This season, everyone is talking about how to give “experiences” rather than “stuff.” The gift of experience leaves a longer-lasting effect, combines the memory of your thoughtfulness with the fun of the event, and leaves the recipient without any clutter to deal with later or awkwardly try to re-gift. Giving experiences has the added-bonus of supporting the people and companies who create them Often creative, unique people and small companies as opposed to big-box stores or conglomerates produce these unique, experiential gifts. It’s really a win-win-win situation.

And one of the best ways to gift experiences is through subscriptions, which are really the gifts that keep on giving…and giving and giving. They give your loved one something to look forward to every month, and keep the gift fresh throughout the year rather than something forgotten and cast aside by Spring. So enough of the sweaters! Enough of the socks! Give something better than what comes in a single box!

I’ve put together a list of my favorite experience-based subscriptions for everyone on your list, even the tricky ones! And just to be clear, these recommendations are coming from the bottom of my subscription-loving heart. Nobody’s sponsoring this post, and I don’t get anything from your clicks other than the satisfaction of being a great gift matchmaker. Enjoy!

Drum roll please! Here are the perfect gifts:

For your partner, Date Night In:

(Date Night In)

Everybody loves date nights. They’re sweet and romantic, they set aside time for just the two of you. They prioritize slowing things down and really focusing on each other over the every-day trials and tribulations of work, school, chores, and the rest. Date nights are also a way to try new things and explore new activities. But let’s face it: it takes time to think up a creative date, and many of us just don’t have the knack for it. With the Date Night In box, each month you get a whole date from start to finish tied up in a bow. Each box includes at least three activities, music, good vibes, snacks, and more. And since you’re sending it as a subscription, you’re making a date night commitment month after month, which gives you both something to look forward to long after the holidays are through.

For your adventurous sibling (or the one you wish were adventurous), Battlbox:


Boyfriends, girlfriends, brothers, sisters, this subscription gets everybody out of the house! This box comes monthly with themed adventure and survival gear to encourage the thrill-seeker or couch potato in your life to get out there into the wild! And giving it this time of the year is perfect for people setting resolutions to get off their butt.

And if you’re stuck gifts on the men in your life, don’t forget old standards like Spotify, Netflix, and PlayStation Plus subscriptions, which give your guy endless supplies of what he loves most in entertainment. It might feel “too practical,” but I’ll let you in on a secret – dudes love practical gifts. It’s why we give them so much, much to the chagrin of those who might have been expecting something more sentimental!

For your parents, Ski Passes or Park passes

(Wikimedia Commons)

Depending on your climate, lift passes or State/National park memberships are the perfect gifts for your parents. It’s a lot more subtle than getting them a gym membership, but it still encourages them to spend some quality time together, outdoors, moving around. State Park passes tend to run around $50 per person depending on your state, so your parents will get a whole year of getting out in nature for not a whole lot upfront spend. And if you print out your favorite park and suggest a day you all can go together to include in the envelope, all the better. A little sentiment goes a long way with the folks. Plus, if we’re being real in today’s political climate, who knows how long we have left with our precious national parks? Let’s get out there while we still can.

For your grandparents, opera season tickets

(Wikimedia Commons)

Almost every major city in the world has their own opera, and chances are your grandparents are either fans or would love to be able to brag that they are and feel fancy. Boston has a revived Lyric Opera that’s doing lots of innovative stuff, Sarasota has a thriving art scene all its own… you might be surprised what your city has to offer. Of course, if you know Gram and Gramps are more into ballet or theater, those are always great choices as well. Museum memberships are also a thoughtful option, and often come with free passes to special lectures, screenings, and events, which nudges your grandparents into being social, too. Just like with your parents, throwing in a personal note about meeting them for dinner before the big premier adds that extra touch of love that makes a gift sparkle.

For your children (and everybody else’s children), Little Passports

(Little Passports)

Buying for kids is tough! They think they know what they want, but nine times out of ten, they’re sick of that new toy/game/whatever it is within a few weeks, and it’s tossed aside.

Little Passports sends monthly adorable little travel cases full of activities, factoids, and other fun stuff. There are options for all age groups, with themes like international travels, exploring the USA, and scientific expeditions. Parents will love that you gave this gift too, since it’s educational and helping kids grow with the idea of our ever-expanding world. Plus, this gives kids something new to do every month, rather than having to make last year’s Christmukkah presents stretch all year round.

For your “Making a Murder” binging bestie, Hunt A Killer

(Hunt a Killer)

We all have that friend who comes into the office each day raving about the latest episode of some true crime drama. This is the perfect gift for anyone who wonders if they should quit their job in investment banking and finally go to police academy.

Each box spins a suspenseful tale of a crime only the opener can solve. Use all the clues and your wits to get to the bottom of these lethal mysteries. Interactive, suspenseful, and something you and your BFF can do together? Win.

For your boss (or your favorite colleague), MistoBox


MistoBox is for true coffee lovers, packing at least 30 cups of beans per box and shipping new interesting flavors each month. There’s nothing more empathetic for a work buddy or a boss than a monthly surprise of exotic, interesting coffee brews. And there’s no better experience to start your day than a luxurious cup of pure life. It’s even better this time of year, when wrapping your palms around a warm cup of ‘jo is the perfect pick-me-up.

Think outside one lonely box

I mean, boxes are great, especially if they’re full of things to do from January through December. But giving a great gift means thinking beyond that one single “thing” you can give someone. Most of the options above cost way less than you might expect, too, and have a variety of options for different budgets (bi-monthly or quarterly, for example.)

Think about what makes your loved ones smile, think of what “thing” you’d normally give them, and then think beyond that. What do they love to do? How could that activity be transmitted in gift form? I hope these ideas inspire you to think in new ways about how to give this season!