Get real! 12 local experiences to gift this Christmas
The old adage is 'buy experiences, not things' - and with this many amazing workshops, classes and days out on our doorstep, who are we to argue?
Coffee experiences at Dark Horse Roastery
Java aficionados on your Christmas list will love the two workshops available at Dark Horse in Wallingford – and the free coffee they get to go home with. Choose from a roasting and tasting experience that takes you through the production process, or a home barista course that’ll teach you how to make a coffee shop-level brew in your own kitchen.
£45 per person, or £75 per couple
Pig keeper for a day at Kew Little Pigs
From mini pig petting to the full-on farmer experience, animal lovers will squeal (see what we did there?) over these super-fun gifts from Kew Little Pigs in Amersham. The farm welcomes both adults and kids alike on their experience days – ideal for gifting all ages – and prices range from £25 for the petting experience to a £100 3-hour course on miniature pig ownership.
Cookery classes at The Jericho Kitchen Cookery School
Whether you’re dealing with a budding Gordon Ramsay or someone who can barely boil an egg (ahem, moi), there’s a class for every kind of home chef here. Learn to make sushi in the Artisan Tree Cafe in Oxford, cook on open fire at D’Oyleys Farm in Stadhampton or whip up a Mexican street food feast at Stadhampton Village. Best of all, you won’t even need to choose the class – just pop the money on a voucher and let the gift-receiver decide!
Wine tours at Daws Hill Vineyard
One for fizz fans, this voucher gives you a behind-the-scenes look at one of the best vineyards in Bucks. Take a tour of three acres of vines, find out more about the traditional wine-making process and then taste the lip-smacking result (including the vineyard’s award-winning English sparkling wines).
Treatments at Bodhi Tree Spa
What’s better than a treatment at a Muddy Award-winning day spa? One that someone else has paid for, obviously! The best thing about these vouchers is they can either come in a ribbon-wrapped envelope in the post (perfect for popping into a stocking), or if you’re having a last-minute panic, they can be emailed to the lucky recipient.
Season tickets to Waterperry Gardens
A season pass to anywhere will always go down a treat, but Waterperry is one of our favourites for garden enthusiasts. Not only will they get year-round entry to the gardens to see them in all their seasonal glory, annual passholders also get 10% off purchases in the Garden Shop and Gift Barn.
8-week Pilates course at The Core Zone
Know a budding gym bunny who needs a wellbeing boost? Treat them to a course of Pilates classes at The Core Zone in Middleton Cheney. The small classes take place in stone barn conversions and are mixed ability, which is perfect for gifting purposes. If you’re worried about how an exercise class might be received, there are massage vouchers available too.
Floristry courses at Green & Gorgeous
Wallingford farm Green & Gorgeous not only provides mind-bogglingly gorgeous event floristry, they also run courses on all things flowers, ranging from farming to photography. The perfect gift for anyone who harbours a secret desire to work with petals.
Escape room at Oxford Castle
Got a big family to buy for? Sort them all in one fell swoop by treating everyone to a jailbreak experience at Oxford Castle and Prison. Available for groups of ten or more, ages 12 and up, this escape room experience tasks you with breaking out of jail under the watchful eye of the wardens – and it comes with a glass of wine afterwards to celebrate or commiserate.
From £25.50 per person
Gin distillery experience with Sky Wave
Pop along to this award-winning distillery in Bicester to take a tour, try a tutored gin tasting (trying three of the seven gins available in the range), and of course enjoy a complimentary G&T or two. If you like what you taste, you even get 15% off purchases on the day.
£24 per person
Outdoor workshops at BackWoods
This is a genius gift idea for someone who loves trying new things. With BackWoods, a team based out of Stotts Nursery in Stokenchurch, Bucks, you can gift them a day of axe throwing, campfire cooking or willow weaving. Beats a pair of socks!
City break in a box from Holiday in a Box
Okay, this one is technically cheating as it’s a thing, but if you just can’t bear to only hand over an envelope this Christmas, then this is the next step up. Holiday in a Box gifts are packed with travel-inspired foods, souvenirs and recipes, as well as a virtual city tour, online quizzes and more to make you feel like you’ve jetted off to an exotic location (all without leaving your sofa).