If you don’t have a gift for that special someone in your life yet, you’re probably in panic mode right about now. Don’t worry; you don’t need to pay a ton for overnight shipping or cross your fingers for a Christmas miracle to stay out of the doghouse. Just buy your better half one of these experiential gifts (and check out this post for the science behind why experiential gifts are better, anyway).
A Weekend at a Nearby Bed and Breakfast
An occasional change of scenery works wonders for relationships. “Every once in a while, it’s important to break the routines that couples naturally fall into and experience something new and different together,” says Dr. Jane Greer, a relationship counselor and author of What About Me? Stop Selfishness from Ruining Your Relationship. We like sites like Travelzoo.com and SniqueAway.com for great deals on getaways. One tip: If you’re debating whether to book a surprise last-minute trip, don’t. “For many people, the anticipation of going on vacation can be just as enjoyable—if not more so—than actually going on it,” Greer says.
Other gifts for a venue change: A farm stay; two nights at a luxury resort in your hometown.
A Local Food Tour
Companies offering an excuse to stuff your face with the best food in the area have been popping up everywhere lately, and they make the perfect gift for a food-obsessed partner. “Bonding over food is literally sensual,” Greer says. “You’re adding another sense—taste—to the experience, which enhances your shared pleasure.” Whether you hit up a laundry list of cupcakes shops or go on a search for the best slice in town, you’ll end the day with more than just a full stomach: You’ll also feel closer. If you live in New York or Philly, check out CityFoodTours.com for some fun options.
Other sensual gift options: A coffee cupping experience; tickets to a wine and cheese-tasting event.
A Scavenger Hunt of Your City
In the past, designing a scavenger hunt for your honey was the ultimate romantic gesture. Now, you can pay someone else to do the heavy lifting for you. “Anything where you’re working as a team and have a sense of purpose and shared accomplishment helps to strengthen intimacy,” Greer says. The adrenaline rush of discovering new places together also helps keeps things fresh, Greer says—and many of the hunts are designed to help you explore hidden gems in your city. For New Yorkers, SecretCityNY.com offers lots of solid options.
Other adventure dates to give: Zipline passes; a helicopter tour
A Couple’s Spa Day
This date works to strengthen your bond both mentally and physically. “It’s important to feel safe and comfortable in any relationship,” Greer says, “and getting into the habit of relaxing and decompressing around someone helps you take steps in that direction.” Biologically, whenever you have physical contact with someone (even if it’s a masseuse), your body produces oxytocin, aka the love hormone. “It create a sense of pleasure and wellbeing, and it makes you feel more connected to the person that you’re with,” Greer says. SpaWeek.com will help you find the perfect spot to book your tandem treatment.
Other oxytocin-boosting picks: Dancing lessons; symphony tickets (research suggests soothing music may boost oxytocin levels)
Bartending Boot Camp
Learning something new with your SO is a great way to reinvigorate your relationship: “It gives you the chance to discover a new side of your partner that you didn’t know existed,” Greer says. And seeing your boyfriend or girlfriend make the perfect twist or nail mint muddling can be a huge turn-on. Plus, just like with the adventurous dates, you’re working on something as a team. “It strengthens that sense of unity and purpose, which is so important to maintain in a relationship,” Greer says. We like the boozy crash courses from abcbartending.com.
Other classes to enroll in: A BYOB painting course; photography lessons
Robin Hilmantel is a writer and editor living in Manhattan who loves both giving and receiving experiential gifts.
Single? Post a date today on HowAboutWe and find someone to share a great experience with. In a relationship? Check out HowAboutWe for Couples, our new site that makes it easy for couples to have one-of-a-kind experiences together.