Shop Local this Christmas

29th November 2018

Shop Local this Christmas

With just 25 sleeps to the big day and if you haven’t already begun, then no doubt Christmas shopping will be featuring big in the next few weeks! 

This year, as I did last year, I’m trying to give more ‘experience’ type gifts rather than things. I find if people want something they tend to buy it so why not give them something they may not purchase for themselves but will absolutely love.

I’ve put together a list of gift ideas for Kent families. They’re things that I’ve enjoyed doing or would be chuffed to receive a gift of so I hope you would too. It’s also a great way to support local business and explore the amazing things we have on our doorstep in the garden of England.

Gifts that keep on giving. Give the gift of memories. 

My Top Ten Christmas gift ideas

A Stephanie Chapman Photography photoshoot voucher.

Well I had to grab top spot 🙂 Why not purchase a voucher? It could be for your family, your parents to have photos with the grandchildren or even the family pet! Whatever the requirement I have a voucher to suit. Vouchers start from £150 and include the shoot AND images so you can be 100% confident the recipient won’t have to spend any additional money to have some beautiful photo memories.

You can purchase vouchers by popping me a message here and I will post or deliver to you (if local).

The Big Cat Sanctuary

The Big Cat Sanctuary is set in the heart of the countryside at Smarden, in Kent. I love this place. It’s not open to the public with the exception of two open days in the summer so the best way to see the beautiful cats is to book one of their experience days.

These include Ranger for the Day, Big Cat Encounters, Photographic Workshops, Overnight Big Cat Safari Experience and Big Cat Adoptions.

I myself attended a photography day and brought my husband along and it was just amazing. You can get right up to the fence to view the stunning cats.

More details are available on their website.

If you do go…. say Hi to Maya the Jaguar for me.

Chapel Down Vineyard Tour and Wine Tasting

This is a gift I received last Christmas and I was sooo happy. I may be partial to the odd glass of wine or two and Chapel Down is way up there on my favourite list. My husband and I went down for the day and had a tour, tasing and lunch and as it was my gift, he drew the short straw and drove. (He is a good one).

The tour was really interesting and informative. The tasting was great. I got to try lots of wines I wouldn’t normally taste and was surprised that I found a few new favourites.

After the tasting we had a delicious lunch in the Swan restaurant, and washed it down with a glass or two of my new favourite Chapel Down tipple.

All in all it was a throughly enjoyable day out (especially for me!) and and I had a lovely snooze in the car on the drive back from Tenterden.

If you have a wine lover in the family, this is a gift for them. Just maybe book a B&B locally and make a day and night of it so you can enjoy the wines too!

Further details on how to book are on this link.

The Hawking Centre

This was an experience I purchased for my husband a few years ago and of course I tagged along too. We spent the day learning about Birds of Prey and he was able to get up close with them and have them land on his arm (after a safety briefing). The size and speed of the birds is something I still remember being amazed at, and the wing spam on the Eagle was just awe inspiring.

At the end of the day we also watched one of the handlers fly his falcon and it was just magnificent. A throughly enjoyable day out, even for me as a spectator and some very cool photo opportunities too.

Further details on their site here

Chocolate Umbrella – West Malling

I LOVE chocolate. It is a massive weakness of mine and the crew at chocolate umbrella make some amazing chocolate. Their salted caramel is another level. Seriously. I have a friend who drives from Sevenoaks just to buy it!

They also have chocolate making workshops and parties, and not just for the kids! What better way to end a lovely day out than with a delicious treat, that you have made yourself, to take home?

A little gem in our gorgeous town. Visit them, I promise you won’t be disappointed.

More details on their website here.

Heavenly Glaze – East Peckham

A little gem in East Peckham. Many a rainy day I have spent here with my daughter and we even had one of her birthday parties here. So many gorgeous things to paint and decorate and with Christmas coming you can even get the most gorgeous baubles and decorate them. What grandparent would not LOVE a bauble hand decorated by their grandchild?

As well as being a fab place for the little ones (and the best way to get gorgeous hand made gifts). They also do late evenings…. that’s right, you can BYOB and have a glass of vino while you paint pottery.

All details on their website here.

National Trust Permits

We are spoiled for choice of stunning national trust parks in Kent. Ightam Mote, Emmetts Garden, Knole Park and Scotney Castle to name a few. I have spent many a happy hour in these parks and love using them for location shoots too.

A National Trust permit is such an amazing gift and opens up the whole county and country to the recipient. Imaging the days of exploring!

Further details on their website here.

Afternoon Tea – The Secret Garden

I love a nice Afternoon Tea. (There is a definite theme of food and drink to this blog 🙂 ). My friend Tina and I have sampled a few (we love a nice scone) and during the summer for her birthday I took her to the Secret Garden in Ashford. I had photographed a wedding here earlier in the year and was really impressed by it then so wanted to go back and sample the delights while not on duty.

It was a glorious sunny day and we sat outside in the garden. As it was so warm we opted for an iced tea and when the plates deliciousness came out we were very impressed.

A gorgeous little gem just off Junction 1o of the M2o. I have dropped some large hints to himself that I’d like another voucher for an afternoon tea so lets see if that is under the tree this year. Fingers crossed.

Details on their delicious afternoon tea is here on their website.

Driving Experience – Brands Hatch

Another great day out for me as a spectator while himself drove like the clappers around the Brands Hatch track. It was so much fun and really hard not to get caught up in the excitement of it all. The noise is just deafening and make the hair on your neck stand up but after his laps he got out of the car with the biggest grin!

A little tip, we had the most delicious lunch afterwards in the Lion just down the road but obviously I drove as he seemed to develop a very heavy right food in the time spent at Brands! 🙂

They do lots of experience days from Formula 4 cars, Super cars, Rally cars and even an 80’s hot hatch! Details on their site here

Marleybrook House wedding

Beginners Photography Tutorial

And last but not least, me again. Does someone you know have a nice camera but only uses it in Auto? It’s a bit like buying a Ferrari and just driving it in first gear. Each year I run two beginner tutorials. One in the summer and one in the winter (next one is in January).

The day consists of classroom learning in the morning where the attendees learn all about using the camera settings, and the exposure triangle. After a spot of lunch we head outside with some models and practice the new skills they have learned.

Always lots of fun and loads of lightbulb moments (these are the best bit!) and they leave with a new skill. If you would like to reserve a space on my next tutorial, all details are available here via the ticket link.

Some other ideas locally are:

Tennis Coaching with Taylor Made Tennis

Driving Lessons with No Limits School of Motoring

A day of Pampering at Kings Hill Nails

Some Personal Training at Infinity Gym

I hope I have given you a few ideas. We have so many amazing places on our doorstep in Kent. Not to mention if you hop on a train to the Big Smoke for the day. But that’s a whole other blog!

Please feel free to share this blog and if you have any more ideas that I haven’t listed, please do let me know. I still have a few gifts to buy and would love some tips!

Have a wonderful Christmas everyone xx

(PS. I know the photos don’t relate to the topics, but I wanted to share a few of my favourites from the year with you)