Buy local: the ultimate Christmas 2023 gift guide

Woman and Nutcracker lifesized doll

Find the best Christmas presents for friends and family

Christmas is a time for giving (and let’s face it, receiving too!), but sometimes it’s tricky finding the perfect Christmas gift for your loved ones.

So instead of wasting hard-earned cash on a shower gel set they may never use, why not get them something they’ll really appreciate – like a gin distillery tour in Hampshire, or secluded overnight glamping stay in Cumbria? As well as impressing friends and family, these disappearing gifts will support local businesses, hotels, shops, attractions and restaurants up and down the country, and the environment, too.

Not sure where to start? Here’s a round-up of our favourite Christmas present ideas for 2023. 

More Christmas 2023 events and things to do:

20+ Christmas events for 2023 | Best places for a 2023 Christmas break | 2023 Christmas events in stately homes | Christmas markets 2023 | 2023 Christmas steam train experiences | 2023 Christmas gift guide 

Christmas gift ideas: Food and drink

• Give the gift of craft gin this Christmas with White Peak Distillery, based in the Peak District.
• From cheese hampers to crackers and homemade jams, Hartington Cheese Shop is famous for its wide range of quality cheeses, chutneys and biscuits.
• Whether it's strawberry and black pepper or aromas inspired by the Norfolk coastline, Norwich-based Bullards Spirits have just the right flavour for your gin-loving friends.
• Ready, steady, bake! Help unleash their baking creativity to whisk, roll and whip up the ultimate edible showstopper (and be crowned winner, of course) with a session at The Big Birmingham Bake.
• Know any fans of heights? Then a London in the Sky flight is a must. Dangling 100 feet above the ground from a crane, they’ll get to tuck into mouth-watering meals accompanied by epic (if not the best) views across the capital.
• Treat someone to fine dining-quality dishes cooked and served by prisoners in training at The Clink Restaurant at HMP Styal in Cheshire. Gift vouchers are available too.
• Take a gin lover on a tour of the home of Bombay Sapphire, let them sample gins on a tutored tasting experience or encourage them to get hands-on with an interactive cocktail mixology session.
• Sweet-toothed friends will certainly thank you for gifting them a Brigit’s Bakery Afternoon Tea Bus tour. Sitting on the top deck of a vintage Routemaster bus, they’ll get to take in some of London’s best sights as they dig into an exquisite afternoon tea.
• Dainty sandwiches, cream-smothered scones, melt-in-the-mouth patisserie and top-tier tea – afternoon tea at the Georgian-era Assembly House in Norwich is difficult to beat.
• Push the boat out with a gastronomic overnight stay at Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons and a full-day cooking class at the highly esteemed Raymond Blanc Cookery School in Oxfordshire.
• Tap into their eco-conscious side with an engaging foraging course with Totally Wild UK. These sustainable experiences take place across the country and give people an insight into wild foods, where to find them and how to use them in cooking.
• Meat lovers will love getting hands-on with hot water pastry at a pork pie-making workshop at Brockleby’s Bakery in Melton Mowbray.
• Pay homage to some of the DC universe’s best-known heroes and villains by treating a comic-book lover to an immersive gastronomic show at Park Row’s Monarch Theatre in London.
• Don’t think you can up last year’s boat trip? Think again. Windsor & Maidenhead Boat Company not only run river cruises along the Thames, but serve a delectable afternoon tea on board too.
• Know someone that’s visiting Bath? Book them onto a Savouring Bath – Guilty Pleasures tour for a deep dive into the best of Bath’s culinary history, where they’ll try a myriad of sweet and savoury treats around the city.
• Splash out on a romantic meal at L’Enclume in Cartmel – it’s one of the only three Michelin-starred restaurants outside of London, so it’s pretty exceptional.
• Surprise someone with a top-notch meal out at the Michelin-starred Fordwich Arms in Kent, which showcases the best of local ingredients in a relaxed pub-style setting.  
• Tantalise some taste buds with a dinner at the rustic Pea Porridge in Bury St Edmunds, a charming Michelin-starred diner that uses seasonal produce for their nose-to-tail dishes.
• Send your mum, sister, friend or partner on a guided tour of the oldest continuously operative vineyard in the UK, Adgestone Vineyard on the isle of Wight. As well as having a nose around the vines and cellars, they’ll be treated to a wine-tasting lesson. You could even go all out and book them an overnight stay in the onsite Shepherd’s Hut.
• Swoon your other half with a sparkling day out at Tinwood Estate in Sussex. You can stick to just a tour followed by a tasting of three glasses of their homemade bubbly, or add on a stay in one of their vineyard lodges, complete with a barrel sauna and a fully stocked wine fridge.
• Want to give your partner something really unique? How about dinner in a hidden woodland? Nomadic Dinners serves up foraged feasts cooked on an open flame amongst the trees in Buckinghamshire’s Chiltern Hills for a meal that’s truly out of the ordinary.

Christmas gift ideas: Unforgettable experiences and days out

• Put water-fuelled fun under the tree this year with an action-packed session at Hertfordshire’s Lee Valley White Water Centre.
• Go the extra mile with a gift ticket to the truly magical Warner Bros. Studio Tour: The Making of Harry Potter.
• Looking for something super romantic? How about a gentle hot air balloon ride over the sights of Bristol?
• Stuck for ideas for Christmas presents for kids? How about letting them get up close and personal with penguins and meerkats with ZSL’s animal experiences, which take place at both London Zoo and Whipsnade
• For a slice of video game nostalgia, slip a ticket for the Tomb Raider: The Live Experience into someone’s Christmas card. From zip-lining through jungles to rummaging for relics, this immersive adventure is one for old-school Lara Croft fans.
• If you’re looking to impress your hard-to-please teenagers, why not book them a lot on England’s longest and fastest zipline at the Eden Project in Cornwall? Not near the southwest? Don’t despair – there’s also a Hangloose Adventure zipline at Bluewater in Kent.
• Put your mates behind bars at Alcotraz – speakeasy prohibition cocktail bars in London, Brighton, Manchester and Liverpool. You’ll all even get to rock some bright orange jumpsuits!
• Got a back-seat driver on your hands? Why not put their driving skills to the test with one of Mercedes-Benz World’s track and off-roading experiences?
• Hidden below the rolling Mendip Hills in Somerset is Wild Wookey, a subterranean caving experience that’ll have thrill seekers crawling, climbing and abseiling through the legendary Wookey Hole caves.
• Animal lovers will be ecstatic when they find out they’ll be hand feeding big cats, meeting red pandas or hanging with sloths – just some of the animal experiences you can book at South Lakes Safari Zoo in Cumbria.
• Treat the family to a safari adventure without leaving the country. Port Lympne is Kent’s largest wildlife park and has a variety of experiences and accommodation, from wildlife photography courses to overnight stays in Lion Lodge, where you’ll be just a pane of glass away from the kings and queens of the jungle.
• Looking for a gift for a group? How about The Cell Escape Room at Shepton Mallet Prison in Somerset? This immersive experience is set inside a real prison cell and is designed to test your wit through tasks and puzzles.
• Give a budding astronaut an out-of-this-world present this Christmas with the Astronaut Experience at the Space Store in Oxfordshire. With virtual and augmented reality, space suits and astronaut food, they’ll be able to experience the day in the life of an astronaut while staying firmly planted on Earth.
• Delight a train lover by letting them get behind the controls on a steam train driving experience with Great Central Railway.
• Spoil an adventure-seeker in your life with a day out to The Bear Grylls Adventure in Birmingham. Pick from high ropes courses, indoor skydiving, archery and even axe throwing.
• Send a loved one underground to search for their very own precious gem, Blue John, at the Blue John Stone Experience in Castleton. 
• Surprise a friend with a mini paddleboarding adventure through the historic waterways of Bristol with SUP Bristol.
• Pack the family into the car and take them out for a Campfire Evening Experience – complete with hotdogs, smores and fun fireside activities – in the Oxfordshire countryside.
• If scary movies just aren’t hitting the spot, why not send a friend on an Oxford Official Ghost Tour, where they’ll hear stories of ghouls and spirits and experience paranormal phenomena?
• Looking for a unique date day idea? Spend an afternoon walking with alpacas at Lucky Tails Alpaca Farm in Warwickshire or get up close and personal to curious little meerkats.
• Buy the little ones a day out at Huckleberry Woods in Kent, where they can spend some time mingling with micro-animals from mini chickens and pigs to miniature Mediterranean donkeys.
• Hogwarts nerds won’t be disappointed with a trip to the Harry Potter Warner Bros. Photographic Exhibition at the London Film Museum – home to its very own bottled Butterbeer bar.
• Know someone that can’t sit still? Then why not send them on a guided hike of Scafell Pike (England’s highest mountain) with BEE Adventures?
• Pencil some time in with your mum on a Pamper & Prosecco Spa Day at the Lifehouse Hotel in Essex.
• Looking for a present for your partner? An aqua thermal spa day – that journeys through saunas, steam rooms pools and more, reaping both holistic and therapeutic benefits – at Ribby Hall will hit the spot.
• Spoil someone with a dreamy 90-minute experience of dipping in and out of subterranean candlelit pools at AIRE Ancient Baths in London.

Christmas gift ideas: Theatre, arts and culture

• Surprise the theatre-goers in your life with a gift voucher to Manchester’s Royal Exchange, which can be redeemed on shows, workshops, tours and in the theatre’s shop and restaurant.
• Treat someone to a year of unlimited access to England’s incredible historic sites with an English Heritage Membership.
• Give a gift that keeps on giving with a National Trust Membership, which allows members free entry to an array of gardens, historic houses and much more.
• Not sure what to get someone who’s seen everything? Then get your hands on a TodayTix gift card, so they can choose the show they want to see, when they want to see it.
• Avid gallery-goers will love opening their National Art Pass on Christmas Day, which lets them enjoy free entry to hundreds of museums, galleries and historic houses across the country for a whole year.
• Remember, remember the 5th November at The Gunpowder Plot live-action experience in Tower Hill, where your lucky recipient will have the chance to step inside history’s most daring conspiracy.  
• Leave uncomfortable cinema seats behind you and splash out on a couple of tickets to Backyard Cinema in Manchester instead. It’s said to be one of the most magical places to watch a movie.
• Delight a dramatist with a guided tour of The Globe, where they’ll be regaled with tales of Shakespeare’s 1599 Playhouse and see all the nooks and crannies of the open-air auditorium. If you want to push the boat out further, you could buy them a ticket to one of the theatre’s many Shakespearean shows.
• Buy your best friend a ticket for The Murdér Express, an immersive theatre dining experience complete with a menu designed by Celebrity MasterChef contestant, Louisa Ellis.
• Give someone memories they’ll treasure forever with a guided tour of the magnificent state rooms at Buckingham Palace, the home of Her Majesty The Queen.
• Know someone that’s planning a short break in York? Wow them with 48 hours of free access to the city’s best attractions with York’s official sightseeing card.

Christmas gift ideas: Special overnight stays

• Help someone unwind and rejuvenate with a spa break voucher to use at St Albans’ Sopwell House and Cottonmill Spa.
• Gift a dinner for two, an overnight stay and even a champagne afternoon tea at the regal Grantley Hall in the Yorkshire Dales.
• Book an unforgettable glamping holiday for 2023 at the spectacular off-grid Camp Katur in North Yorkshire.
• From luxury overnight stays to full-day golf lessons, spoil a loved one with a trip to Hertfordshire’s The Grove Hotel.
• Buy them a much-needed escape to Lancashire’s grand Stirk House hotel
• Delight someone you love with a luxury stay at the opulent Stanley House Hotel & Spa.
• Wow your better half with a voucher for a luxurious stay, award-winning dining and indulgent spa treatments at a Macdonald Hotel & Resort.
• Find the perfect treat for someone who has everything with a Canopy & Stars gift card, which can be used to book a stay at hundreds of amazing treehouses, cabins and glamping experiences across the country.
• Whisk away your other half on a weekend filled with intrigue and mystery on one of Murder 57’s murder mystery weekends that take place in hotels up and down the country.
• Treat a loved one to a night or two in one of Devon’s most magnificent hotels, the Art Deco-inspired Burgh Island, located on its own tidal island and surrounded by golden beaches.
• Put some money towards a weekend away with friends at The Secret Garden Glamping in Lancashire – a Love Island-style site with private lodges, hot tubs and outdoor bars.
• Have them unwrap a short break to The Lake District, with a stay at Hinterlandes, a converted bus with its own wood-fired hot tub.
• Surprise your Lord of the Rings fan to a magical night at The Hobbitty House in Northamptonshire.

More Christmas 2023 events and things to do:

Christmas markets 2023 | Best places for a 2023 Christmas break | 2023 Christmas events in stately homes | 2023 Christmas steam train experiences | 2023 Christmas shows and pantomimes | Christmas events for 2023

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