When it comes time to choose holiday gifts, there are times you just don’t want to buy any more things. Yet, you want to share joy, make your friends and family happy and give them a thoughtful gift that they will enjoy all year.
There is a way to do that. Memberships in museums or botanical gardens, season tickets to plays or concerts, magazine subscriptions and other gifts are ways to share experiences and provide something your recipient will enjoy all year. And they won’t have to dust it.
Here are 10 suggestions for gifts that keep on giving, which I shared with readers of U.S. News and World Report:
1. Museum memberships. An annual membership to the Smithsonian costs $19 and includes 11 issues of the magazine (including iPad access) plus other discounts. Many museums are currently offering discounted gift memberships. A family membership is often a particularly good value for people with children.
2. Membership to a zoo or botanical garden. More than 200 botanical gardens nationwide participate in the American Horticultural Society program, which provides members of one garden free or discounted admission to others. Many zoos and aquariums participate in a Association of Zoos and Aquariums program that offers discounted or free admission to other zoos in the United States, Canada and Mexico. Typical membership costs range from $50 to $200.
3. Season tickets to a theater or concert series. You’ll also find gift deals and holiday promotions at local theaters. For many theaters, the season is already underway. But the Aurora Theatre in Lawrenceville, Ga., for example, is offering a special mini season ticket for the remaining shows in 2014, with a bonus for packages ordered before Christmas. Another option is simply to buy someone tickets to several upcoming shows.
4. A family membership or annual pass to a popular local attraction. An annual pass to the Miami Seaquarium, for example, costs less than two visits, and pass holders also get discounts on other local attractions. Six Flags theme parks are offering free parking passes this holiday season with the purchase of four annual passes to some parks. To see the exact deal, you have to choose your park first.
5. Magazine subscription. An annual magazine subscription is a good gift for a child or adult, and often costs less than $20. If you want the option of sending it again next year, make sure the renewal form comes to you and not the recipient. You’ll also want to opt out of any promotional mailings and ensure you don’t grant permission to add the recipient to mailing lists.
6. Warehouse club membership. An annual membership to Costco ($55), Sam’s Club ($45) or BJ’s ($50) would be a welcome gift for a friend or relative who likes to shop at those stores.
7. Fruit-of-the-month club. The venerable Harry & David is still around, and you can have a box of fruit delivered to your recipient once a month for 12 months, with prices starting at $69.95 for smaller shipments. Since its inception in 1936, the monthly delivery has expanded to a variety of fruit and non-fruit choices, including a flower-of-the-month option. A variation would be a wine-of-the-month club.
8. Classes. Has your significant other or best friend always wanted to learn to dance or to make stained-glass creations? You can buy a series of classes from a local dance studio, art studio or cooking school. Get a gift card or gift certificate so the recipient can choose a class that fits his or her schedule.
9. Movie rental service. A subscription to Netflix, Hulu Plus or another movie subscription service makes a good gift for a cinephile. You can pay for the subscription with your credit card for a year or buy a Netflix or Hulu Plus gift card, which range from $7.99 for one month to $95.88 for a year.
10. An investment. For a child or grandchild, contributions to a college savings account, savings bonds or a few shares of stock will continue to grow throughout the year and beyond. Services such as oneshare.com let you buy just one share of stock and send a paper certificate of ownership, but the certificate adds an additional $49 to the cost. A better option, especially if you plan to buy more stock in the future, would be to open a custodial account at a discount brokerage. Most stocks no longer issue paper certificates, but you can print one up on your computer to wrap and put under the tree.