Unusual Sussex Christmas Gift Experiences

Published On November 30, 2015 | By Sarah Ryman | Christmas and New Year's Eve 2015, Homepage, Things to do features

Socks againFor some people it gets harder every year. Finding gifts for your loved ones can be great fun, but if you are short of time it can also become a bit of a chore. If you struggle with imaginative ideas and it’s starting to feel a little like ground hog day, here are a few suggestions of Sussex Christmas gift experiences that support local businesses for everyone from foodies to adrenaline junkies! And if you’re looking for something to do for New Years Eve Brighton 2015 check out our guide.

A magical adventure for all

An early gift as this event is only on until 13th December, but still a pretty unique and special Christmas treat. Enchanted Lewes invites you on a magical after dark journey through the historic Southover Grange Gardens. Illuminated landscape, spellbinding artwork and mesmerising surprises around every corner. Follow the story of a very special, enchanted festive wish and start that festive feeling. 

A mystery for the sleuth

Do you know a budding detective? Handmade Mysteries and Live Escape Game bring mystery to life in Brighton. On Brighton pier you can solve the exciting ‘Murder At Brighton Pier’, based on the true story of the famous Brighton Trunk Murders, or test your sanity in the ‘Laboratory Of A Madman’ which takes you into the world of a crazy scientist. For something a little more light hearted and gothic try your luck in the dark and comedic tale of  ‘Lady Chastity’s Reserve’ –  described as Crystal Maze on Crystal Meth!

Barista training for the coffee snob

Smallbatch Coffee Co. are dedicated to producing the finest sustainable coffee and offer various courses in the art of perfect coffee making for every fellow coffee lover, aspiring baristas and anyone with a thirst for more coffee knowledge. No experience required, they can assist in your new venture of brewing coffee at home, or help to develop skills you already have. They will explore in depth two brew methods of your choice. These can be methods you are familiar with but would like to develop better understanding of, or come along and try something new.

Cinema Membership for the movie buff

Everyone notices the iconic witches legs that stick out of The Duke of York’s Cinema and Dukes at Komedia. The Duke of York is the 
UK’s oldest operating cinema and a Grade II listed building. It’s widely recognised as one of the best cinemas in Brighton, showing excellent films from all over the world. Cinema Membership is from just £15 (students) which make perfect stocking fillers or gifts for friends with the knowledge that you are supporting a piece of Brighton history and independent films. In addition to free and discounted tickets, members benefit from other Picture House partner offers.

Festival tickets for the family

Buy gifts for the whole family in just a few clicks by treating your nearest and dearest to family festival tickets and something to look forward to. So Sussex now run two lovely family events not far from Brighton. Elderflower Fields is held over the May bank holiday and now in it’s 5th year, offers a unique family experience to discover new opportunities in sport, music, the arts, the environment and food. (Watch the highlights video here. For those that prefer just a day event, check out Into The Trees which is held later in the year and takes you on a journey in the wonderful world of trees.

Buy somebody a course!

place to feel inspiration, connection and creativity.  A place to explore new skills and activities. A place where you can feel positive about your own creative expression. A place just to feel good.‘  This is Evolution in Hove offers a wide variety of courses and classes in dance, fitness, music, mind and body and the arts. A perfect gift for anyone with time to explore new activities and master new skills.

life drawing brightonLife drawing class for the artist

Draw run drawing events all over the South East of England and welcome anyone who is keen to learn, to develop and to engage with drawing from complete novice to professional artist. They seek to provide innovative drawing education open to everybody, whilst fostering a dynamic community for creative discussion and interdisciplinary collaboration. View the timetable here.
Also the ever popular Drawing Circus put on fantastic themed life drawing events throughout the city.

Laughter workshop for the stress head

Unconditional laughter connects people from different countries and cultures – no matter what language they speak. The goal of Laughter Yoga is to connect people at a heart level without judgement!’ Regular laughter can help us to become more playful and creative in our daily lives and significantly reduces stress. Laughter is also incredibly contagious, which is why doing laughter exercises in a group creates so much spontaneous laughter! Laughter workshops are perfect for anyone who needs a little more sunshine in their life.

Zoo keeper for the day for the animal lover

Enjoy a great family day out at one of the top tourist attractions in East Sussex, Drusillas. Widely regarded as the best small zoo in the country it’s a perfect getaway for families, whether you’re looking for things to do in Sussex on your holidays or the weekend or simply having a fun day out with the kids. Spend the day as a Zoo Keeper at Drusillas and you not only get an experience you will never forget, but you’ll also be supporting great conservation work. Check out this video to see some of the animals you can meet. They also offer Close Encounters, Animal Adoption and Spider Phobia Courses!

pantoPanto for the kids

After the success of Cinders and Sleeping Beauty, this Christmas Emporium Theatre returns to amaze us with a brilliant performance, Aladdin. Expect boo-able villains, toe-tapping numbers, lovable heroes,  jaw-dropping sets, and stunning costumes in Brighton’s only professional panto. Aladdin is a must see. and a perfect present for all of your loved ones to enjoy a totally Brighton, special Christmas atmosphere!

Restaurant vouchers for the food critic

Brighton is jam packed with excellent restaurants, bursting with delicious food from around the globe, plus some great veggie and vegan offerings. Treating friends or relatives to a meal at their favourite place is a great option when you are stuck for ideas. Two of Brighton’s finest culinary offerings are The Ginger Man and Food For Friends, but most good restaurants are happy to offer gift vouchers if you enquire.

Cocktail Master class for adults

The Mixology Group
comes highly recommended and offer cocktail master classes from just £35. The classic masterclass is a popular favourite for all kinds of occasions and a good fun evening out for you and your friends. The classes offer two hours of fun and frolics. After your arrival drink they guide you through creating 3 delicious classic cocktails. You can have your class in the Bespoke Brighton Cocktail School or they can come to you at a venue of your choice.

KENNYfirleParaglide on South Downs for the dare devil

Looking for the perfect present? You found it! A day gliding across the beautiful Sussex countryside with views that you can only fully appreciate from the sky. You arrive at a hillside flying site, unfold your flying machine from its rucksack, and after a few minutes you can join the birds, flying and soaring above beautiful countryside… no hassle, noise or distractions… just you and the elements …
Airworks Paragliding  are just one of the local schools around Sussex offering gift vouchers.

 Chocolate workshop for the chocoholic (or your wife – hint, hint)

Learn to roll delicious truffles, make a perfect ganache, dip chocolates, apply chocolate transfers, make perfect heart-shaped mendicants or try a whisky and chocolate pairing workshops. Join Chocoholly, an award winning artisan chocolatier who runs organic chocolate-making workshops in Brighton. Perfect for all chocolate lovers and anyone who wants to make an original and outstanding present. 
Check out the video here for a sneak-peek of what to expect.

An unusual night under the stars for someone special

Gifting a night or two away always feels like a great idea – especially if you are the lucky one to go with them! Sussex has some amazing and unusual spaces popping up all over the place. Two of my favourite local experiences are the gorgeous off-grid bell tents at Eco Camps UK and the fabulous Big Green Bus, featured on George Clarke’s amazing spaces. Both are open from April and always get booked up so plan ahead for a gift to look forward to when the sun returns.

So there you have it. No need to stress about Christmas any more. I hope some of these Sussex ideas inspire you to think about more unusual gifts and support local businesses.

Have a wonderful Christmas.

And remember, it’s not all about shopping and presents…

there’s also The Grinch!


*Header image by Dominic Alves used under a Creative Commons License. Image has been cropped to fit.

About The Writer

Sarah is a Brighton based freelance marketeer specialising in the family market. A mum of 2, Sarah blogs about her quest to find that perfect family moment @afieldsomewhere