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5 Experiential Gift Ideas, as Inspired by National Geographic

The holiday season comes with a lot of waste. This year, why not channel your inner explorer and seek out experience-based gifts for the ones you love? Here are some ideas, as inspired by National Geographic.

gift ideas inspired by national geographic
Written by
Calin Van Paris
The holiday season brings many wonderful things: time with family and friends, a want of giving, and ample opportunities for gratitude. Unfortunately, it also comes with an immense amount of waste. Americans toss out
25% more trash
during the holidays than any other time of year, turning the would-be thoughtful nature of the season on its head. 
So, what’s the alternative?
Photo: National Geographic
Rather than showing your love via greeting cards and well-wrapped presents, why not gift an experience? We looked to
National Geographic
’s annual
Best of the World
list to inspire gifting ideas that celebrate local culture, community, and the planet—all while encouraging the explorer within.

5 Experiential Ideas for Holiday Gifting


Giving back to global communities is crucial; so is investing in one’s own. Help your giftee get involved in their respective regions through a planned volunteer day, ideas for advocacy, or a donation to an area cause made in their name. If shopping is on the agenda, keep it local with gift certificates to local retailers—or a day spent exploring neighborhood brick-and-mortars together. 


Getting outdoors is free, but there are ways to transmute nature into something giftable. A pass to a national park—whether a favorite or a bucket-lister—or a campsite reservation turn open skies into the perfect surprise. For something more educational, a trip to a local wildlife sanctuary can help loved ones learn about area animals. 


You don’t have to go far to discover the world’s wealth of culture—there’s plenty to see in your own backyard. A ticket to an area museum can open all sorts of internal doors (Creativity! Perspective! Beauty!), while a local culinary experience—restaurant meal or cooking class—will heighten anyone’s taste for culture. And if your loved one is more of an auditory learner? Concert tickets, it is!


Photo: National Geographic
A touch of adrenaline is a present that’s all about presence. Research area opportunities like rock climbing, white water rafting, surfing, backpacking, and more. In this instance, spontaneity takes a backseat to planning—gift lessons, classes, or group trips that allow participants to feel alive while staying safe. 


Photo: National Geographic
This world is wide. To help you stay inspired, Nat Geo’s
digital subscription
provides subscriber-only content, immersive online-only experiences, and new stories published daily. A gift subscription to National Geographic helps to foster the adventurer in everyone—a window into the planet that will make you want to get out and explore it.