Missed shipping deadlines? There are plenty of experiences to gift this Christmas

If you’re tired of the shops, have missed online shipping deadlines, and exhausted your stash of scented candles, socks and jocks, it might be the year to gift an experience.

Not only does it afford you quality time with loved ones but the opportunity to create new memories after a challenging year. Plus, people prefer it: a recent survey by McCrindle Research and adventure company Adrenaline found 94 per cent of young Australians believe the best Christmas presents are shared experiences.

Escape to Tiny Away’s Tiny House 888 in Polbolkin, Hunter Valley.

From travel, adventure and pampering packages to gallery memberships, sport and entertainment, we’ve rounded up the most unforgettable experiences to gift this year.

Get out of town
Switching off phones and going off-grid is just what eco-tourism companies Unyoked and Tiny Away are prescribing via gift cards (or a script in Unyoked’s case) for hundreds of rural and wilderness locations. Remind the recipient to pack plenty of books and clothes for hikes.

Unyoked’s gift card comes in the form of a script.

Airbnb has also introduced gift cards that can be put towards stays and Insta-worthy activities; or with staycation options aplenty, gift a city escape at the Langham in both cities for decadent high tea and spa options. For those who prefer a roadtrip, Camplify has a range of caravans suited to help couples, families, and furry friends have the ultimate adventure.

Get creative
From glassblowing to cooking classes and fragrance workshops, support local businesses with marketplace Class Bento hosting classes for those who like picking up new skills. Learn with stars like Spike Lee, Yotam Ottlenghi, and Anna Wintour through Masterclass — a platform that gives unlimited access to diverse creative and business workshops ($23 a month). And for those with a love for shared storytelling, gift a personalised podcast with Podcard which gathers messages from friends and family to create a professionally edited form of audiobook memories. (From $165).

Explore from above
For thrill seekers, a tandem skydive over the Great Ocean Road (Adrenaline, $299) will provide uninterrupted views as participants freefall from 15,000 feet for 60 seconds. In NSW, Sydney scenic seaplane flight (Adrenaline, from $315) affords 30 minutes soaring across the sights of Sydney Harbour up to Manly and Palm Beach, or a hot air balloon ride in the Hunter Valley is a sunrise expedition over the wine region. (Red Balloon, $598 for two). Give the gift of choice with Banana Lab’s gifting boxes, with an invitation to choose from with hundreds of experiences, or Sydney couples can get inspiration from Urban Swan, who cover canyoning, stargazing and wine tasting, and salsa lessons.

Annual Memberships
Most galleries, museums and performance troupes, including the Australian Ballet, offer season packages, giving early access to tickets, courses, and events.

The Chanel exhibition brings more than 230 pieces by the French designer to Melbourne’s NGV.Credit:Eddie Jim

Melbourne’s NGV is currently exhibiting Gabrielle Chanel. Fashion Manifesto, while the Art Gallery NSW has Matisse: Life and Spirit.

Soma Retreat, Byron Bay.

Fitness and wellness fanatics
For those always scoping out the latest fitness trend, Class Pass in both Sydney and Melbourne gives access to thousands of studios, gyms and wellness centres such as Barry’s, KX Pilates and CYRO. For the busy professional, Melbourne’s Mirosuna and Sydney’s MYND studio offers mediation, yoga class passes and massages, but if you want to up the ante, relaxation is on the cards at Soma in Byron Bay were Nine Perfect Strangers was filmed or at the Peninsula Hot Springs on Victoria’s Mornington Peninsula.

Be a tourist
Tick off one of a bucket list item with the Sydney Harbour Bridge’s three-hour Burrawa Climb. As you move upwards towards the summit, an Indigenous guide will share stories and information on landscapes across the city (Adults: $288, Children: $149).

The court is set for next year’s Australian Open.Credit:HAMISH BLAIR

Game, set, match for sport fans
Centre court tickets are hot property as Ash Barty and Dylan Alcott, in his final tournament appearance, aim to be crowned Australian Open winners. With new dining precincts and commemorative items from sponsor Ralph Lauren, it’s set to be one of Melbourne’s biggest events since lockdown, alongside The Ashes starting on Boxing Day at the MCG and January 5 at the SCG.

Food and culture enthusiasts
Live performances are back in full-force, and with acts including Gang of Youths, and The Kid Laroi returning to the stage. Ticketek, Ticketmaster or vouchers for specific theatres or companies are a safe bet. Don’t miss Phantom of the Opera, historical hip-hop musical Hamilton, which will move from Sydney to Melbourne in March, and Baz Lurhmann’s Moulin Rouge moving up to Sydney in May.

In NSW, the next few months are packed with Sydney Festival, Night at the Barracks, Westpac Open Air, Neighbourhood Earth Exhibition, and Great Southern Nights’ 50 artist line-up. In Melbourne, grab tickets for Live at The Bowl, or Australia’s first touring pride festival, Summer Camp at Reunion Park, March 6 (Centennial Parklands, February 27).

Pair a night out with a culinary extravaganza
After another tough year in hospitality, businesses are returning with revamped menus and new openings including Oncore by Clare Smyth in Sydney and Society in Melbourne. Bundle up a Good Food Guide (found at newsagencies) and gift card, and allow the recipient to discover the awarded movers and shakers for themselves on a night out.

Producer Carmen Pavlovic says Moulin Rouge! The Musical is lavish, bold and deeply romantic.Credit:Michelle Grace Hunder

Giraffes, rhinos and koalas, oh my…
Werribee Open Range Zoo offers a conservation African safari without having to jump on a plane. The recipient will enjoy up-close animal encounters and an overnight stay in luxury tented accommodation. ($690 for two people on RedBalloon). In Sydney, guests at Taronga Zoo’s Wildlife Retreat can spot native wildlife from their eco-lodges, join guided tours, and enjoy picturesque dinner views of the lush sanctuary and harbour beyond.

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