8 Non-Traditional Holiday Gifts You Can Get Last Minute

Images via Shannon Watt, vendors & Flickr
Images via Shannon Watt, vendors & Flickr

Let's face it. Your loved ones don’t really need another sweater  or more toys to add to their burgeoning pile. What really lasts beyond the holiday season are memories and experiences. This year, save yourself a trip to the mall and give someone the gift of an adventure. Even better: Go in on a group gift, or book one for yourself!

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I rounded up eight unique experiences—from parasailing to a romantic gondola ride—that'll have them thanking you for years to come. 

Image via RiverRiders.com
Image via RiverRiders.com

The Extreme Sportsman

Does your loved one enjoy high adventure? A day on the river, navigating rapids and enjoying the Appalachian mountains could fit the bill. River Riders in Harpers Ferry provides thrills on the water and on land with their challenging ropes courses and zip lines. Whether you’re looking for a day or whole weekend adventure, spending time in the beautiful countryside where the Shenandoah and Potomac rivers merge  is a great memory to give. To learn more about what's available to do in the area, contact River Riders.

Image via Shannon Watt
Image via Shannon Watt

The City Slicker

If your loved one likes bright lights and big cities, then look no further than the Big Apple. If you purchase them a CityPASS, it’s like getting six gifts in one. This pass will get them access some of NYC’s top attractions, including the Statue of Liberty and views from the rooftop of the Empire State Building. 

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The quickest and easiest way to see Manhattan is on a hop-on/hop-off bus. Gray Line Tours will not only transport you around the city, but their guides give historical and interesting facts about the area. Get a CityPASS or a Gray Line Tours ticket and gift the magic of New York City to your loved one.

Image via Shannon Watt
Image via Shannon Watt

The Animal Lover

I've experienced several animal encounters, and one of the places I recommend is the Dolphin Research Center in Key Largo, Florida.  Their Trainer-For-A-Day program gives you a day of feeding, caring for, and training the dolphins. You’ll get several unique photo ops, and a dolphin will also paint you a t-shirt to take home. Once in Key Largo, you'll be able to enjoy the crystal blue waters and sunny Florida climate. To make a reservation, contact Dolphin Research Center.

Image via Shannon Watt
Image via Shannon Watt

The Adventurer

Thrill seekers come in all ages and abilities, so one adventure that works for young children and grandparents alike is parasailing. Since you depart and land on the back of a boat, you never have to touch the water unless you want to. Floating high above the water gives you all the sensation of flying without the danger of riskier aerial sports. If you're parasailing over a place like Hilton Head, South Carolina, there’s a strong possibility of seeing dolphin jumping and playing in the water below you. For more information, contact H2O Sports.

Image via Shannon Watt
Image via Shannon Watt

The History Buff

Does your loved one enjoy history? What about gifting them a tour of one of the most famous battlefields? Touring Gettysburg by Segway gets you right where the action was, and you’ll be able to cover more ground than walking. In addition, a tour guide will narrate an overview of what happened during the multi-day excursion and point out important monuments. Snacks and water are provided. To book a Segway tour, call SegTours.

Image via Shannon Watt
Image via Shannon Watt

The Romantic

Does your special someone enjoy romantic gestures? It doesn't get more romantic than sipping champagne on a gondola ride through the canals of a beautiful city. You don’t have to go all the way to Venice because La Gondola in Providence, R.I., has created a romantic version of their own. If you’d like to book this romantic ride, contact La Gondola.

Image via Flickr/
Image via Flickr/mabecerra

The Outdoorsman

Know someone yearning to spend time with horses, learn how to rope cattle, or ride a bull? Unleash the inner cowboy with tickets to see the championship rodeo at the famous Fort Worth Stockyards. Before the rodeo, make sure to catch the Pawnee Wild West show, also held in the historic Cowtown Coliseum. (Cowboy hat and boots not included, but highly encouraged.) For more details, check out the Forth Worth Stockyards.

Image via Shannon Watt
Image via Shannon Watt

The Escapist

If the person on your list needs a getaway and would prefer some true alone time in a beautiful place, reserve a few days or a week long stay at the Rose Island Lighthouse. Situated on a small island in Newport, Rhode Island, and accessible only by boat, it’s a perfect place to unplug and relax. A week of ocean views, Adironack chairs, and hunting for sea shells is good for the soul. To find out more about what Rose Island has to offer, visit their site www.roseislandlighthouse.org.

No matter what gift you decide to give, remember to think outside of the box. People tend to remember experiences over material gifts. If you can give someone a memory instead of a “thing,” they will probably cherish it, and you, for the rest of their life. 

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What meaningful holiday gifts or experiences have you received in the past? What ideas can you share on how to make the holidays a special time? I look forward to your comments below!

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8 Non-Traditional Holiday Gifts You Can Get Last Minute

Shannon is a mother of 3 teens, who hit 40 and decided that instead of a "mid-life crisis", she wanted an adventure of a lifetime. She convinced her wonderfully open-minded husband to pack up their house, sell most of their possessions, and travel the USA in an RV for a year or two. Besides homeschooling her kids, running their online program, Watts in the World, Shannon loves to explore new places. Nothing is more exciting than waking up in a new city everyday, and discovering what's great abou ... More

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