This year more than ever, it’s important that we support our local businesses. Local trade is the lifeblood of our communities, supporting families and jobs.
Luckily for shoppers, Devon provides a gorgeous range of products, made or sold in our beautiful county.
Stuck for inspiration? Let this help you out:
There are so many fabulous artists in Devon – a good place to start browsing is the Devon Guild of Craftsmen, which supports its members through its online .
We think this freestanding advent calendar by Angela Harding is a lovely gift for all ages.
The foodie in your life might appreciate these carved salad servers by Rosie Brewer: an investment certainly, but they’ll last a lifetime (don’t put them in the dishwasher, obviously).
We also really like the lino cuts of Mike Tingle, printed in metallic gold relief onto a flat wooden panel with the illusion of a frame. Whimsical, and sturdy.
Christmas is the time to stock up on socks, and we’ve found some good ‘uns for you from local suppliers.
For blokes, we like the Devon Stripes set made from Corrymoor mohair. Grown, spun and knitted in the UK, this is a hard-wearing and odour resistant sock that can be machine washed. Based in Honiton, this working farm is passionate about mohair – check out their website.
Another Devon farm is the source of Arbon Socks, who use wool from British breeds such as the Exmoor Horn to produce great long-lasting footwear. We’re fond of the Frome Fairisle.
If it’s alpaca socks you’d prefer, the Little Wool Company has what you want, including soft, sturdy walking and bed socks.
A good book
For the would-be politician in your life, try Diary of an MP’s Wife, by Sasha Swire. This tell-all collection of memoirs covers David Cameron’s term in office, during which Sasha’s husband Hugo was an MP for East Devon, among other posts.
It’s funny and intelligent, and dishes plenty of dirt on the establishment, as well as local figureheads and characters (there’s an amusing account of a presidential lunch at the Devon County Show). Details here:
Secrets of a Devon Wood is a lovely illustrated journal by Jo Brown, an artist who recorded in minute detail the creatures in her Teignmouth garden.
It features in-depth drawings of birds, insects, and plants including Jo’s favourites, mushrooms, all painstakingly labelled with the circumstances under which she found them. A lovely gift for a nature enthusiast. Details here:
Surf vibe company Saltrock make an impressive range of tee shirts and tops, hoodies and fleeces, pyjamas and loungewear, socks, and other footwear. They’ve got a good “Christmas gifts” tab on their website for inspiration, and are guaranteed to strike a chord with kids, teens and 20-somethings particularly.
With its roots in the sailing community of Salcombe, Jack Wills boasts good label “street cred”, with its new spin on preppy style. Men and women of all ages will appreciate their high-quality clothes inspired by British tradition.
You can’t go wrong with a good hoodie: Ocean Daze in Braunton has a colourful range.
If your loved one appreciates a good night’s sleep, invest in a wool duvet or pillow from Devon Duvets. Filled with wool, these specially designed products harvest wool’s natural properties: hygienic, eco-friendly, dust mite resistant, and flame retardant. And not too hot: wool is supposed to regulate body temperature.
Speaking of beds, there’s a wonderful range of Devon seascapes printed onto throw blankets on straight-to-the-artist site Redbubble. Budleigh Salterton, Beer Beach, East Prawle, and Sidmouth are just a few stylised scenes you can proudly display on couch or bed – great for someone who’s just moved into a new house, or uni students to give them a taste of home, and well priced around £33.
Jack Speak in Dartmouth has a great range of nautical-inspired woolly jumpers, including the Breton Stripe and the Submariner.
With all the online music services around, a CD wrapped in pretty paper still makes a nice gift. And Devon’s got a lively music scene with plenty of independent artists of all genres, from classical to rock.
For gorgeous choral music, look for Exeter Cathedral Choir’s CDs, available on Amazon and various other sources.
Where do you find them? A good place to start might be your local music shop, bookshop, or tourist shop: they’re sure to surprise you with their range.
There’s a band directory of Devon artists here: check it out for some inspiration based on your genre of choice, from soul to folk to classic rock. We’re intrigued by the sound of Wurzi Rascal, “bangin’ sometimes with a donk on” – best not to ask.
Men and women alike love beautiful lotions and potions (even if they say they don’t). Moksa use plant based, nutrient dense and ethically sourced ingredients for their range. Se liked the look of the Sleepy Time Cleanse and Calm kit, full of lovely relaxing smells.
Also hand made in Devon, Apothespa (formerly Aromatika) produces lush holistic products including moisturisers, facial oils, eye creams, hand creams, body creams, reed diffusers, and more. They also stock Lily Lolo Mineral Make Up, The Devon Soap Company and Nailberry, brands with a similar ethos.
We love the seasonal touch of the frankincense, geranium and rose mini facial kit for £22.95; there’s also a lovely range of soaps and bath melts on the website.
An experience they’ll never forget
OK, so everything is pretty much on hold for the moment, but it won’t be forever. What about a voucher for a cookery course at the Ashburton Cookery School? Choose from 40 courses, to suit beginners to advanced home cooks.
You can go more in depth on bread, canapes, chef skills, chocolates, Indian or Italian food, sushi…the list goes on.
Diggerland is a superb experience for boys who like their toys. This article gives you some more inspiration of experience days, many very affordable: you can drive a horse and cart, learn how to throw clay on a potter’s wheel, make your own shoes, learn to surf, re-balance your chakras, get close to meerkats, drive a sports car… think outside the box.
A gift with a heart
This year more than most, people across the world – and locally – are in need of help. Instead of a “more stuff”, if you can’t come up with a good gift, consider spending your money on something to spreads the love.
The Devon Community Foundation works hard to support wonderful social enterprises in the county, and help alleviate food poverty. Support the animals you love with the Barn Owl Trust, Sidmouth Donkey Sanctuary, the Devon Birdwatching and Preservation Society, or the county branch of the British Hen Welfare Trust. Get involved in your local beauty spots and social enterprises such as Dartington Hall.
Many sell their own merchandise, or will write you out a certificate in someone’s name – check their websites for details.
There’s the Devon Air Ambulance Trust, Age UK Devon, the armed forces charity SSAFA, Balloons bereavement charity… have a think about what is relevant to your giftee, and give accordingly.
Are you a local business owner? Sign up to our free promotion and listing service here:
An accessory to make you smile
These days it’s all about the travel mug, to keep your drinks warm or cold on the go. There’s a great range of travel and ordinary mugs on Redbubble, printed with Devon scenes. They also do tote bags.
Get hands on with a leather school belt kit from Tanner Bates, personalised with the name of your recipient and the maker (you). You don’t need previous leather work experience to make it look really professional: all the instructions are int he kit with a step by step tutorial. (Also, they just have a range of lovely handmade belts and other lovely leather stuff: see website here.)
There are hundreds of lovely Devon-based jewellers: check out the contemporary collection at the Victoria Sewart Gallery. Here are stocked some cutting edge designers, many of them from Devon.
The Devon Guild of Craftsmen also have a jewellery section, as well as beautiful bags, pillows, and other items hard to categorise: we loved the origami and needle felt swan kit by Yuli Somme, an activity and a product all in one.
A treat at the theatre
The country’s theatres have struggled like never before this year, but but it won’t be forever – and in the meantime, they’re working really hard to adapt performances for Covid era crowds.
Obviously no one knows what the rules and regs will be, but take a look at the websites of the Theatre Royal in Plymouth, the Plymouth Pavillions, the Northcott Theatre in Exeter, and your local venue: don’t give up on them, they need you more than ever now.
Devon food and drink is a practically inexhaustible topic: there is so much delicious nosh around, from farmhouse cheeses to local wines and spirits, charcuterie meat to smoked fish, fudge and sweets, biscuits and more.
Taste of the West does a superb local food map, with both producers and retailers listed by area.
Sharpham Wine and Cheese do a lovely essential Devon cheese board, featuring Quicke’s mature and oak smoked cheddar, Sharpham brie and ticklemore, and Devon blue.
Devon Hampers do a lovely range of local goodies to suit all budgets, including gorgeous chocolates.
If you’ve ever tasted Italian grappa, now it’s time to try Dappa, made in South Devon at the Devon Distillery. Some great foodie inspiration on this website too, including a gin advent calendar, 12 drinks of Christmas and gin school experiences.
Obviously this is just the tip of the iceberg of great Devon gifts out there; hopefully we’ve inspired you to do your own research. Buy local in 2020!