in on the Stitch Fix fun too!

Craft Beer Club: 

For $42 a month, subscribers receive shipments of some of the best, most exceptional craft brews from some of the best, small, independent brewers across the country. This is perfect for the craft beer enthusiast who’s looking to discover new beers to try he/she would otherwise never hear of.

Russ & Daughters New York Brunch:

Mentioned as one of Oprah’s favorite things, gift someone a taste of New York with the city’s best bagels & lox. Includes everything from bagels & lox to chocolate babka!

MasterClass Online Classes

Give the gift of learning to those who love to learn! Choose from a huge catalog of classes, designed for students of all skill levels, and taught by an expert of the chosen class discipline. For example, you can even learn “How To Be A Boss” by Anna Wintour herself!

Book of the Month

The best way to give the gift of reading more, while researching less, and saving money. Choose one book (or more) from 5 featured, wow-worthy reads each month with the freedom of repeating the process or skipping at anytime (should you need more time.)

Atlas Coffee Club

Now there’s a way to try coffee from around the world! This is a great gift for the curious coffee-lover who loves trying something new. Decide on how many, how often, and how strong preferences and enjoy the opportunity of tasting brews not available at your local coffee spot.

For The Kids, Moms-to-Be & Subscriptions:

Dream Organization:

If there’s a gift worth mentioning for a mom or one soon-to-be, it’s the gift of organization. I went through mega-nesting mode during my last few months pregnant with Sasha and redesigned/reorganized the kids’ closets and kitchen pantry. Another notable organizer company in the NYC area I’ve heard about with great reviews is Horderly. You can also check out TaskRabbit for locally-based, personal organizers if you’re looking for something more low key, not company-based.

KiwiCo Crate Box

This subscription box was rated #1 in Wired’s 8 Best Subscription Boxes for Kids. Choose from an array of boxes aimed at specific interests, available for all ages. Each box is designed to inspire young innovators by enriching their minds through fun science & art projects.

A Night Nurse: 

Someone mentioned this in one of my posts and I thought it was absolutely brilliant! A Night Nurse is a pretty expensive gift. But I thought it could even be a baby shower gift split among many females. One important thing to note: Make sure it is known that the family wants a A Night Nurse. If you’re not familiar with what a Night Nurse is, Sivan Ayla does a great job at breaking it down.

Monti Kids: 

Based on the Montessori method, Monti Kids delivers safe, wooden toys designed to stimulate your baby’s development through use & play. Every 3 months, a new level of toys are delivered as your child learns & grows up to age 3. As an added feature: once your child outgrows the toys, you have the option to donate them to children in need.

Bluum Box: 

A subscription made for both mom & child, perfect from pregnancy to preschool. Each box comes with an assortment of some of the best reviewed products, from toy brands like Melissa & Doug to books

A Yearly Subscription to Your Local Aquarium/Zoo or Museum: 

I thought this was such a brilliant idea. Rather than giving the parents a toy or clothes for the child, getting a yearly subscription is the gift that keeps on giving.

A Solo Night at a Chic Hotel:

A reader, Christine,  left this suggestion in the comments below and such a great idea! Lets be real, all a mother craves is a night of pampering (even if it’s room service and a movie) and uninterrupted sleep.

Highlights Magazine Subscription:

Highlights was my favorite magazine as a kid and it makes me so happy to see that it’s still around. We recently got Nate a subscription and he’s been loving it so much! The best part is that it’s equally fun for me to do.



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