'Experience' Gift Guide Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire
This post is for you if you are all out of creative inspiration for gift buying this year (or you have left gift buying until the last minute). There are so many options for experience presents around the north-east and they are a great choice when present buying for the person that has everything or doesn’t want anything. So without further ado, here are my recommendations
Paddle boarding Voucher with Sup2Summit
Having tried paddle boarding for the first time this summer, I’m now hooked. It’s a fun and thrilling way to see our coastline from a different perspective and if you are lucky you will have the chance to view seals up close from your board. Sup2Summit pride themselves on offering outdoor adventures at affordable prices and we had a great experience with them during last year’s glorious summer, even paddling alongside some curious seals. This is a great one to do alongside a friend and who knows, it could lead to a new passion or hobby.
Wetsuit & board included. Costs below:
1.5 hour sup vouchers for Montrose Or Forfar lessons - £20
3 hour sup vouchers for Catterline Bay or Lunan Bay tours - £40
3 hour rock climbing vouchers for any Climbing location - £40
2. An overnight stay at the revamped Fife Arms Hotel in Braemar
This is a pricier one but good for a special occasion. The Fife Arms Hotel in Braemar has been undergoing a huge refurbishment and the results look stunning. It has six distinctive room types throughout its 46 rooms with each accommodation dedicated to a local person, place, event or theme designed to bring the hotel’s history to life. Eating here will complete the experience with seasonal Scottish produce dominating the menu.
Prices range from £130 - £600+ per room per night.
3. Introduction to Photography Course with Judy Laing
Got a DSLR sitting in your room that you’ve never taken off auto? Learn how to do so with Aberdeen photographer Judy Laing. Judy runs regular courses throughout the year with small groups in a relaxed outdoor setting. She’ll take you through the basics of aperture, shutter speed and finding the light. Class spots fill up quickly so grab a spot as soon as they go online. (One day classes cost £99).
The perfect gift for those who love theatre, comedy and concerts. This can be used to purchase tickets for a whole variety of events from ballet to a comedy night with Jimmy Carr. Aberdeen Performing Arts also runs a series of behind the scenes tours. The last one of this year will be at HMT on Sat 29th December - £8 for a 90 minute tour. More dates will be announced at the start of next year.
5. Afternoon Tea
There are several places in Aberdeen/shire now offering decadent and delicious afternoon teas but there are two in particular which I’d recommend.
Almondine offers afternoon tea comprised of finger sandwiches, scones with clotted creams and preserves and seasonal patisserie miniatures all served on fine, duck-egg blue china. It’s available Mon - Sat 12-4 (pre-bookings only) for £24 pp (+£6 for a glass of bubbles).
Beautifully renovated after it was destroyed by a fire in 2015, this is in a beautiful location with some gorgeous walks nearby including Craigendarroch and the circular walk around Loch Muick. Afternoon teas are available Wed - Sun, with sittings at 1pm and 3pm, costing £38 for two (including a glass of Highgrove Champagne). Bookings can be made online at https://thecarriageballater.co.uk/our-food#
Run by Jo of Jo’s healthy cupboard, this brunch and learn course offers participants the opportunity to learn how to cook gorgeous and delicious plant based dishes such as mushroom, chestnut and rosemary vegan wellington and warm grilled cauliflower and white bean dip with winter pesto. Plus you get to munch into all your hard work at the end of the course. Classes cost £55 and usually take place in Banchory.
We are spoiled for choice in the north-east with our amazing countryside ranging from low level glen and coastal walks right up to serious Munro endeavours. For the outdoor lover in your life or perhaps someone new to the city or someone looking to improve their navigation/ confidence on the hills, a voucher for a course with Hillgoers might be just the thing. Upcoming courses include a Lairig Ghru trek, a midweek Lochnagar climb and general hillskills courses. They also provide bespoke guided tours if you have something specific in mind not covered. Price ranges from £20 - £100 and more information can be found here: https://www.hillgoers.com
One for the musician in your life, D-Range provides a recording or karaoke experience in their modern, new studio in the centre of Aberdeen. Gift vouchers can be ordered at the following link: http://www.d-range.co.uk/gift-vouchers/
9. Subscription Box
Not specific to the north-east but one which can be tailored to a range of different interests from foodie to exercise enthusiast, there is a subscription box to suit everyone. Here are two of my favourites just to give you a flavour.
Each month you get an outdoor themed book specifically selected to inspire adventure and motivate you to get out and enjoy the outdoors. Previous titles have included Floating by Joe Minihane, The Scottish Bothy Bible by Geoff Allen and Sidetracked - an adventure inspired journal. Packages are sent out to all all subscribers at he same time and there is a strict social media embargo to ensure that everyone has the surprise element of the parcel. You can purchase a 4 month, 6 month or annual subscription starting from £25 bi-monthly.
A monthly/ weekly or bi-weekly subscription for flower delivery. Delivered through the letterbox, subscribers can choose a range of different options from seasonal winter themed subscription to the hand tied lux range. Prices start from £65 for a 3 month subscription.
10. Chocolate-Making Experience - Cocoa Ooze
A 2 hr chocolate making workshop with participants encouraged to experiment with flavours and best of all take home a chocolate goody bag. Courses cost £38.50pp and require 8 people to run.
Steven Rennie offers bespoke 3hrs guided tours by Landcover on the Invercauld estate near Braemar. Ideal for the outdoor enthusiast/ nature lover in your life, the tours cost £60pp and take in some of the dramatic, wild and rugged beauty of the Eastern Cairngorms.
12. Brewery Tour at Brewdog
A 90 min tour which takes on the full Brewdog experience and includes 4 tastings. The ‘Dogwalk’ as it’s named, visits both the original and newly expanded brewhouse, their Lone Wolf distillery and even their HQ offices at their Ellon base. Tours are available every day at specified times (check their website for more info) and cost £15 per person.
There are just a select few ideas for different gift experiences in the Aberdeen/ Aberdeenshire area. If you’ve got any you’d like to see added, please let me know and I can update this list.