‘Experience’ presents; personal and inexpensive

yellow stars on blue background

yellow stars on blue backgroundForget the high street! Take inspiration from these ‘experience’ gifts, which can be organised online from the comfort of your own home or even created yourself at zero cost, to make your gift-buying a pleasant experience all round.


Ideas for free gifts

Do you have a skill you can harness to create a personal, relevant and meaningful present? If you’re handy with hair or beauty, offer one or more sessions and make your recipient feel like a million dollars, without spending a penny. If you’re a keen baker, why not create an extra-special picnic and whisk them off for a picnic one day?

Perhaps you could make time your gift. If you’re green-fingered, offer hours to be spent creatively in a garden (even if you’re not, you can always mow grass or rake leaves!). Babysitting or driving services will always be popular offers, as will cleaning, ironing, car washing, DIY, dog walking – the possibilities are endless.

For a personal touch, design a voucher (or several) for the recipient to ‘spend’ with you and put it in a decorative envelope or gift box.

Great gift ideas at £10 or under

At BuyAGift.co.uk (0844 888 2882) you can purchase admission to several Sea Life centres for under £7, entry to attractions as diverse as Dickens World in Kent and York Dungeons for under £8.50 and brewery tasting and tour for two at only £10.

If pampering packages are more your thing, those on offer at GreatExperienceDays.co.uk (08701 993355) start from £10 for a make up session.

Most of the experience gift websites allow you to browse within different price bands, so shop around and see what ideas are pocket-friendly and appealing to you.

Or why not sign up a friend for the MyFamilyClub Savings Pack? For £9.95 you’d get them a range of spa day offers and department and clothing store savings – as well as a year of savings from 4-10% at top supermarkets and retailers.

Great gift ideas at £20 or under

Register a rose variety or an actual star under a special name, receive deliveries of curry spices to test in the kitchen or investigate the history of a surname as part of a family history gift pack– there are a variety of gift ideas at the £20 mark from

IntoTheBlue.co.uk (01959 578100).

At Wish.co.uk (020 8275 5256) you can purchase a grow-your-own herb garden kit for £13, a Thames Cruise river pass for £13.50 or buy afternoon tea for two at top hotels in one of 18 locations for only £15.

Save money with family gifts

Consider buying an experience for a whole family to enjoy, allowing you to purchase a gift less expensively than it would cost to buy separate presents for each of the individual family members.

Create a lasting memento with a family portrait session at one of the 110 studios offering the Family Photo Experience available from Virgin Experience Days for £45. (VirginExperienceDays.co.uk/0844 504 0844).

The Art Fund’s National Art Pass provides free access to over 200 charging museums, galleries and historic properties, discounts for exhibitions and more.  A family pass at £55 makes it a real bargain– and several presents ticked off in one go! (ArtFund.org/0844 415 4100).