This year, don’t take a guess and give the people on your list things they might use. Instead, give them an adventure they’ll remember for the rest of their lives. Research shows that experiences make better presents—and boost well-being in the process. Plus, there’s no awkward return receipt to deal with. Need some inspiration? We’ve got you covered with ideas that range from the easy and accessible to the epic and bucket-list worthy.
Picnic at a Show
Pack a picnic and catch a show at a gorgeous outdoor venue like the Red Rocks Amphitheater outside of Denver, the Hollywood Bowl in Los Angeles, or downtown Chicago’s Jay Pritzker Pavilion. Even without lawn seats, you can enjoy a tailgate meal at any outdoor venue.
Closer to home: Pack that picnic and head to the closest best spot to watch the sunset—and enjoy the natural show.
Tuck your gift in: Hydro Flask’s Unbound Series™ Soft Cooler Tote, which can carry roughly 25 pounds of food, beverages, and ice. A waterproof zipper means you can lay it down in the car or on a blanket without fear of spillage, and, thanks to its sturdy, compression-molded base, you can put a corked bottle of wine in it and not worry about the tote tipping over.
Get a Running Start
Get the runner in the family started on the right foot with an entry to a spring half marathon. He’ll have plenty of time to train if he starts on January 1. A few of our faves: the Star Wars Half Marathon at Disney World in April; or Steamboat Springs, Colorado, and Woodstock, Vermont’s Covered Bridges half marathons, both of which are in early June.
Closer to home: Sign your running BFF up for a local New Year’s 5K.
Wrap the entry around: A pair of fancy merino wool running socks.
Give a Hall Pass for Powder
Got a person on your list who lives by the credo “When it snows, I must go”? Get her the appropriate season pass for her favorite ski mountain, whether it’s the Ikon, Epic, or Mountain Collective pass. That way she’ll be ready to shred when the pow flies.
Closer to home: Help your skiing fetishist play hooky on a powder day. When a storm hits, the recipient gets an all-expenses day on his favorite slopes.
Wrap your gift in: Hydro Flask's 16 oz Coffee Flask, which will keep their dark roast hot on the way to the hill.
Go to Music Camp
Camping is fun. Camping at a major outdoor music festival is better. Get the family a camping-and-tickets package to kid-friendly FloydFest in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia in July. The five-day festival of world music and outdoor adventure features eight stages—and guided singletrack mountain biking, river floats, hiking, and a 5K trail run.
Closer to home: You can always festival-camp somewhere. From Bonnaroo in Tennessee to Michigan’s Electric Forest, there’s now a huge festival every month.
Put the tickets in: A lightweight and compact camp blanket.
Stretch and Strengthen
If your favorite yogi hasn't done an incredibly rejuvenating yoga retreat like the Prana Del Mar, just north of Cabo San Lucas, you’ll be a hero if you book him or her a visit. The five-night retreats feature daily yoga and optional surfing, horseback riding, kayaking, whale watching, and more.
Closer to home: A punch card at a nearby studio.
Roll your gift in: A personalized yoga mat.
Spend a Night Under the Stars
If your kids and spouse haven’t experienced the sheer awesomeness of truly dark skies, far away from light-polluting cities, get them a trip to one of 28 dark-sky parks, preserves, and communities across the United States—like Great Basin National Park, in northeast Nevada. It’s one of the most remote areas in the lower 48, and on a moonless night you will literally see billions of stars overhead.
Closer to home: Check the map at darksitefinder.com for the dark sky nearest you.
Stash your gift in: Hydro Flask’s Unbound Series™ Soft Cooler Tote, with instructions to download the Star Walk 2 smartphone app.
Join the Sisterhood of Surfers
Do you do an all-girls getaway every year? Surprise your most adventuresome girlfriend and book a seven-day surfing school and yoga retreat with Pura Vida Adventures in Costa Rica. The absence of guys results in a low-key vibe and quick results; plan on going from newbie to bona fide surfer by the end of the week.
Closer to home: A beginner’s session with a surf school near you. “We guarantee you’ll be standing by the end of your one-and-a-half-hour lesson,” claims Emi Abate, owner of Pacific Surf School near San Diego.
Wrap your gift with: Hydro Flask’s Unbound Series™ Soft Cooler Pack, which is the perfect way to carry your chilled drinks and snacks down to the beach. The lightweight design and comfortable shoulder straps allow for you to focus on carrying the board and gear down to the sand without adding any extra hassle.
Show the Family the High Life
Hitch a ride with Rainbow Ryders at Albuquerque’s International Balloon Fiesta, and take to the sky among more than 500 other hot-air balloons in the crisp high-desert air of New Mexico in October.
Closer to home: Book a hot-air balloon ride nearby for the family.
Tie your gift to: A helium balloon tethered to the tree.
Shuttle to Singletrack
How do you blow the mind of the mountain bikers on your list? Easy: book them a trip on one of the many epic shuttle-served mountain-bike trails, like the 35-mile Monarch Crest Trail in Salida, Colorado; New Mexico’s 21-mile South Boundary Trail near Taos; or the 34-mile Whole Enchilada in Moab. “The Monarch Crest starts at 11,312 feet and descends to 7,000 feet back down to town,” says Shawn Gillis, owner of Absolute Bikes in Salida. His shop provides shuttles, rental bikes, and even guides for the ride.
Closer to home: Create your own shuttle service and use your car or truck to run your mountain bikers to the top of a local trail. Repeat as necessary.
Stuff the gift in: Hyrdo Flask's 16 oz True pint, which will keep their post-ride beer ice-cold for the celebratory cheers.
Hydro Flask will keep water icy cold on a hot sunny beach. And serve up a hot coffee on the chairlift ride. And, thanks to its smart insulation and lightweight design, the Hydro Flask’s Unbound Series™ Soft Cooler Tote and Soft Cooler Pack can make it easy to carry along all the beers or snacks you'll need—and keep them cold for up to 48 hours. Hydro Flask isn't just along for the ride. They’re along to help make the ride awesome. Learn more here.