A few weeks ago I wrote a blog about buying “unique experiences” as gifts. Lots of people read the blog, and seemed to agree with the idea. I think it’s so important to spend precious time, and create happy memories with our friends and family, we should all find the time to do it more!
Having created a No Stuff Please rule in my family, we now put our pennies together and do something new, fun and exciting together. For anyone who is struggling to think of what to buy someone this Christmas or for an upcoming birthday, I may be able to give you a few ideas based on some of my No Stuff Please experiences!
I could write a blog about places to visit and wonderful AirBnB accommodation I have been lucky enough to stay in, but for now, here are some creative, crafty, outdoor experiences that would make fantastic gifts.
I am of course going to promote Crafts Afloat, my floating social enterprise, as a fabulous idea for those that enjoy a touch of creative escapism! The perfect gift for arty, crafty people who enjoy making and creating, unwinding, relaxing and spending a bit of “me time”, escaping busy lives and stressful jobs.
I currently offer full day workshops in Fused Glass, Mosaics and Felting, aboard the craft boat in Hebden Bridge. Every workshop starts with morning pastries and tea or real coffee. The boat is filled with inspiration to help participants plan their creative work. During the workshop you work with top quality materials and equipment and can be given as much, or as little support as you require. Lunch is served at the fantastic Olive Branch restaurant where you can choose from a range of Turkish wraps, paninis and salads. The food is delicious and you can have a large glass of wine to help the creative juices flow! After lunch I serve cake and coffee on the boat whilst you finish off your creations.
Most of my workshop guests are groups of friends or families who come to spend some quality time together, doing something new and interesting. Women also come on their own to my scheduled workshops and meet new people too. It’s a lovely way to spend time with great women, chatting, catching up, sharing stories and being creative in a beautiful, intimate space!
Check out my reviews on Trip Advisor and Facebook if you need further persuasion!
To buy a gift voucher follow this link – Crafts Afloat Gift Voucher.
If this doesn’t float your boat, here’s a few more ideas to inspire you.
Handmade in Netheredge is run by the wonderful Alison Zwaard. www.handmadeinnetheredge.co.uk/ Alison runs creative workshops in Fused Glass, Precious Metal Clay and Perfumery. She has a beautiful house with a large studio in Nether Edge in Sheffield. I met Alison when I started my Crafts Afloat business. I phoned her up to discuss my business plans and pick her brain about her own business, she kindly invited me around for a cup of tea. Now sometimes people who run similar business can be a little cagey about the “competition”! Alison however was warm, encouraging and inspiring, and has since become a close friend. We both promote each other’s workshops to all our customers and have passed on lots of business to each other.
I have done all of Alison’s workshops and I can’t rate them highly enough! The space, the atmosphere, the quality of the materials and the lunch is all first class. Alison really is the hostess with the mostest, especially when it comes to the three course lunch she serves, Thai butternut squash soup, creamy fish pie and a huge serving of raspberry pavlova! The standard of work created in Alison’s studio by her students is amazing, incredible glass and silver work, which could pass as being created by a professional artist! Alison’s handmade glass creations are stunning and available to buy at Millennium Galleries in Sheffield.
Last Christmas I bought my mum a “Weekend of the Potter’s Wheel”. She was a big fan of the Great British Throw Down, and grew up in Stoke-On-Trent (the Potteries), so was keen to try her hand at throwing a pot or two. The Old Stables in Hebden Bridge is a pottery studio which offers a range of different courses. http://www.oldstablesstudio.co.uk I opted for a full weekend of playing with mud and throwing pots with my mum! It was great fun, Edyn who runs the classes is an excellent teacher, we enjoyed yummy lunches, had lots of giggles, and made some very sloppy and some pretty good pots, for beginners! The pottery outcomes didn’t really matter too much, it was more about the experience and the time my mum and I got to spend together.
Over the years I have done a number of different night classes and courses. I tend to enjoy doing them over winter as it’s too easy to get stuck in on cold, dark evenings feeling uninspired. I find that doing something creative during these times helps keep me positive and motivated. The last few years I have done a number of stained glass classes in both Sheffield and Hebden Bridge. My partner and I don’t often do arty, creative things together, as he sees it as not being his “thing”. Having worked with Stained Glass I knew that he would enjoy it and probably be very good at it (better than me in fact!) Last winter I bought us both a stained glass course with Karl Percival at Northlight Studios in Hebden Bridge. Karl is a fellow boater, an amazing artist, crafts person and teacher. As I thought Rhys was very good at Stained Glass, he has the precision and patience required for this craft, and despite his initial reluctance to do the course, he loved it. It was great to spend that time together, rather than sitting in watching TV. We were able to watch each others progress and support each other in making our stained glass pieces. I helped him with colour choices and design and he helped me fit the difficult parts of my design into the lead. After the classes, we would go for a pint in one of Hebden’s cosy pubs!
Live Wild is an organisation which provides opportunities for adults and children to connect with nature. If you know someone who loves nothing better than sitting around a fire, exploring wood land, foraging for food and whittling spoons, then check out this group’s website – http://www.livewild.org.uk/. They are offering gift vouchers for the various different outdoor experiences they provide. Leona who works for Live Wild, made an excellent point; often grandparents and relatives overwhelm children with gifts and presents that are quickly forgotten or clutter up the house. The gift of swimming lessons, karate club or dance classes seem a far more useful gift to give a child. Live Wild offers children, adults and women, memories, experiences, learning, an understanding of how to live more harmoniously in this world and a deeper connection with nature. Who’d of thought a gift voucher could buy all that! http://www.livewild.org.uk/live-wild-gift-vouchers/
An excellent website which lists craft workshops and courses around Britain is – https://www.craftcourses.com/
I hope this helps provide some inspiration this Christmas. Avoid the stress of the high street, support small, local, ethical businesses, artists and crafts people this Christmas.