MSP Valentine Thoughtful Gift Idea #3: Unique Experience Gifts


When shopping for a Valentine’s Day gift – or any other gift – it’s important to consider whether the giftee would like an actual object for a gift or whether they would better appreciate an experience. Here are some ideas to consider:

- Swimming with the dolphins (or a sea lion!) – Of course, this requires that you live close to, or can travel to, a place such as Key Largo, Florida or the Bahamas where this is a possibility. Some aquariums and zoos that have dolphins offer this experience, too.

- Dance lessons – either private lessons (let’s say your girlfriend, wife, sister or best friend is nostalgic for the ballet lessons of her youth, and there are adult classes nearby) or couple classes (such as for ballroom, salsa, or swing dance). If you do this together, it’s a great night out and often quite affordable. If your schedules are hectic or money is tight, look at local listings for free classes at local bars.

- A Day at the Spa. Sometimes, people just need a half day or full day off, and the chance to be pampered with massage, manicures or pedicures can be lovely. That said, if you’re not sure how your giftee feels about being naked in front of a stranger, give a more general gift certificate to a spa in a dollar amount that they can apply to any spa service. That way, if they don’t feel comfortable with or enjoy a massage, they can opt for a pedicure or facial instead.

- A hike that ends at the perfect picnic spot. Whether this is at a state park or a secret trail you know of in the woods in your house, why not plan ahead for romance? I’m not even talking about sex – just try to sweep your loved one off their feet every now and then. Say that you know of a really great trail and have it end somewhere where you know a perfect tree stump (to eat your picnic at) happens to be. Or maybe there’s an old treehouse. When I was a kid, some neighborhood friends had found an old, abandoned tree house that was right on the water in a mangrove-y section of the nearby woods. What I wouldn’t give to find another similar spot one day!

- Champagne breakfast at sunrise.That is, if he or she enjoys getting up early to appreciate moments like that. In Las Vegas, you can take a helicopter ride into the Grand Canyon for a champagne breakfast but certainly one can do this in their own home, too. If your partner’s not an early riser, how about the chance to sleep in and then breakfast and a newspaper in bed?

- Sports events, whether they’re actually in February or rainchecked for another time - such as a tennis tournament, baseball, basketball, the Tour de France, car racing (F1, Nascar), etc. Can’t afford tickets? Deck out your house, pull up a comfy couch and give yourself front-row, no-hassle seats Offer to cater your partner’s next guy’s day over at the house in his man-cave with his favorite foods, beer and no complaints about the noise – or the mess. Or watch the game together, privately, and deck yourself out in a sexy ref costume from

Have you figured out yet what you’re getting your partner, best friend, date, parent or siblings for Valentine’s Day? I’d love to hear.

[Image by Kup Kup Land, via Flickr Creative Commons license.]

About Dr. Debby Herbenick

Dr. Debby Herbenick

Dr. Debby Herbenick is a sex researcher at Indiana University, sexual health educator at The Kinsey Institute, columnist, and author of five books about sex and love. Learn more about her work at