Indulgent gifts they’ll love

You’ve got some room in your gift giving budget, a special occasion and someone special to treat. While it seems like there’s a never-ending line of new gifts on the market, it can be hard to find a gift that leaves a lasting impression. If you’re looking for something a little different — and perhaps a little indulgent — we’ve got some ideas that are sure to please:

Museum or art gallery membership. It’s a great way to encourage learning and support local institutions. In addition to unlimited free admission, members also enjoy extra perks like discounts on food, special events and gift shop items, free activities, reserved tickets and discounts on tickets for guests. Memberships typically range from $35 – $100/year for individuals, and $65 – $150/year for couples and families (children and grandchildren included). Many places offer special rates for seniors, youth and students as well as people who don’t live in the immediate area.

For example, memberships to the Royal Ontario Museum range from $97/year for individuals to $149/year for families, and the Royal Alberta Museum’s Mammoth Passes range from $20/year for youth to $70/year for families — there’s also a Grandparents package (two grandparents plus children aged 1-17) for $60.

Season pass to an amusement park or recreational facility. Whether it’s the local putt-and-play or a major amusement park, a season pass offers unlimited use — which can come in handy for the kids and grandkids during those long summer months.

For example, Canada’s Wonderland north of Toronto offers passes for $64.99/person, with discounts for children, seniors and family. If you’re shopping before summer, you can take advantage of early bird specials, off-season discounts and gift packages.

Ticket packages to the theatre, symphony or sports games. In general, the bigger the venue and the flashier the performances, the more expensive the tickets. However, season passes to local sports teams, theatre groups and symphonies are a less expensive way to indulge a love of the arts or sports on a regular basis. That doesn’t mean you have to overlook the pro sports teams or major concerts — consider ticket packages instead of season passes so you can enjoy an evening out throughout the season.

Tickets to special events like championship figure skating or curling can also be a treat for an aficionado.

Jewelery. With the price of gold and silver at record highs, jewelry is definitely an indulgence this year — especially when combined with large, precious stones. However, if you’re looking for some bling without spending big bucks, look for items in less pricey materials like stainless steel and titanium. Also impressive but less expensive are smaller-sized stones like diamonds or “lab created” and “enhanced” coloured gems. The trends also extend to men’s collections with more rings and bracelets adding to the traditional watches, cuff links and pins.

Another hot option: charm bracelets by Pandora and Chamilia which feature beads in gold, silver and glass to create a custom look. They’re perfect for a group gift and will give you ideas for many occasions to come.

If you want a piece that’s truly unique, look for local jewelery makers or artisans in your area for a custom-made item. Estate jewelry is also an attractive and inexpensive way to pick up an unusual piece.

Spa treatments. Women often end up with more than their fair share of the stress and work during the holiday season, so why not treat the lady in your life to some “me time”? Spa treatments — whether they’re something as simple as a manicure or as elaborate as a full weekend getaway — offer a chance to recharge and relax.

Gentlemen can also get in on the action: many spas offer couples packages which include services like side-by-side massages, facials and luxurious baths — often with extras such as sparkling wine and dining for two.

Spas don’t have to cost big bucks, however. Look for special packages and promotions — including last minute deals. (See Spa on a budget for more ideas.)

Bath and beauty products. True, you can pick up a package of body products just about anywhere, but consider an upgrade if you really want to create a spa feeling at home. Look for products that contain organic and non-toxic ingredients, such as plant extracts and essential oils rather than perfumes. Some brands you may want to consider include ESPA and Arbonne.

Lessons. Instead of a dinner out, how about a gourmet cooking class? Or barista workshop or cocktail class to make those fancy drinks yourself? Spend an evening dancing — or learning how to do it right. Whatever your special someone is interested in, taking a class together is a great way to learn new skills and spend time together. It could be a weekly session (like a yoga or dance class), a weekend workshop, or a learning vacation.

Lessons don’t have to be for couples only — they’re also a good way to keep relationships strong with friends and family and form lasting memories.

Driving adventures. Has the man in your life ever wanted to ride in a classic car or go off-road in a Hummer? There are opportunities to indulge a love of cars that goes beyond test driving — or buying an expensive vehicle.

For example, Perfect Day Experiences offers a range of Driving Experiences, including a tour of Victoria in your choice of antique car, or off-road Hummer Adventures, drag racing, performance driving, day-long or overnight cruises on a Harley and even stunt car driving. Packages range from $59 (for one hour adventures) – $1700 (for longer adventures), depending on the length, type of vehicle used and number of people.

If your recipient prefers to hit the waves or take to the air, there are experiences for that too. See for details.

A getaway. Perhaps the ultimate indulgence is a change of scene, whether it’s a cozy cabin or cottage, a sunshine getaway, cruise or a jaunt to a popular destination like Europe.

Of course, there’s something to be said for delayed gratification. Purchasing travel gift certificates or committing a certain sum to a vacation savings account can help make that getaway more affordable whenever you choose to take it. Try a destination like Nantucket Island Resorts — their gift cards can be used at any of their hotels, restaurant or bars, so you can plan the specifics of your trip at a later date (and take advantage of seasonal deals too). For more information, visit

Updated November 2012. Please note prices and links are subject to change.