Subscriptions, memberships and vouchers: these last-minute Christmas gifts let you treat your loved ones without leaving your living room. And you can save time on the wrapping too.
With more than 500 historic homes and sprawling gardens across the country, a National Trust membership is a bargain for anyone who loves to get out and explore. A single membership costs £64.80 per year, or can treat a family of two adults and up to 10 (!!) children for just £114.60 per year. Plus, membership fees go towards the Trust’s work protecting wildlife and 775 miles of coastline, and restoring art and architecture. For more information, check the National Trust website.
Like Netflix, but for children’s books, Ebookadabra has hundreds of titles to choose from. It’s aimed at early readers, children aged 4-7 and includes nifty functions like animation, and searching by image for kids that are still getting to grips with their letters. Children unlock a new educational game every time they finish a book, to make reading more fun, and you can even record audio for each book, so you can be reading them a bedtime story even if you’re not in the same room.
If you’re buying for the children that already have everything, check out toucanBox, an arts-and-crafts subscription box that uses Montessori learning philosophies to help children develop as they play. Projects range from building a cardboard castle while learning about medieval kings and queens, to creating a brightly coloured bird-feeder to hang in the garden. There are three sizes, starting with the Petite box, which has the materials for one craft project and costs £5.95. Boxes arrive personalised to your child and you can cancel anytime. For more information, check the Toucan Box website.
Speaking of books, the Willoughby Book Club offers subscriptions of three months, six months or one year bringing the recipient a new book, beautifully gift-wrapped, every month. It offers a whole range of subscriptions – gardening and cookery books, young adult fiction, classic novels and non-fiction – so there’s something for all book worms, no matter what their reading taste. There’s a little form to fill out about your recipient so Willoughby can do their best to make sure they send a tome that will be loved. From around £30 for three months. For more information, check The Willough by Book Club website.
Even for people who aren’t already a self-confessed spa lover, a spa voucher makes a fantastic festive gift: relaxing and indulgent all at the same time. A massage is a brilliant introductory treatment for complete spa newbies, or more seasoned spa-lovers, think about a specialist facial or a restorative body ritual including a scrub or heat elements. For the perfect gift, pick somewhere special they’d not treat themselves to. Prices vary, and there are Spaseekers works with spas all over the country, so whether you want to treat someone to a spa weekend away or a local pampering, there’s a voucher for you.
From gin to craft beer, cocktail kits to fine wines, subscription boxes for drinks are well and truly covered these days. Taste Cocktails offers a monthly delivery of cocktail ingredients: each month you’ll get everything needed to make a different cocktail plus a recipe card. Honest Brew’s beer boxes bring a range of craft ales, lagers and stouts. Their ready-made cases include the Best of British, the Winter Warmer and even a case of vegan beers. Also check out Le Petit Ballon for sommelier-selected wines and I Love Gin for a variety of gins and mixers. Prices vary: for more information check the Taste Cocktails & Honest Brew website.
Flowers might seem like a slightly impersonal and not altogether practical gift on Christmas day. But what about giving loved ones a regular fresh bouquet to brighten up their living room? Enter Bloom and Wild, which sells flower subscription in clever packaging that fits through a letterbox and protects the flowers inside. Each beautiful bouquet is different, with seasonal blooms throughout the year. You can commit to three, six, or 12 months’ of flowers, and gift subscriptions start at £60 for three months. For more information, check the Bloom and Wild website.
For anyone who doesn’t live in London, it can be hard to justify a full membership to the Tate or the V&A. National Art Pass is the perfect solution for roving culture aficionados, as it offers free entry into smaller museums across the country, from the National Maritime Museum in Cornwall to the Falkland Palace and Garden in Scotland via big hitters such as Kensington Palace. It also gets you 50% off temporary exhibitions at major galleries like the British Library. An individual pass costs £65 for a year, or it’s £97 per couple, Artfund.org /national-art-pass.
One for the foodies in your life, a Gourmet Society card bags users discounts in restaurants up and down the country. It covers all the familiar haunts – Pizza Express, La Tasca, and the like – but it also works in independent restaurants, pubs and hotel brasseries. Participating spots offer either 2 for 1 meals, 50% off food bill or 25% off the total bill (including wine). It’s a great gift for couples – help them make time for a regular date night, or even treat their friends, as one card works on tables of up to four people. £39.99 per year, Gourmetsociety.co.uk.