23 Unforgettable Experiences to Give Someone Who Doesn't Need More Gifts
We all have that one person on our list who's impossible to shop for. They already have everything they want, they can't think of anything they want, or they're eschewing material possessions—whatever the reason, there's always that name that keeps you from finishing off your gift-giving to-do list. Well, not anymore. Forget physical gifts and give those recalcitrant recipients an experience they'll never forget. Ballooning over Mount Everest, a celebrity chef's cooking class, learning to drive like a racing pro: these memorable presents will satisfy even the most frustrating giftee.
A Cooking Class with Chef Thomas Keller
Michelin-starred chef Thomas Keller, the force behind the French Laundry and Per Se, will teach you how to blanch, braise, glaze, and more in a new partnership with MasterClass. In 36 online lessons, Keller says, "students will learn that if they go through the proper steps, are patient in the process, and learn to understand ingredients, they will taste the difference and have the tools to succeed in making a nourishing meal."
BUY NOW $90, masterclass.com
Spend a Night at the Metropolitan Museum
Any trip to take in the astounding art and history that fill the Met's storied halls would be an experience, but to take your art appreciation experience to the next level, try the EmptyMet tour. The one and half hour tour takes just 25 guests on an intimate after-hours tour of some of the museum's highlights, including Canova’s "Perseus with the Head of Medusa" and Vincent van Gogh’s "Wheat Field with Cypresses" sans the crowds.
BOOK NOW $199, viator.com
A Sunday Brunch Sail in Connecticut
This three-hour sail aboard a 110-foot schooner leaves from scenic Mystic, Connecticut for a brunch tour of Fishers Island Sound and its beautiful coastline and lighthouses. Built in 1967, the Mystic Whaler includes 3,000 square feet of sail.
BOOK NOW $82 per person, cloud9living.com
Blend Your Own Wine
Oenophiles can live out their fantasy of creating a personalized wine blend at the Grand Bohemian Hotel in Charleston, South Carolina. In 90 minutes, a sommelier leads participants through the process of combining wines into a personal blend, and everyone goes home with their own bottle featuring a label that can be customized with artwork and wording.
BOOK NOW $99, classesbykessler.com
Learn to Drive a Ferrari Like A Pro
Iconic Italian car brand will put you behind the wheel for an intensive two-day Corso Pilota course with personalized training in how to rev around the track like a professional driver. Their level one program will impart everything you need to know about sport driving practicum, but if that doesn't satisfy your need for speed, they also have three additional course levels for even more advanced drivers.
BOOK NOW From $13,900, ferrari.com
Learn to Arrange Flowers Like a Florist
As the saying goes, "Give a man a fish and he'll eat for a day, teach a man to fish, and he'll eat for a lifetime." We'd like to suggest a less aquatic interpretation: "Give a person a bouquet, they'll have beautiful flowers for a day, teach them to make a bouquet, they'll have beautiful flowers all the time."
BOOK NOW From $375, flourla.com
An Annual Pass to the National Parks
This pass offers access to all 59 parks across the country operated by the National Park Service, and it includes entry for the pass holder plus up to three accompanying adults age 16 and older (no entry fee charged for children 15 and under).
BUY NOW $80, usgs.gov
Align Your Chakras in the Himalayas
The yoga retreats at this destination spa offer 5, 7, 14, and 21-day programs to help guests unplug and regain their literal and figurative balance. Using techniques from the hatha, raja, and kriya branches of yogic study, experts help guests craft personalized yoga practices for themselves in one of the world's most beautiful natural locations.
BOOK NOW From $885 per night, anandaspa.com
A Helicopter Tour Over New York City
Get a bird's eye view of the Statue of Liberty, Empire State Building, One World Trade Center, Central Park, and more on this 17- to 20-minute helicopter flight that leaves from the Downtown Manhattan Heliport. A variety of departure times are available throughout the day.
BOOK NOW $284 per person, tripadvisor.com
A VIP Tour of Disney World
Disney's official VIP Tour Services will organize fast-track access throughout all of the parks for up to 10 guests. The price includes private transportation from your hotel to the parks, access to reserved viewing areas for parades, stage shows, and nighttime entertainment, and insight from a tour guide who knows how to do Disney in the best way possible.
BOOK NOW From $425 per hour, disneyworld.com
Coffee Classes for the Caffeine Connoisseur
Help your giftee improve their morning (and afternoon, and evening) cup of joe with a deep dive into the world of java preparation. Whether it's a tailored tutorial on how to get the best results from their homebrew set-up, how to prepare the perfect espresso shot, or the secrets of crafting Instagram-worthy latte art, the classes from Brooklyn small-batch coffee roaster Toby's Estate are sure to give them a jolt.
BOOK NOW From $100, tobysestate.com
A Stay in the IceHotel
About 125 miles north of the Arctic circle, artists from all over the world travel to the Swedish village of Jukkasjärvi each year to craft the latest iteration of the famous IceHotel from scratch. Each room exemplifies its own style, making the experience of staying overnight in the palatial igloo-esque structure a unique opportunity to take in one of the most spectacular examples of ice carving craft on the planet.
BOOK NOW From $275 per night, icehotel.com
Spa Like a Roman Emperor
At the six international Aire Ancient Baths locations (with three more set to open before the end of the year) guests can slip into serious relaxation, exploring the waters inspired by ancient Roman bathing rituals. With numerous fresh and saltwater pools set at different temperatures as well as saunas, exfoliation stations, and lounge areas, it's the most opulent way to unwind.
BOOK NOW From $96, beaire.com
Make Macarons with a Top Pastry Chef
While many of us love the light and sophisticated macaron, making one at home is another story. In this two-hour class, San Francisco pastry chef Eloise Kim will teach participants how to master the macaron. The session takes place at Kim's dessert cafe, DeLise, in the heart of San Francisco’s North Beach, and flavors could include pistachio sesame, lavender chocolate, and red velvet, among others.
BOOK NOW $135 per person, ifonly.com
Ballooning Over Mount Everest
Veteran pilot Chris Dewhirst and his team were the first and only people to fly a hot-air balloon over Mount Everest, and they're offering this unparalleled opportunity to ascend well beyond 30,000 feet with them on another trip. It's your chance to see Everest and the Himalayas from what might be the most impressive 360-degree vantage point on the planet.
BOOK NOW $5,950,000 per person, ifonly.com
Etiquette Classes at the Plaza
With offerings for both children and adults, etiquette expert Myka Meier teaches guests about everything from the art of making a good first impression to business networking. The children's program, in particular, includes the topics of basic table manners, greeting adults with respect, making friends, and positive body language and eye contact.
BOOK NOW From $150 per person, beaumontetiquette.com
A Custom Barrel of Whiskey
Buying your giftee a distillery might be a little over the top, but at least they can feel like a pro with a 53-gallon barrel of their own custom-designed whiskey. The 4-year aging process will let them get hands-on with tasting and production so that they can truly see their spirit come to life.
BOOK NOW $15,000, matchbookdistillingco.com
Go Around the World on the Four Seasons Private Jet
Four Seasons (and other brands) have offered private jet travel experiences for some time, but now the hospitality company has its own custom-designed Boeing 757 that whisks guests to as many as 10 destinations on a single trip. Upcoming itineraries include a three-week tour of seven countries, with stops in Dubai, Angkor Wat, Seychelles, and the Serengeti.
BOOK NOW From $169,000 per person, fourseasons.com
Backcountry Ski Through Grand Teton National Park
Jackson Hole is a legendary winter retreat, known for some of the hardest ski terrains in the world. Powder-loving guests of the swanky new Caldera House, a ski-in, ski-out hotel located in Teton Village at the base of Jackson Mountain, can go off-course for an overnight backcountry skiing excursion through the majestic Teton mountains with an experienced guide. You'll spend the night at a fully stocked backcountry camp before returning to Caldera House's plush digs. (Rooms at Caldera House, from $1,500 per night).
BOOK NOW From $2,500 per person, calderahouse.com
Tickets to the New York Philharmonic
New York's premier orchestra has a stellar lineup for its 2019-2020 season. Wunderkind maestro Gustavo Dudamel takes a break from leading his LA Philharmonic to conduct Dvorak's 9th symphony in January, Renée Fleming performs songs by Björk in February, and the legendary Valery Gergiev conducts Rachmaninoff and Stravinsky in March.
BOOK NOW From $52, nyphil.org
Get a Private Tour of the Sistine Chapel
Imago Artis was founded more than a decade ago by three former art historians and since then they have organized ultra-luxe travel itineraries and experiences around Italy for the likes of Blake Lively and Ryan Reynolds, Michael Jordan, Jeff Bezos, and Diane Keaton. The company is known for its unprecedented access to the country's top landmarks. Case in point: this Imago Artis Platinum Package, which takes visitors on a completely private, after-hours tour of the Sistine Chapel and the Vatican Museum.
BOOK NOW From $8,795, iatravel.com
Live Like Ian Fleming in Jamaica
During World War II, naval intelligence officer Ian Fleming was sent to Jamaica on a mission and became so enamored with the place that a few years later he went back, bought 15 acres of land (naming it GoldenEye), and built a bungalow. He came back every winter, and in between entertaining famous pals like Katharine Hepburn and Truman Capote, Fleming wrote 14 James Bond novels. Today, his 5-bedroom beachfront bungalow, known as the Fleming Villa, is part of the GoldenEye resort and available to rent. Guests can sit at his writing desk and entertain in the Sunken garden as the author might have, plus partake in various resort activities like snorkeling among the coral reef or rafting down the Rio Grande river.
BOOK NOW From $6,365 per night, theflemingvilla.com
A VIP Snow Polo Experience
Every winter, the St. Regis Aspen hosts the St. Regis World Snow Polo Championship (December 18-21, 2019), a riveting week of high stakes polo matches played on fresh powder. Nacho Figueras, the sport's most famous player, leads Team St. Regis again this year. The VIP package not only includes front row seats to all the action but dinners and parties with the players as well. (Rooms at the St. Regis Aspen start at $379 per night)
BOOK NOW From $550 per person, marriott.com
*This story originally appeared on Townandcountrymag.com
*Minor edits have been made by the Townandcountry.ph editors