How to Give the Gift of Show Tickets

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Deal Expert, Chicago
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Growing up, my favorite Christmas gift to receive was tickets to a Broadway tour at the big theater in my hometown.

My mom, never one to ignore the details of gift presentation, would wrap the tickets with something from the show — typically the soundtrack, but sometimes it was a T-shirt or other souvenir item. I think I still have my shirt that says “No day but today,” gifted with tickets to “Rent.”

A study at San Francisco State University found that the majority of people believe that material goods are worth more than experiences, because material goods are longer-lasting. This might be why it seems difficult to wrap your head around giving event tickets as gifts, or why you might not even think to do it.

However, the researcher then asked people to look back at their experiences, and most determined that the experiences had actually been more valuable.

Here are some common conundrums with gifting event tickets, and how to confront them:

How do I know what event would this person would like?

The recipient’s taste in music and other arts is probably different than yours, so the best people to buy tickets for are those you know well, such as family or close friends. People are usually pretty vocal about their sports loyalties, so that’s a great start.

How do I know the person will be available on that date?

Again, this is easier if you’re close with the person. Simply avoid any standing commitments, such as volunteer work on Monday nights, and any times when the person will be on vacation (this info should be easy to get discreetly).

If the recipient might enjoy a subscription to his or her local theater, symphony or ballet company, check on whether the subscription packages come with free ticket exchange, which allows you to get tickets to the same production for a different date or time if you have to miss your scheduled performance.

At the end of the day, though, you don’t know whether the person will wear the sweater or use the cheese board either, so if you feel you can make an educated guess that’s probably good enough.

Is it weird that the price will be on the tickets?

Just treat it as though it’s a gift card, which also has a price displayed — probably much more conspicuously.

How do I wrap the gift?

I would recommend taking the time to go to the box office and get the actual tickets, whether you order online and pick them up at will-call or purchase them in person (as a bonus, you might also save on fees with the latter). You can just put them in a holiday card, or wrap them with a small token, such as a coffee mug with the sports team’s logo.

Find the perfect show to make the perfect gift on our Gift Guide.

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