All this extra time spent indoors right before the festive season may be something of a blessing in disguise. Christmas is nigh, but suddenly there’s plenty of time to plan for the season of gifting.
While high-end purchases are always received well, it’s not often that one takes the time to craft a gift by hand. Why not use this time to submit to the tutelage of a master artisan? Emerge from lockdown with a garden of silk flowers and tins overflowing with biscuits that could be in the window displays of any top patisserie. Or if you’d rather wait a while, book ahead and revel in the knowledge that soon you’ll be painting watercolours in the shade of an oak tree.
Virtual floristry with McQueens Flowers
McQueens Flowers regularly works with the likes of Claridge’s, The Berkeley and The Connaught, but its florists are also able to scale their work down to workshops. Its online wreath-making course, available only in Greater London and New York City, runs for two hours (floristry scissors, blooms and other kit provided).
One-to-one virtual workshops are also available to those living anywhere in the UK, New York City, Connecticut or The Hamptons and are tailored to the client’s wishes. Whether it be crafting a hand-tied bouquet or floral vase arrangement, McQueens will bring the specialists and equipment to your home. If you’d rather wait, in person classes will be offered from December 9th.
From £160, McQueens
Virtual School of Icing
With clients such as Dior, Gucci, Mulberry, Burberry and more, Biscuiteers is the cream of the crop when it comes to sweet treats. Lockdown is no obstacle to the bakers at the Notting Hill boutique, with the School of Icing moving online.
Participants can choose between booking a slot in a group workshop, or reserving a private session, which are recommended for families or individuals looking to go at their own pace. The day before the class, participants are sent a box containing the Christmas collection of their choosing, whether it be Happy Christmas, The Snowman, Winter Market or Christmas Decorations. You will learn how to perfectly ice a gingerbread house, and any biscuits you don’t finish icing in the two-hour session can be completed after with the skills you acquire.
£302.75 for private session and kit, Biscuiteers
Virtual candle making masterclass and kit
The world of luxury candles has much to offer, and this one-and-a-half-hour course promises to make you an expert in navigating it. Lucy Heale, London Refinery’s founder, will teach you everything from how smell works, to the effects of fragrance on your mood and emotions.
Candle fanatics will learn the ins and outs of wicks and wax, as well as how to make their own luxury product. All tools and materials will be sent to participants’ homes, and questions will be answered in a live Q&A after the event.
November 21st, £49, The London Refinery
Private virtual silk flower making workshop
Anne Tomlin specialises in the art of silk flowers, using the finished products to adorn her line of bespoke millinery. In this private one-or-two-day) Zoom course exclusive to Telegraph Luxury, Tomlin will send you a hamper of specialist tools, dyes, Japanese brushes and prepared silk to make faux blooms. The final product, a rose, peony or poppy as per the participant’s choosing, can be worn to wow your friends or guests at your first post-lockdown cocktail.
£1,450 for one day, £1,750 for two days, Anne Tomlin
Virtual mosaic workshop
Rachel Davies is an artist specialising in contemporary mosaics. Her two-hour group workshops, ranging usually between eight to twelve participants, are the perfect artistic release for lockdown.
In this course, you will use the kit provided, as well any small shells or stones you might have collected in your travels or from your home, to build either your own or an ‘explosion’ design. While it is designed for beginners, this class can serve as a springboard from which to hone this versatile skill.
£48.50, email [email protected] for details
Virtual cocktail and chocolate pairing night
The Melt team of world-class chocolatiers has combined two gourmet experiences in this cocktail and chocolate-tasting course. Participants will tune into Zoom to learn how to make two cocktails and sample three more: Pisco Passion, the Melt Margarita and Aztec Revenge.
Tasting will, of course, be a crucial part of this experience, with samples of Melt’s bars, truffles and milk chocolate, cocoa nibs and more provided. Before the one-hour course, you will receive a box containing the chocolates to be tasted and a list of ingredients to purchase in preparation.
£45 , Melt
A Christmas feast from Eat Medieval
The medieval habit of excess has been revived by Eat Medieval, a partnership formed by cooks at Blackfriars in Newcastle (which claims to be the oldest restaurant in the UK) and researchers from Durham University.
Ten years of experimentation and careful study has culminated in the recreation of a Christmas feast from 1296. Learn how to recreate the venison, beef, goose, boar’s head, partridge and sweet treats that graced the Bishop of Hereford, Richard de Swinfield’s, table nine centuries ago. The course can be done in your own time, and you will be responsible for sourcing your own ingredients, but any questions will be answered in a Zoom Q&A
December 14th to 16th, £65, Eat Medieval
Festive wreath making
Slots in Petersham Nurseries’ in-person Festive Wreath Making workshop are already running out. Numbers have been kept to a minimum, to ensure participants remain safely socially distant, but also allowing for a more intimate experience.
The gardeners and florists at Petersham Nurseries will teach you not only how to make a wreath, but also how to choose plants and branches from your own garden or estate to incorporate into your creations.
December 7th, 8th, 14th and 15th, £150 per person, Petersham Nurseries
Botanical Christmas card workshop and lunch
Starting at midday and led by botanical artist Mary Ellen Taylor, teacher at The English Gardening School and Chelsea School of Botanical Art, this workshop will have you roaming through the gardens of Heckfield Estate. Each participant will be supplied with painting and drawing materials, and all abilities are welcome.
Measures have been taken to remain within social distancing guidelines and everyone involved will have their temperature taken. Take an art- or nature-loving friend with you to this four-and-a-half-hour workshop and you will both emerge with a series of hand-painted watercolour greeting cards, ideal for the holiday season ahead. A three-course lunch is included in the price, catered by the hotel’s kitchen. Heckfield’s courses sell out weeks in advance, so be sure to book soon.
December 6th, £190 for 2, Heckfield Place
Willow Crossley puts an emphasis on British flowers. She offers one-on-one bespoke sessions for clients looking to learn anything from how to make floral arrangements for their own weddings to mastering Christmas bouquets in her Oxfordshire home and studio. In these sessions, which vary in length depending on the client’s request, Willow shares her knowledge on everything from ordering and suppliers to which flowers are in season when.
From December 2nd, from £1,000, email [email protected] for details
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