Holiday Gift Guide 2018- Experiences


Gift-giving can be tricky for several different reasons. Maybe the person you are looking for seems to have it all. Or perhaps your friend has been working on paring down possessions and adopting a more minimalist lifestyle. My parents, for example, are much more interested in doing things together as a family instead of getting a bunch of gifts. If you are in this situation, consider the gift of an experience.

Listed below are five different types of “experience” gifts to help you surprise your loved ones this holiday season.


When it comes to concerts, there is really something for everyone! From symphony orchestras, to pop and rock concerts, and local bands. Get two tickets and gift them in a beautiful card or box.

If you know their favorite band or musician (and they still tour) check out the official website for the singer/group to see upcoming tour dates. You can also search by city on Ticket Master or on any local venue websites. (If you live in the Northern Virginia area, I highly recommend Wolf Trap.)

Theater | Movie Night

A pair of tickets to a live show or to a local movie theater can also make a really fun gift. Depending on your budget, you can also include a handmade voucher for dinner, snacks, transportation, and/or a babysitter. If you have an Alamo Drafthouse nearby, it’s a movie night, drinks, and dinner all rolled into one!

Food or Drink Tastings

A food or drink tasting would be a great opportunity for the recipient to try something new. Do you have a friend who loves wine or beer? Check your local area restaurants or breweries to see what types of events are available. For DC/Metro area residents, check out Loudoun County for some amazing wineries, breweries, and distilleries with great atmosphere.

Arts and Crafts

I feel like there has been a resurgence in “paint and sip” studios, at least where I live. These are experiences, let by an artist, where you can paint, drink wine, and sample hors d’oeuvres. Some studios even offer daytime events for the younger set where they offer sparkling grape juice and kid-friendly food like pizza.

In the same artistic vein, you could also get tickets to a pottery painting class. Usually these events will guide you through creating and painting a piece of pottery to bring home.


We could all use a little extra TLC and self-care, especially around the holidays. Give someone the gift of massage, a facial, or a manicure/pedicure

What type of experience would you be thrilled to receive?

Holiday Self-Care (+ free printable)


One of the best gifts you can give to yourself during the holidays is time for self-care. There are always things that are competing for our time, energy, and attention and the holiday season is no different.

  1. Practice saying no and prioritize your activities

    This time of year brings holiday parties, family gatherings, after school celebrations, and festive outings with friends. Maybe you’ve hosted events in the past, went over budget on gifts, or overcommitted to baked goods. Give yourself permission to say “no” and trust in yourself and your decisions. Identify what you value and what your intentions are for the holidays and let the rest go.

  2. Give yourself time to grieve for anyone/anything you’ve lost

    The winter holiday season is not necessarily a joyous time for everyone. If you are going through a difficult situation, it’s important to give yourself the opportunity to acknowledge your feelings. If you are dealing with the loss of a loved one, take time to remember them and acknowledge their impact on your life. It’s normal to feel the full range of human emotions.

  3. Identify your support system

    I can’t stress the importance of support enough! Most people who are successful with healthy habits have identified and made use of support systems. We all have different levels of support in our lives- family, friends, colleagues, and professional wellness providers to name a few. Sometimes support systems are virtual or community based (I met some of my best friends online!). If this is a challenging area for you, one suggestion I have is to brainstorm some of the hobbies you are interested in and see if there are any groups that you could join to connect with others.

  4. Remember the foundations of self-care

    There are certain practices that are vital to supporting our ability to self-regulate. Quality sleep, good nutrition, and physical activity are some of the things we can always be working on to be on top of our wellness game. The holidays have the potential to leave us with less time to focus on these areas but making a commitment to small actions can lead to a healthier mind and body.

    Some examples would be to park far away when you go shopping so you get extra steps, deciding what calories are “worth it” when it comes to treats, and planning a bedtime routine that includes enough time to sleep so you feel rested.

  5. Have a plan

    As with most situations, having a plan is usually better than trying to wing it. I think it’s important to identify those things that are going to recharge your batteries or help you relax.

    To make it a little easier, I’ve created a worksheet with questions to support you in getting clear on your self-care needs. Hang it on your fridge or clip it into your journal or planner as a reminder during the season.

Click here to view and download your free holiday self-care plan worksheet


What is your favorite self-care activity?

A Visit To Poplar Spring Animal Sanctuary

This past weekend I had the privilege of attending the annual open house at Poplar Springs Animal Sanctuary. From their website-

Poplar Spring Animal Sanctuary is a 400 acre non-profit refuge in Poolesville, Maryland for farm animals and wildlife that relies entirely on public donations for support. Our mission is to offer care, rehabilitation, and permanent sanctuary for neglected, abused or abandoned farm animals, as well as providing a protected habitat for wildlife. We promote compassion and the humane treatment of all animals by educating the public on farm animal and wildlife issues.

For the past 21 years they have invited the community to tour the farm, meet the animals, and try delicious vegan food. I had it noted on my calendar as a reminder, but hadn’t firmly committed to going until the morning of the event. Chris, my husband, and I decided it was a beautiful day to be outside and we were not disappointed. When we arrived, we tried a few of the vegan food options and gratefully grabbed a cup of coffee from Brewing Good Coffee Company (delicious!).

Then we made the rounds to visit the animals which was so heartwarming. All of the staff were patient and kind which made for an inviting environment. Here are a few photos of some of the fuzzy and feathery individuals we met-

This is Mason, the rooster. He was found on the Shenandoah Trail by a hiker and brought to Poplar Springs.

This is Mason, the rooster. He was found on the Shenandoah Trail by a hiker and brought to Poplar Springs.

Edward the peacock

Edward the peacock

Everyone loves a good scratch.

Everyone loves a good scratch.

Having fun in the sun.

Having fun in the sun.

Beautiful Lily getting a nose rub.

Beautiful Lily getting a nose rub.

Taking an afternoon snooze in the barn.

Taking an afternoon snooze in the barn.

Gave this sleepy pig some ear scratches.

Gave this sleepy pig some ear scratches.

If you ever get the chance, I recommend visiting an animal sanctuary to really make a connection with these beautiful creatures. If you have been following Living Well and Wild, you know that I advocate a vegan lifestyle. It is because I can’t imagine consciously harming another living being or paying to have it done. If you are interested in finding more about making the transition to a vegan lifestyle, please don’t hesitate to reach out. I would love to support you! You can also sign up to try veganism with Challenge 22.

What is your favorite plant-based meal?