“The gift of time” is one of my favorite phrases; I truly believe that the one of the greatest gifts we can give someone is to spend time with them. This past year, we may have spent more time at home than on the road “adventuring”, but even at home, the gift of time was well spent reconnecting in ways that didn’t involve screens! This year, for our annual gift guide (check out our previous Holiday Gifts Guides from 2019, 2018, 2017), we are using the theme of the gift of time for the focus of our gift giving family and friends. A couple of notes:
Many of these ideas can be personalized based on the individual child’s age and interests.
Many of these ideas include supporting local businesses, which we try to do as much as possible (but we also have Amazon Prime! lol)
Given the current pandemic of 2020, many of these ideas can be purchased over the phone or online and can be completed safely, socially distant from others and respectful of restrictions.
Our Top 9 Gift Ideas for 2020:
1. A family membership to a local children’s museum: When our children were younger, we belonged to Stepping Stones Children’s Museum in Norwalk, Connecticut. We spent many a winter morning exploring the various hands-on exhibits and our children were engaged and entertained for hours. You can read about some of the children’s museums we have visited over the years in this blog index. One of the best ways to enjoy and explore multiple museums is to get the level of membership that includes reciprocity at other museums that are members of the Association of Children’s Museums. This is also an economical way to check out a bunch of different places and a great option when you’re in a new city or area and “need” a last minute activity. Check the website to see if nearby museums are members; if so, admission fees are heavily discounted.
2. A membership to a local zoo or aquarium: Similarly to children’s museums, zoos and aquariums have numerous ways to educate and entertain children. An added bonus, given 2020 pandemic restrictions, is that most of the exhibits are outdoors and easy to socially distance from other people. Also similar to children’s museums, many zoos and aquariums are part of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums and offer reciprocal admission or discounted admission fees. Read more about some of our favorite zoos in this index and and aquariums in this index
3. A lifetime pass to the National Parks: Over the past 8 years of road tripping every chance we get, our family has visited close to 100 National Parks sites throughout America. The National Park Service does offer free admission to active military personnel and 4th graders and their families) through the Every Kid Outdoors program), but many National Parks charge a vehicle admission fee. Find the full list of sites here and find out more about America the Beautiful pass here.
4. A subscription box: We’ve been giving subscription boxes to our children the past few years and they love anticipating when the next box will arrive and what it will contain. There is a subscription for literally every age, interest, hobby, and talent, including adults! Cratejoy is a great starting place, as it allows visitors to narrow their search by age, interest, price point, and frequency (3, 6, or 12 months). A great, travel themed subscription box? Womple Mail, an engaging way for children to learn about geography and new cultures. Each month, a new package arrives with letters from Roald the Womple about his adventures, stickers, and other materials like postcards for kids to write back to Roald (we hear he returns all correspondence!) and trivia sheets.
5. A magazine subscription for their age or interest: Another thing my children love receiving in the mail is their monthly magazine subscriptions. Some of our favorites over the year include Highlights and National Geographic Zootles and Little Kids (for younger kids) and Sports Illustrated for Kids, Muse, and Cricket and upper elementary aged children.
6. Books: We feel fortunate that our kids are ferocious readers and will choose to read over almost any other activity. They always ask for gift cards to local bookstores and routinely ask to go to our local library. Gift cards are a great idea, but so is researching a new book or series with your child, ordering the book from your local shop (support small business!) and reading it together.
7. A cookbook and challenge: There are dozens of child appropriate cookbooks; here is a good list. Purchase one for your child and challenge them to make a recipe a week, together. You can even theme it by interest like a new cookie recipe each week, or exploring different cultures and ethnic foods. Try sticking to the same day, put it on the calendar, and make the time.
8. Hiking Challenge: Head to your state’s tourism website and search for State Parks- you can find Connecticut’s list here. Highlight a list of trails that are kid appropriate (only 1 or 2 miles). Make sure to pack a backpack with water, snacks, charged phone, flashlight, and trail maps. Carve out a couple of hours each week to go on a hike together. Borrow a book from your local library and search for various types of trees or flowers, or bring binoculars and look for birds and other wildlife. Print a scavenger hunt of items to look out for on a hike to keep younger kids engaged. Stay tuned for an upcoming post on some of our favorite spots to hike in Connecticut.
9. Go on a culinary tour of your child’s favorite food. With a quick google search, or by soliciting input from family, friends, and locals, find 10 local spots featuring your child’s favorite food. Some common themes include ice cream, hot dogs, or pizza. Create a calendar to organize a visit to a new spot each week. Then rank each location and declare a “Best of..” award. (See some of NEW favorite ice creams in Connecticut in this post.)