Add to the memory bank, not to the Landfill!

We all know we need to consume less. We are told over and over we need to connect with real people and with nature, we also know we need to support our local businesses if we want to keep them.

But when Christmas comes around people fill their baskets with STUFF, STUFF they know will only be played with a handful of times, and then be banished to landfill. STUFF that clutters up our houses and STUFF that will often never be used at all!

You have those friends that you feel have everything, so buy “something” that your not sure they even need. Children are spending more time on screens, and parents are struggling to find ways to entertain them without spending a fortune.

I am a mother of 4 young children. and I understand what it's like balancing screen time/toys/ getting outdoors. So I have collected some great ideas of gifts that promote the idea of creating fun memories. 

If you still would prefer to buy a physical present. I have created a list of toys that have lasted in our house (4 boys.. so I have only included the ones that survived the test of time.  This is an affiliate link). 



Family Passes and ideas

If you have a large family then buying for each individual child and parent can be expensive.  There are other ideas that work out much more budget-friendly when everyone is included!

Alice holt Discovery pass £70

An Alice Holt Discovery pass is just £70 and covers a whole family (it’s per car).  This means you could give someone the gift of long walks, picnics and exploring all year around without car park fees. It also gives a discount for activities and the cafe too.   I often take my children to Alice holt after school to blow off some steam. I pack a picnic dinner and a flask of hot chocolate. They love the freedom of the forest, and it's a great way to get them off the screens! We are a family of 6, so it works out under £12 per person for the whole year!

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A national trust pass From £72

An adult pass is £72 and children Under 5s go free so If you know a parent with young children then this can be a great way to help them get out and about.  National trust sites run lots of activities and trails, with amazing outdoor play areas. An older child can be added onto the pass for just £10 a year, so they can add as many additional children on as they like.  The passes are valid in all national trust properties in England. And also a great for car parking on holiday around the UK as there are national trust carparks dotted around most scenic locations.

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Rural Life centre Pass from £30 - Farnham

The rural life centre in Farnham is more than a museum, they host fantastic hands-on activity days throughout the holidays, and great weekend activities included “donkey day out”, Fire engines days, and Rustic Sunday to name a few.  Their activity days include rocket building, Taking part in a victorian classroom lesson, a victorian laundry hands-on on experience, badge making, using old tools and machinery and much more.


An Adult yearly pass is £30 and children under 5yrs go free.

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How about a family weekend away?

Do you know someone who would love to escape for a few nights with or without the kids? Maybe they love camping, but for 1 reason or another, they could not deal with the tent pitching and taking down again.  Maybe you want to slowly introduce a reluctant camper into joining you on a trip? Hidden seasons will rock up at your chosen camp site. Pitch a beautiful bell tent, carpet and lighting for £120 for 2 nights. So the lucky family can just turn up and enjoy their weekend and then head home again while the team take down the tent for them.   We have so many hidden gems locally that offer good rates for camping.

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Pantos and Theatre Shows

Everyone loves a panto. When you come out with big grins and aching sides from laughing. It is a great way to start off the christmas holidays. These make great gifts for friends and loved ones, and you can join them to make a great christmas memory!

Image may contain: textJack and The Beanstalk from £15pp

Prices for the panto at Princes Hall Theatre - Aldershot start at £15pp this is a great one for friends and family as you can book a group ticket and all go together, or just book for them as a treat.  At £15pp you could easily spend more on that for a cheap present and wrapping paper, but this is a full family Christmas magic.

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Robin hood from £20pp

Prices for this start at £20pp, everyone loves a panto. Maybe you could book for yourself and your partner, or you could treat the grandkids to some family fun. We love going to see a pantomime on the few days before Christmas. 


The Theatre is in Camberley town so it's positioned perfectly to heading to one of the many restaurants in town after the show!.

Quite a few places are offering special prices when you show your theatre ticket!


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Snow White on Ice - Bracknell Ice rink from £10.95

Prices start at £10.95 which is a great price for a Christmas Pantomime.  There is a range of seating options upstairs and around the rink. There is also a bar and cafe. And at £10.95 per ticket, you can afford to replace that plastic toy and perfume for some entertainment instead!.

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Reindeer On The Roof - Guildford Hodgepodge Theatre Company £7.50pp

Join Darcey on an epic adventure to help Cupid the reindeer find his way back to lapland and find the true meaning of Christmas along the way. Great for families with children over 3yrs.  They are running a relaxed showing at 14:30 for those with young children too. The price starts at £7.50pp


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Toddlers, Preschool and young children.

I remember in my NCT days I would easily spend £10 per child in our group on a Christmas gift. And then usually a token gift for the mum too.  There were 7 of us in the group. So rather than spending £75 on toys/stuff a much better idea would have been for us all to spend that money buying each other a pass for a local soft play or play farm so that we have a place to meet up with the kids.  It would have been lovely to have somewhere “free” to then meet up and play, it would also mean that people could come along even if money was tight at that time, or the toddlers are fretful (it does not matter so much if you have to leave early if you are not paying per session), which means some pressure if off.

Image may contain: textJakes Farm £75pp

Prices for the panto at Jakes Farm 6month pass £75 - Sandhurst

A 6month Pass offers entry for 1 adult and 1 child to both the soft play and the outdoor farm. It runs from January to July and costs £75. Seeing that a regular visit for 1adult and 1 child would cost £15.90, You would only need to visit 5times over those 6months to make it worthwhile.  It is a great thing for a parent to have on standby for rainy days/chill-out days, and for meeting up with friends There is a dedicated baby area. And the farm offers train rides, boat rides, jumping pillows, lake walks and animal handing. Does the small person in your life need another pile of plastic toys?  Or would they prefer to have the freedom to play outside of the home?


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Ruby Play Cafe - Camberley £20 per month


This is a cafe with a difference. The seating is in the middle, and you are surrounded by areas for your child to play while still in view. There are roll play areas, messy play areas, slides and ride ons, books and much more. They offer passes for £20 per month.


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Active ideas for Adults and Children

Do you know someone who is sporty but has everything they need? Or maybe you know someone who wants a new challenge and something to work towards? How about introducing them to a new adventure?

Image may contain: 3 people, people smilingSkiing / Snowboarding Lessons & passes

Bracknell ski-slope offer a range of lessons, classes and passes.  If you know someone who would love to learn a new skill and build some confidence then this is a great gift. There are lots of options for individuals or the whole family.

  • 1 ski Lesson for a child 4-7yrs £28.00 
  • Family ski Lesson for 4 people £108.00
  • Unlimited Ski or Snowboard pass during Winter
  • Family: £240.00 per family
  • Adults: £120.00 per person
  • Juniors: £100.00 per person

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Donutting / Snotubing session

For just £9.95pp you could buy a session of donutting. which is basically hurling yourself down a ski slope in a big inflatable rubber ring. Its great exercise and also a great family activity as you can all have a giggle finding new ways to spin down the slope.

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Image may contain: 1 person, smiling, standing, child, outdoor and natureGo APE - Alice holt forest

There are 2 courses of go ape at Alice holt forest.  There is the Go Ape Junior for those over 1metre tall. which takes about 1hour to complete. My 5, 8 and 10yr olds all enjoy this course.  There is also the Go APE adventure which is for Adults and over 10yrs,  This is a bit more challenging and takes around 3hours.  The courses start from £18pp and are a great idea for helping families bond and make a new memory.

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Bracknell icerink Iceskating session

From just £7.80pp you could buy a session on the ice rink. Penguins are available for the younger ones (£3.50), even toddlers can go on the skate aids (additional cost). Its a great family activity. and a family of 4 can get on the ice from £22.60.

Go somewhere
Sailing courses at Horseshoe lake

To hire a sailing dinghy anywhere in the world you need to hold an RYA Level 2 or equivalent. Horseshoe lake offers junior and adult 2-day sailing courses, which cover the basics required to get on the water and handling a sailing craft. They run both adult and junior RYA Levels 1 to 4. They often run early bird discounts so you can snap them up for £150. This is a great gift because you’re not only gifting the chance to learn a new skill but your also buying them the chance to earn a qualification too. My eldest 2 children have both done the RYA levels 1 and 2 when 8yrs old, and they are so proud to hold those certificates.

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Horseshoe lake activity centre pass from £50 -Yateley

How about buying a summer adventure? A one-month water sports pass which allows you to hire any craft subject to availability and qualifications including Sailing Dinghy, Kayak, Canoe or Paddle Board. This is perfect to give a family for them to have summer-long activities over the summer holidays! Children must be over 8yrs to go on their own craft, under 8yrs must go on the same craft as a responsible adult. All children under 14yrs must be on the water with an adult. This is a great idea for adults or older children/teens. Cooling off in the lake makes everyone feel a bit “swallows and amazons”. Prices for a month pass are £50 for 1 adult, £90 for 2 adults and £150 for the whole family. To get on the water every day for a month.

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Ideas those who want to get fit or do a triathlon!

Do you know someone who is sporty but has everything they need? Or maybe you know someone who wants a new challenge and something to work towards? How about introducing them to a new adventure?

Running coaching

Maybe your loved one is a keen runner, do they want to start training for a marathon or triathlon? So many people love running but don't realise there is a right and a wrong way to run. Runners MOT offers 1to1 analysis of your run, They use video and software to highlight how you are running currently, and then will coach you on how to make the tweaks you need to improve your speed, reduce your risk of injury and improve your endurance and efficiency. I have been running all my life and had no idea that my arms were in the wrong position and my legs were not aligned, which was putting my back and shoulder under duress and damaging my left knee. With a few changes to my position, I now run much faster with a lot less effort required. Runners MoT - 90-minute session, during which time you’ll be filmed and analysed. One 90min session is £50, and a block of 6 sessions is £240 (to be used in 3 months) Each session covers run technique, corrective exercises & homework.

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Open water swimming - £55 -Yateley

Open water swimming is a fabulous way to get fit. It has proven benefits for mental health too. The lake runs swimming lessons as well as open swims 5 days a week in the warmer weather, as well as winter specials too! A block of 10 swims is £55. The trained coach also offers 1 to 1 lesson, or group lessons (so maybe the whole family could get involved).

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Cycling at Alice holt forest from £10

Alice holt forest cycle centre offers a range of services. They run a children's cycling club on a saturday morning, which is £6 a session. These can be booked up into blocks of 5 or 10 sessions to make a great gift. They also run holiday activities including a 5hour cycle through the countryside, which is great for children over 8yrs who want to improve their confidence. Family cycle hire offers are also available, so you could book a family to spend a day in the forest on bikes (maybe to explore the Shipwrights way).

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Secret Santa idea

Do you have a secret Santa with your friends and family? Rather than buying a novelty gift that will be sent to the charity shop. An experience voucher is a much better idea. Do they play sports? Then maybe a voucher for their usual leisure centre so they can play next time for free! Or contact the club they attend and see if you can pay for their next session. Do they like coffee? How about finding a little independent coffee shop, and buying them a voucher for there?

If none of the above tick any boxes. Remember there are always sites like Groupon where you can find deals for fun things to do locally. take a look through all the different activities going on this season, I am sure you will find a memory-making activity to offer as a gift.

Good luck making memories this year!

theatre conservation skiing snowboarding teenagers goape shows passes tickets outdoors

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