As the holiday season draws closer, the search for the perfect gift for our family members begins. For some of us, this hunt is part of the holiday fun. For others, it can be met with a bit of dread. We are inundated daily with materialism, constantly bombarded by ads for the next greatest thing to add joy to our lives. However, 2020 has brought a lot of eye-opening insight into the way we have been living. While stuck at home in quarantine, we longed not only for human connection but for adventure. This holiday season, forget the material gifts, and give the gift of an experience to your family and friends, whether that’s planning a future trip or simply providing an experience to enjoy safely from their own home. And because we like to support our own, some of our gift ideas include amazing companies owned and operated by military veterans and military spouses!
Experience gifts for the family
Museum & zoo memberships – An annual museum or zoo membership is a great investment in the education of your children. It’s also a wonderful way for families to spend quality time together. While many museums and zoos are open to a limited capacity, with an annual membership the family can go as many times as they want throughout the year, taking full advantage of spending quality time in each part of the zoo or museum.
Virtual classes – We understand the struggle with virtual learning; however, the current pandemic has led to an increase in virtual opportunities that our children have always dreamed of: Video game designing, LEGO club, baking a unicorn cake, crafting a superhero shield and cape, drawing mythical creatures, individual guitar lessons and survival camp in Minecraft….the list goes on! Outschool, a popular platform for online courses and camps for children of all ages, offers a wide variety of courses that make learning fun! Tap into your child’s individual and unique interests and give them hands-on experience from the comfort of their own home.
Concerts, sporting games, theatre and events – Concerts, sporting games and events have been put on hold in the recent months. Slowly, though, small venues are starting to open again. A wonderful way to give the gift of an exceptional experience is gifting through Vet Tix. Vet Tix secures tickets to popular sporting games, concerts, performing arts, events and family activities across the country. Veterans and their families can request tickets to events that interest them and receive them for free with only a small delivery fee.
Kinship Vacations – Veteran and mil-spouse owned, Kinship Vacations plans unique vacations from start to finish, with special consideration in building and strengthening your family’s bond. Their design philosophy says it all: “We have all experienced years of hardship away from our family due to our choice to commit to a life of public service for this great nation. For this reason, we want to make every vacation of yours magical, memorable, and priceless.” Romantic getaways and trips off the beaten path all over the world and the U.S. make for memories that will last a lifetime, even if booked for a year or two from now. As an added perk, military families receive a special discount!
Skyhour – Give the gift of free flights to a family deserving an amazing vacation. Flight fees for families rack up quickly and can often deter a family’s dream vacation. With Skyhour, you can gift a person or family of your choice with money towards their flights. Pay off the flights completely, or pay for an hour at a time. With the gift of an online piggy bank for flights, a family can work towards their dream vacation without the hassle of ticket prices and fees.
Experience gifts for mom
Waters Edge Winery – Waters Edge Wineries is an innovative urban winery system bringing the cultural experience of wine to communities across the country. While franchises are available country-wide, we are especially keen on veteran-owned and operated Waters Edge Winery & Bistro in Elizabethtown, Kentucky. This winery serves up an authentic and unique wine tasting experience for its customers, both near and far. Grapes imported from Germany, Italy, France and California are produced and bottled on location, allowing customers the ultimate experience in winemaking, tasting and customizing. If a simple gift is all you’re looking for, or maybe you aren’t local, the winery also offers custom wine labels for every occasion. Give the gift of a unique wine that celebrates your loved one with a personalized note right on the bottle.
Teak and Twine – Bring the spa or girl’s weekend home! Veteran-owned, Teak and Twine curates the most luxurious gift boxes of bath soaps, salts, edible treats and more! With gift box names like “The Long Weekend”, “Breakfast in Bed” and “The Night In”, these thoughtful gift boxes go beyond just a beautiful present, but provide for an entire experience. Treat her with the gift of time: a moment of self-care or bonding with her bestie.
Milso Box – Perfect for a spouse of a deployed soldier, a Milso Box (a veteran and milspouse-owned company!) is a subscription box service that sends the spouse serving on the home front a perfectly curated gift box full of comfort, joy and encouragement. Let them know you are thinking of them by signing up a deserving spouse for a one, three, or six-month subscription. Give them the gift of experiencing your love and support each month while they battle the toughest part of military life.
Art Classes from The Art Studio NY– Getting creative is not only good for the mind and body but also helps us get to know ourselves in more meaningful ways. Give the mom in your life a chance to explore her creative side and step away from the everyday humdrum with online art classes through The Art Studio NY, a company based out of NYC. Even though we’d all love a weekend away in the city to draw, paint and create, it’s not always possible – especially in the middle of a pandemic – but through The Art Studio NY, we can take classes on art journaling, beginners acrylic painting, watercolor painting and much more. If the whole family wants to get involved, The Art Studio NY also offers online art courses for kids and teens.
Table at Home – As the saying goes, the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach. While we would all love a fine dining experience out at our favorite restaurant after months of quarantine, we think the gift of a fine in-home dining experience could be even better. Hiring a personal chef is easier than ever through companies such as Table at Home. By simply providing a few key details and your budget, locally trained private chefs compete for your bid, providing a full menu and pricing. You choose the one you like best and voila – you can have the most fabulous and intimate dining experience you’ve ever had in your own home.
Unchartered Society – Give dad the gift of the most unique travel experience he has yet to have. Unchartered Society creates and curates the most incredible adventures, all through the use of power sport vehicles. Pump up the adrenaline by exploring the most beautiful places in the U.S. by way of ATV, UTV, Sea-doo, Ski-doo and other unique power sport vehicles. From the mountains to the sea, there is something for every adventure-loving guy in your life.
Personal in-home massage – While a trip to the spa might not be possible, thanks to technology, bringing the experts into your own home has never been easier. With companies like Zeel, you can book a highly trained and reputable massage therapist for an in-home deep tissue massage, sports massage, Swedish massage or simply a really good stretch on your own time and schedule. Create an even better experience with the gift of a couple’s massage.
American Ninja Warrior lessons – This might be the perfect gift for the whole family, but we think the man in your life would probably jump on the opportunity to train like an American Ninja Warrior. With ninja warrior gyms set up all over the U.S., the ninja warrior training options are endless. Even if the gift isn’t set on becoming an American Ninja Warrior, it is definitely a fun opportunity to experience what it’s like to train as one.
Escape Room – Escape Room adventures have become a huge hit in most major cities. While each one is a bit different, the premise is all the same: Use your brain, make a collective effort with a group of friends or family, and solve the riddles in order to escape the room before time is up! While finding your local escape room is as easy as a google search, we love to support our military and found many veteran-owned escape rooms, like Xscape Factor in Fayetteville, N.C.!
Despite what happens this holiday season with the current pandemic, we can still give the gift of an incredible experience – big or small. We can give an experience that provides hope, comfort and a sense of familial bond – feelings that a material item often lacks and are needed more than ever during such a trying time.