If you want to treat someone special to something a little different from the norm, these experience gifts make a memorable alternative and may even be something you can share. Nowadays, people value experiences over belongings, particularly in a time where many of us are trying to be environmentally conscious - and while materials things rarely last forever, memories certainly will.
Knowing what to buy, however, can be easier said than done. Whether you want to give a trip, a spa day or something more unique, you can't go wrong with our pick of activity days and once-in-a-lifetime experiences for him and her…
1. Spa day
What could be better than treating that friend or family member to some pampering with a spa day? Online booking site Treatwell has plenty of offers all over the country, and if you book one for two you'll get to go along too. Win-win.
2. Thames Cruise
Sailing down the river Thames may not seem like the most glamorous of activities, but it’s a sure-fire way to see London’s sights without facing the crowded pavements. Choose an experience with dinner included to make things extra special.
3. Hot air balloon ride
For a romantic and exhilarating experience, a hot air balloon ride is the way to go. You'll set off at dawn for a magical sunrise flight, capped off with a champagne toast and flight certificate when you book via Virgin.
4. Afternoon tea
We don’t need an excuse to eat cake, but a day out with an afternoon tea is a great way to treat someone. London has plenty on offer, and we’re especially enamoured with the fashion-themed pret-a-portea at The Berkeley.
5. Theatre tickets
Whether it's a West End show or a play at your local theatre, you can't really go wrong with theatre tickets. Shakespeare fans will love the opportunity to see a performance at Shakespeare's Globe Theatre (and tickets often start from just £5) – or treat that musical fan to a night at a show like Mamma Mia or Dreamgirls.
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6. Be a zookeeper
Allow your animal-loving friend to fulfil their dream of being a zookeeper for the day. London Zoo is one of the attractions that offers such experiences, with close-up animal encounters and the chance to feed and muck out giraffes, penguins, meerkats and more.
7. Cookery class
Not only will a cookery class be fun, but also a chance to learn new skills – and they'll probably get to sample their culinary creation after. From sushi making workshops to learning to make the perfect pizza, whatever their favourite food, you'll find a class to suit at buyagift.co.uk.
8. Short break
If you’ve got a bit more to spend, a weekend in the capital is a truly special gift. Whether you’re sightseeing, planning a spa visit or looking for some culture, head to booking.com to plan the perfect trip for yourself and a loved-one.
9. Art class
Get their creative juices flowing with an introductory art class. Drawing workshops are available with expert tuition at the V&A two to three times a week, and are available to book via redletterdays.co.uk.
10. Gin masterclass
Gin connoisseurs can have the chance to distill their own bespoke 70cl bottle of gin in a mini copper still at The City of London Distillery. As well as choosing their own botanicals and producing the spirit, they'll also design the label before applying a red wax seal. The experience costs £125, see more at cityoflondondistillery.com.
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