VALENTINE FEATURE: Considering an experience gift? Some hints for finding a winner

ARA – “Experience is one thing you can’t get for noth­ing,” Irish playwright Oscar Wilde once said.

But Wilde, for all his wit, probably never envisioned the modern practice of giving an experience as a gift.

“For all the reasons to give an experience as a gift, perhaps the most popular is the desire to give a loved one a once-in-a-lifetime moment that will be­come a lifelong memory,” said Rob Wilkinson of Soaring Adventures of America, Inc., a company that specializes in arranging airborne adventure experiences.

Also, an experience gift that takes into account the reci­pient’s interests can seem more personal and thoughtful than a generic gift like a certificate or gift card. It’s important to keep three factors in mind when considering an experience gift:

1. Budget – Obviously, the gift must be something you can afford to give. But just as important, it should be an ex­perience that will not cost the recipient anything to enjoy. For example, if you’re thinking of giving ski lessons, be sure the price of the lessons includes use of all equipment the learner will need.

2. Proximity – Is the ex­peri­ence one that the recipient can get to reasonably? Flying les­sons will be much less fun if the recipient has to drive two hours to get to the airport. Likewise, a beach party in Key West doesn’t do much good if the recipient lives in Owen Sound and you didn’t think to include airfare to Florida in the gift.

3. Personality – Does the ex­perience mesh with the reci­pient’s personality and inter­ests? If the recipient is an adventure hound, you might opt for a glider ride rather than dance lessons. Or, if the reci­pient is afraid of water, a hot air balloon ride might be more ap­pealing than whitewater raft­ing.

Once you’ve answered those considerations, you’ll need to choose just the right gift. Popular experience gifts include:

Hot air balloon rides

Hot air balloons are a unique combination of exciting and peaceful. The thrill of fly­ing high into the air is balanced by the tranquility and silence high above the treetops. Rides usually end with a celebration of champagne or fruit juice upon landing, an old French tradition.

Each ride is led by a commercially certified, trained pilot and balloon gondolas can hold up to six passengers.

Fantasy Sports camps

Whether your Sports fan prefers baseball or is a tennis de­votee, you can find a Sports camp to appeal to him or her. Camps not only give Sports lovers the opportunity to im­prove their own skills at a sport they love, they often afford participants the chance to rub shoulders with Sports royalty. T

To find a Sports camp that is right for your Sports fan, go online and seek out sporting associations in your area.

Dance lessons

TV shows like Dancing with the Stars have rekindled people’s interest in dancing. Dance studios have sprung up and it’s possible to find reas­onably priced lessons for virt­ually every style of dance from the classic waltz to salsa.

Dancing is great exercise, so dance lessons can also help improve the recipient’s health. And, if you’re giving the ex­perience to your partner, it’s a great way to spend quality time together.