There's always that one person on your holiday shopping list that doesn't care about things — they're all about the *experience,* and would rather go out and make memories than be given a physical gift that'll just sit around. While in the past, they may have been fun to dream up ideas for — a concert? Maybe a day at the spa? — 2020's made that all but impossible. Now, the options have been whittled down to virtual experience gifts only — though thankfully, the offerings this year have gotten seriously creative.
In fact, though they may not be quite as good as the real thing, many do come close — and honestly, some may even be more fun to do at home. Take Sur La Table's virtual cooking classes, for example, which you can watch from the comfort of your kitchen while still asking an experienced chef all the burning questions you have about how to bake your holiday pie to perfection. Or, there's The Sill's online workshops, which walk you through the various basics of caring for your plants, and are definitely more helpful when you can follow along with your own in your living room.
And sure, while a virtual tour of Paris may not be the same thing as actually going to the city of lights, that doesn't mean it will be any less special of a gift to the jetsetter on your list — in fact, it may be just the thing they needed to hold them over until the real experience is available again.
So whether you're looking for something to surprise a wannabe sommelier or give your workaholic friend a much-needed break, keep scrolling — nine virtual experiences perfect for gifting are ahead.
We only include products that have been independently selected by The Zoe Report's editorial team. However, we may receive a portion of sales if you purchase a product through a link in this article.
Virtual Experience Gift: For The Aspiring Chef
Rather than get them another mixing bowl or obscure kitchen tool, give the aspiring chef you know a virtual cooking class from Sur La Table. The kitchen store offers gift cards so that your gift recipient can choose their own class, and there are *lots* of fun options to pick from, including sessions that demonstrate holiday favorites, baked treats, in-season dishes, and more.
Each class features an interactive format with experienced chefs and teachers, and lasts 90 to 120 minutes in a password-protected Zoom session. Participants will also get a prep packet with a shopping list to download beforehand, so if you want to go above and beyond, you could choose a class and gift the ingredients for the meal beforehand, too. Classes start at $29 per household, and you can view the full list here.
Virtual Experience Gift: For The Coffee Connoisseur
Know any wannabe baristas? This one's for them. Driftaway is a freshly roasted coffee company offering private virtual tastings led by 2013 World Brewer's Champion James McCarthy. During the session, participants "taste four different coffees side-by-side, similar to how professionals taste and evaluate coffees," according to the brand.
Each "screen" taking part in the class will get a Virtual Tasting Coffee kit sent to them beforehand, and two participants are allowed per screen. The price runs at $50 per participant. You can schedule a virtual tasting here.
Virtual Experience Gift: For The Beauty Guru
Anyone with a beauty lover in their life knows it's hard to know what to buy them, especially if you're not up to date on the latest beauty tools and TikTok trends. Enter: FaceGym, a face "workout" that includes many of the brand's signature massage techniques designed to "to stimulate blood circulation and collagen, boost the lymphatic system, and increase cell renewal."
While FaceGym does have studios, it also offers one-to-one online workouts that are taught by its expert trainers and will teach you those previously mentioned signature massage techniques using your hands, as well as FaceGym's face tools and skin care products. When booking, you can choose from seven different workouts, each 45 minutes long and $70 (though you may also want to gift some of its recommended tools so your gift recipient can get the best results).
Virtual Experience Gift: For The Plant Parent
Whether you don't know the first thing about plants or your friend just literally can't fit another one in their apartment, The Sill's online workshops are the solution. With topics like winter plant care and artificial lighting, the 30-minute classes are filled with essential tips via a presentation, live demos, and Q&A sessions. Plus, they run from about $10 to $20, so they're as affordable as they are fun.
Virtual Experience Gift: For The Workaholic
Pretty much everyone can use a good stretch right about now, which is why Stretch*d's virtual sessions make for a no-brainer gift. The brand started as a way to provide safe, assisted stretching to help build flexibility, but now offers online experiences due to Covid-19.
Those include a team stretch class, which starts at $150 and goes up depending on how many guests you have, as well as a $30, 30-minute one-on-one session that's customized for each person based on their needs. You can browse the full offerings and details here.
Virtual Experience Gift: For The Foodie
Ordering a cheese plate at your local wine bar may be out of the question these days, but you can still gather over some fromage with your friends thanks to Murray's Cheese's virtual events. The cheese store offers a ton of online classes, ranging from mozzarella and burrata making (~truffle edition~) to cheese pairings and cheeseboard-making tutorials. Classes range from about $75 to $130, and tickets can be purchased on the brand's Eventbrite page here.
Virtual Experience Gift: For The Entertainer
Even if your loved one isn't hosting their annual holiday dinner this year, they'd probably still love to deck out their table with beautiful flowers. You can help with that thanks to the virtual classes hosted by Alice's Table, which sends farm-fresh flowers to participants before classes. Then, the brand's founder Alice walks students step by step through how to create an arrangement based on the class theme (of which there are many, including Galentine's Day, winter wreaths, and more). Classes run around $65 to $125 per ticket, and the full list can be viewed here.
Virtual Experience Gift: For The Traveler (Who Misses Traveling)
Though nothing can replace the actual feel of traveling, you can gift a virtual experience that takes your favorite jetsetter on a smaller adventure at home thanks to Airbnb's online experiences. While you may know the platform as a vacation rental site, the brand also offers a practically endless selection of virtual experiences with hosts around the world.
And no, it's not all travel themed, though many of the activities are centered around gaining knowledge and exposure to people, places, and cultures around the world. You can choose from categories like baking, dance, arts and writing, magic, and even fitness, and generally, prices are relatively inexpensive — on a scroll through the homepage, nothing runs more than $60 per person. The best part about giving one of these from Airbnb as a gift is that you can really find something tailored to your loved one's preferences, whether that's "A Fabulous Day in Paris with A Parisian"; "Follow a Plague Doctor Through Prague"; or "Make Mexican Street Tacos with a Pro Chef." (Again, the choices are truly endless.)
Virtual Experience Gift: For The Napa Valley Frequenter
According to the brand, Bouchaine is the oldest continuously operating winery in the region of Carneros, which is located in the southern tip of Napa Valley. And though you may not be able to travel to its storied vineyards, you can now bring them to your home (well, kind of) with its virtual wine tastings. The winery currently offers four different experiences, ranging from $99 to $150, and each includes its own set of wines shipped to you. Then, once you've scheduled a time, you'll be led through a discussion of each wine while taking in a panoramic view of the Bouchaine Vineyards. You can view the list of tastings here.