A gift from the heart

XMAS - TRUE SPIRIT OF XMAS .. LYNN MCCLUSKEY SPONSORS MUSYOKO
XMAS - TRUE SPIRIT OF XMAS .. LYNN MCCLUSKEY SPONSORS MUSYOKO
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Chocolate is eaten within days, cookies crumble faster than your New Year diet resolve, some of the gifts you throw at them are destined for charity recycling or to be passed onto a relative, and you’ll soon wonder what you ever saw in the boxed set of Downton Abbey.

So how about considering a gift that carries on giving?

We’ve not only got some hot tips for 11th hour gift suggestions but some fabulously festive giveaways guaranteed to put a spring in your step in the New Year.

It may be “simples” to buy yet another cuddly meerkat for Christmas but how about investing in a child, adult or family membership for Blackpool Zoo, so you can see them daily if you wish – bar Christmas Day?

We’ve got one family, two adults and two kids memberships to give away. Truly a “zoo-nique” gift!

Memberships start at £27.50 and allow unlimited entry all year along with 10 per cent off purchases in zoo shops and cafes, and four half price tickets for guests per membership, along with half price admission to the zoo’s Playbarn and sister attractions Lakes Aquarium and the Bournemouth Oceanarium.

There are also zoo keeper packages to be had for £175 all year round, from animal trainer for a day to big cat encounter, and all include free zoo entry, refreshment vouchers, shop discount , goody bag packed with mementos and all the tapirs you can tickle.

Animal adoptions start at £50 and are a great alternative gift that help with the conservation of endangered species across the globe.

What’s more the zoo only closes on Christmas Day – and that’s to be ready for Santa’s reindeer flying back home.

Blackpool photographer Lynn Gorrie treated herself to an annual pass and visits every week.

She said: “It enables me to indulge my passion for photography and some of my pictures have been used on the website which is a real thrill.”

Instead of watching repeats of Jaws, even in 3D, on the box, why not go and see the real thing at the SeaLife Centre – after investing in an annual pass.

We’ve got one adult (worth £30) pass up for grabs to a seaside attraction that consistently attracts superlatives. Now run by Merlin it’s open daily – bar Christmas Day.

And FYI locals usually benefit from a cut price residents pass once the Blackpool Loves You campaign organised by Blackpool Council starts up for Valentines Day.

It is free to get into Blackpool Tower, also open daily, apart from Christmas Day, and see part of the complex, including the balcony of the best known ballroom in the world, but today you could win a child’s pass for Jungle Jim’s (usually £48) which permits two adults or guardians to tag along for free.

The gift of music is hard to beat... but did you realise you could invest in singing lessons at Rimmers Music on Devonshire Road, Blackpool?

Or learn how to play guitar, or keyboards, ukelele or drums?

The success of McFly’s drummer Harry Judd in Strictly Come Dancing has helped bang the drum for – drummers... traditionally the backroom boys of any band.

Rimmers is doing great guns for table top digital eight pad drum kits at £99, usually around the £240 mark, and sessions drummer Adrian Treacher is offering lessons, or gift vouchers for one-to-one lessons.

All the classes are £11.75 each – and there are no group lessons,

Manager Barry Mills adds: “Drums are flying out the door.

“You can get a ukelele for £24.99 and it’s easy to pick up how to play. Banjoles have been big since Frank Skinner featured the George Formby Society.

“And our guitar package is great value – classical guitar costs £35. The popularity of X Factor and Britain’s Got Talent also makes the singing classes busy too. People are taught to sing properly.”

All the music teachers linked to Rimmers add one free trial lesson so you can see whether you are suited to an instrument – or the class.

That’s the key to the appeal of gifts that keep on giving... they can be life changing rather than one off experiences.

As Lynn McCluskey, of Bispham, who pays £20 a month to sponsor a little boy, Musyoka, nine, in the Blackpool-founded Happy House Children’s Home (www.childrenofwatamu.net) for 55 children in Watamu, Kenya, points out: “I sponsored a Happy House child hoping I would be helping improve and change a child’s life.

“Little did I know how it would change and improve my life too. I cannot tell you what joy he has brought into my life. It is the greatest gift I could have given myself.”

So what are you waiting for?