Gift Guide: Giving Local Experiences during a Pandemic

Gift Guide: Giving Local Experiences during a Pandemic

There is no shortage of amazing stuff going on in our little corner of the world. After the sh*tshow that has been 2020 many of us are hoping to support our local economy as much as possible this year because we know that the huge range of interesting businesses on our doorstep are what make this a top place to live. By supporting local we can try to make sure as many of these life enriching businesses as possible continue to thrive.

Gifts of Stuff & Gifts of Experience

In addition to locally produced STUFF, there is also a wealth of creativity and talent locally which means that there are a range of wonderful life enriching experiences that you can gift to a loved one. Experiences can be a greener way of giving, cutting down on all the clutter that can end up under the Christmas tree this time of year. That is not to say I am anti-stuff, a thoughtful well chosen and local gift not only will mean a lot to the recipient but it may mean the difference between survival or not for a small producer. I think we are all trying to shop thoughtfully this year. Giving an experience gift can be a challenge during a pandemic though. Enter our little guide...


First off I would like to begin by saying there is no way we could cover everybody in this tiny list! Please don't take offence if I have not mentioned your business or your favourite shop. We as a business have always thrived in the shadows, just tucked away off the High Street, hard to stumble across by random passers by but loved by folk who make the effort to find us. So our Gift Guide is like that too. It's an insider's look at a few experiences that are maybe slightly off most people's radar. Many of my absolute favourite local producers and creators are NOT included in this post!

Disclaimer 2!!

These are all just my own ideas and interesting things I have come across. None of these businesses are affiliated with Steampunk and we don't get anything out of making these recommendations (apart from number 6 of course!)

Top 6 ideas

Support our High Street

1. My first suggestion might not sound like an experience - but hear me out! 

North Berwick itself is definitely blessed with the most amazing Indie High Street. A healthy High Street is the lifeblood of a small town and a strong local economy is vital for keeping this place a wonderful place to live. You can find the most diverse range of things on our High Street - from the work of local artists to edible treats and from charity shop bargains to specialist boutique stores. Wandering along it is a beautiful and reaffirming experience. Chatting with local shopkeepers, bumping into friends and getting a warm glow from supporting local independent businesses and makers and having human interactions during these tough socially distanced times are all so vital!

If you offer North Berwick gift vouchers (which can be spent in pretty much any of the local businesses here), you are not only giving the gift of the value of the voucher, but you are giving the experience of enjoying and supporting our High Street. 

Mandy at Etc. (that brightly coloured kitchenware emporium in the middle of the High Street) administers this scheme that has been run for years - and was set up by Beyond the Beach, a collective of local businesses. It has kept thousands of pounds circulating in the local economy, well worth supporting and ideal to give as a gift to someone when you are not quite sure what to give. So pop in to Etc and pick up some vouchers for Christmas giving. 

Fuel Creativity

2. The Village School has been set up just in the past month by local events business Rogue Village due to Covid knocking the hell out of public events this year. They have curated a range of incredible online masterclasses run by local creatives - from baking to soap making there is sure to be something that will appeal. Because these courses are online no amount of locking down can put a damper on the fun! Not only can you gift a class, you can also send the recipient a physical gift with a course pass and a few well chosen treats. Take a look at this beautiful video about The Village School here.

3. Is there a creative soul in your life who needs a wee online boost and a chance to connect virtually with others? Check out the online courses run by Cassandra Barron at Bookbinding with Cass. Cass ran a very popular bookbinding workshop at Steampunk a couple of years ago and this year with Covid has taken her creativity online. The lovely Cass has even got a free online workshop for a Gratitude Journal that you can check out to see if you dig her teaching style and what she does. Hers is a fantastic business to support and her workshops are fun and produce beautiful results. I particularly love the sound of her 'Make, Create and Meditate Workshop' at the end of January which combines art, yoga and journaling - take a look!


Get Outside!

4. One of the best things about living in North Berwick is the drop dead gorgeous coastline. The incredible wildlife attracts many visitors but insiders know that the best way to really experience it is from the water. Enter Dun Eideann Sea Kayaking - run by George and Eve Reid, they are able to offer a range of interesting trips catering to people of all experience levels! They are not running trips through the winter but gift vouchers are available so that your recipient can have a wonderful experience to look forward to come spring. That will definitely provide a light at the end of this winter's tunnel.

 Photo: Dun Eideann

5. Sticking to the water for another suggestion. Sea swimming has become all the rage recently and with recent research showing the positive effects on our wellbeing of getting into the water you should check out Groundswells Community  #SeaSelfLoveSessions. These unique sessions, which cost £40 can be booked as a gift, and are run by Groundswell facilitators, wellbeing practitioners, yoga teachers and surf coaches. Help someone you love embark on a journey of healing, empowerment and uniting through surfing. You can also book a 1:1 health and healing session (or set of them) with Groundswell Scotland founder Sally Harris here


Fuel your coffee obsession

6. We offer some great coffee based experiences at Steampunk also. In 2020 more of us than ever are brewing coffee from home so this is the perfect opportunity to refine techniques with our virtual coffee courses. The online coffee cupping and brewing classes we have run over the past couple of months have been very popular and we will post dates for the new year soon. The best way of letting someone book the best course at a convenient time for them is by giving one of our online gift vouchers which they can then use to book a course themselves. We have a whole section of our website devoted to Christmas Giving - check it out.

By the way, here at our Steampunk roastery in addition to coffee, brewing equipment and branded merchandise we have set up a wee Christmas Shop - a small curated range of locally produced goodies - so you can pick up some stocking stuffers while you wait for your flat white. These include locally made soaps from Castaway Scotland and Julie's Jam to accessories made out of upcycled bicycle inner-tubes by Veloculture. These are not on the website and are available in store only. 


Last but not least...

I hope this wee guide provides an inspirational starting point for your Christmas shopping. Like I said, it is just a little taster of a few more unusual options for gift giving. There is so much out there - be sure and share your personal recommendations for local gift buying with friends and family so that as many people buy and support locally as possible!

No matter what restrictions Christmas 2020 is hit with we wish you a peaceful one and hope you can find some meaningful connections with family, friends and community - even if they are at a distance. 

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