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Our 2019 Gift Guide: Memorable Experiences Make the Best Gifts
12/1/2019 1:00:00 PM
Gift Guide

When gift buying, you want to keep in mind the people you give gifts to. What do they like to do, what are their hobbies, what gift will suit their unique personality? A current trend is to give the gift of an experience that will create a lasting memory, rather than a material store-bought gift.

Studies have shown that material possessions do not equal happiness and that experiences are much more intrinsically fulfilling than things. One explanation -- we adapt to physical things, so even the nicest car or newest phone becomes commonplace after enough time, while memories tend to get fonder over time. And no need to stand in the return line after Christmas if an item doesn’t fit or otherwise doesn’t suit a recipient. Plus, you don’t have to find a place to store experiences except in your heart, memory, and maybe in a photo album. 

An experience gift can be fulfilling for both the giver and receiver, especially if they enjoy the experience together. Going to the movies as a family, taking a painting class, making pottery, learning to scuba dive, or simply receiving a homemade spa day … these can be priceless memories that last a lifetime. We offer a few tips here to spark your imagination.


The Children’s Museum, Lake Charles, is both fun and educational, with science as a central theme.

Zoosiana Zoo of Acadiana, Lafayette, is home to over 750 animals and 130 species.

Water parks are great fun for kids. Numerous local parks have water features, Sulphur has SPAR, and the casinos have world-class pools. But if you’re looking for something bigger, there’s Schlitterbahn in Galveston and Blue Bayou in Baton Rouge.

Give a booklet with twelve coupons for a day at a park once a month. Or gift cards to movie theaters, favorite restaurants, Altitude Trampoline Park, Petro Bowl, or Miniature Golf.

 If you do give a material gift, make the giving itself a fun experience with a Treasure Hunt. Instead of wrapping the gift, wrap up a clue that leads to other clues and let the child go on a mystery adventure to find the gift (or figure out what it is and go with you to enjoy it). This is especially fun for larger gifts or experiences!

Families or Individuals

Banners at McNeese – Banners offers several levels of season membership. Purchase by Dec. 13 and Banners will send a packaged membership gift for under your loved one’s Christmas tree. 337-475-5123 or www.banners.org.

Ballet or other dance performances – There’s still time to buy tickets to the Lake Charles Civic Ballet presentation of Christmas in Louisiana – Once Upon a Time, Dec. 12-13. See www.lakecharlescivicballet.com for details. Or promise tickets to Lake Area Ballet Theatre’s Spring Gala on March 28, 2020, www.lakeareaballettheatre.com.

Lake Charles Symphony – Two performances remain in this season: Valentine’s concert, Feb. 14 (dinner included) and the Spring Concert, Apr. 18. www.lcsymphony.com, 337-433-1611.

Escape rooms are a fun adventure for friends and families. Cutthroat Cavern is one of eight or so escape rooms at The 13th Gate in Baton Rouge and is currently rated #2 in the world (#1 in the U.S.) If you prefer this type of entertainment closer to home, try Escape Room Louisiana and Bayou Escape Rooms in Lake Charles.

Theater tickets (either for an individual show or a season subscription) are great gifts for those who love onstage drama or comedy. There are several local theater companies in Lake Charles, as well as in Sulphur, DeRidder, and Jennings.

board games may be considered material gifts but a regular family game night can certainly create memorable experiences. Same goes for jigsaw puzzles.

Painting with a Twist or The Art Factory can ignite creativity by making art together.


Every girl enjoys a bit of pampering now and then. Buy her a gift card to a day spa, nail salon, or hair salon.

Or take her shopping. Head east to Gonzales and visit Tanger Outlet Mall or west to Houston’s Galleria.

Maybe she loves to travel. Take a road trip, hop on a plane, or take a train to someplace she’s never been before.

Girls also love great food.Promise to take her out to eat once a month at any of Southwest Louisiana’s finest dining establishments.


National sporting events are becoming more common in the Lake Area, thanks in part to the efforts of the Lake Charles/SWLA Convention and Visitors Bureau. The 2020 U.S. Olympic Team Trials for Boxing will be held at the Lake Charles Civic Center on Dec. 7-15, 2019, with the finals taking place at the Golden Nugget Lake Charles Hotel. The New Balance Future Stars Series National Championships Baseball Tournament will be in Southwest Louisiana over four weeks beginning June 30, 2020. The PGA Korn Ferry Tour Lake Charles Golf Tournament will debut at Golden Nugget Lake Charles, March 23-29, 2020. And the Pro Watercross National Championships will be held at North Beach on August 8-9, 2020.

Home Brewing Kits can certainly make for some interesting experiences. Visit The Brew Shop at 2915 Common St., Lake Charles.

Go skydiving with Cajun Skydiving Center in Jennings. Or rock climbing, hiking, camping, kayaking or canoeing, fishing or hunting. It’s all about making memories!

Posted by: Angie Kay Dilmore | Submit comment | Tell a friend


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