10 Thoughtful Gifts That Keep on Giving

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Women exchanging holiday gifts
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Editor's Note: This story originally appeared on Living on the Cheap.

When it comes time to choose holiday gifts, there are times you just don’t want to buy any more things. Yet, you want to share joy, make your friends and family happy, and give them a thoughtful gift that they will enjoy all year.

There is a way to do that. Memberships in museums or botanical gardens, season tickets to plays or concerts, magazine subscriptions, and other gifts are ways to share experiences and provide something your recipient will enjoy all year. And they won’t have to dust it.

Here are suggestions for gifts that keep on giving.

1. Museum memberships

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An annual membership to the Smithsonian costs $26 and includes 11 issues of its eponymous magazine (including iPad access) plus other discounts. Many museums are currently offering discounted gift memberships.

A family membership is often a particularly good value for people with children.

2. Membership to a zoo or botanical garden

memberships to zoo
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More than 200 botanical gardens nationwide participate in the American Horticultural Society program, which provides members of one garden free or discounted admission to others.

Many zoos and aquariums participate in the Association of Zoos and Aquariums program that offers discounted or free admission to other zoos in the United States, Canada, and Mexico. Typical membership costs range from $50 to $200.

3. Season tickets to a theater or concert series

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You’ll also find gift deals and holiday promotions at local theaters. Another option is simply to buy someone tickets to several upcoming shows. Check out our tips for scoring great tickets.

4. A family membership or annual pass to a popular local attraction

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An annual pass often costs less than two visits, and pass holders also get discounts on other local attractions.

5. Magazine subscription

Catalogs magazines
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An annual magazine subscription is a good gift for a child or adult, and usually saves money over buying individual issues. If you want the option of sending it again next year, make sure the renewal form comes to you and not the recipient.

You’ll also want to opt out of any promotional mailings and ensure you don’t grant permission to add the recipient to mailing lists.

6. Warehouse club membership

Customers outside Costco
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An annual membership to Costco ($60), Sam’s Club ($45) or BJ’s ($55) would be a welcome gift for a friend or relative who likes to shop at those stores.

7. Fruit-of-the-month club

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The venerable Harry & David is still around, and you can have a box of fruit delivered to your recipient once a month for three to 12 months, with prices starting at $79.99 for smaller shipments.

Since its inception in 1936, the monthly delivery has expanded to a variety of fruit and non-fruit choices, including a flower-of-the-month option. A variation would be a wine-of-the-month club.

8. Classes

senior woman art class business owner
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Has your significant other or best friend always wanted to learn to dance or to make stained-glass creations? You can buy a series of classes from a local dance studio, art studio or cooking school.

Get a gift card or gift certificate so the recipient can choose a class that fits his or her schedule.

9. Streaming service

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A subscription to Netflix, Hulu or another streaming video service makes a good gift for a videophile. You can pay for the subscription with your credit card for a year or buy a Netflix or Hulu gift card.

10. An investment

Share of stock.
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For a child or grandchild, contributions to a college savings account, savings bonds or a few shares of stock will continue to grow throughout the year and beyond.

Services such as uniquestockgift.com and giveashare.com let you buy just one share of stock and send a paper certificate of ownership.

A better option, especially if you plan to buy more stock in the future, would be to open a custodial account at a discount brokerage. Most stocks no longer issue paper certificates, but you can print one up on your computer to wrap and put under the tree.

For more gift ideas for everyone on your list (including pets), see the suggestions in our complete guide to gift-giving.

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