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Birthday Gift Ideas, Part 2: Unique Events, Experiences, and Activities

If you enjoyed the birthday gift ideas in our last article, you won’t want to miss the additional ideas in the guide below.

As promised, this article will focus mostly on events and experiences that you can give to the birthday boy or girl—either to do solo or to enjoy together with you. The birthday gift countdown is on, so let’s jump right in!

Theme Park Pass

Hopping on rollercoasters, binging on fair food, watching parades float by…there’s a lot to love about going to theme parks. Everything except the price, that is! For many people, theme parks are a once-a-year destination at best due to the high cost of parking, entry tickets, concessions, souvenirs, and the countless other “must haves” that inevitably pop up.

Giving your friend or family member a theme park pass will unlock the fun multiple times a year. Most passes provide unlimited entry for one year, and they easily pay for themselves after just two or three trips. If you have room in the budget, grab a pass for yourself and make it a monthly or bimonthly date with you and the birthday boy or girl.

Fun Classes

Whether your loved one is crafty or not, it’s always fun to try learning something new! Instead of gifting supplies that may or may not be used, it’s a good idea to gift a class. You’ll get to experience a new activity together, and the birthday recipient can find out whether they enjoy a craft, hobby, or skill before investing in a bunch of equipment and supplies.

Here are some enjoyable ideas for classes:

  • Cooking
  • Pottery
  • Knitting
  • Embroidery
  • Filmmaking
  • Foreign Languages
  • Make-up
  • Leatherworking
  • Writing
  • Skiing
  • Rock Climbing
  • Wilderness First Aid
  • Meditation
  • Yoga
  • Painting
  • Drawing

You’ll likely be able to find many of these classes in your local area, depending on the size of the city in which you live. If you can’t find any good in-person courses, there are tons of options online! Platforms like Skillshare, Domestika, Creative Live, and Masterclass all host online courses on a variety of creative skills.

Remember how we talked about doing some “birthday recon” in the last article? Well, you can use this strategy to find the perfect classes to gift, too! If your friend is always complaining about recipes turning out awfully, why not give a cooking course? If your family member is talking about feeling stressed to the point of burn out, try a meditation class or retreat.

Warehouse Memberships

It seems like we all spend more money than we’d like on groceries and other daily living necessities. Giving your loved one a warehouse membership can help them save big on food, household items, and even appliances!

Keep in mind that this gift is probably best for someone with many mouths to feed at home and/or plenty of space to store those super-sized bulk packages. A single person living alone may not have room for the 48-pack of toilet paper or the 5 pounds of frozen salmon—making the cost savings more of a hassle than an actual gift.

Arcade Credits

Arcades went out of fashion for a minute, but they’re back and better than ever! With some thanks to shows like Stranger Things, retro arcades are again a go-to weekend activity and are popping up in many cities across the country. There are of course the tried-and-true chains like Dave & Busters, but there are also many indie arcades and “barcades” emerging to appeal to more of an adult (and dare we say “hipster”?) crowd.

Gather up your friends to throw a fun arcade birthday party, or give the birthday boy or girl some arcade credits and a gift card to use on their own time. With prizes, drinks, and delectably bad-for-you foods, one thing is for sure: arcades are a hit for anyone at any age.

Gym Memberships

Most of us have an ideal vision of what we look like…and most of us don’t exactly live up to that standard, even on a good day. A gym membership can be a great gift for a close friend or family member who has expressed a desire to get more fit.

Warning, warning, warning: That last bit is extremely important—the birthday boy or girl should have clearly told you or demonstrated a purposeful desire to improve their fitness and physical health. If they have not, then giving a gym membership is very likely to come across as insulting, demeaning, or at the very least passive-aggressive.

If the recipient is genuinely interested in getting fit, then you’re good to go! Another way to make this gift more interesting and less “you need work out” would be to gift a unique type of gym or fitness membership. Instead of the standard chain, give a membership to something a little different:

  • Yoga studio
  • Zumba studio
  • Pilates center
  • OrangeTheory interval training
  • 9Round kickboxing
  • CrossFit
  • Rock climbing gym

For someone who is extremely busy and may not want the hassle of travelling to a physical location to work out, you could also gift something like a Peloton spin bike (if you’ve got a fair amount of money to spend), a high-quality yoga mat (much more affordable!), or even a set of free weights for a basic home gym.

Vacation Packages

Did someone say vacay?! Not everyone is in the financial position to gift a vacation package, but if you are and if you’re feeling generous, then this birthday gift is a surefire hit for anyone who can afford to take some time off.

Some vacation packages are luxuriously priced even for the most plentiful budgets, but there are also some surprisingly affordable options out there as well. To save some cash, you could search for last-minute deals or off-season packages online, or you could plan a local “vacation package” of your own design! A weekend at a fancy hotel with room service and an on-site spa can certainly be enough of a getaway to be a special birthday gift.

Depending on where you live, other relatively affordable local options might include:

  • Wine tasting
  • A weekend at the lake
  • A three-day cruise
  • Camping at a local campground
  • Hiking at a national park
  • Renting an unusual Airbnb nearby
  • Staying at a famous hotel for a night or two

Interesting Tours

Speaking of local vacation experiences….do some research and see whether there are interesting tours you could take nearby. There are probably tons of tourist spots that you may have forgotten about or have never taken the time to actually see for yourself—which means the birthday boy or girl probably hasn’t, either!

A quick online search can be a good starting point. If you live in a tourist destination already, you’ll have a super-easy time of it; if not, you may need to do a little more digging or ask around to your family and friends to find some hidden gems.

Themed Parties

Kid or adult, everyone loves a themed birthday party! In fact, the older we get, the more special a themed party can be, providing that elusive escape from our stressful day-to-day. With our party masks safely on, we can truly unwind and get in the birthday spirit at any age.

Need some ideas for your themed party? Try one of these:

  • Super-birthday Super Bowl
  • Cult classic action flick—think Die Hard, The Matrix, or The Terminator
  • Roaring 20s
  • Steampunk
  • Vintage tiki bar
  • Circus
  • Atlantis
  • Masquerade ball
  • State fair

You can throw an adults-only birthday bash or make it a family affair with a more kid-friendly theme. To keep the birthday spirit going longer, set up a homemade photo booth to capture the fun and then have the photos printed into a book for an after-birthday gift.

Helicopter Tours

You don’t have to live in Manhattan or near the Grand Canyon to enjoy local views from a helicopter. Even smaller and midsize towns often have a local hobbyist airport where helicopter tours are available. As long as your friend doesn’t have a fear of heights, this gift will be memorable and exciting. If it’s cool with the helicopter company, pack a picnic and a bottle of champagne for a mid-flight birthday toast.

Pilot Lessons

If riding in a helicopter sounds like a gift your friend or family member would love, take it one step further and put them in the pilot seat! (Don’t worry—you don’t have to go along for the ride.)

Many local airports offer pilot classes for pleasure, so you can gift one or two lessons without committing your friend to a serious certification course or anything. The professional pilot will take off and land the plane, but the student (i.e. the birthday boy or girl!) will have the chance to pilot the plane mid-air—a thrill that’s hard to come by in any other way.

Bonus Birthday Gift Ideas: Three Interesting Items to Give

Not really feeling the experience route for your birthday gift? Then consider one of these unique gifts instead.


Drones are an interesting gift since many people know they’d enjoy tinkering around with one but are unlikely to actually purchase one for themselves. It’s a gift that keeps on giving, too, since the recipient will be able to use the drone to take priceless footage of future experiences: an amazing hike down the Pacific Coast Trail, their child’s first sports game, or maybe even that awesome themed party you’re planning to throw them.(Hint, hint.)

Drones are no longer as pricey as they once were, with cheaper models available for less than $50. Many drones on the market—even the more affordable ones—have cameras, stabilizers, and other tech that makes them easier to operate. Some drones even have facial recognition software that allows them to follow their owners automatically.


Everyone loves a cozy home or workspace! Personalized, well-curated decorations can make our day-to-day lives feel so much better—which in turn makes décor a great birthday gift for anyone. You can think purely practical or go more luxurious; there are virtually endless ideas for both.

For instance, maybe your birthday boy or girl would enjoy:

  • High-end candles
  • Color-changing lights
  • Chunky throw blankets
  • An organizer or bulletin board
  • A giant dry erase board
  • A potted plant
  • A succulent garden
  • Funny or motivational quote posters
  • Customized sticky notes
  • A personalized family wall hanging
  • A framed photograph of you together
  • Couch pillows

Personalized Items

If you’re giving any kind of item as your gift, you can make it more meaningful by personalizing it. Depending on what the gift is, you could have it monogrammed, etched, or embossed with their initials—especially perfect for something like a laptop case, a leather tote, a necklace, or a pair of high-end pajamas.

You could also personalize your birthday gift in a bigger way by making it yourself! Crocheting a scarf, quilting a blanket, or writing a song are all wonderful ideas.

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