Christmas sales boom for Derbyshire firm offering gift experiences for children as shoppers get creative

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A Derbyshire business which combines gift cards with activities for children is enjoying a busy festive season, as bosses expect people to forego presents in favour of experiences.

Little Starts Gift Cards offer customers the chance to buy either a personalised e-card or physical card which can then be put towards art classes, swimming lessons, messy play sessions and coding clubs and other local sessions for ages up to five.

Co-founder Katie Lavis said: “Families need something to look forward to in 2021 and are keen to support small businesses, which is great for us and the class providers that our gift cards can be used with.

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“We’re getting really busy now as Christmas approaches with customers looking to purchase experiences as gifts rather than materialistic presents.”

Business partners Liam Usher and Katie Lavis established Little Starts Gift Cards in 2018.Business partners Liam Usher and Katie Lavis established Little Starts Gift Cards in 2018.
Business partners Liam Usher and Katie Lavis established Little Starts Gift Cards in 2018.

She added: “When you are at home with very young children, finding fun ways to fill the time can be a real challenge and these classes can also help to build a supportive network for new parents.”

A recent study by global marketing company Awin revealed that, of the 2,000 people surveyed, more than two thirds planned to swap more traditional items with experience-based gifts.

The surge in demand is particularly welcome for Little Starts after a difficult year.

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Katie said: “We pushed hard to get the business established locally and then nationally in 2019 and early 2020 but when Covid hit I have had to juggle running the business with caring for my two small children and wider family.

“As a digital, remote-based start-up it has received no financial support from the Government.”

She added: “Our class providers had to move on and offline and we have gone in and out of lockdown. They have been totally inspirational in how they have adapted using technology to ensure families feel connected and children continue to have access to fun developmental activities.”

Cards can be purchased from just £10 and can be used at 2,000 weekly classes nationwide. They are valid for 12 months and the funds are protected by the Financial Conduct Authority.

For more details, see

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