Some years are more special than others. 2016's specialness lies in just how abysmal it's been — the many disasters, notable deaths and political horrorshows mean the holidays are a much-needed time to feel the love and gratitude for our nearest and dearest more than ever. And what better way to do that than to gift your cherished family and friends with presents that inspire creativity and well-being? As for the options with the slightly heavier price tags, those work perfectly as an 'everyone-chips-in' gift that outshines the socks, perfumes and electronic devices under the tree.

Lazarus

via Facebook. Photo by Johan Persson


This play, written by David Bowie and Enda Walsh, is inspired by the Roeg classic The Man Who Fell to Earth, in which Bowie plays an alien. In this stage production, Dexter hottie Michael C. Hall stars. Here’s a preview of the title track, which coincides with this year’s final release from the late Starman. Book tickets to avoid disappointment, as the show wraps on 22 January. A surreal and cosmic tale of an immortal human-alien and true, self-releasing love.

Where: Kings Cross Theatre, Kings Blvd, London, N1C 4BU
When: Until 22 Jan. 2017

More info: lazarusmusical.com
 


Jamie Oliver Cookery Classes

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Some people just love donning an apron and banging around with their pots and pans, while others use their ovens as storage. If you know someone in need of culinary skills, give them a gentle nudge in the form of Jamie Oliver’s kitchen school, which teaches accessible recipes that are healthy and appropriate for every occasion. You can choose among a plethora of options including Indian thali, pizza making, Vietnamese street food, risotto and more  or buy a voucher and let the giftee decide.

Where: 1078, Westfield London, Ariel Way, Shepherd's Bush, London W12 7GB

More info: +44 0203 435 9900; jamieolivercookeryschool.com
 


Moon Club Membership

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Self-defined ‘astro geekery’ for the modern millennial. London-born Ruby Warrington and L.A.-based Alexandra Roxo provide affordable and friendly coaching towards work, sex, relationships, wellness and spiritual activism. Credentials: Warrington founded hip wellness platform The Numinous whilst Roxo is an acclaimed writer and filmmaker. In the past Moon Club have teamed with U.K. high street holy grail Topshop to run astrology-inspired webinars to mentor a new generation of trendsetters and ‘cosmic crusaders’. Monthly membership includes a full moon ritual, moon saloon, Q&As with leading gurus and tastemakers, and discounts on workshops and retreats. Plus a portion of the monthly fee goes to an array of scholarships and human aid causes.

More info: 
moonclub.co
 


Wildfitness Urban Retreat London

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This bouncy young crew of instructors and nutritionists offer body-honing in incredible urban spaces, throwing boot-camp weeks and weekends in beautiful places ranging from the woods to spas to organic restaurants. The idea is to recalibrate your body and mind as much as you sweat it out through forest running and muddy obstacle courses. Beyond the U.K., they host fitness retreats in Zanzibar, Crete and Barcelona as well. You can nab an early-bird discount if you book before 15 December. 

Where: Various locations in London
When: Next urban retreat, 8-11 June 2017

More info: +44 7415 884 312; wildfitness.com
 


Flower Appreciation Society Arranging Workshops

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As the holidays get underway, so pour in the engagements, and next summer’s wedding season starts to get jam packed. Get the green-fingered one in your circle a gift that can be used to make stuff like flower arrangements or headdresses for special occasions as spring and summer go full bloom. The workshops are also lovely gifts for mums, sisters and anyone looking for a possible career segue into floristry. Classes are held by a group of super-cool girls at a super-cool Hackney studio. Flowers and wine are included in the price.

Where: 72A Southgate Rd, London N1 3JF

More info: +44 7984 013 561; theflowerappreciationsociety.co.uk
 


Banya No. 1 Russian Spa Day

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During the holidays it's easy to feel like you’re party-hopping all over London whilst simultaneously wrapping up work and commitments so you can see in the New Year with a bang. Help the tired and overworked  maybe the matriarch/patriarch who’s taken charge of all those holiday banquets — by treating them to a spa day. Make sure you warn them it might resemble a rough-and-ready Turkish hammam experience, as Banya No. 1 specialises in centuries-old Russian techniques like a three-hour scrub-down and massage treatment. Gold, silver and platinum gift packages available.

Where: 17 Micawber St, London, N1 7TB

More info: +44 020 7253 67 23; gobanya.co.uk
 


Barbican Gift Membership

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The perfect gift for any London-dwelling culture vulture. The Barbican is one of the capital’s best architectural and design wonders and host to world-acclaimed exhibits, shows, films and concerts. Membership gives you unlimited access to exhibitions, previews, parties and one-off members’ events, as well as deeply discounted tickets and access to the swanky members’ lounge, where you can read and write for a few hours over a glass of wine pre-show. French acrobats Sacekripa, an installation from Zarah Hussain and an entire weekend dedicated to celebrating composer Philip Glass’ 80th birthday are just some of the Barbican’s 2017 highlights.

Where: Barbican Centre, Silk St, London, EC2Y 8DS

More info: +44 020 7638 8891; barbican.org.uk
 


Faber Academy Fiction Course

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What better dramatic inspiration for a best-selling novel than the kicks and starts of 2016? Run by the most esteemed publishing houses in the world, this beginners’ fiction-writing course offers 12 weeks of intensive and productive creative writing guidance from a published novelist in a classic London townhouse building in Bloomsbury. It might urge someone to pursue ideas they’ve had floating around for years. This is a gift that keeps on giving, but definitely one for all the family to club in on at a cool £995.

Where: 74-77 Great Russell St, London, WC1B 3DA
When: Daytime course or evening course, 24 Jan.-11 Apr. 2017

More info: +44 0207 927 3827; faberacademy.co.uk


By Alexandra Pereira

Alexandra currently lives in Berlin and loves anything rhubarb-themed, the smell of old book pages and loud shoe gaze. She has written music, art, film and opinion stories for lots of magazines, and she keeps a story blog. She loves to travel alone or with easygoing companions.