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There’s no doubt this holiday season is going to look and feel a little bit different than years past. From travel to shopping, there’s one thing you can count on: You’ll have to tweak your plans. But that doesn’t mean the holidays can’t be just as merry and bright, even if you can’t be there to shower your loved ones in person.
Here, we’ve rounded up the best virtual gifts—items and experiences that will be thoroughly enjoyed right from the comfort of home:
Even if you or your loved one isn’t planning to take advantage of AirBnB’s short term rentals this holiday season, you can still give that special someone the gift of travel. Well, sort of. Though they won’t venture out their front door for this cultural trip, they will be transported to the destination of your choice through an immersive online experience.
Choose from a variety of classes, all taught by industry experts, that guide you through international cooking classes, traditional dance routines, museum tours, local markets, private tarot readings, and more.
Even the most avid cooks may be tiring of their standard rotation of meals—after all, they’ve probably been cooking the majority of their meals at home for most of the year. Spice things up by giving them a cooking class with the world-renowned, Michelin-star chef Thomas Kellar. (Fun fact: He’s America’s most decorated Michelin star chef!)
In his introductory course, he teaches all of the most fundamental cooking techniques—think of things like how to perfectly poach and egg or make pasta by hand. You'll even learn how to make the notoriously tough-to-master hollandaise sauce. It's a fun way to learn new techniques, and they can do it on their own time.
Though a winery visit may be out of the question this holiday season, you can still give someone very special the gift of a unique tasting session. Through Priority Wine’s virtual tastings, you’ll have the ability to set up a private, live event—no expansive Zooms or pre-recorded films.
First, choose a package of wine (there are 25 packages that range in price, according to your budget and location) from U.S. wineries, then schedule the actual tasting with the wine-maker or winery owner. Opt for an extra-special one-on-one, or make it a fun night for your extended family.
Gamers of all ages will go crazy for this portable gaming system. The hybrid system is everything you could ever want in, since it transforms from home console to handheld in an instant, allowing the flexibility to play your favorite games—including classics like Super Mario—from anywhere.
It’s an especially great option for those stuck at home, since the console supports various types of multiplayer options—play with someone in your own household or use the device to log on to the internet and play with far-flung friends and family.
Know someone who can’t resist the appeal of The Big Apple during the holiday season? Even if they can’t make it to see all that NYC has to offer—the Rockefeller Center tree, ice skating in Central Park, window shopping on 5th Avenue, or the Bryant Park Christmas market—you can still send them a taste of the city that never sleeps.
This bagel brunch, from the famed Essa Bagel, comes with six of the fluffiest, most delicious bagels you’ve ever tasted (in your choice of two flavors), a half-pound of lox, and a half-pound of cream cheese (with plenty of flavors to pick from). Of course, you can up the lot by adding a second serving of cream cheese or additional smoked fish for bigger families.
Your loved one's plans for that International bucket list trip may be off the table for the time being, but that doesn’t mean they can’t expand their horizons. To help give them that cultural immersion they’re looking for (and prepare for that upcoming trip), consider enrolling them in this popular language learning program.
For a flat fee, you can give them a lifetime membership, giving them access to immersive and interactive exercises in any language of their choosing—both written and oral—that’ll help them become fluent in no time.
For a really special gift your best friend or even your cousins won’t soon forget, tap a celebrity to send them a personalized message. No, you don’t need to finagle any networking magic to make it happen—just an easy-to-navigate service called Cameo.
Browse from thousands of familiar faces—actors, musicians, athletes, and influencers—send your favorites a direct message, and even book a live call through Zoom. Price varies based on the celebrity you choose, but there are plenty of great finds, like author Roxane Gay or comedian Sinbad, under $100.
Treat a budding musician to online guitar, bass, or ukulele lessons. Through a series of step-by-step classes taught by experienced expert instructors, they’ll learn the basics of playing a string instrument at their own pace. The program promises that after just three lessons, they’ll walk away knowing how to play along to the tunes of popular songs, like “Here Comes the Sun” by The Beatles and “Give Me Love” by Ed Sheeran.
Help your loved one step into a new role as chief mixologist in their house. This fun, interactive do-it-yourself cocktail kit includes dehydrated fruits and spices in a convenient glass jar, so all you have to do is add your favorite spirit. (Don’t worry if pairings aren’t your strong suit, as the kit comes with plenty of recommendations to take the guesswork out of the equation.)
After about a week, they’ll have a fully-infused spirit that's ready to be enjoyed! And though the kit only comes with one infusion's worth of fruit and spices they can reuse the jar to experiment with their own flavor combinations.
Is your father-in-law really missing all of that quality time on the course this year? With the gift of personalized feedback from a world-renowned pro, he can up his golf game right from the comfort of his own backyard.
All he has to do is follow a few simple instructions to record a quality video of his swing, then email it to the provided address. Once he’s sent the film off, Jonathan Yarwood himself will analyze the video and create a personalized video detailing any adjustments or improvements that can be made—all within a short time frame of 48 hours.
This roundup was written by Brigitt Earley, who has written and edited hundreds of gift guides for various publications over the course of the last 10 years.