A free gift for you!
The holidays are a time for families to be together, connect with each other and create great memories.
But they can also be a stressful time that bring unrealistic expectations to organize the perfect party, be the best decorated house, or buy the latest gadget or perfect present for our kids.
What if we slow down just a little bit, allow ourselves to turn down the marketing pressure and focus on the only present that will really show them our love?
This holiday season, let’s give presence to our children! The gift of presence is the essence of love and connection. It’s really what our kids want and need from us, not only during the holidays, but also throughout the rest of the year.
The holidays are a time to be together as a family, to play and explore, to be in nature, to work on a project together or to learn a new skill. They should be a time to be and “make” things together rather than a time to consume. Time and presence are the best gifts you can give, and they are the meaningful gifts your kids really want to receive.
But, I also understand that you need to put something under the tree… So, I have a gift for you! 101 holiday “presence” ideas to share with your kids!
I’ve been working hard over the years to reduce the clutter of useless objects and the distraction of devices that seem to come so naturally during this gift giving season.
As a result, I’ve built a pretty long “be present”, “spend quality time together”, and “avoid toy clutter and electronic gadgets at all costs” list, and I thought I would share it with you this year.
This is a huge list, so there should be at least one thing in here that can help you and your child enjoy presence and time together this holiday season!
Experiences to share!
- A membership in a local museum for a full year of deep exploration in a topic of their interest,
- A visit with a great-grand parent or an elder is a great way to learn about the past and to give the present of shared company,
- A day collecting blankets for the homeless,
- A theatrical performance or a concert,
- A backstage visit at the theater is a fascinating way to learn more about theatrical productions,
- Horseback riding lessons,
- A day looking for animals in the wild and documenting their behavior or a day at the animal shelter,
- A boat ride or a train ride,
- A ride on the gondola to the top of a mountain, a walk around a lake or a trip to the beach (depending on where you live),
The world is an open book! Let’s explore it together!
- A globe, relief map or scratch off map to keep track of family travels,
- Their very own suitcase and a travel journal,
- A multicultural cookbook and a game about flags,
- Books or tour guides about a foreign country you would like to visit together and a map of the country,
- You could also Give your child the world, choosing books for your virtual tour of the world through stories,
- A beautiful book about maps,
- A map of ancient Egypt and Senet, the board game of the Pharaohs,
- 3D puzzles of major landmarks,
- A giant coloring poster full of geography trivia,
- A saving jar (with some money in it) and a bank account to save for a trip.
Great memories can be made together in the kitchen, and the holidays are a great time to share some favorite family recipes!
- Kids love having their own kitchen utensils and knives and take great pride in having their own treasure of recipes,
- A custom family recipe book with ingredients and tools for a favorite family recipe,
- Cookie cutters for a great afternoon of cookie making,
- A pasta maker is a guarantee for some great family memories and you will make the best pasta you have ever tasted,
- A big bag of mixed nuts (in the shell) and a fun squirrel nutcracker (because the best conversations will happen while you crack walnuts),
- A tea set and some poetry books to enjoy poetry teatime. My all time favorite is the blooming flower tea set paired with a book of nature poetry. I always enjoy inviting some magic to the table!
- A chocolate fountain is fascinating to watch and provides an amazing special treat!
Real tools for real projects to tackle together.
- A set of real tools and a drill to use together during weekend projects,
- A woodworking set has been a favorite for a long time in our house and provides endless hours of creative making,
- Real gardening tools for some good outdoor time in the dirt,
- A pocket knife for the family camping trip or just some simple stick carving in the woods.
Movement, activity and motion are good any time of the year for the whole family!
- Juggling balls or clubs are a great game of dexterity to learn together,
- A bicycle,
- A slack line is great for tweens and teens and can help them find their balance and improve posture in an entertaining way,
- A monocycle is another unique way to enjoy a challenging game of balance,
- Stilts to look at the world from a different perspective,
- A mini trampoline to jump off a bit of pent up energy,
- Yoga cards and a yoga mat for some mindful movement,
- Meditation cushions for you and for them for some down time together,
- A kite or a freesbie,
- A croquet set or a bocce set
- Favorite sport equipment or a new sport to try out: tennis, golf, basketball or even something a little less traditional like… fencing!
Everybody is an artist!
- Art lessons from a local artist or craftsman: painting lessons or pottery lessons on the wheel,
- A stack of old magazines and glue for some collage making,
- Art supplies: an art easel and painting set,
- Real stretched canvas and some good quality paper (and don’t forget to hang the amazing creations on the wall!),
- A spirograph for some mesmerizing spiraling designs,
- Air dry clay with tools or Sculpey to experiment with modeling and practice fine motor skills,
- A felting kit to create some adorable, warm and fuzzy animals,
- Knitting tools and wool or a crochet to share the ancient meditative arts,
- A loom for some quiet time of hand work,
- A sewing machine,
“If music be the food of love, play on!” Music is a great way to share time together.
Enjoying the great outdoor! Honestly the best way to spend your time, ever.
- Camping gear for a real camping trip or for indoor or backyard camping (is there anything better than cozying up in a sleeping bag to read with a flashlight?)
- Hiking shoes, hiking sticks and a trail map,
- Field guides and national park guides in your area,
- A wind up torch for some evening exploration, (It is sustainable, does not need annoying batteries and kids just love it!)
- A portable fire pit is great for hours and hours of backyard cozy time, camping or a trip to the beach or the mountain cabin,
- A sled for hours of fun in the snow and a box of hot chocolate for the afterfun,
- Snow shoes are a great way to discover the winter wonderland,
- Walkie talkies to use during a hike or from a fort in the backyard to the kitchen.
The gift of reading and writing will keep on giving for a lifetime!
- A kids’ magazine subscription (we love Cricket and Muse),
- Books, books, books (did I mention books?): recordable books can be a treasured gift from far away relatives, pop up books add a little bit of a surprise element, or a collection for some binge reading (favorites in our house are Boxcar children, Magic Tree House and Little House),
- A bean bag or an inflatable lounger to create a cozy reading corner,
- Their very own bookshelf to easily access their favorite books,
- A journal to record precious moments together,
- A stationary set from Florence to write letters and cards to each other or friends (yes, we can still do that in the digital era!),
- A fancy calligraphy set or calligraphy pens to explore the art of lettering,
Science means endless possibilities of discoveries and learning!
- A telescope and a guide to the night sky because a winter night of star gazing is a perfect bonding experience,
- A microscope to get lost in exploration of the small world,
- A rock tumbler and a starter rock collection for the budding geologist,
- Your very own geodes to break,
- Create your own science kit, for example a book about Leonardo and one of his famous machines to build,
- A butterfly garden to witness the amazing cycle of life,
- A bird feeder, binoculars and bird bingo,
- A compost bin to study the science behind composting (and help the environment),
- A digital camera and a photograpy class or an Instax,
- A fish tank or a bonsai kit to learn how to take care of living things.
So, what about electronics? What if we could use electronics to create, instead of “being used ” and consumed by electronics?
Be a maker and not a consumer!
- An old computer to take apart to discover how it works from the inside (this was a big hit in my house a couple years ago),
- Mindstorm is a robot with infinite possibilities. This is an expensive gift, but so worth it! My kids have been using it for years and are now participating in Robotics competitions with it.
- Makey makey let you transform anything in a keyboard,
- Codemonkey to learn to code.
Handmade is the way of the heart!
I am not a really good crafter, but my kids have treasured the few items I have made for them over the years even though they were far from perfect. The most precious possession I have is a felt doll my mom made for me before I was born. Nothing, believe me nothing, you buy can beat the warmth of the time and love you put into a handmade project.
You can find a lot of instructions online even if it is your first time. Your kids will love your effort.
- A knitted scarf, hat or blanket,
- A superhero felt cape or butterfly wings,
- A doll,
- A car garage or a doll house.
The gift of family time!
- Puzzles for relaxing time together as a family, we love globe puzzles and 3D puzzles,
- Rubik’s cube is probably the best mind puzzle of all time! Take the time to actually sit down with your child and learn how to solve it together (you will find many videos on youtube)! (pro tip: make sure you get the speed cube version, it will allow for speed competitions once you learn how to solve it!)
- A labyrinth for relaxing or a maze racer for some adrenaline,
- Board game family night is an institution! (some of our favorites: Ticket to ride, Carcassonne, Bananagram, Sumoku,Triomino, 7 Wonders, Wildcraft, Yoga Garden, Scrambled States of America, Lost Cities),
- Story cubes to share stories around the fire like the old times,
- A chess board or a chinese checkers,
- A magnet,
- Wooden mind puzzles,
- Wooden tetris,
- An afternoon playing some old fashioned children’s games,
- A book of paper airplanes.
A little side note: all of these presents are perfect for both boys and girls. Boys can cook and use a loom and obviously girls love robotics and science!
I hope you can find the perfect gift for the special children in your life, following their special and unique interests. Most of all, I hope whatever gift(s) you find will be a way for you to enjoy being present with your child and building a deeper connection with them as well.
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