Gift giving during the winter holidays is a tradition that has been celebrated for centuries. With each passing year, our holiday shopping lists seem to grow longer and our repertoire of thoughtful gift ideas only gets smaller. Come January, our closets are fuller, our children’s toy chests ampler, and our collection of gadgets more diverse.
And yet, you can’t help but wonder: does your brother really want another sweater? Does your mom really need another serving bowl?
Consumer behaviours are beginning to shift, as shoppers seek opportunities to evade the traditional Christmas list full of superfluous material items. Instead, many purchases are made with the intention of creating joy that lasts well beyond the holidays – through experiential gifting provided in the form of concert tickets, spa days, adventurous excursions, and more.
“It really is about sharing experiences,” says Alex Barseghian, Chief Experience Officer with LifeExperiences. Gone are the days of gifting another new polo shirt (with a gift receipt, of course). Instead, people are seeking out opportunities to connect and create meaningful memories together. It’s a trend driven, in part, by the social media craze inspiring us to snap, post and share our experiences online, and then reflect on the moments captured for years to come.
One of the benefits of experiential gifting is the opportunity to be more thoughtful with your purchases. “You have to know the person you’re giving a gift to—what they like to do, what they don’t like to do—and then the sky is the limit,” says Barseghian.
LifeExperiences streamlines the process by curating exclusive experiences and making them available for online purchase through their website. For example, a “VIP Wine Tasting and Touring” getaway to Niagara-on-the-Lake is available for 59 dollars and includes a range of wine and food pairings, as well as two premium VQA bottles for you to take home. “If they like wine, this is a fool-proof gift,” Barseghian says.
Other excursion-based gifts offered at LifeExperiences.ca include sky diving, archery, paint balling and even a Segway tour through the Distillery District. There are also gift certificates for golf, yoga, personal shoppers, residential cleaning services and more.
Of course, part of the appeal of experiential gift giving is the opportunity to Shop Local. There are plenty of relaxing and entertaining experiences available within our own backyard. We’ve rounded up some of our favourites to get you started:
You don’t have to travel to Niagara region to enjoy a wine tasting. Holland Marsh Wineries on Keele Street in Newmarket offers a picturesque view and tasty local wine.
BREWERY TASTING AND TOUR
If you’re shopping for a lover of beer or cider, we have some incredible craft breweries located here in town, including Arch Brewing and Market Brewing Co. in Newmarket, as well as Ernest Cider Co. in Aurora.
It’s always fun to try something new, and Bullseye Axe Throwing in Newmarket welcomes axe-throwers of all experience and skill levels. Why not make it a group gift and take the whole family?
If you’re looking for a gift for your artistic family member or friend, you can’t go wrong with a local paint night. Studios such as Start Academy, Art Circle, and the Aurora Cultural Centre all offer paint night parties, or you can visit PaintNite.ca to search for an event at a nearby small business or restaurant.
The gamer on your list will definitely appreciate the opportunity to experience Crypto Escape Rooms in Newmarket. Here, they will be challenged to solve a series of clues and puzzles within a set timeframe in an attempt to “escape” interactive rooms featuring mad scientists and plagued temples.
We are fortunate to have many local luxury spas to choose from, including Dawson Manor, Balsam Spa and Sanctuary Spa in Newmarket. If you’d prefer a full weekend retreat, Rawley Resort in Port Severn offers the full spa and fine dining experience.
Give the gift of dance with a gift certificate from Arthur Murray Dance Centers in Richmond Hill. Treat your spouse or your favourite couple to a romantic date night out, featuring group or private classes with the leaders in dance instruction.
ACTIVITIES FOR CHILDREN
Of course, you can’t forget the kids. Bowling at Stellar Lanes, or trampolining at Airbone Trampoline World not only make great gifts, but they offer the perfect opportunity for exerting some of that excess energy over the holiday break.
There really is no shortage of options when it comes to shopping locally for experiential gifts that satisfy all of the loved ones on your list. Perhaps it’s time to start a new family holiday tradition. As the Grinch famously reminds us, “Maybe Christmas doesn’t come from a store. Maybe Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more.”
by Charlotte Ottaway
Holland Marsh Wineries, Newmarket
Arch Brewing, Newmarket
Market Brewing Company, Newmarket
Ernest Cider Co., Aurora
Bullseye Axe Throwing, Newmarket
Start Academy, Newmarket
Art Circle – Social Art
Aurora Cultural Centre
Crypto Escape Rooms
Airborne Trampoline World
Rawley Resort, Port Severn
Arthur Murray Dance Centers, Richmond Hill