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(82 Posts)
ExDancer Mon 13-Mar-23 09:59:20

My daughter and husband have birthdays in the same month and this year I'd like to buy them an 'experience' day out. They seem to have everything else they need.
Has anyone had experience of this kind of thing - is it a good idea or a totally rubbish one?
Any recommendations?
SE England.

silverlining48 Tue 14-Mar-23 09:08:20

What a pity if experience gift vouchers are Not used. They are chosen with recipients interests in mind and usually last a year, so plenty of time. Not a cheap gift either.

Blondiescot Tue 14-Mar-23 09:11:45


What a pity if experience gift vouchers are Not used. They are chosen with recipients interests in mind and usually last a year, so plenty of time. Not a cheap gift either.

That's my thinking too. Surely if people can't (or won't?) use them, they could pass them on to someone who would actually appreciate them. I'd love to be given something like that. Some people seem very ungrateful.

NotSpaghetti Tue 14-Mar-23 09:24:59


What a pity if experience gift vouchers are Not used. They are chosen with recipients interests in mind and usually last a year, so plenty of time. Not a cheap gift either.

A year is not really that long if you work and have only weekends. Sometimes (like the balloon flight) the weather is wrong which means lots more people are trying for the same few dates. Add in holidays and bank holidays, child care etc.

Some involve other costs - if only getting to the venue (some may be 50 miles away). A trip up the shard with a meal in one of the restaurants may not be awkward if you live in London but would be more problematic if you were out of area.

Also, I may like a spa day but can I find a day that my friend can come with me? This involves two families with commitments - and then combine this with availability at the venue. And as time goes by the bookings at the venue are taken.

I suppose once we are retired we may find these experiences are easier to "fit in".

Daisymae Tue 14-Mar-23 11:13:46

Hundreds of millions of pounds are wasted every year on unused gift vouchers. Why not just give money - the voucher that you can use anywhere?

ExDancer Tue 14-Mar-23 12:21:11

My FIL used to give money at Christmas! I found it bizarre when we called at their house on Christmas afternoon. He'd take out this wad of notes and go round the room peeling off each person's allotted amount like the Lord of the Manor giving largess to the peasants smile
All the same, actual cash is seriously more sensible - but slightly embarrassing if you're on the receiving end.

cornergran Tue 14-Mar-23 12:23:02

One of ours bought my husband two Red Letter day experience vouchers for his recent 80th birthday. One works well and is eagerly anticipated. The second would be excellent for the giver, not for us. The Red Letter Day staff understood and have converted it into a credit voucher which can be used for absolutely anything on their site. A credit remains if the chosen item is of a lesser value, it’s possible to top up if needed. We plan to top up and book a very expensive hotel we’d usually shy away from as a treat for Mr C post surgery. Our son is happy as long as his gift will be used. They do get a lot of negative reviews, we found the staff incredibly helpful.

Blondiescot Tue 14-Mar-23 12:27:34

I think money is a really impersonal gift to receive. Personally, I'd much rather have a voucher for something the giver thought I would appreciate. If I've been given money, it invariably ends up just being spent on normal everyday essentials.

2020convert Tue 14-Mar-23 12:42:30

Why not a “promise” cheque. A lovely card with a promise inside to contribute towards a gift of their choice? You an suggest putting it towards a garden seat, meal out, etc.
I do this for mine. A well known money saving site had special Christmas cheques you could download and print out. I did one for my daughter and sil for a meal out, including babysitting.they made an occasion of it.

nanna8 Tue 14-Mar-23 12:42:58

Our daughter got us a voucher for a posh restaurant,knowing we like our food !

dragonfly46 Tue 14-Mar-23 13:16:24

I always buy my DD and SiL and experience. They range from walking over the O2 dome, going down the helter skelter on the Olympic Park, zip lining in Wales to fancy meals out.

Happygirl79 Wed 15-Mar-23 13:21:49

I know it sounds perhaps lazy and a little dull, but I think giving money is a better option as it will definitely be used for something they enjoy? Also saves them having to go to the bother of exchanging a gift, not using it or giving it away

Nellie54 Wed 15-Mar-23 13:30:16

Red letter hotel break was nothing but trouble! Refusing refunds etc etc, tried same break through
Not a problem and cheaper!

Yellowmellow Wed 15-Mar-23 13:36:56

Sometimes its worth ringing the venue as you can get deals/vouchers and its cheaper than buying an experience as they put their commission on top. A couple of spa day and afternoon tea were a couple of gifts l bought but went through the venue

grannyrebel7 Wed 15-Mar-23 13:41:09

I bought my DH a canoeing experience with lunch. Unfortunately he let the date expire so we didn't go. We did do the zip line at Aberdare though which was a great experience.

Rasamara Wed 15-Mar-23 13:48:51

My stepmother emailed a bit before my birthday and said “I want to get you something really indulgent and just for you for your birthday. What would you like?”
I was thrilled, and sent her two options complete with websites, & contact details. Next thing I know, my occasional massage therapist texts saying “I’ve just had vouchers for two sessions bought for you, when do you want to use them?”
It was so thoughtful of my stepmother as her original question included her awareness of what goes on in my life, and her genuine desire to indulge me, but also her desire to make it ‘just right’. Typical of her, too, she’s brilliant.

Bluedaisy Wed 15-Mar-23 13:48:59

A few years back I bought my DH a gliding lesson for his birthday as he’d always gone on about how he’d love to do that. He opened it on his birthday and I saw his face drop, he then informed me he actually didn’t want to do it after all. He’s not mentioned gliding since that day. Personally if someone was buying me something like that I’d only really like a spa day or weekend. Champneys have an offer on at the moment 2 for 1. Maybe some interest to you?

Diane318 Wed 15-Mar-23 13:55:57

My grandchildren bought me an experience for my Christmas present. I went for this experience and had a wonderful time, so I would highly recommend it.

Longdistancegrnny Wed 15-Mar-23 13:58:46

A nice day out is good as a present, or a meal/theatre vouchers, but I think the 'experience' companies are a bit over rated, as someone else said you can often get a similar experience direct from the venue and then you don't have a lengthy process to go through when you want to book, with passwords and PINs involved! DH always gets me random experiences and sometimes they are not things I would choose to do, but I put on a smile and go anyway!

Amalegra Wed 15-Mar-23 14:07:15

I would consider buying someone an ‘experience’ day if I thought they were up for it! My son in particular loves trying new things. My daughters prefer the ubiquitous spa days. I would be a bit sceptical about receiving an ‘experience’ myself though! A spa ‘treat’ would be my worst nightmare as I hate being fiddled about with. (Having my hair or nails done is an ordeal. Dentist is ok as it’s quick!) Would prefer a nice walk with my children/grandchildren, or a trip to a museum, and a pub lunch. Yes I am boring!

polly123 Wed 15-Mar-23 14:16:33

I bought each of my sons a flying lesson which they thoroughly enjoyed.

dumdum Wed 15-Mar-23 14:16:43

Gave grandson flying lesson for 21 just about to take it up from nearly a year ago, victim of suitable times and vagaries of English weather. However hope we will be lucky this time….not good when weather dependant, although something he’ll enjoy

Nannapat1 Wed 15-Mar-23 14:27:38

I'd check that the experience is something that the recipient can access and wants to do. We have received a couple that have been fabulous but rather more that simply haven't been taken up either through difficult location or not something that we really want to do and so are forgotten about until it is too late.
Personally I'd rather have a membership bought for me for something that really interests me.

HazelEyes Wed 15-Mar-23 14:29:17

Can't go wrong with an ATG theatre voucher, then they can put it towards a show of their choice.

cc Wed 15-Mar-23 14:59:26


I'm beginning to go 'off' the experience idea. Perhaps a National garden voucher might suit. I know they are wanting a new swinging seat in their garden.
I wonder where you get them (off to Google).

If you find a garden centre with a lot of choice you could give them a voucher, then if they don't want a seat they can use it for something else.

GoldenAge Wed 15-Mar-23 15:01:58

ExDancer - it's a great idea to provide an 'experience' joint birthday present as long as you choose an experience you know they would like and not one driven by what might suit you (although they might happily coincide). Also, as others have said, ensure the terms and conditions allow a good window of opportunity. I recall my daughter being bought two post-natal massage sessions by a friend many years ago and my daughter never having the time because of the massage salon being too far away from home and the fact that she was breast-feeding. Eventually, we had to squeeze the two sessions in right at the end of the eligibility period and I had to go and sit in the waiting room with my grandchild. The benefit from the gift was lost given the scramble to take advantage of it. So - maybe it's best to talk beforehand about your plan and if you could get a date in their diary beforehand, buy an experience that you can book for that particular date so there's no issue with expiry.