Gifts that aren’t things!

It can be SO hard to find a meaningful gift for a friend or family member when they seem to have everything they want or need. And as much fun as it is to unwrap presents, the joy of ‘stuff’ can start to wane over time. So here’s five gifts that aren’t things. They’re perfect when you’re trying to figure out what do you get someone who has everything.

What do you get someone who has everything?

1- Media

Just about everyone enjoys consuming some form of digital media, whether it’s music, film/tiv, podcasts or audiobooks. Give them the gift of their favorite media via physical or digital gift card.

If that sounds like a plug for Audible, I guess it is. I highly recommend Audible Gift Memberships  now that the Plus catalog is included.


Give the gift of a subscription to a streaming music service and your recipient will have just about all the music they’ve ever wanted at their fingertips.

Apple Music and Spotify both offer gift subscriptions with regular and high definition options. You can also gift an Apple Music membership by purchasing an Apple Gift Card.

Amazon Music does not offer a gift membership option and you CANNOT use an Amazon gift card to pay for membership.

If you don’t know enough about their listening habits to pick a specific service, you can always do a gift subscription to a ‘radio station’ service like Pandora.

You can also buy them specific albums in mp3 format, if you prefer to give something specific instead of a streaming option.

Film and TV

If they’re a watcher, give them the gift of a streaming subscription or tickets to a brick and mortar cinema.

Streaming services Netflix and Hulu both offer gift cards. AMC and most other movie theaters also sell gift cards.

You can also opt to give them a more generic option, like an amazon gift card, which they can use to buy specific media, or pay for some add-on channels.


Like so many people I know, I don’t have time to sit down and read. So in the past seven years, I’ve listened to tons of audio books. I’ve also found that I genuinely enjoy hearing books performed, which is something I never realized.

My favorite service is Whether you have an active subscription or not, the library of books you’ve purchased remains available.

Audible upped the game last year with Audible Plus. It includes their standard ‘X credits per month’ along with unlimited streaming access to tons of titles in the Plus catalog.

It’s honestly the best of both worlds – open access to a lot of books (many of them are public domain works that Audible has produced) as well as the option to buy other titles at a discount.

Another amazing way to give books without giving books is to give e-books. A Kindle Unlimited subscription lets them read as many books as they want every month, on their Kindle or any device with the Kindle app.

2 – Memberships

Look for memberships to places your recipient already frequents or would like to frequent. Most museums, historic sites and other ‘attractions’ like zoos or aquariums sell family or individual memberships. Even if regular admission is free or fairly inexpensive, a membership often comes with perks like free or discounted parking, discounts in the gift shoppes or on-site restaurants or admission to special events. If the institution is a non-profit, gifting a membership also helps support their mission, which is a nice bonus.

Many state parks, nature preserves, botanic gardens and other outdoor destinations also sell memberships. For the avid hiker or nature lover, those are great options.

Then there are memberships or gift cards to places like arcades, driving ranges and recreation centers. And consider the gift of membership or tuition vouchers at a local yoga or martial arts studio, fitness center, boxing gym, barre class or any other physical activity you know the person does or wants to do.

Don’t ‘gift’ a fitness or physical activity membership to someone unless they’ve explicitly stated they have an interest in it or they already participate in a similar activity and you feel very confident they’d be interested in trying out something new.

3 – Studio or equipment access

Does your hard-to-buy-for person like making or creating things? Consider giving them a voucher for access to shared workspaces that include use of specialized or expensive equipment like kilns, forges or 3-D printers. Some places simply sell access to the space and gear while other also offer classes. Consider their experience level and choose accordingly.

4 – Classes

There’s some overlap here with numbers 2 and 3, but there are so many ways to give someone the opportunity to learn that I wanted to highlight it further. Consider giving the gift of a community art class or a writing workshop. Or a cooking, woodworking, beekeeping or gardening. While ‘hobby’ classes aren’t accredited and don’t usually confer any sort of certification, they’re still a fantastic opportunity to learn a new skill or improve an existing one.

Local, physical courses are great but you can also give a virtual opportunities. Consider a gift subscription or voucher for something like Skillshare or Udemy. These platforms offer a huge range of courses, so there’s a very good chance your recipient will find plenty of useful and engaging classes.

Another way to support virtual learning is to pay for some (or all) of their tuition or attendance at a conference or convention – you might have to do that via a generic gift card or cash. But if you know they’re planning to attend such an event soon, helping them pay for the experience can be a great gift.

5 – Gift certificates for a service or experience

Yeah, this one might seem really obvious – but people can be reluctant to ‘treat themselves’, even if they have the means to do so. And if they don’t have the means, giving them the gift of something really enjoyable can be huge. Some great ‘standard’ options include a massage, mani-pedi, car detailing, dinner at a favorite restaurant, or movie tickets. Less run-of-the-mill ideas: a session in a ‘float’ chamber, a reading from a medium, tickets to a holiday home tour, admission to a show or expo, pet daycare or boarding.

The sky is kind of the limit here (literally, since you can give someone skydiving lessons) but try to hone in on something you know they’ll truly enjoy.

6 – Subscriptions

A bonus idea! While magazines and newspapers aren’t quite as ubiquitous as they used to be, there’s still something to be said for print publications. If you opt for a physical subscription, I’d suggest going with a high-quality publication where being able to savor glossy photos will matter. Otherwise, consider a digital subscription. Which can include paying for access to articles or content behind the paywall or an upgrade to ‘ad-free’ browsing.

Disclosure: I’m an affiliate for Lehman’s Hardware, Azure Standard, Bookshop,, Le Creuset,  other companies. Clicking on links in my articles and purchasing products may result in the seller offering me compensation. I only share products I believe in and I only provide links when I believe doing so will benefit my readers.

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