Holiday Gift Guide

Give a gift they won't forget this year: An experience (for $100 and under)

A man carrying a shopping bag walks past holiday decorations along Fifth Avenue in Midtown Manhattan.
Getty Images
A man carrying a shopping bag walks past holiday decorations along Fifth Avenue in Midtown Manhattan.

The research proves it — experiences make you happier than things.

So why not buy your friends and family adventures this holiday season? They don't have to be expensive. Here are five easy-to-buy experiences — from a private chef to a murder mystery game — that your loved ones will never forget, all for $100 or under.

Hot air balloon, dinner in catacombs, tightrope walk & more

Buy it Nov. 26: Tazo Experiences
Price: $3.99

On Cyber Monday, Tazo Tea is selling a limited number of once-in-a-lifetime experiences in New York, Los Angeles, Miami and Austin — each for the price of a box of tea, $3.99. The adventures up for grabs will be a candlelight dinner in the catacombs beneath Old St. Patrick's Cathedral in Manhattan; a balloon ride over Miami with a photographer to help you capture the perfect photo; hors d'oeuvres and cocktails on a steam train ride through canyons in Austin; and a tightrope walking lesson on a hilltop ropes course with ocean views in Los Angeles.

The exact number of tickets available will vary by experience, but Tazo is offering approximately 100 spots total on a first come, first served basis starting Nov. 26 at 12 p.m. EST.

Murder mystery game

Hunt a Killer box
Hunt a Killer box

Hunt A Killer creates interactive murder mystery experiences that insert you into the story. Sign a friend up for a month (or six) and a box with clues and letters will be delivered so they can solve the faux crime.

Buy it now: Hunt a Killer
Price: $30 for one month; additional subscriptions available)

A surprise weekend getaway

Pack Up + Go plans surprise three-day weekend trips across America. The traveler sets preferences and a budget and the company takes care of everything else.

Buy it now: Pack Up + Go
Price: Gift certificates available for $100 and up

A smashing experience

Escape rooms used to be all the rage but now, it's "smash rooms." It's just what it sounds like: You get dressed up in protective gear, grab some sort of bat or baton and smash lots of breakable things. There are smash room locations all over the U.S., including Tantrums in Texas, Rage Room in Maryland, Wrecking Club in New York City, Rage Ground in Los Angeles and Chicago Rage Room. Many offer gift certificates, or you can book a package.

Buy it now: Various locations throughout the country
Price: $15 and up, depending on location and package

Eat famous food from across the U.S.

Know a foodie who would love to try an authentic Philly cheesesteak from Pat's, real Texas barbecue or H and H bagels, some of the best in New York City? Specialty food delivery sites Goldbelly and Foodly Direct can help you with that. Both companies deliver some of the country's most famously delicious food nationwide — no travel required.

Buy it now: Goldbelly or Foody Direct
Price: Varies

Don't miss: 7 perfect stocking-stuffers under $25

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Disclosure: These items have been handpicked by our editorial team. CNBC has affiliate relationships with some retailers so, in some cases, if you purchase an item from one of our gift guides, we may get a small share of the revenue from your purchase. This holiday season, the proceeds will be donated to the Council for Economic Education, which supports economic and financial education.