Category: shoppingChristmasGift Ideas

Struggling for original gift ideas this year? Our resident blogger Lucy Young @_Oceancityliving explores Plymouth’s local businesses for alternative presents.

With only a couple of weeks to go until the Big Day arrives your Christmas shopping is probably (or make that should be) in full swing by now. And love it or hate it, some people are just easy to shop for: the super organised peeps who share their online wish lists, the children in our lives who had their letter to Santa drafted in September or the besties that we know better than ourselves.

But there are some friends and family members who are notoriously hard to buy for. The retired parents who have a house full of hoarded ‘stuff’ (and definitely don’t need that pile adding to), the fussy teens who return all your ‘thoughtful’ gifts or the boss who literally has everything.

But fear not Plymouth shoppers: there are some great alternative gifts out there if you’re struggling for original ideas this year. Giving the gift of time, especially spent experiencing something different or learning a new skill in the New Year is, quite literally, priceless. Plus, you’re helping to cut down on the clutter and avoiding buying meaningless, generic tat.

Experience gifts are also perfect if you’re not a fan of braving the shops in person but still want to support local businesses, as most offer online ordering for local delivery, or better still, to print off a voucher or gift certificate yourself from the cosy comfort of your own home.

So, here goes with my alternative gift edit for 2021…


For New Year Health and Well Being

If you want to give someone the gift of adventure this Christmas, then you could buy the ultimate stand up paddleboard experience from SW SUP. Based at Plymouth’s historic Royal William YardSW SUP have gift vouchers available that can be used against any of their water-based activities. From solo tuition to group lessons, SUP journeys, retreats, yoga or polo sessions or their special sunrise, sunset or full moon paddles, adventurers will love the opportunity to look after both mind and body to kickstart 2022.

If you have a special person in mind who deserves a little pampering (and let’s face it, who doesn’t after the year we’ve all had) then a gift voucher for a luxury spa or beauty treatment at Enhance Aesthetics and Wellness clinic would be perfect. Based at The Guardhouse, just inside the Royal William YardEnhance have festive vouchers that are available to buy online that can be sent to you, with beautiful ribbon and stickers to seal and finish off your gift envelope, or posted directly to the recipient. You can also buy in person and your voucher will be popped into a special gift bag all ready for leaving under the tree.

Got a pal who could do with cultivating a new hobby? Then you could try a Plant Selection Box from Nook Houseplants to get them growing with something that will benefit both their physical and mental health in 2022. It’s well known that houseplants have air-purifying properties but nurturing them is also thought to reduce blood pressure, stress and anxiety and having increased close contact with the natural world also improves mood, attention and sleep, so they really are the gift that keeps on giving!

After they were such a hit last year, Nook have put together three new selection boxes of leafy loveliness for 2021: a pet-friendly box, a rare beauties selection or a collection of Nook favourites. Each box comes with four baby plants to nurture and care for and they’re available in-store from their Barbican shop on Southside Street or to pre-order online for local delivery on 20, 22 and 23 December. These green gifts will also be doing some good in the local community too as Nook has pledged to donate £2 from each box to the Plymouth Food Bank.

For Crafty Creatives

If you know a crafty creative type who would love the chance to try a new skill, then why not book them onto a sewing course or creative workshop at Make at 140. The modern fabric shop and studio, based at the Royal William Yard’s Ocean Studios, has plenty to choose from for total beginners to the more experienced. New for 2022 is the Zadie Jumpsuit Workshop where you can learn to make a beautiful easy-fit jumpsuit over a two-day course and go home with the finished garment. Or you can buy the Zadie jumpsuit kit to try your hand making it at home. Make at 140 also has a fabulous selection of fabrics, sewing essentials and craft kits that make perfect Christmas presents or you can go for a gift voucher which can be used towards anything in the shop or booking a course in the New Year.

The Printery professional print studio on Mutley Plain offers courses and one-day workshops in a variety of mediums including linocut, copper etching, aquatint, bookbinding and collagraph, to name just a few. Plus, they offer courses for budding young artists and makers with their Mini-Print Rebels workshops. Gift vouchers are also available to buy from so friends and family can choose what to book themselves post-Christmas.

Your nearest and dearest could also get hands-on with a pottery throwing experience with Tweeny van Mierlo at The Pottery at Ocean StudiosTweeny offers bespoke workshops and courses at her Royal William Yard studio for people at any level, so you can learn or develop your skills in ceramics and come away with your own pieces of original pottery to take home.

For Foodies

Got a gin lover that would like to add to their collection? Book them on to a Gin Masterclass at Barbican Botanics’ Gin School. The two-hour session at the historic New Street venue includes learning about the history of gin and its current renaissance, exploring the world of botanicals, plus several tastings and finally blending your own artisan gin to take home and enjoy.

If wine is their preferred tipple then a wine tasting experience at Le Vignoble in the Royal William Yard would go down a treat. From an Introduction to Wine tasting, to expanding knowledge further with a Global Journey experience to private bespoke options or even gaining professional qualifications for the connoisseur, Le Vignoble has something for everyone. Buy them a gift voucher and they could also book their own tasting session, choose a selection box, wine and cheese hamper or browse in the shop in person in the New Year.

For Curious Kids

No doubt every child has a list as long as their arm of toys, games and treats they’d like, but how about buying them an experience with a little culture and education thrown in. The Box Museum and Gallery has some fantastic events and workshops for kids and families all year round. Pre-Christmas they are holding a bookmaking and marbling paper workshop on 11 and 12 December and a Christmas Decoration workshop on 18 and 19 December. Also, on Sunday 19 there is a Family Late session at the museum where you can wave off Father Christmas before he returns to the North Pole and explore the galleries out of hours. There’ll also be Christmas crafts and The Box Kitchen and Bar will be open for festive food and drink providing a magical start to the holidays. The Box gift shop also has some fantastic stocking fillers and present ideas and is definitely worth a browse for gifts to please curious kids.

Or how about a gift ticket for little marine lovers? You can purchase digital gift vouchers online for the National Marine Aquarium which can be used to book a visit at a time that suits them best and ocean animal fans can go again and again with a yearly pass.  The aquarium also has some festive experiences and events too this year, so children and families can get up close to some fishy friends and get into the Christmas spirit too. The Elf Who Lost Santa – A Christmas Night to Remember takes place on 21 and 23 December and offers after-hours exclusive access to the exhibits plus a special interactive Christmas play on the search for Santa. Children also get to meet Father Christmas and receive a gift, with mulled wine and mince pies for the grown-ups.

So, there you go…some experience inspiration for local gifts with a difference this Christmas. Happy Shopping!


Funded by the Reopening High Street Safely Fund, part funded by the European Regional Development Fund and HM Government 

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