Friday, December 9, 2011

Cheap Thrills: Members Only

I'm still recovering from the last action packed edition of Cheap Thrills, so this week I'm gonna take it a little easier and we're going to explore membership gift ideas. There are tons of options, so don't be limited by what I list here! When it comes to things like museums, zoos, wineries, etc., check your area for local deals. Yelp and Four Square are good starting points, since they'll give you reviews and tip you off to any deals and specials going on. Flip up those jacket collars, and let's get to it!

Museum Membership
I realize not everyone is a giant nerd like me, but museums aren't just for nerds anymore! Aside from the art, there are special installations, films, activities for kids and (yes, I will say it) fun for the whole family. One of my favorite museums is LACMA (Los Angeles County Museum of Art), and they have a number of membership levels to choose from. If you know some people who might enjoy a membership, you're in luck! LACMA is running a special on gift memberships right now - buy three, get an additional three free! If you're not in the Los Angeles area, check your local museums to see if they have any holiday gift deals going on now.

Zoo Membership
A unique and fun idea for a family with children is a zoo membership. My local pick would be the Santa Barbara Zoo, it's smaller than the L.A. or San Diego Zoo but much easier to visit frequently since it's smaller and not as crowded. They have five levels of membership to select from (ranging from an individual to a family pass) and each pass comes with the following perks: free admission and parking, 10% discount at the gift shop, invitations to exclusive members-only events, discounts to other zoos and aquariums, and discounted birthday packages. Again, if you're from outside the Santa Barbara area, check around local zoos, aquariums or animal parks.

AAA Membership
One of the best gifts I've ever gotten is a AAA membership, I feel like I have a secret weapon with me wherever I go. This is great for anyone who drives, from newbies to seasoned road warriors. Check out AAA's gift membership page for all the info. Guess what? You get a bonus if you purchase a gift membership for someone! AAA will reward you for your generosity with your choice of: a first aid kit, jumper cables or a gift certificate for one pound of See's Candy. Yay!

Treat your movie or TV buff to some entertainment with a Netflix gift subscription. Even if they're already members, you can gift them a free month of service. If you have questions about buying a subscription gift for someone, Netflix answers them here.

In case you haven't heard Charlotte and I raving about it, Birchbox is a service that ships 4-5 deluxe samples to subscribers. It's $10 per month, shipping included, and the box is tailored to each individual's taste (you fill out a form that lets them figure out what types of products you're likely to enjoy). Birchbox now has a few options for gift subscriptions - 3 months ($30), 6 months ($60) or 12 months ($110, you get one month free). Or, if your friend is already a subscriber, you can buy them e-cards, good for purchasing products directly from Birchbox.

Wine Club
Wine club memberships can be expensive, but if you're looking for a big gift they might be just the thing. One of the popular wineries in my area is Fess Parker Winery & Vineyard, their Wine Club offers a few different options to chose from and comes with discount perks for their winery and other local tasting spots. If you do choose to give a wine club membership (or just a bottle), be sure to read the restrictions for shipping - delivery may be restricted to certain states.

There you have it, folks! Some options you may not have thought about, that can bring a whole year of fun and entertainment to your loved ones. Stay tuned next week, I'm working on something special for the 21+ crowd!


  1. A tip of that hat to you, m'lady!

  2. DO NOT give a Netflix gift subscription. Your recipient will be required to enter THEIR credit card information (a prepaid credit card won't work) which will authorize Netflix to charge for the subscription after the gift subscription runs out unless they remember to cancel first.

  3. Good tip, thanks for the heads up!

    A month of Netflix might only be a good option if you know for certain the person is: a) already a subscriber or b) already has plans to sign up and won't mind their card being charged after your gift has expired.