Christmas is all about indulgence – food, drink and gifts. And when it comes to choosing presents, food makes the perfect gift for everyone. Luckily, we are blessed in Devon with brilliant artisan producers who come into their own at this time of year.

For the Chef

river cottage

Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s River Cottage HQ near Axminster is a hive of activity (you can even learn about beekeeping). Vouchers are available for one-day courses, starting at £145, or a four-day course at £780, hosted by the River Cottage team of experts and authors with an emphasis on local, seasonal produce and a ‘nose-to-tail’ approach. Lunch and refreshments included.

ashburton cookery school

Ashburton Cookery School is one of the country’s leading culinary academies. It also runs courses for anyone wanting to learn a culinary skill to use for life or enhance their knowledge of a favourite cuisine from around the world. Half-day courses are three hours of in-depth, hands-on learning, or you can opt for a whole day which includes lunch. Vouchers are available online (half-day courses £85, full-day £165).

glass reform

Glass ReFORM in North Devon uses traditional glassblowing techniques to give glass a second chance, creating upcycled and recycled products that are interesting to look at with impeccable green credentials. The team in Bideford collects bottles from local pubs to transform them into quirky glasses, bowls and platters. Prices are reasonable: £15 for two beer bottles recycled as glasses.


In Devon, you are never more than 50 miles from the sea, which makes the work of the RNLI vitally important. As a charity, it relies on public support. Last year, running costs were £17.5 million. So, for keen cooks why not browse the range of kitchen items for sale on the website, including this lovely apron from the Watson Blueprint range. It retails at £12 online.

For the Gourmand

Lympstone Manor

Lympstone Manor, Michael Caines’ magnificent Grade II Listed Georgian manor, has 28 acres of garden and amazing views of the Exe Estuary. A visit here isn’t just a Christmas present, it is a treat to be savoured forever. Gift vouchers range from £50 to £1,500, or you can buy a gourmet experience – Afternoon Tea for Two (£90), with champagne (£116), or a three-course lunch for two with coffee and petit fours at £136.

The Shops at Dartington

At The Shops at Dartington, you can make up your own hamper to be gift-wrapped and taken away, or posted. Gift boxes, wicker hampers and small wooden trugs come in three sizes. Ready-made hampers start at £20 for a wooden trug with three items (savoury or sweet). Other options range from the Devon Delights Small Hamper (£45) to the Luxury Devon Large Hamper (£150).

Willie's Cacao

Not the kind of chocolate you’d find hanging on the tree, this (main picture) is 100% pure cacao for serious cooks. Made on antique presses from Willie’s chocolate factory in Uffculme. There are also hampers of chocolate products, including the Sweet Dreams Hamper (£29.99).


Sharpham, overlooking the River Dart, makes both award-winning wine and cheese – a perfect combination! You can purchase gift vouchers online for £10–£50, or a voucher to enjoy a specific experience, like the two-hour Vine to Wine tour. Walk around the vineyard with a knowledgeable guide, sample five wines and two cheeses.

Salcombe Dairy

Salcombe Dairy has been producing award-winning ice creams, sorbets and frozen yoghurts for nearly 40 years. Now, it’s launched a range of chocolate bars just in time for Christmas. Flavours include the festive Milk Chocolate Orange, Honeycomb and Dark Chocolate Ginger (£4.95 for 80g).


plymouth tea

Plymouth Tea produced its first Armada blend in 2012, and is establishing its own tea plantation just outside Plymouth. Meanwhile, you can pop a gift box of three Armada Blend tea bag collections (£10) and a vintage style tea towel (£4.99) into someone’s Christmas stocking.

For the Drinkers

salcombe gin

Fresh citrus, English coriander and Macedonian juniper are key ingredients in Salcombe Gin’s award-winning Start Point Gin (£40 for 70cl). If you’d like to distil your own, a trip to the gin school is a must and would make a memorable Christmas present.

lyme bay

Lyme Bay Winery in Axminster produce wines with a true West Country flavour – many of the ingredients are from local fields, orchards and hedgerows. Its Christmassy flavours and selection boxes are perfect for stocking fillers, such as the Christmas Pudding Wine (£8.90 a bottle), or pick a Miniature Wine Gift Box of five handpicked fruit wines in small bottles (£11.99).


Thunderflower Gin comes from a husband and wife team in Devon who spent a year perfecting the recipe, which is handmade in small batches in a traditional, ‘one-shot’ distillation process using 11 quality botanicals. Available from select outlets (including Powderham Farm Shop) and online (£38 for 70cl).

Salcombe Brewery

Don’t forget the beer lovers. Salcombe Brewery’s new online shop offers everything from stocking fillers and presentation packs of their highly-acclaimed range of beers, to brewery tours (£10) and brewery days (£80). How about a selection of three or four 500ml bottle presentation packs (£9.50, £12), or a bottle of Lifesaver ale and a pint glass gift pack (£5.50).


Even soft drinks come into their own at Christmas – something grown-up for kids and delicious for designated drivers, pregnant ladies and non-drinkers. Devon’s award-winning Luscombe drinks have some fabulous flavours in their range like the elegant Damascene Rose Bubbly or the festive Cranberry Crush (£1.95 for a 27cl bottle and £3.29 for a 74cl sharing bottle).

Su Carroll

Published 29 October 2018

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