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10 DC-Area Experience Gifts That Will Make You the Best Gift-Giver Ever

Whether she’s the friend who has everything or the strict minimalist who views all gifts as future clutter, there are some people out there that are just impossible to shop for. The good news is, these experience gifts will be something they actually appreciate–and something they probably would never have thought to purchase for themselves.

Overnight stay at C&O Canal Lockhouse 10

If his happy place is staring up at a canopy of leaves and city life has him stressed and bedraggled, a night at the best of the C&O lockhouses (with air conditioning or heat plus quaint 1930s decor) is as close as you can get to a cabin in the woods while still being within pizza pickup range. $150 at C&O Canal Trust.

Beginner’s Boxing Camp

Her girl crush is Ronda Rousey, and yoga and smoothies just aren’t badass enough for her kind of sweat session. Give her the gift of a killer workout, with a side of self-defense savvy, in this 12-session intro course. $250 at Donte’s Boxing Gym.

Hot Shave

Because a subscription to Dollar Shave Club doesn’t come with a warm towel and professional hands. $50 at the Barber of Hell’s Bottom.

Afternoon Tea at the Park Hyatt Tea Cellar

There’s a Starbucks about every two blocks in downtown DC. High tea is a rarer treat. Here—with modern glass walls, creamy marble surfaces, and floral tea leaves blossoming in your pot—it’s an outing for anyone who appreciates understated glamour and soothing refinement on a saucer. Bonus: sweets and savories in abundance . $30 to $35 at the Park Hyatt.

Fighter Pilot for a Day

He may pass by the ads for fighter planes plastered all over Federal Center, but chances are he’s never been in one. This all-day program (the nearest location is Lancaster, Pennsylvania) moves beyond mere turns and rolls—guest pilots pull serious G’s and engage in fierce “combat” during a series of “dogfights.” $1,395 at Cloud9 Living.

Home Polish Sessions

She pores over design mags and saves up for custom pillows. Lend a professional hand with two hourlong sessions with a Home Polish interior decorator. She’ll learn how to work with what she already has—and the little aesthetic touches that will really elevate her home’s look. $150 at Home Polish.

Ticket to Spin

She sure loves the high that comes with the fast-paced cardio of indoor cycling, but the $22 a class price tag tends to cut into her budget. Pick up her bill with a ten-class pack that will get her through the next month at local indoor cycling chain, Zengo. $190 at Zengo Cycle.

Lobster Cooking Class

When it comes to cooking crustaceans, you’re both clueless, but it’s a shame because you’re both sea foodies. Learn how to cook lobster while enjoying a romantic night out. $200 per couple at CulinAerie (other couples classes available).

Kennedy Center Gift Card

They love a night out on the town, but they’re so busy that any tickets you buy will likely go unused. With a Kennedy Center gift card, they can select time and performance of their choice that fits their interest and their schedule. Price varies at The Kennedy Center.

Trip to Nicaragua with a Personal Photographer

Okay, so this may push the limits of what you’d normally give as a gift, but if you want to combine the holidays with an anniversary, this nine-day trip to Nicaragua is a pretty sweet deal. Not only will the recipient spend the vacation watching the sunset from a private pool, learning to surf, visiting hot springs, taking boat trips to a private island, and practicing your cigar rolling, they’ll also have a photographer by their side who will take photos of the trip for them, so they can spend the time focused on making memories, not capturing them. $2,050 from El Camino Travel.

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Associate Editor

Caroline Cunningham joined Washingtonian in 2014 after moving to the DC area from Cincinnati, where she interned and freelanced for Cincinnati Magazine and worked in content marketing. She currently resides in College Park.

Design & Style Editor

Hillary writes about interiors, real estate, arts, and culture. She is the former digital media editor of The New Republic, and her work has also been published in Glamour, The New York Times Book Review, and The Washington Post, among others. You can follow her on Instagram @hillarylouisekelly or on Pinterest @hlkelly.

Sarah is the Editor-in-Chief of Washingtonian Bride & Groom, and writes about weddings, fashion, and shopping. Her work has also appeared in Refinery29, Bethesda Magazine, and Washington City Paper, among others. She is a Georgetown University graduate, lives in Columbia Heights, and you can find her on Instagram at @washbridegroom and @sarahzlot.