Everyone loves a good mystery, so when it comes to gifts that actually take you outside the box this holiday season, we love this new trend in gift-giving designed as “mystery experiences.” Created around the idea of giving users the opportunity to channel their inner Agatha Christie or Indiana Jones, these relatively new experience gift concepts have been popping as of late, so here are our top picks for giving a truly unique present to remember.
THE MYSTERIOUS PACKAGE COMPANY: Billed as a gift unlike any other, focusing on tactile, interactive experiences, The Mysterious Package Company goes all out. First, you apply for a membership and then “The Curator” of the company sends you the first of many emails welcoming you. This is where you can tell just how much the folks behind this concept love what they are doing, as these emails are a rich blend of storytelling, mystery and imagination, and you don’t even have to pay for them!
So, you’re a member, now what? Well, the site is divided into sections: Experiences, Curiosities and Curios & Conundrums. There are currently 11 experiences to choose from like “The Hunt for the Forgotten Tomb” and “Filigree in Shadow” with prices ranging from $99 to $349 – some for adults only, some safe for kids. Once you make your selection, the recipient is sent a series of mysterious packages that help them decipher the mystery, with the big reveal sent to all participants in a wax-sealed parcel. The Curiosities are smaller in scope and scale, coming in a single mailing running around $39.99. The last section, Curios & Conundrums is a quarterly mailing for $29.99 per quarter, sending gift boxes full of curated stories and collectibles.
THE MYSTERY EXPERIENCES COMPANY: Shipped through cratejoy.com and similar in concept, The Mystery Experiences Company only sells a limited number of each mystery experience, which then becomes sold out, offering new ones every month. The experiences come in three membership levels: month to month for $29, 3-month prepay for $86.99 and 6-month prepay for $169.99. Current offerings include their ongoing Raven Series “Pendulum” and “Tombs of the Pharaohs.” Each mystery is created by best-selling novelist Christopher Forest, and the company itself also worked with the recently released Murder on the Orient Express. While they are very tight-lipped about their experiences, past mailings are known to have included newspaper clippings, evidence bags, autopsy reports and even an interactive Internet community built around the fictional place the mysteries take place in.
WONDERFUL OBJECTS BY WONDER AND COMPANY: With the tagline “What if you could unbox a story?”, Wonderful Objects offers quarterly subscriptions focused on the art of storytelling through hand-picked objects and custom-designed ephemera collectibles. Divided into Mystery Boxes for adults and for kids, recent past boxes include: “What if magic is real” and “What if you could fly,“ for adults, along with “What if you invented a device to talk with animals” for kids. Wonderful Objects also recently partnered with Cricket Media, offering their magical wonder-filled boxes designed just for children ages 9–14.
And just in case you’re still looking for a little mystery over the holidays, albeit a little closer to home, Murder by Chocolate (in Clear Lake) and The Dinner Detective (at the Doubletree Hotel Downtown) both offer live interactive murder mystery dinner shows solving crimes in real time. We won’t give anything away, but it’s not Colonel Mustard in the library with a candlestick.
The Mystery Experiences Company
The Mysterious Package Company
Murder by Chocolate
The Dinner Detective