Christmas Gift Guide Volume Three : Experiences Not Things

It seems the Christmas build up is well and truly underway and it's time to start stepping things up with the Christmas Gift Guides.

This third guide focuses on experiences rather than material things which, lets face it, it's all too easy to get hung up on at this time of year. We've all panic bought more gifts because it doesn't feel like we've done enough, and I've already had to be reminded that it doesn't matter if I've spent different amounts of money on friends children if they both love the things I've chosen for them.

I love a gift that extends beyond Christmas day, that gives the recipient something to look forward to, something to make or learn and, more importantly, facilitates the making of memories rather than clutter!

Some of the things I've listed here, such as workshops or nights away are ideas rather then specific items as they depend on your location, but I've mentioned some of my favourites too! Also, some of the prices I've listed are very much 'ish' depending on where you get things from and again, where in the country you live!

I hope it inspires you to buy a few less things and a few more things-to-do...

Outdoor Hot Chocolate Kit - £40ish

This can be done really inexpensively but is a gift I would really love to receive! A hot chocolate on the beach (or the park/woods/riverbank/garden etc etc) on a crisp winters day is such a treat, and would definitely brighten up a dull January or February day. Grab a nice jute or hessian bag for life (you could of course choose a more expensive receptacle for your bits and bobs, a nice cool bag or rucksack would be lovely, but a hessian bag for life is cheap and will do the job!) and fill it with the following:

- Camping Stove (unless you know the recipient has one) - Approximately £15
- Flask (or glass bottle) for milk - Less than £5 at Ikea or similar
- Milk pan (optional) - I've found these anywhere from £6 for a basic one to £30 for this lovely one from the Hambledon. Obviously everyone has a pan they could use so you could leave this out, but I think it's nice to have a special one for taking out and about, and enamel is nice and light. We have this one and we use it all the time A spout is also very useful!
- Enamel Mugs - super cheap and indestructible. Falcon are my favourite but I've spotted them in the pound shop recently.
- Jar of hot chocolate mix - I really don't think you can beat Jamie Olivers Epic Hot Chocolate recipe, and a big jar would add about £5 to the cost of the whole gift
- Marshmallows, sprinkles, and if you're feeling extra generous maybe some miniature spirits too, I'm rather partial to an amaretto hot chocolate myself!

All in, this could be done for around £40 - not half bad for a gift for the whole family which can be used again and again!

Festival Tickets - £350ish for a family of four

I've spoken at length about my love for The Good Life Experience so obviously I'm going to recommend you buy tickets to that, but I'm aware there are other good ones around the country too and I've heard excellent things about Camp Bestival, and Just So Festival. How exciting to unwrap a gift will give the recipient something to look forward to throughout those cold winter months before Spring arrives. Expensive, yes, but so much more worthwhile than a mountain of plastic or another device.  

Cookery School Experience - £variable

Do you have someone on your gift list who would love to be more confident in the kitchen? Or, do you know someone who is already excellent but has always wanted to learn a specific skill? There are hundreds of cookery schools throughout the country and many run day classes as well as courses spread out over a few weeks. Before I started working there part time, I spent the day leaning to make macarons with Macarons and More and it was so much fun (plus everyone got homemade treats as presents for the next year so this definitely benefits you as the gift giver too!) 

Some other options that look amazing (and which I would totally love to receive, just incase Santa happens to be reading this) are:

Rick Steins Cookery School - As you would imagine, a celebration of fish.
River Cottage Cookery School - So much to choose from, from baking to fishing (this is top of my bucket list)
Hunter Gather Cook - specialising in foraging, game and cooking over fire. Oh, and its in a tree house! 
Hobbs House Bakery - Obviously lots of baking, but also BBQ, butchery and pie making!

(above image from

Recipe Book and Equipment or Ingredients - £20+

Sticking with the food theme, a recipe book is something of a Christmas gift stalwart. You can make it even more of an experience (and encourage the recipient to actually use it) by pairing it with a piece of kitchen equipment used frequently in the book, or maybe specialist ingredients needed for some of the recipes. For instance (I've linked to a few of my favourite books):

Italian + pasta machine
Bread + proving basket  
Wild Baking + fire pit (sounds extravagant but ours was only £30)
Baking + natural food colourings
Meat + Thermometer
Comfort Food + Casserole Dish
Healthier Choices + Suitable seeds/grains
Healthier Baking Choices + A sugar alternative such as rice malt
Hot Chocolate + Cocoa and Marshmallows

You get the idea!

Katie and Kirstie of The Workbench have been teaching ring making workshops for over three years, and have recently launched their at-home-workshop box containing everything you need to make a wax version of your dream ring. You then send it off to be cast and it comes back to you all res-life and shiny. Doesn't that sound like the best fun!  

Fort Kit £10+

This is such a fun idea for children and families and while you can buy fort kits that are already put together, I think it would be great fun to choose all the bits and bobs yourself. The options are pretty endless for things you can include, but the obvious starting points are:

- Blankets and flat sheets (Ikea usually have them for about £3, and charity shops would be an even better option)
- Battery Operated Fairy Lights
- Pegs

But to make it really fun you could also add:

- Stick on hooks (for when you run out of places to peg your blankets to!)
- Curtain rings with clips (attach the clips to your blankets, and hook the rings on your adhesive hooks)
- Bunting
- A custom banner to hang outside (I like this one)

I could go on, but I think you get the gist! Pack everything into a tote bag and get set to invited to play!


I've got lots more ideas for this one so keep checking back for more updates! I really hope you're finding these guides useful - let me know if theres something you'd like to see!


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