Southern Belle in Training

Fashion, Travel & Lifestyle Blog || Est. 2012 || Charlottesville, VA

December 11, 2020

10 Socially Distanced or Virtual Experience Gift Ideas.

     Gift giving is my love language- I get so excited to find the perfect Christmas gift (or birthday gift) for someone I love, and see them enjoy receiving it. I've had a little bit of a change in my gift giving habits over the past few years though. I've started becoming a big fan of giving experience gifts instead of just material things! I love treating someone to a special experience that they probably wouldn't do for themselves otherwise. 

     Obviously not all traditional experience gifts are possible in 2020 with the pandemic, but there are still a lot of socially distanced or virtual experience gift ideas that would be unique, fun and memorable! I'm sharing 10 ideas in today's blog post:


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     1. Family or couples' photoshoot - This was my mom's Mother's Day gift this year, and I wish I had done something like this years ago. Professional photographs of you and your family or you and your significant other are such a gift that you'll treasure for years to come! You don't need to wait for an occasion like a wedding just to get these. A lot of local photographers have probably had their incomes affected from all of the COVID cancellations this year, and are probably so excited to book as many portrait shoots as they can now. This would be my top recommendation on this whole list. 😊

     2. Virtual cooking class - A lot of culinary education has gone virtual this year! For the friend or family member who loves to cook, how about gifting them to a virtual cooking class? I'd love to give a special plug to a local culinary shop here in Charlottesville, The Happy Cook. They've been doing virtual classes with world-renowned chefs since March, and you don't have to be local to Charlottesville to do them since they're all held over Zoom!

     3. Airbnb virtual or local experience - Did you know that in addition to lodging options, Airbnb also offers short-term experiences and activities that you can book in the destinations of your choosing? Everything from guided tours of an area to photography excursions to guided hobby classes. I did my first Airbnb experience last year when a few friends and I went to a local farm that let you hang out with their baby goats (it doesn't look like this specific experience is still offered, but there are still some fun ones in Charlottesville). A lot of Airbnb experiences are outdoors and social distancing safe, or you can book a virtual one from anywhere in the world. A great way to fulfill the travel bug during a holiday at home. 

     4. Cameo video - Talk about a perfect socially distanced virtual gift! If you haven't heard of Cameo before, it's a website that lets you book personalized short video messages from celebrities, athletes, and public figures. Price points totally vary- some people are very cheap to book, and the more famous they are usually the more they cost. But how cool would it be to surprise someone with their very own personalized video from a person they are a huge fan of?! My co-host Marc actually did this for my birthday in 2019! He got me a video from Beverley Mitchell, who played Lucy Camden on my all-time favorite TV show, 7th Heaven. It was such a special gift!

     5. Local restaurant or coffee shop gift cards - If there was ever a year to support our local restaurants and coffee shops as much as possible, this is certainly it! If you're like me and not quite comfortable with dining indoors in public yet, keep in mind most restaurants are doing carry-out or delivery, and lots are doing heated patios this winter as well. I think a lovely gift would be a larger restaurant gift certificate  for dinner, or a few small gift cards for lunch spots or coffee shops!

     6. Foreign language lessons - I haven't talked about this much on the blog yet, but since August I have been re-learning French! I was a French minor in college, but haven't done anything with the language since I finished my minor credits studying abroad one summer. I've always said I didn't have the time in adulthood to keep up with French over the years, but all the extra time home in 2020 made me realize I didn't really have anymore excuses to make! If you know someone who has always wanted to learn a language or re-learn one they used to study, how about gifting them language learning software or books? Rosetta Stone, a paid subscription to Duo Lingo, some fun foreign language books... lots of options!

     7. Charitable donation - Another thing that's struggling a lot this year are charities and non-profits. A lot of organizations like this rely on big annual events to make the majority of their fundraising goals, and most of those have been cancelled in 2020. If a family member, friend or significant other has a cause that's near and dear to their heart, how about making a charitable donation in their name? (I'm planning to do this for my parents as part of their gifts this year!) You can fill out a beautiful card with information about where you donated and present it to someone as a gift. 

     8. Streaming service subscription - It seriously seems every few weeks like there's a new streaming service out there, and this is definitely the year our TV sets are getting lots of love! Netflix and Hulu are the big ones, but there are lots more... Disney+, HBO Max, Peacock... did you know that Hallmark even has it's own streaming subscription program? It would be such a fun idea to gift someone a subscription for a set amount of time! You can even make plans to watch the same shows together and have virtual watch parties.

     9. Meal kit subscription - I started using Hello Fresh in September and am still obsessed with it (check out my review here!). This winter season I'm planning to try some of the competitor brands like Home Chef and Blue Apron to see if they are as good or not. I think it's normal in 2020 to start feeling burnt out about cooking so much at home instead of going out as often as we used to. Meal kit services help to make cooking at home a lot easier and less time consuming, and are such a fun way to try new recipes! I love the idea of gifting one of these. 

     10. Fitness studio or class subscription - Similarly to local restaurants, a lot of local gyms and boutique fitness studios have also been struggling this year. January is the most popular month of the year for new fitness regiments, so why not help someone jumpstart that by getting them a subscription or some class passes to a new gym, fitness studio, or a virtual workout program? I've been so impressed by how my local Jazzercise studio has been handling COVID precautions since it re-opened this fall (only a few peopled allowed to come to each class, masks worn at all times while working out, 6+ feet between everyone, etc).  I'm biased to recommend Jazzercise or Jazzercise On-Demand as great options, but there are tons of cool boutique fitness class studios and virtual programs out there to support for gifting!


     I'd love to hear if you have any unique virtual or socially distanced experience gift ideas as well! The older I get, I feel like the more about experiences for gifts I am. I really hope in 2021 it'll be safe enough for all types of experiences to return... hello concert tickets, massages and facials, group outings, travel.... and more?! (A girl can dream!)


     God Bless,


     xoxo Annaliese 

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