Christmas shopping is not something I enjoy that much. But it is something that most of us have to do. This blog post is a little different to my usual and is all about a few alternative gifts rather than things (let’s face it, who needs more things?).

Supporting local independent businesses at Christmas

As a small business owner myself, I think it’s important to support other independent local businesses. It’s tough out there and anything you can do to support the little people will certainly be much appreciated and help to keep them in business.

Gifts that keep on giving

Many of these suggestions are gifts that keep on giving. They are not just another plastic toy that will soon be put away in the toy basket and forgotten about. I’ve deliberately selected gifts that the family can enjoy together.

They are the sort of gift that is not just going to be enjoyed at Christmas, but at other times of the year too.

Better still, they are all available to buy from local independent businesses.

My Top Ten Christmas gift ideas

  1. Autumn Stone Photography Family Photo Shoot Voucher

First up is a photo shoot with my good self! My gift vouchers are now available to buy for just £125 to £150. They would be a great gift idea for a local family who would love the gift of photography to capture special family memories.

A 60 to 90 minute on location session as well as a large selection of digital high resolution photos are included in the price, and the vouchers can be redeemed at any time but do have a one year expiry date.

If you’d like one for this Christmas, please contact me ASAP to secure yours.

gift voucher

  1. Adopt a horse at Cotebrook Shire Horses

By becoming an adopter you can help by sharing in the cost of Cotebrook Shire Horse Centres massive animal food bill, veterinary and other welfare costs.

It’s not just Shire horses that can be adopted either, there’s Otters, Polecats, Red Foxes, Red Deer, Pigs and Piglets, Hebridean Sheep, Ducks and Hens.

For more information visit: 

  1. More horses and a tearoom too!

Reddish Vale Farm has lots of ideas to keep the little ones happy. Birthday parties, a petting farm and riding school are just a few of the ideas on offer.

If you are thinking of walking off that Christmas dinner, then Reddish Vale country park has over 160 hectares available.

Car parking is also free for the farm and Reddish Vale itself. For more information visit:

  1. Rookery Hall Spa Experience

Who wouldn’t enjoy a relaxing spa day experience? Rookery Hall in Cheshire is the best in the area.

If a spa day doesn’t float your boat, there are lots of other things to do at Rookery Hall, such as a relaxing lunch or an afternoon tea.

Vouchers are available with treatments from just £40. For more information visit:

  1. 3 Squared Restaurants

While visiting Manchester a couple of days ago, we wandered through the Royal Exchange Arcade and noticed a new restaurant. Looking at the menu outside, Ben opened the door and asked us in to try a complementary coffee and the most amazing flap jack I have ever tasted. Everything on the menu is free from gluten, dairy, wheat and refined sugar.

Why not take someone special there to try what they offer, you won’t be disappointed.

For more information visit:

couple posing on bridge

  1. A National Trust Annual Pass

Members of the National Trust get access to over 500 attractions across the country – my favourites locally are Lyme Park and Dunham Massey. There’s also free parking for Trust members at all attractions including Quarry Bank Mill.

There are junior memberships available for children and teenagers, priced just at £10 for the year. For more information visit:

  1. Monkey Forest at Trentham Gift Voucher

Gift vouchers are a great way to treat someone you know who loves Monkey Forest. Valid for the current season, the vouchers are available to buy in denominations of £7 and £9.

For more information visit:

  1. Chocolate Experiences at Simon Dunn

Sure to be a hit with chocolate lovers are chocolate parties for adult and children by Simon Dunn  Chocolatier who have a shop in High Lane creating their award winning chocolates.

Suitable for children and adults, their experiences include chocolate tastings and you can even make your own creations in their chocolate workshops.

For more information visit:

  1. Cinema tickets

If the little (and big) kids in your family love going to the cinema, then a great Christmas gift is membership at the Savoy cinema in Heaton Moor. I remember going to see ET here, (showing my age now!)

Although membership is optional there are a lot of benefits including free tickets, money off each visit, invitations to special screenings and their monthly magazine delivered to your door.

For more information visit:

  1. A cultural experience at The Plaza in Stockport

Finally, if you know a family who loves live theatre, big stage performances or maybe an afternoon cream tea, then a gift voucher from The Plaza could be the thing you need. You’ll also be supporting this amazing charity who keep the Art Deco gem alive.

For more information visit:

Which of these gift ideas for Cheshire families will you buy this Christmas?

local suppliers