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My First Facial + 13 Ideas to Give Experiences this Christmas

Sharing my first facial and—more importantly—why a spa day is a perfect gift to give a loved one for Christmas. I’ve listed 13 ideas for you to give experiences, not things, this Christmas.

Yep, you read that title correctly – I just turned 35, and just before that, I had my first ever proper facial at Downtown Vancouver’s Wedgewood Hotel & Spa. (If you have no desire to read about that, click here to skip ahead to ideas for giving experiences this Christmas!) I was told by my aesthetician, Anny, that, technically, having had microdermabrasion and my regular face masks can be considered a facial, but this was a proper facial and I was going to love it. And I did!

You might ask what rock I’d been living under that I’m in my mid-thirties and have never had a proper facial? I haven’t, but I can’t charge back a facial to my extended medical benefits (or can I?? If I can, please tell me how!), and my sensitive/breakout-prone skin didn’t really like the idea of someone scrubbing and slathering unknown products on it.

But when I was researching unique to Vancouver spa treatments for a post for a freelance gig, I found the Jet Lag Therapy Treatment (massage and facial) on the Wedgewood Hotel & Spa website. When I called the spa to get some more info, I was invited to try it, and can I tell you? I’ve never felt more pampered and relaxed in my life.

Jet Lag Therapy Treatment

Featuring a relaxing massage and a fabulous facial, the JLTT (my abbreviation, not theirs) will help you get through any tiredness, ASAP.

Signature Thai Fusion Massage

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The luxury Day Spa at the Wedgewood Hotel 

A few years ago, I started booking a massage for myself for the day after I landed wherever I was going. Travel is hard on the body and a good massage can ease tired muscles and energize your body – trust me.

The Wedgewood spa’s Signature Thai Fusion Massage is a hybrid treatment that combines yoga-like stretches together with deep tissue massage techniques. My massage therapist (Stephanie) used a lovely lemongrass essential oil, and the combination of the stretches and deep tissue sorted me right out. it will ease tired muscles while energizing and invigorating the body.

Cinnamon Enzyme Facial

Cinnamon enzyme facial Vancouver spa

Offered exclusively in Canada at the Wedgewood Spa,  this facial and other treatments at the spa feature Epicuren* products.  I cannot describe the facial  better than the brochure: “Often described as a non-surgical facelift, this facial provides deep cleansing, exfoliating and extractions followed by a Cinnamon Enzyme Peel and a multi layered intense tree bark enzyme mask that helps lift, tighten and firm facial skin.”

*Epicuren is all natural, and was created by a flight attendant and a dermatologist. Who better to create products for healthy skin than someone who spends a lot of time in recycled air and a medical professional who knows their stuff?? No one. 

give experiences Vancouver spa

Anny toned, scrubbed, and moisturized my skin, and the tingling sensation of the enzyme facial made me feel like little Epicuren elves were hard at work. By the end, I was, to quote Anny: “ready to party!”.

Having been taught to always wash my face before going to bed, it was hard for me to follow the instructions of NOT doing this (because my skin had already been through enough for the day). But Anny was right, and my skin was still glowing and feeling SO SMOOTH when I woke up the next day. I barely had to put any moisturizer on for the next couple of days.

The Verdict

If if my body and skin were feeling replenished after being out in the sun and walking around a lot for most of the summer, a traveller would definitely benefit from this treatment. At $345, this treatment is definitely a treat (ha), but if you’re wanting to try out the Wedgewood spa, they have great #GetThrifty seasonal offerings.

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The Wedgewood Spa has catered to many celebrities visiting Vancouver, and I’m told that several are repeat customers. It’s no wonder—the facility is discreet but welcoming, providing a nice little oasis in the middle of the noisy downtown core. It’s the perfect place for some pampering, and perhaps to send someone there as a Christmas gift?

Which brings me to the second half of this blog post…

Give Experiences this Christmas

*Updated December 2019

Why not avoid shipping stress (and /or having to go in a shop – unless you really want to!) and click to give the gift of an experience?

Believe it or not, people don’t necessarily want things. They want to cross something off their bucket list, or do something that lights them up or gives time with friends and/or family.

Here are some fun, practical, and/or unique experience gift ideas or ways to spend time with your loved ones this holiday season. These are also a really nice way to #shoplocal and support small businesses in your community—also to be a little more green this Christmas.

1. Spa day

A really nice option for any female in your life, particularly if a mum, super busy, or pregnant. Heck, your dad or significant other might event appreciate this. Per the above, I highly recommend the Wedgewood, but this can even be just buying your special personal a gift certificate to their favourite nail salon.

2. Cooking class

One of the Top 10 gifts I’ve ever been given was a cooking class. It’s also a fun couples’ or girls’ night activity. In Vancouver, I would recommend the Dirty Apron on Beatty Street or a class with my lovely friend Karen at Your Secret Chef. My friend Leeann also highly recommends the classes at Well Seasoned in Langley. If your giftee isn’t into cooking, maybe another hobby class (like classical guitar).

3. Donation

Everyone has a “I don’t know what I want” or “Don’t get me anything” person in your life. But you still want to do something. A donation on their behalf to their favourite or a special charity is a thoughtful option. I guarantee you that your local food bank is in need of donations or people to volunteer.

Personally, I buy a goat and donate another social impact item every year on behalf of my family through Me to We. I like that I can track the donation’s impact and they are one of my favourite charities.

Other charities and initiatives that I love are the Children’s Wish Foundation, Shoebox Project, and the Gift of Giving (an annual initiative from my friend, Danielle Wiebe from Vancity Business Babes, who has the BIGGEST heart).

4. Go for a meal

One of my favourite gifts is simply to be with the people I love and enjoy. Being in Victoria and going to England for Christmas means this is the first year that I won’t get to see my besties for our annual Christmas dinner. We’ve essentially stopped doing gifts and we never go to the same fancy restaurant. The best of friends are the ones you’ve known the longest but might not get to see very often. But when you do, it’s like nothing’s changed. I always leave that dinner feeling very heart full.

5. Networking or educational event

If you have entrepreneurs in your life, attending networking events is key. But that can add up cost-wise. Coworking spaces and entrepreneurial groups host events all the time. If you know what your person is into, a credit towards an upcoming event is a thoughtful idea. Vancouver examples are Vancity Business Babes (also in Toronto, San Diego, Seattle, and Victoria) and Hervana Coworking Collective.

6. Coworking pass

Spending a few days at Hervana in Vancouver saved my sanity in September. All of my girl boss friends agree that a coworking space is much more fun to work in than isolated at home or in a noisy cafe.

7. Winery or brewery tour

If you follow my blog on Instagram, you know a) that I love a glass of something lovely; and b) the Brit is a home brewer and craft beer enthusiast. A tour is a great date idea or option for a small group. Canadian Craft Tours does both winery and brewery tours and it’s a really fun time. (I met my Scottish friends on a wine tour in Napa ten years ago!)

8. Afternoon tea

This is a great girls’ day or female family members outing. That being said, the Brit took me for Afternoon Tea at the Empress for my birthday and he enjoyed himself just as much as I did. In Vancouver, Westin Bayshore has a great Festive Afternoon Tea on right now, and one of my favourite spots in Vancouver, Secret Garden, is always a winner (and is very good value for money!) We also recently took my mum to the White Heather Tea Room in Victoria.

9. Meal delivery

This is for the busy people or the college students who need to be eating well and aren’t. Also for those who might be having a hard time right now. The Brit and I use Hello Fresh, and I’ve heard that Fresh Prep is also good.

10. Photo session

Do you know anyone getting married or having a baby, a blogger or entrepreneur, or actor? Or a family who would love to get updated photos for the wall and for the grandparents? Buy some shutterbug time with a local photographer! Some of my favourite Vancouver area photographers are:

11. Home organizer

One of my friends from the Action Takers Club is an incredibly talented artist and organizer of spaces. And there are more people like her in the world that help create harmony in a space that seems impossible, or just needs a refresh. Know anyone who is wanting to start a business or redecorate? Kelly at The Funky Fresh in Vancouver is your girl.

12. Yoga studio pass

Do you know someone who wants to get fit or try something new? Or maybe you know what studio or gym they go to and want to help them keep it up. From personal experience on the given and receiving ends, it will be appreciated. Semperviva Yoga is a great set of studios in Vancouver, and I love iDance for dance classes.

13. Tickets to a concert

Rock concert, symphony, ballet. Whatever they like and maybe dinner before the show. It’s all about the experience.

The Brit shocked and delighted me to the core a couple years ago when he expressed interest in going to the ballet with me. Specifically to Swan Lake—because he likes the music. The gift gods smiled on me that Christmas because Seattle’s Pacific Northwest Ballet was doing a production of SL the following February. And it also happened to be on his birthday weekend. It was a fantastic weekend.

Give experiences this Christmas! Happy shopping. 🙂


This post was made possible in part by the Wedgewood Hotel and Spa. (Thank you!) As always, opinions are my own.

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