Last minute Manchester Christmas gift experiences

The best gifts are fun things you can do and they're easy to wrap too

By Kelly Bishop | Last updated 22 December 2022

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It’s Christmas in a matter of days and panic mode is officially activated. Even though you have all year, every year to do your Christmas shopping, you’ve left it til the last minute again haven’t you? You’ve missed the last posting dates and heading to Market Street to join the red-eyed, flailing hordes is the absolute last thing you need right now. But don’t worry, we’re here to help. We’ve put together a roundup of Manchester Christmas gift experiences that you can buy online and don’t even need to wrap.

Here’s our guide to the best Christmas gift experiences in Manchester for Xmas 2022.

Box off your Xmas shopping with a Cube experience. Photo: Urban Playground

The Cube experience at Urban Playground

Know a telly addict who is alarmingly competitive? How about gifting them the experience of a few rounds of The Cube? This team game hosted by Urban Playground at The Arndale sees contestants enter a perspex box to test their minds and bodies with “seemingly simple” tasks that become so much more difficult when under the pressure of the gameshow environment. Prices start at £74.99 for two people for two hours. 

Wood you like a dinner voucher for Xmas? Photo: Louis Cannell

Dinner at a top Manchester restaurant

Where The Light Gets In, Erst, Wood, Another Hand, The French, most of Manchester’s best restaurants offer gift vouchers so you can treat your besties to a slap up meal in Jan when everyone’s depressed and skint from sky-rocketing heating bills. It’s a proper treat to go out for dinner and we can’t think of many people that wouldnt love this as a Xmas pressie. 

Decks the halls! Photo: Manchester’s Finest

DJ lessons from Make Me A DJ

Got a mate or offspring that fancies themselves as the next Annie Mac or Terminator X? With a course from Make Me a DJ, they’ll soon be throwing and scribbling their way through a crowd pleasing set like an absolute pro. Manchester’s Make Me A DJ offers “a unique learning environment for DJs and producers alike” in a state of the art school in Ancoats. Classes start at £84 for a two-hour one-to-one DJ lesson or really treat someone you love with a three-day DJ crash course for £599. A proper Manchester gift experience for the music lover in your life. 

Night and Sleigh your Xmas shopping. Photo: Manchester’s Finest

Gig tickets from Yes, Deaf Institute, The Peer Hat , Night & Day, White Hotel and more

There is nothing like a good gig for putting a massive smile on your face and with many venues and musicians struggling in the wake of covid, Brexit and the soaring cost of living, buying tickets for a gig will put a smile on their faces too. If you have a music-obsessed loved one, a ticket for a gig is an excellent gift and luckily we are spoilt for choice on that front in Manchester. While larger venues play host to some massive crowdpleasing bands, with the new Co-Op Live Arena set to impress on that front, smaller venues have cracking calendars too – and the tickets are a bit cheaper. 

GRUB a giftcard at the last minute. Photo: GRUB

Give a little GRUB

GRUB has launched a gift card scheme in a bid to help the indie venue pay its electricity bills for the Xmas period. Experiences that can be bought in gift card form include bottomless brunch for two, a cinema experience for two with fizz and unlimited popcorn in GRUB’s in-house cinema The Chapeltown Picturehouse, £10/£25/£50/£100 bar tabs or “Beer for Life” (just £200, for a limited time).

A bit of Xmas spice from Zouk. Photo: Manchester’s Finest

Indian cookery lessons from Zouk 

Another one for the foodies in your life, a Zouk cooking class is a great shout for your favourite kitchen dahl-ing. Let the experienced chefs at this long-standing Indian restaurant take you through a series of dishes step by step so that you can recreate them at home again and again. You’ll learn the techniques from the pros and then sit down to eat your creations banquet-style, going home with and apron and recipe pack. There is a huge range of classes to choose from including “British” classics like chicken tikka masala and onion bhajis to regionally focused classes featuring dishes from the Punjab or Goa.  

Buckt it, packed it… Photo: Manchester’s Finest

Mystery gift experience from Buckt 

Got an indecisive pal or a bit of a ditherer yourself? Buckt might provide the Christmas gift experiences you’re after. For £30 a month for two people (or £25 for one) you’ll get five tickets to different events, activities or workshops in your area. Activities are picked at random so you need to be up for anything but you might get activities like ice skating, water zorbing or sumo suit wrestling, or maybe foodie stuff like macaroon painting, pub grub or mead tasting. We’ve teamed up with Buckt to get a massively discounted rate for the first month. This is a subscription so you’ll have to remember to cancel it if it’s a gift (unless you want to sign someone up for several months). Use our special link to pay just £9.99 for the first month of a two-person subscription. 

Everyone needs a massage after the Xmas stress. Photo: Creative Commons

Massage voucher from NiniSpa 

Know someone who works too hard and never allows themselves any downtime? How about buying them a massage voucher and forcing them, in the nicest possible way, to switch off for a bit? We’ve tried a lot of massage places in Greater Manchester and Nini Spa on Blackfriars is one of the best we’ve experienced. Don’t believe us? Have a look at its Google rating. Nini Spa treatments feature some less common massage methods like dry brushing, hot stones, anti-stress CBD oil and sauna brooms to help you switch that monkey mind off for at least an hour or two. Massages start at £65.

Let it dough, let it dough, let it dough! Photo: Pasta Factory

Pasta masterclass from The Pasta Factory 

Got a loved one that knows their fusilli from their fettuccine or never shuts up about spätzle? How about buying them a voucher for a cooking class from pasta masters The Pasta Factory? This laid back Swan Street restaurant throws some of the best shapes in Manchester so a class from the in-house team of experts is a great shout for your Italophile pal. They’ll learn to make two types of dough and colour it with natural ingredients before rolling, cutting and shaping it while discussing the contentious topic of which sauce goes best with which shape. They’ll also get a pasta lunch, a glass of fizz an a branded apron and bag. The Pasta Masterclass is £55 per person. 

Feliz Navidad! Spanish or salsa lessons for Xmas? Photo: Wikicommons

Spanish or salsa lessons from Instituto Cervantes 

We English are a bit of an embarrassment when it comes to language learning, even with the lingo of our all time favourite holiday destination. If you know someone who might like to understand more than just the words paella, sangria and hola next time they’re in Spain, how about a Spanish course from Deansgate’s Instituto Cervantes? Prices for a beginner’s evening course start at £240 for 12 weeks and can be taken online or in real life. The institute also offers dance lessons in the form of flamenco, salsa and tango starting at £63 for 10 weeks of lessons.

From sleds to threads. Photo: Manchester’s Finest

Wardrobe overhaul from Harvey Nichols 

Yeah Harvey Nicks has plenty of bougie gifts to stuff your stockings with but if you can’t face the shops and can no longer rely on delivery, have a look at their Christmas gift experiences. We all know someone who could do with a Queer Eye style wardrobe revamp and Harvey Nicks has a range of options for personal-stylist assisted shopping sprees. Starting at £250 for a wardrobe fix and going up to £2k for a full wardrobe overhaul, all experiences include a pre-shopping phone consultation and an optional glass of bubbly on the day as you clack through hangers of luxury garms. 

Raise the Xmas pressie bar at Whiskey Jar. Photo: Manchester’s Finest

Whiskey Experience at The Whiskey Jar 

This is one of those Christmas gift experiences that has dad written all over it but whiskey might just be your mum’s tipple of choice too. Manchester’s Whiskey Jar hosts regular Whiskey Experience events for budding connoisseurs, you will taste five expressions of whiskey, join an “immersive” Old Fashioned masterclass where you create your very own bespoke Old Fashioned to suit your tastes, scoff some bourbon-infused tacos and enjoy a complimentary cocktail. Much more interesting than another bottle of JD.

I’m dreaming of a wine Christmas. Photo: Manchester’s Finest

Wine tasting from Manchester Wine School

This gift is for that person who always wants to choose the wine when you go out for dinner, the one who owns an actual wine rack and some posh glasses and doesn’t just drink wine out of a chipped mug. Wine tastings are loads of fun (and count as being a bit educational too) and the team at Manchester Wine School offer informative, informal tastings with a focus on getting to know your own tastes better and exploring (mostly) affordable options to broaden your hor-wine-zons. There is usually cheese or other snacks into the bargain too. Start them off with an introduction to wine for £27.50 or send them on a heavily discounted trip round the world with an eight-week world of wines course for £420. 

If in doubt, get them an inflatable sculpture experience. Photo: Factory International

Yayoi Kusama at Factory International

After a long wait, Manchester’s newest massive arts venue Factory International is set to open in 2023. The ambitious space from the team behind Manchester International Festival will host a year-round programme of “the world’s best dance, theatre, music, visual arts, performance, installation and digital commissions”. We can expect some absolutely massive announcements over the coming months but the biggie that’s on sale at the moment is the You, Me and the Balloons exhibition from Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama. Visitors will wander through a ten-year retrospective of Yayoi’s surreal work in the form of giant inflatable sculptures. Expect “giant dolls, spectacular tendrilled landscapes and a vast constellation of polka-dot spheres”. A perfect gift experience for your most arty of mates. 

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